We had done our homework, and the concept gave us a good feeling. In researching, we called existing franchisees and were encouraged by their responses, but we failed to ask them one key question: "Are you making any money?"
When you call franchisees in a system, they're often struggling with validating their decisions. I've discovered they'll usually inform you that it's going great, sales are growing, they'd definitely buy another franchise and they're satisfied with the results. These are the answers you want to hear when you've already become excited about a franchise opportunity. The tendency is to press no further. However, when you ask whether they're making money, the facade drops.
If you really want to increase your odds of success, press them to tell you exactly how much they made during each year they've been in business. You may find it took them two years to make a dime. In our case, had we asked, we would have learned our future fellow Auto Exam franchisees were barely surviving, and we were the reinforcements.
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