Want to be a happy franchisee? Here’s a tip: find out out what the unhappy franchisees did
wrong, then don’t make the same mistakes.
That’s one of the ideas behing the new website UnhappyFranchisee.com. The only site of its kind,
UnhappyFranchisee.com features interviews with franchisees who made franchise
purchasing mistakes that cost them dearly. They’re willing to share what they
did wrong, what the consequences were, and what prospective franchise owners
should do to avoid the painful lessons they’ve survived.
The first lesson in this series is Don’t Pay for a Franchise With No
Proven Track Record. In the cases of Ex-Franchisee Jeff
Marks and Ex-Franchisee Julie
Franco, they bought into a 30-Minute women’s fitness franchise with no real
operating history in the marketplace. The real flaw in the concept – low
membership renewal rates coupled with increased competition – had not yet
surfaced when they made the plunge. The very premise of their business was
In the case of Mary Patrick, it was the franchisor company (and its vendors)
that was unproven. The company did a great job selling their familylike company
culture, but their system for getting franchisees up and running was a mess. It
took 22 months for them to get Mary Patrick up and running – by which time she
had run through much of her working capital. She closed 8 months later. When
asked what mistakes she made, she replied:
“I was na?ve in believing that we signed on with a “family” and that they
actually knew what they were doing. It was supposed to be turnkey with them
coaching and helping us through every step. Instead there were continuous
setbacks and disappointments through absolutely no fault of my own. These things
were entirely under [the franchisor’s] control and as a result of [their] poor
management, shady practices, and devious tactics. ” Mary
Patrick, Former Franchisee
Buying a franchise is a major decision.
Don’t assume anything, including that the franchisor knows what they’re doing
or has competent vendors. Get recent references from those who have gone before
you, and even verify those to make sure you’re getting accurate information.
Sean Kelly is a 20 year veteran of the franchise industry, and founder of the
award-winning marketing firm IdeaFarm. In 2006, he founded the FranBest franchise networkbest franchise opportunities, the top new franchises, franchise marketing, franchise public relations and small business marketing. Contact
him at seankelly[at]ideafarm.net.