Begin with the information provided by the franchiser. Get everything they will give you. Study it. Question it. Compare it. Contact other franchisees that presently have that franchise and ask them pointed questions about their experiences with the franchiser. If possible, contact past franchisees to learn why they no longer work with the franchiser.Take your information and analysis to advisors and confer with them about what you have learned. A CPA, lawyer, Small Business Development Center advisor, SCORE volunteer, banker, or anyone else whose business judgment you trust, can be a valuable sounding board for you.
Look for information about the industry and the specific business from sources other than the franchiser. Trade magazines, suppliers of the business, libraries, Small Business Development Centers, and other research aids can help you get a more objective look at the franchise opportunity. Compare what you learn from these sources with what you are being told by the franchiser. Evaluate the promotional literature from the franchiser against this non-promotional, more objective data.
Compare the prospective purchase of this franchise against alternative ways of getting into this type of business. Would it be better or worse to start this business without the aid of the franchise? Would it pay you to buy a similar business that is not franchise connected?
In the later stages of your research, study and thoroughly understand the franchise agreement that you will sign if you decide to proceed. It will control your relationship with the franchiser. What benefits, rights and obligations does it dictate for you? Can you live with its provisions even if the relationship with the franchiser does not always go smoothly? Here is a good place to pay for a review by a lawyer or a CPA.
Above all, control your enthusiasm to hurry and get started. Take your time. Study and learn before you decide. Most of the unhappy franchisees got that way by not thoroughly understanding the franchise relationship before they signed on the dotted line.