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There’s a new book out that you should place at the top of your “must read” list if you are searching for a franchise opportunity. Franchise Times Guide to Selecting, Buying and Owning a Franchise gives an overall view on buying a franchise and includes the results of many interviews. The author, Franchise Times journalist Julie Bennett, interviewed owners after their “honeymoon” stage. Franchisees were asked when their business broke even, whether they were making a good living, what was the hardest part about owning their business and more.
Various insiders, such as franchisee attorneys Michael Dady and Justin Klein, point out pitfalls to be wary of when selecting a franchise. There are also brief descriptions of what it’s like to work in some franchise industry segments, such as fast-food restaurants or quick-print shops.
Surprisingly, at close to 400 pages, there just isn’t enough space to cover topics in depth. The 2006 directory of the top 300 franchises by system-wide revenue takes up almost a hundred pages. Some paper could have been saved by just linking to Franchise Times' updated 2007 online directory. It is also not apparent why the franchise candidate needs to look at this list. After all, some on the list could have become big the bad way—by gouging franchise owners.
A few unsupported myths are passed within its pages. For example, one firm gives an easy self-test to determine if you have the right stuff to be a franchisee as opposed to a more free-wheeling "entrepreneur" (defined as an owner of an independent business). E.g., a franchisee was an A student, while an entrepreneur was a C. A franchisee drives a family car, but an entrepreneur drives a sports car. Which one are you? And remember, "operating a franchise is never a replacement for a job."
Despite such nuances that come with interviewing a lot of people, this book is still one of the best introductions to selecting and buying a franchise. I appreciated the cost comparisons throughout the book. For example, you can compare the land, build-out, equipment and fees between a family or casual restaurant. Considerable talent and publishing know-how are brought together to create a well laid out book with good content.