As you evaluate any franchise, speaking to the existing franchisees is a critical part of the process. There’s simply no substitute for talking directly with them about their day to day activities as a franchisee and their relationship with the people at the corporate office.

It’s easy for a franchise company to claim to have the best training and the best support for their franchisees. But what the company says on this topic is not what matters most; it’s what the franchisees say about it that counts. And, quite frankly, their performance is the ultimate litmus test.

As you make your calls to the franchisees you’ll cover lots of topics with them about their business. Listen to those answers, but also listen to the franchisees themselves. Do they sound like you, with similar educations and backgrounds? And, here’s the important question – which ones sound like you? If you identified most with the ones that are in the bottom 25% of the network in terms of performance, that’s obviously a red flag. But, if when you talked with the successful ones you felt comfortable with them and they sounded like people with similar personalities and skills sets to yours, that’s probably a good sign.

Also, be sure to take note of what’s missing from their backgrounds. For example, at Right at Home we recently conducted an analysis on our top 10 franchisees. I found that 8 out of the top 10 had no previous sales experience, and 8 out of the top 10 had no previous healthcare experience. I also found something else – none of the top 3 and only two of the top 10 were previous business owners!

So, before signing on that proverbial dotted line, verify that people like you can be successful with the business model. And ask yourself the three questions I posted on April 2.

Good luck!