Franchse Earnings Information - You may want to know how much money you can make if you invest in a particular franchise system. Be careful. Earnings information can be misleading. Insist on written substantiation for any information you may receive that suggests your potential income or sales.
Franchisors are not required to disclose information about potential income or sales, but if they do, the law requires that they have a reasonable basis for their claims and that they make the substantiation for their claims available to you. When you review any earnings claims, consider:
The Sample Size - Say a franchisor claims that franchisees in its system earned $50,000 last year. The claim may be deceptive if it doesn’t represent the typical earnings of franchisees. The disclosure document should tell the sample size and the number and percentage of franchisees who reported earnings at the level claimed.
Average Incomes - A franchisor may claim that the franchisees in its system earn an average income of, say, $75,000 a year. Average figures tell very little about how individual franchisees perform. An average figure may make the overall franchise system look more successful than it is because just a few very successful franchisees can inflate the average.
Gross Sales - 5 Some franchisors provide figures for the gross sales revenues of their franchisees. These figures don’t really tell about the franchisees’actual costs or profits. An outlet with a high gross sales revenue on paper may be losing money because of high overhead, rent, and other expenses.
Franchisors often do not have data on net profits oftheir franchisees. If you get net profit information, ask whether it includes information about company- owned outlets; they often have lower costs because they can buy equipment, inventory, and other items in larger quantities, or they may own, rather than lease, their property.
Geographic Relevance - Earnings may vary with geography. If it’s reported that a franchisee earned a particular income, ask about the franchisee’s location. The disclosure document should note geographic or other differences among the group of franchisees whose earnings are reported and your likely location.
Keep in mind that franchisees have different skill sets and educational backgrounds. The success of some franchisees doesn’t guarantee success for all.
Reliance on Earnings Claims - Franchisors may ask you to sign a statement which is sometimes presented as a written interview or questionnaire that asks whether you received any earnings or financial performance representations during the course of buying a franchise. If you heard or got any earnings representations, report it fully during an interview or on a questionnaire or other statement. If you don’t, you may be waiving any right to contest the earnings representations that were made to you and that you used to make your decision to buy.
The Financial History - The disclosure document gives important information about the company’s financial status, including audited financial statements. You can find explanatory information about the franchisor’s financial status in notes to the financial statements. Investing in a financially unstable franchisor is a significant risk; the company may go out of business or into bankruptcy after you have invested your money.
It’s a good idea to hire a lawyer or an accountant to review the franchisor’s financial statements, audit report, and notes. They can help you understand whether the franchisor:
* has steady growth
* has a growth plan
* makes most of its income from the sale of franchises or from continuing royalties
* devotes sufficient funds to support its franchise system