Forget the “hottest” franchises.

Ignore suggestions from franchise brokers on which franchises are “a possible fit” for you.

Take articles that rank franchises from 1-100 with a grain of salt. Consider them to be “light reading.”

Forget what you’ve learned about franchising up to now. Empty your mind. Clean your slate. I’m about to teach you about the two most important words in franchising. Ready?

What Franchising Is Really About

If you’re thinking about buying a franchise it’s important for you to truly understand what franchising is really about.

Franchising is about The System: The two most important words in franchising.

That’s because without it…without the franchisor’s business system, you have nothing.

Their brand won’t matter.

Their products/services won’t matter.

The franchise location you jointly picked won’t matter.

Nothing will matter except trying to figure out how to get out of the predicament you’re in. Because you didn’t choose a good system.

An Example Of A Franchise System

A top franchise system is an amazing thing to see in action. If you want to experience one, stop by a Burger King® franchise in your area. Order your favorite beverage, grab a table, and observe the operation for about an hour. Watch what happens when a customer steps up to the counter to place their order. Notice what the employees do to facilitate the order. Take a peek at the drive through area. Notice what those employees are doing. See if you can spot the manager. What is she doing? Pretty smooth, eh?

You’ve just watched a franchise business system —one of the best around — in action.

In a perfect scenario, every Burger King® franchise unit is operating the same way. And, in every Burger King® location across the country, every Whopper® will look and taste exactly the same. It’s pretty amazing if you stop and think about it. It’s what makes franchising great.

Investigating The System

I’ve already shown you one way to investigate how good a specific franchise is. But, if you’re thinking of investing your own money…if you’re thinking of buying a franchise, you’ll have to dig a lot deeper in order to find out how good The System is.

You’ll have to talk with franchisees.

It’s one thing to observe a franchise system in action as a customer; it’s a much different exercise to do it as a prospective franchise owner.

But, don’t start quizzing franchisees too early in the process. Wait until your contact at franchise headquarters tells you it’s time to do it. Here’s why; if you start calling franchisees (of the franchise concept you’re investigating) too early in the process, you’re going to sound like someone who’s just “curious.” Franchisees are busy, busy people. They’re small business owners who are trying to make a living and keep their businesses running well. If you approach them correctly, at the right time, most of them will talk with you. Wait until you have a solid understanding of the business.

Understanding The Business

To get an understanding the franchise business you’re investigating, you’ll need to do two things.

  1. Spend a couple of hours on their franchise website.

Click around their website as a potential customer or client, and then do it again as a prospective franchisee.

FYI: Most franchise websites have a separate area for people looking for information on buying a franchise, so my suggestion should be easy to implement.

  1. Fill out the “Request Franchise Information” form on their website, and start the process with the franchise sales representative.

Once you fill out their contact form, you’ll be contacted by the franchise representative, and he’ll start the ball rolling. This usually includes a “let’s get to know each other” type of phone call.  If (after that call) you’re still interested in learning more about the franchise opportunity, the franchise sales representative will take you through (in most cases) a specific process designed to educate you about the opportunity. Figure on spending 4-6 weeks learning about-and investigating the franchise opportunity. About halfway through, you’ll be able to contact existing franchisees so you can ask them questions about The System.

No Guarantees

I focused on the importance of having a great franchise system for you to use in this blog post. Having a great franchise business system at your disposal is a great thing. But, franchises don’t come with a guarantee.

A lot of things have to be in place in order for a franchise to be successful.

But, if the business system is solid-along with good management and great products/services, good things can and do happen.