This lesson is part of our free Franchise 101 course.
Forums can be a great source of insight for anyone starting out in franchising, even when those forums seem full of negativity. The key to this lies in identifying the useful sorts of complaints.
Learning from Negative Feedback
In online forums about franchising, you’ll see lots of franchisees complaining about their franchisors. It’s a useful thing to do, a way of blowing off steam, seeking guidance, and providing information for others in the community.
To learn from that feedback, it’s important not to be disheartened. Remember, this is a space for venting, not to provide a balanced perspective. Reading these comments will making franchising seem far worse than it is.
It’s also important to distinguish between two sorts of patterns: ones that are about the franchisors, and ones that are about the franchisees.
The patterns that are useful in picking a franchise are the ones about a franchisor. One person venting about the horrors of working with a gym franchise might have had an unusually bad experience. Ten people complaining about the same organization means that there’s an issue, especially if they’re complaining about the same problem.
Look for patterns in what people say about specific franchisors and decide if those patterns would be a problem for you. If they keep ratcheting up fees or don’t provide enough training, that would be a problem for anyone. On the other hand, knowing that they’re rigorous about safety inspections might mean that you and a franchise are in sync, if you’re also very safety conscious.
What to Ignore
There’s another sort of pattern that can help you find feedback to ignore. That’s when the pattern of complaints says more about the franchisee and their attitude.
Sometimes, complainants had a lousy time because of their own mistakes, but they want to blame it on the franchisor. Look at how they talk about the experience. Do they accept responsibility for their own work and their own failings? Do their complaints seem reasonable, or are they picking on little details? Are they finding real problems or shifting blame? Running a franchise means taking responsibility for your work, and you’ll learn nothing useful from someone who doesn’t do that.
This is particularly important if other people enjoyed working with a franchise. Are there just one or two complainants who weren’t willing to put the work in, or do a lot of people struggle because of that franchise’s poor support, leaving only a few saying good things?
Turning Negatives into Positives
By looking for patterns in the complaints on franchising forums, you can gather useful information and learn more about which franchise is best for you. Just make sure that you’re looking for the right patterns and listening to the right people.