There are at least two major warning signs for investors of a Long John Silver's franchise.
LJS has a significantly contracting franchise system (see chart)
LJS does not disclose franchise store earnings in the Franchise Disclosure Document. "We do not make any representations about a franchisee’s future financial performance or the past financial performance of company-owned or franchised outlets," states LJS in Item 19 of its 2015 Franchise Disclosure Document. Nowadays, if a franchisor isn't willing to supply store-level earnings, then buyers walk away.
Its competitor provides historical store-level earnings to buyers. For example, Captain D's Seafood Kitchen has it.. Captain D's hasn't really been able to grow its system, but at least it is not imploding. It does not provide franchised store EBITDA, but it does disclose company-owned store average gross sales. In its 2015 Franchise Disclosure Document, Captain D's says the middle third of its company-owned stores has an average gross sales of $975,518.
We can't even reasonably guess at what an average Long John Silver's franchise is earning. Nor should we have to.