Without question, the best place to track down independent answers to these questions is from existing franchisees in the system. You'll receive a list of franchisees in Item 20 of the UFOC, so use it. In person or on the phone, talk to as many franchisees as you can. Don't limit yourself to a few names the franchisor gives you; these owners may not be representative of the system. Unlike a franchisor, franchisees aren't restricted by franchise laws in what they can say to a prospective franchisee, and most will be happy to speak candidly with you.
Pepper the franchisees with questions. Was the training worthwhile? Have their businesses met their expectations? Is the business seasonal? What's the market like? Who are the major competitors? What do they consider the keys to success in this business? What are the hot issues that franchisees are talking about in the system? Is encroachment by the franchisor a problem? If they had the decision to make again, would they purchase this franchise?