Now that you know how the system works, how can you go about making a golden connection? First, do a little research. Determine which industry is best suited for your business and get a list of all the franchise companies in that industry.
For the sake of convenience, narrow your focus to franchise companies in your state or region. Review each company's growth pattern for the past three to four years. How many new units have been added? Are revenues increasing significantly? Of the newest companies on the list, which appear to be growing the fastest? Select one or two companies with the best growth records.
Call the corporate offices, and ask the person in charge of vendor relations for a list of franchisees in your area and a list of approved suppliers. Find out what the specifications are for your product or service and how a designated vendor is selected. Will the franchisor want to inspect your facility? Will it charge you a fee to review your vendor application?
Finally, call individual franchisees to introduce your firm and learn about their specific needs in reducing costs, maintaining quality control and improving customer service. "If a vendor contacts us and we believe in what he's selling, we'll give him a list of bakery owners he can contact," says Tatarka. "But it's still up to the vendor to call a franchisee and develop a relationship."