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Financial Analysis is Critical for Evaluating a Franchise Opportunity

When evaluating a franchise opportunity there is typically a great deal of focus directed on the business concept, franchise contract, franchisor support and franchisee performance. Each of these areas rightfully deserve attention. However, one area that requires as much if not more focus is in the area of financial analysis. Although, the term financial analysis can conjure up visions of boring number crunching this activity is important when considering the purchase of a franchise as well as any business. Since a franchise candidate has a limited amount of capital to invest in the franchise they need to be on target when identifying capital requirements.

They should have an accountant or qualified financial advisor to assist in the process. Here are some key items that need to be a part of the financial analysis:

  1. In-depth review of the franchisor's financial statements available in the Franchise Disclosure Document.  You want to be sure that the franchisor has sufficent capital to operate the franchise.  The franchisor shouldn't be relying upon initial franchise fees for their main source of funding or earnings.
  2. Fully understand Item 7 of the FDD. It describes the estimated investment in a specific franchise.
  3. Scrutiny of the franchise financial formula. This process involves indentifying and evaluating the components of the product or service sale leading to the gross margin. Sample sale price, product, labor costs, royalty and ad fees,etc. are in the formula. This is one of the most important elements of the financial analysis and may require some "digging" to get all of the necessary information.
  4. A 3-5 year Pro-forma income statement that projects sales, gross margin, expenses and earnings. One should be conservative and not aggressive when projecting. Feedback from current franchisees can provide valuable input when constructing a pro-forma.
  5. A cash flow projection for the first 3-5 years of the franchise operation. This is needed  to determine if projected sales and income will be sufficent relative to available working capital.

If a prospective franchisee and their advisor perform a thorough financial analysis, in addition to evaluating the other areas of the franchise opportunity, then the odds of choosing the right franchise will increase dramatically.

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About the Author: Ed Teixeira has over 35 years of franchise industry experience as a franchise executive and franchisee. He has served as a franchise executive in the c-store, manufacturing and home healthcare industries and has licensed franchises in Asia, Europe and South America. Ed operates FranchiseKnowHow  which provides information and advice to prospective and existing franchisees and franchisors. He publishes newsletters for the franchise community.

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