Deciding to start a new business is a heady time for every budding entrepreneur. As any experienced business owner will tell you, preparation is the key to success.
That preparation becomes much easier when you decide to purchase a franchise. You gain a huge upside as a result of the amount of information available to you.
Since franchises come with a system time-tested by dozens or even thousands of others, you get a veritable operating manual and can ascertain before you start whether you have the skills and experience to succeed with this business.
So, the key question becomes whether this business is right for you. Your most invaluable resource to help you find the answers lies with the network of franchisees who once stood in your shoes.
We recommend you interview as many franchisees as you can. You will find a complete list of franchisees in the Franchise Disclosure Document, which franchisors are required by federal law to provide to potential franchisees.
6 Steps To Interviewing Your Way To Franchise Success
If you’ve never conducted an interview, don’t worry. Every good interview follows the same basic steps. Commit these to memory, perhaps ask a friend to help you practice, and begin to explore possible business options for your future.
1. Be Cordial And Gracious
Inquiring minds cannot just ask any question that pops to mind. Remember you are imposing on the franchisee’s time, so when you call, get right to the point, that you are interested in the franchise and are hoping he or she might have a few minutes to talk about his or her experiences. Ask if this is a good time, or when might be a good time to call back.
2. Plan Your Interview
You might want to plan a couple of layers to your interview. Use your initial research of written documents to help plan good questions. First, prepare a few questions that would take no more than 15 minutes of the franchisee’s time.
Then, write additional questions you might get to if the franchisee has the time. Ask questions that only this person can answer. Be specific about what this person knows that you cannot get in any prepared written material.
For example: How have their experiences been with the franchisor? Did actions live up to promises? Were training and support sufficient? Would they buy the franchise again?
3. Show Respect
You may not like everything the franchisees tell you, but you are after their perspective. So don’t argue, play devil’s advocate or in any way imply their problems are due to their own inadequacies.
The most important time during your interview is when you’re not talking. Try to draw out as much information from the franchisee by asking succinct questions, and then stop talking. Sometimes people need a few moments to clarify their thoughts before responding.
Even with the best listening skills, you may miss some of what is said. Don’t be shy about asking your source to repeat something or clarify an answer you may not have understood. As most journalism professors will tell you, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. The question you wish you had asked is another thing.
6. Follow Up
As you go through your notes, and something important pops out that you fear you may have misunderstood or gotten wrong in your notes, call back. Most people appreciate conscientious attempts to get it right. Just remember to be respectful of the franchisees’ time. And it never hurts to drop a thank you email after the interview. You might want to keep these lines of communication open for the future.
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
About the author
Ready to make your dream of becoming an entrepreneur come true? Get your free evaluation today! Contact Dan Citrenbaum to help you create the career you’ve always wanted. As a business coach, Dan brings years of experience helping people select and buy a franchise or existing business. You can reach Dan at [email protected] or at (484) 278-5489.
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