Burning Questions

We asked everything you'd ever want to ask, and these franchisees had the answers.

Finding the right franchise to fit your needs is hard work-there are so many issues to consider, choices to make, questions to ask. How can you be sure you haven't missed a step? Here, we ask five franchisees the questions you might or should be asking about selecting and running a franchise.

QUESTION: How did you know this franchise was the right one for you?

ANSWER: I took an opportunity to work for my friend who owned a Fastsigns just to see if I would like it. I immediately enjoyed servicing customers, designing signs and the overall management operations of the franchise.
-Barbara Ellifritis, 36, Fastsigns franchisee in National City, California

ANSWER: We explored several franchises before choosing Visiting Angels. The fact that they were a start-up appealed to us, because we felt they had the energy and the vision to do something different. While their marketing materials weren't as glossy or fancy as other franchisors', their message was clear and fit our business goals. -Nate Murray, 49, Visiting Angels franchisee in Marshfield, Massachusetts

QUESTION: Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?

ANSWER: I am a pretty independent person and enjoy being in control of my own destiny, so from that perspective, I fit the most widely accepted definition. However, I don't take big risks without closely analyzing the challenges. In that regard, I'm not a daring type of entrepreneur. I'd say I'm more a cautious, thoughtful type. -Ken Higgins, 43, Heavenly Ham franchisee in the Baltimore area

ANSWER: I didn't at first. As soon as I started setting up my business, though, those feelings changed. I guess it was largely due to necessity. It's sink or swim. I was still in my 20s and was instantly thrust into a position of having to make decisions every week that would test every aspect of my personality: tenacity, intelligence, creativity, resourcefulness, common sense, salesmanship and physical endurance. Since my business has survived and ultimately thrived for 14 years, I would consider myself an entrepreneur.
-Tedd Wein, 43, Mail Boxes Etc. franchisee in Pittsburgh

QUESTION: What's the best part about being a franchisee?

ANSWER: My relationship with corporate leadership. I have opportunities to relay vital information and opinions to the president and the vice president of the corporation, and am assured I can have an important part in directing the future of the business. -Matt Turner, 32, Metal Supermarkets franchisee in Tallahassee, Florida

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This article was originally published in the January 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Burning Questions.

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