Six Questions You Should Ask Before Buying a Franchise
August 06, 2014
So, you’ve decided to buy a franchise, and it’s time to do your homework. After all, this is your business–a financial decision more important than buying a home. Your franchisor will answer as many questions as possible, as well as providing detailed information in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). But what else should you ask before pulling out your checkbook? At U.S. Lawns, we enjoy helping prospective franchisees through the buying process. Here are 6 pre-loaded questions we suggest asking as you survey current franchisees and talk to your franchise recruiters.
1. How involved is the franchisor after initial training?
It’s one thing for a franchisor to help set up shop and leave town. It’s another be proactive about the training and education of owners, ensuring their ongoing success. U.S. Lawns is known for establishing an ongoing relationship with its franchisees, including personal business advisors, peer mentoring, annual conferences and more. We call it The Power of The Network, and it makes us all stronger.
2. How much industry experience does the franchisee need?
Often times new franchise owners are unprepared to take on the new industry they’re entering into. But at U.S. Lawns, some of our most successful owners have no landscaping background whatsoever. That’s because we aren’t really in commercial landscaping; we’re in the service industry. Our industry renowned training program will give you the ins and outs of commercial grounds management, but your real job is to run a business. As long as you’ve got some acumen and a strong desire to serve customers, it’s easy to learn the rest.
3. Is the company growing?
Some franchises may have reached their peak, or maybe are struggling from the recent economic downturn. It’s important to join a healthy business with a strong future. At U.S. Lawns, we’re loud and clear about being named one of the top franchises to own, one of the top 10 landscaping companies in the nation, and one of the fastest-growing franchises for several years in a row.
4. What percentage of franchises fail?
Obviously, every business will have a handful of franchise locations that don’t work out; but if this margin is more than very slim, you should rethink your choice. Asking a current franchisee is a great way to get to the bottom of this matter; and at U.S. Lawns we are very upfront about our successes and failures. That’s because we don’t have anything to hide. Sure, there’s franchisee who leaves the system, but for the most part, our owners are success stories. That’s because our Home Office in Orlando is dedicated to 100% franchisee satisfaction. Our number one job is to support our owners.
5. How well is the franchise moving into the 21st century?
Franchises are not Mom & Pop businesses. Their success relies on communication between the franchise owners and the Home Office. Technology is crucial, and so are systems and processes that allow for a robust business infrastructure. For example, we have a sophisticated intranet system to give all our franchisees access to the same business resources. Our CRM solution helps you run your business from day to day. In addition, we communicate with our franchisees via eblasts, YouTube videos, blog posts, our company website, and more. You can be sure that a communicative franchise like us is going to evolve and grow into the future.
6. How many locations are franchises?
This is a crucial question which many people miss when shopping for a franchise business. Often times, companies will mix franchise locations with stores or territories that are corporate-owned. This means the franchisees end up ultimately competing against the Home Office, which is never a good situation. It means the corporate team has divided loyalty, often preferring to focus on its own locations rather than support its franchises. We feel strongly that the role of any Home Office should solely be the development and success of its franchise owners. That’s why U.S. Lawns has no corporate-owned territories. Every location is franchise owned. For us, franchise success is company success.
Have further questions? If you’re thinking about U.S. Lawns for your franchise investment, we’d love to hear them. Contact us today and let’s start a conversation.