In general, you’ll find that franchisees fall into 3 distinct groups:

  • ROCK STARS/TOP PERFORMERS who exceed even the expectations of the franchisor. Ask them what they do that’s different from everyone else.

  • LIFESTYLE-DRIVEN franchise operators who get out the business what they put into it. When they reach their goals, they plateau. Ask them if their current results match their pre-launch expectations.

  • UNDERACHIEVERS who may have experienced a major health issue, their partner or spouse may have left the business (resulting in an imbalanced management team) or they simply don’t follow the system (preferring instead to shift the blame to the franchisor). Usually you’ll do more listening than asking here. Take good notes and remember to avoid this type of behavior when you run your franchise.

 As you make your validation calls, ask yourself: “Who do I identify with?”

THE 3 P’S

Be Persistent. You may have to call 10 people in order to speak with 7 of them. Remember, they’re busy running a business. Be Polite. Asking for an appointment if you’ve caught them at a bad time is a great way to begin the conversation. Limit your call to 30 minutes, unless they’re willing to give you more. Be Productive. If your first objective is to gather basic financial information, follow the script for building your mini P&L statement. If you bond with the person, ask for a copy of their business spreadsheet.

ALL VALIDATION CALLS CAN BE SUMMED UP IN 3 QUESTIONS:

  • Are you having fun?
  • Are you making money?
  • Would you do it again?

What is your background?

  • What type of work did you do before you got into your own business?

  • Why did you leave that to go into your own business?

  • When did you open your business?

  • Why did you choose this franchise?

How much money are you making?

Yes, it’s a sensitive question. But here’s one effective way to ask: “Sam, you’ve been wonderful for spending so much time with me. May I ask you for one last piece of vital information? How much money did you take out of the business last year, your net-profit dollars or percentage?” HINT: Listen carefully. For example, Sam tells you he had a net-profit percentage of 22%. $400,000 of gross sales divided by .22 = $88,000 in profits.

Can you tell me about your initial training and opening support?

  • Did your initial training prepare you for opening your business?

  • During your first year in business, did the franchise company support your business activities and results to the level of your expectations or needs? Can you give an example?

  • What do you think is the biggest mistake that a first-year franchise owner can make?

  • What would cause a franchisee to fail?

How much ongoing support do you get?

  • Has the franchise company supported your business activities and results to the level of your expectations or needs? Can you give an example?

  • After initial training, what additional training exists? Is it regularly scheduled? At random? As needed? Or a combination? What additional training have you undergone? What differences has that made?

  • Is there enough/too much training? Is the franchise company flexible in giving more training to franchise owners who need/want it?

  • Does the franchise company host franchisee annual meetings or teleconference calls?

  • This can often be a great source of information, training and networking with other franchisees.

What do you think about the marketing program?

  • How does the franchisor contribute to your marketing efforts? What are the results of those marketing efforts?

  • What programs for lead generation has the franchise company introduced you to? Do you use those tactics? What are the results and costs of those tactics? Do you consider them worthwhile? What have you added locally to generate business?

How is your relationship with the franchisor?

  • Is the Home Office (Headquarters) competent? Do they act with your interests in mind? Why do you say that?

  • The answer will tell you this owner’s perception as to whether or not everyone at HQ is on the same page, and performing as a team, in the franchise owners’ best interests.

What kind of investment did you make in the business? What is your role?

  • How did you determine the location/territory you have?

  • How much investment did it take you to get your business up and running? Did that include some working capital? How much working capital did you budget? How long a period was that intended for?

  • Currently, what is your hourly commitment to your business per week? Has the amount of time you work changed since the first few months you were open?

  • Is your role in the business what you wanted/expected it to be? If not, how is it different?