You've probably heard more than once that franchise...
When you're looking into Canadian franchise opportunities, one of the crucial areas of your research is what, exactly, current franchisees with those brands are saying. These are the people who are doing what you hope to do within a system you're considering, so there is a lot of information to be gleamed from them.
To get this first-hand information about the brands you're considering, here are three avenues to try.
Watch videos from franchisees
More and more businesses are producing videos these days, including franchise brands. While some are going to be sales pitches and won't offer much in the way of additional perspective, any "talking from the heart"-type videos can provide some insights when done by franchisees.
Reach out to franchisees
Contact past and present franchisees to learn what they have to say about the brand. The trick here is timing; as tempting as it may be, don't contact them at the start of your franchise discovery process. When you contact franchisees too early on, you won't have enough information to ask specific questions. Instead, you'll be asking them general questions, and those are the ones you'll be able to answer yourself down the line.
Generally, the ideal time to contact franchisees is after you've spoken to franchise reps multiple times and have received the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). The FDD is where you'll likely be able to find the contact information for current franchisees.
Finding past franchisees may take a little more legwork, but it's worth it. Franchisees who have left may be more open about their experiences in the system. To find them, do web research on your brand and cross-check the franchisees you find mentioned with the current ones listed in the FDD. Those who are no longer on the FDD may have since parted with the brand.
Make in-person visits
Visit a franchise that's actually in operation to get a real feel for the business. As with the initial contact, you want to make in-person visits at the right time. Essentially, you shouldn't visit a location to connect with a current franchisee until you understand the concept--including how the business operates--and you've had some phone calls or exchanged emails with the franchisee you're coming to see.
Hearing directly from a brand's franchisees can give you information about the brand you may have never gotten otherwise. Make the most of these opportunities so you can learn as much as possible about a system before you join it.