To assess if a franchise represents a sound business opportunity, you'll need to consider:
The franchisor will probably give you an information pack but you shouldn't just rely on this. Ask questions and look for evidence of their claims.
One of the most helpful things you can do before deciding on a franchise is to visit other franchisees and talk to them. Ask the franchisor for a full list of past and present franchisees, not just the two most successful ones. It is important to visit new and established franchises - of differing levels of success - in as many different locations as possible. This should give you a good idea of the challenges you yourself will face should you decide to go ahead with a specific franchise.
Take advantage of other sources of information and advice. The British Franchise Association (BFA) and whichfranchise.com websites have comprehensive lists of solicitors specialising in franchising at national and local levels. Ask your bank - many have franchising specialists. And make the most of other advisers such as Venture Labs, your solicitor or your accountant. Find a solicitor on the Law Society website, and find an accountant on the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) website.
Just as you would for any other business, you need to draw up a business plan when buying a franchise. This will help you assess the prospects for the business and identify potential weaknesses. A business plan is also essential for raising finance. For more information, see our guide on how to prepare a business plan. You should be able to get assistance with your plan from the franchisor - and banks with specialist franchise units can check how realistic your projections are.