Buying a franchise may be your most expensive investment ever, after buying a house. And like buying a house, you've got to spend a lot of time looking, comparing, evaluating and thinking about which franchise to buy, and most of us aren't comfortable doing all that work on our own.

When it comes to buying a house, we call a real estate broker or agent to guide us through the journey and to help us ultimately make the right purchase. In franchising, many buyers rely on franchise brokers, and here are reasons why a broker might be right for you.

  1. Franchise brokers are educators. Well, truly, they are sales people, but good sales people know to be educators first. Brokers can teach you about franchising, including legal considerations, trends, financing, and the realities of franchise ownership. Good franchise brokers can answer your questions about franchising and guide you through the selection process, ultimately helping you to discover an opportunity that makes sense for you.
  2. Franchise brokers are good listeners. By listening to their clients' needs and expectations, brokers can keep their clients' interests in mind at all times. Listening allows the broker to do a thorough job of educating clients about the pros and cons of franchising, and about the potential of a particular franchise opportunity. If you say you don't like working in an office, or you want to work from home, or you'd rather not work with other people, the broker should lead you to opportunities that satisfy your desires.
  3. Franchise brokers can reduce your risks. There are always risks in any business, but brokers can help you avoid many of the risks. Brokers, for example, will shy away from representing bad franchisors, thus saving you from that experience. Brokers can help you assess franchise opportunities to find those that meet your needs and expectations.
  4. Franchise brokers prepare you for a meeting with the franchisor. Almost every franchise company sponsors a Discovery Day, which is actually a sales event disguised as an information event. Remember, franchisors are sales people, too! A broker will help you prepare for the Discovery Day by thinking about the questions you need to ask and knowing whom to meet when you visit the franchisor.
  5. Franchise brokers help you prepare to meet and question franchisees. As a franchise prospect, you'll want to meet people who are already operating the business you're thinking about buying. The broker may know existing franchisees whose backgrounds are similar to yours, so you'll feel comfortable talking to them. Just be sure the broker doesn't keep you from talking to any franchisee of your choice. There are likely some "bad" franchisees and franchisors and brokers would prefer you avoid them, but they may have information that you need to hear. Good brokers aren't going to get in your way of investigating the franchise opportunity.
  6. Franchise brokers understand the franchise documents. Do you know how to read a Franchise Disclosure Document or a Franchise Agreement? Probably not. Good brokers do. Before representing a franchise brand, brokers study the franchisor's documents and can explain them to prospects. This will save you considerable time and confusion.
  7. Franchise brokers "sell" you to the franchisor. This is especially helpful when the franchise you want to buy is "hot" or in demand. Why would a franchisor consider you when there are so many other applicants for the same franchise? Similarly, let's say your application doesn't look so great on paper, but the broker knows you're a good fit for the franchise. Franchisors listen to their brokers because they trust them. Brokers can quickly identify appropriate prospects for the franchisor's business.
  8. Franchise broker fees are (usually) free. The franchisor pays the broker a generous (and well deserved) commission upon the sale of a franchise, so brokers do not take fees from buyers. However, some brokers may charge an education fee, or an assessment fee for a personality tool. However, most good brokers will not charge a fee.

Working with a franchise broker, like working with a Realtor®, can save you time and money, and will usually lead you to buy a franchise that meets your expectations. You should check out the broker in advance - work only with experienced brokers who can provide you with a variety of client testimonials - and you may do so through the International Franchise Association.

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