Thinking of buying a franchise? There's plenty to do before you write that check. Here are 10 critical steps every potential franchisee should consider.

Author:Rost, Terry

Franchising is one of today's fastest-growing opportunities for getting into business for yourself. There are close to 6,000 different franchises spread across 80 industries from which one can choose. It can be a daunting task searching through 6,000 franchises, not knowing which are the good ones and which are the poor ones, and when you do discover the good franchises, then trying to determine which franchises would be a good fit for you.

I often have individuals come into my office, throwing their arms in the air, complaining they feel like they are in the middle of a lake flopping their arms around, and asking: "What is the best fit for me?" About that time in the conversation my palms go up in the air, my shoulders are up around my ears, a big smile comes across my face, and I answer, "I have no idea! Everybody's skills, personalities, passions, and dreams are different. But I believe I know the solution to your frustration; you simply need to get 'focused.'" What I mean is that the individual needs to narrow the number of franchises they are considering to some finite number, say three or four, because they don't have enough time in the remaining years of their life to research the hundreds of franchises they've considered.

So how does one begin the task of finding a good franchise, that is a good fit for them, and achieve this in a manner that reduces risk as much as possible? The answer is to carefully follow a series of key steps. Below are 10 steps any serious buyer should consider. A few of these steps realistically require outside assistance. I will discuss how to evaluate and secure this specific help when we come to that juncture.

Here is the sequence of events I would recommend for any serious franchise buyer:

First, Get Focused! Narrow your search to a few solid franchises that would be a good fit for you. Four to six choices are a significant number to thoroughly research. How do you get focused and find these few franchises? The best advice I can give you is to find a seasoned franchise broker who knows how to evaluate your investment capability, skills, dreams and personality and can narrow your search for you. Seek a qualified consultant who will perform this task for free.

How do you find a good, qualified franchise consultant? My suggestion is to look for individuals with significant franchise experience (+10 years in the world of franchising), preferably an advanced degree in business (MBA), experience owning small...

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