Ten Red Flags In Evaluating a Franchise

An enterprising individual looking to get into a business needs to evaluate multiple aspects prior to entering any commitment. This individual must ask of him/her self if it would be preferable, and in his/her best interest, to buy an existing business or to start a new business from scratch.

In researching an existing business, proper paperwork must be obtained and evaluated. This paperwork should include:


  • the last year's profit and loss statement and balance sheet;

  • monthly profit and loss statements and balance sheets for the current year;

  • monthly sales volumes since the inception of the business;

  • the last three years' tax returns;

  • the lease agreement of the property;

  • a clear understanding of what the seller is actually looking to sell and what you are looking to buy.

Learn more about researching and running a franchising business here

However, with a start-up business, investigating past performance is an impossible task, since none exists. Investigation must take a different track and is accomplished by looking at the potential and projections. To cover most aspects, the researcher absolutely should do a business plan, the format of which can be obtained via the Internet. Help in writing a business plan is also available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) through its SCORE program.

If the business one is contemplating buying, whether it is a start-up or existing business, is a franchise, many of the above rules may apply, but additional areas of concern must also be red-flagged and investigated.

The first red flag to consider is whether the franchisor is being selective in choosing its franchisees. If the franchisor would sell a franchise to just anyone regardless of qualifications, character, finance, and ability to successfully run this franchise would you be sure that you, perhaps, are suited to this type of business?

The franchise company should have a set of criteria for profiling and determining the suitability of each of its potential franchisees, not just the singular function of determining if the franchisee can afford the franchise.

Red flag No. 2: Is the franchisor mature?

Most "new" franchise systems exhibit an extremely high degree of optimism. The franchise salesperson enthusiastically intimates how great a business system he/she is selling and, through inference, how successful you can become. There is no track record to support these claims.

The length of time a franchise company has been franchising, therefore, becomes an important criterion in your ability to evaluate that system. A newer franchise certainly presents a ground floor opportunity, with possible higher earning potentials, but certainly greater risk. A more mature franchise usually produces opposite results.


The stability of the organization is red flag No. 3.

Franchisors, for multiple reasons, sometimes exhibit a very high turnover of franchises. The bottom line is, usually, the franchisee is not making the type of money he/she expected at that time period in his/her development.

Most franchise companies will have some turnover of franchises. However, a high percentage of turnovers is a strong red flag that something is amiss with the franchise.

The Uniform Franchise Offering Circular should include information on franchisees who have left the system. As many of those past franchisees as possible should be contacted for input during your evaluation of the business.

The fourth red flag has to do with the training offered by the franchisor. Franchising is a partnership between franchisee and franchisor in which the franchisor is responsible for providing the experience and expertise to the franchisee, who usually has no knowledge of this type of business.

Look for a franchisor that is selective in choosing its franchisees.

This expertise must be transmitted by a franchisor's initial training and subsequently by ongoing support. If the franchisor has a substandard training program and is lax in its on-going support to enable you to successfully run the business, then this would be a red flag indicating the franchise would not be fulfilling its responsibility.

Does the franchisor exhibit integrity? Falling short in this area is red flag No. 5.

Lawsuits are prevalent.in today's society and one must be wary of overreacting to lawsuits. A franchisor that does not keep his word will normally have a greater percentage of lawsuits filed against him.

A prudent franchise buyer should evaluate the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular for the number and types of complaints filed against the franchisor. Both the number and type of complaints could be a warning flag about the integrity of the franchise company.

The satisfaction level of existing franchisees is the sixth red flag

For which prospective franchisees must be on the lookout. Existing franchisees can be a good barometer of how the franchise system is working.

Current business owners of the franchise are in a position to advise new franchisees of some of the pitfalls and negative attributes of the franchisor. Just as importantly, some franchisees may speak very favorably of the franchise. The true mix most often lies somewhere between the two extremes. The new franchisee should be prepared to balance between these different, varied opinions.


Red flag No. 7: Does the franchisor have any company-owned units and, if so, how many?

Competition in business is extremely healthy. Evaluate the existing. competition. Your chances of success will be dependent on your ability to gain market share by providing a service or product at a better price or with better service or with greater convenience than your competitors.

