Part of the task of finding the right franchise for your interests involves investigating resources to help with your search and evaluation. Check out the following government and private resources:
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has regulated franchise sales since 1979. Its Franchise Rule requires franchisors to deliver a comprehensive disclosure document to all prospective franchisees at the earlier of 1) the first face-to-face meeting for the purpose of discussing a franchise sale or 2) at least 10 business days before you pay money or sign a binding contract for the purchase of the franchise. Franchisors are not required to file copies of their disclosure documents with the FTC, but you can get general advice and guidance by phone from the FTC's Consumer Response Center at (202) 326-3128, on the Internet at http://www.ftc.gov or by writing to the Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580.
- Your state. If you live in one of the 13 "registration states," you can feast on disclosure documents as part of the public record. Contact the agency in parentheses in these states: California (Department of Corporations), Hawaii (Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs), Illinois (Office of the Attorney General), Indiana (Secretary of State, Securities Division), Maryland (Office of the Attorney General), Minnesota (Department of Commerce), New York (Department of Law), North Dakota (Office of the Securities Commissioner), Rhode Island (Division of Securities), South Dakota (Division of Securities), Virginia (Corporation Commission, Division of Securities and Retail Franchising), Washington (Department of Financial Institutions, Securities Division) and Wisconsin (Commissioner of Securities). If you don't live in one of these states, contact your state's consumer protection agency for general investment information.