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Read All About It

From The Horse's Mouth

You owe it to yourself to talk to as many current franchise owners as you can. Just get in the car and head out to see them. You will find names, telephone numbers and addresses right in the UFOC (Item 20). Franchisees' view of the franchisor and the value of the franchise system will be enlightening. Make sure you interview a large sampling of franchisees. Some will have good experiences to report; others may preach doom and gloom. Remember, no one can predict how you will fare or whether you will enjoy the business, but you need to know the mood of the existing owners before you join their club.

Use the visit to follow up on the information you read in the UFOC. As long as that document is, it still does not tell the whole story. You have to piece that together for yourself. Bring a list of questions when you visit franchise owners.

Make sure you visit franchisees at a good time of day. If you show up at a fast-food restaurant at noon, don't expect to get anyone's full attention. By all means, arrive at noon, watch the operation during the lunch hour, and arrange to see the owner later that afternoon, when things quiet down.

Use the UFOC as the foundation for your inquiries into the franchise program. If you know the valuable information it contains--and understand the limitations of that information--it will give you a critical advantage in the hunt for the right business investment for you.

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Read All About It.

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