You should not be scared of competition, but you should realize that competition is the foundation of our free economic system. Very often it-has a synergistic effect. For example, garment districts are made up of many tradesmen, main street USA has a multitude of fast-food outlets next to each other, and in any major shopping center there is usually more than one anchor store selling the same merchandise.

However, you should not expect undue competition from your own franchise company. The expertise that the franchisor has provided you through training should not be used to compete against you. If the franchisor has only a handful of company-owned stores that are used for training and R&D, that is a positive sign.

Red flag No. 8: What is the budget available for expanding the franchise system?

A franchise is built upon two components. One is the business itself that is directly related to the franchisee's ability. The other is the franchisor's ability to expand its system and create a demand for people to buy the franchise.

When a red flag pops up, it signals a need for deeper investigation.

The amount of money available in the franchisor's budget is going to directly reflect on the ability to expand the system. Therefore, a cash poor franchise will limit the franchisee's ability to succeed in this second area.

The ninth red flag has to do with the franchisor's registration status. Is it registered to do business in states with that requirement?

Every franchise sold in the United States must comply with Federal Trade Commission requirements. However, many states also have their own extra requirements. While a franchisor's decision not to do business in registration states is not necessarily a negative indicator, its reasons for making that choice should be examined.

The final red flag you must be on the lookout for is the situation where the franchisor is also your landlord. Many franchise agreements require that the franchisor lease your space and then sublease it back to you. This is a definite red flag.

So there they are, the 10 red flags of franchising.

Article by : Franchising City

Franchising in the Economy: Food Service’s Big Role

By: Millionaire.it

          A number of general trends are shaping the future of the restaurant industry.  According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), 53% of adults indicate convenience is critical to their busy lives.   The 25-34 age group was highest with 65%, followed by the 18-24 and 35-44 age groups, each at 59%.

            Singles as well as families are looking for answers to time limitations.  Many look to restaurants as an appealing alternative to preparing food at home.  Seven of 10 adults say dining out with family and friends allows them to socialize and better use their leisure time.

            About one-third of adults dine out more as a family today than they did two years ago.  This plays to the fact that 72% of families wish they could spend more time together, and 76% say they want to simplify their lives.  One-third of all full-service restaurant operators say more families frequent their establishments in larger parties, including children under 13 years old.

            The demand for convenience is growing.  According to Takeout Foods: A Consumer Study of Carryout and Deliver, a report prepared by the NRA, some 78% of U.S. households make at least one delivery or carryout purchase in a typical month.

            Food service operators are responding to this demand in many ways.  Approximately 60% of customers are more concerned about higher-quality takeout food than two years ago.  In response, operators, both fast food and full service, are focusing on product quality.

            For example, fast food chains such as Wendy’s and Arby’s are targeting taste and quality with new and improved menu offerings.  Casual dining chains have introduced a number of “fast casual” concepts-CPK/ASAP, Chili’s Too and Pei Wei, to name a few.

Demand for convenience and age-specific preferences are driving restaurant trends.

            In addition to America’s overwhelming demand for convenience, other demographic factors will affect the future of the industry.  The median age of the U.S. population is rising significantly.  By 2010, it will have increased by 14% over the preceding 20 years, a trend driven by the aging of the baby boomers.

            The aging population has been a major factor behind the staggering increases in the number of people who live alone.  Since 1960, that segment of the population has more than tripled to about 27 million.  That is an important trend affecting food preferences and purchasing habits.

          Age plays a part in what consumers expect from retailers.  For example, 60% of those over age 55 expect personal attention from sales personnel, and 88% of consumers aged 35-55 expect hassle-free exchange policies.  Among those under age 35, 80$ expect fast service at the checkout counter.

            Older consumers want menus with larger type, quieter dining rooms and good accessibility for those with walkers and in wheelchairs.  However, they still demand good taste, variety and customer service in their dining-out venues.

            According to the U.S.           

Bureau of Labor Statistics, people living alone spend more per person on food than any other group-almost $1,240 per year.  They also spend a bigger chunk of their food budget-46%-on eating out than any other group.

            The food service industry is also becoming more and more aware of the younger dinners:  Generation X, aged 21-40, and Generation Y, aged 12-19.  The industry may have a good handle on what baby boomers and seniors want, but they are still learning what their younger counterparts are looking for in the food service experience.