As a prospective franchisee, the most important part of your due diligence is finding out how much you can make in the franchise opportunity you’re looking into. Some franchisors provide some type of earnings claim in writing. Most don’t. That’s why you have to go to existing franchisees to get your information. And I’m going to show you how to ask the money question, and how to get your answer.
It’s all in the words (and the timing)
Here’s how most people attempt to find out the ‘how much can I make’ question, when they’re calling existing franchisees of the concept they’re researching:
- ‘Hi Mark. My name is Steven Straightout. I’m calling from Joburg, and I’m looking into buying a franchise of Crispy Chicken*. How much do you think I can make in the first couple of years?’
Do you think Steven found out how much he’d make as a Crispy Chicken franchisee?
If your answer was ‘no’, you’d be right. Why would that franchisee of Crispy Chicken want to answer that question?
He really has no idea who it really is on the other end of the phone (nor does he care).
He doesn’t care who’s on the end of the phone line because they didn’t bond. At all. There was no give and take. Now, Steven may not be a touchy-feely kind of guy, but he’s just got to do better or he’ll never get his answers.
Getting the conversation right
Now, I’d like you meet Caren Tactful. Caren is all about building relationships.
Here’s how she asks the same question:
- ‘Hi Mark. I’m thinking about becoming a fellow franchise owner of Crispy Chicken, and was hoping to ask you a few questions to see if maybe I would be a good franchise owner for the concept. Is this a good time?’
Do you think Mark will at least stop for a moment to consider if he can spend some time on the phone with this polite lady now or arrange a better time?
It’s all in the words. The ‘How much money can I make’ franchise question needs to be asked correctly.
Let’s assume that Mark makes the time to talk to Caren. Caren’s questions may include:
- How did you end up becoming interested in Crispy Chicken?
- What is your business background?
- Are you happy with your choice in the franchise that you now own?
- Does the franchise corporate ‘get it?’
- What is the one thing that you wish you knew before you invested your money into this franchise opportunity?
- Add one of your own here.
So far, Caren is doing exactly what I recommend to the would-be franchise owners that I help:
- She’s bonding with the franchise owner.
- She’s asking a couple of open-ended questions to help Mark open up.
But, do you notice what she’s not doing? She’s not asking anything about earnings. Yet. Caren could still stumble here, though. She may feel comfortable enough right now to ask Mark how much he’s making, which will get her ‘How much can I make’ question answered.
Caren needs to wait. She needs to schedule a second phone call.
This may be frustrating because she really wants and needs to know how much she’ll be able to make. If the ROI isn’t enough for what she’s investing, then she’ll need to move on to another opportunity.
The second phone call
(Which she scheduled with Mark)
- ‘Hi Mark, it’s Caren. I’m calling back as promised. Is this still a good time?’
- Mark: ‘Sure Caren. Were you able to talk with some more franchise owners since our last call?’
- ‘Yes, I’m getting a lot of great information!’
- Mark: ‘Fantastic, what other questions can I answer for you?’
(At this point, Caren is scanning through the 30+ questions she prepared in advance) Caren asks a few great questions from her list, and finally gets to ‘The One.’
- ‘Mark, if one were to buy a franchise of Crispy Chicken, how much could one expect to make in the first, and second year?’
Let’s look at this question for a moment. What do you notice?
Caren is asking ‘The Question’ in the third person. She’s using the word, ‘one.’
Mark doesn’t feel threatened (sometimes, franchise owners clam up. They get paranoid. They may think that you’re a SARS agent, or a crime spy.)
That’s the reason that most people find it difficult to get ‘The Question’ answered. They’re not asking it right!
Caren didn’t ask Mark how much he’s making. Caren isn’t asking how much she’ll make. She’s asking the question in a general, and generic way, and she’ll get her answer.
This works. People I’ve helped get into businesses of their own have told me that this technique works. It’s not unethical. Or tricky.
Now, go out there and find out how much you’ll make. It’s easy to do.