If you’re thinking about buying a franchise, you’ve got some important tasks to attend to. But surely one of the most important of these is talking to existing franchisees so that you can learn from their experience.

It’s important to research the franchisees and the brand whose offer you are considering, but the views of franchisees in other sectors can be equally relevant. Here are some tips from those who have previously taken the plunge:

Look beyond the concept

You might discover a great franchise idea and want to jump at the opportunity. However, you need to be sure you can see a way to build it into something viable.

Check carefully that there is room in the market – after all, if it’s a big brand you already know, that could mean the prime areas are already taken. If so, you’ll just be floundering in a sector that’s already saturated and where there’s no real customer demand.

Furthermore, is it a business which is also a good fit for you personally?

Your will over your skill

Your skills and experience relevant to the sector can be a winning feature, but feedback suggests your affinity for business and a burning desire to succeed is even more important.

Of course, franchisors already know this, which is why the best ones will always supply all the training you need for your specific sector. But what they can’t teach you is attitude – your entrepreneurial spirit and passion to succeed by consistently providing your customers with a great experience.

From a personal perspective, you can always hire in the expertise you may feel you lack. You can’t, however, spend time generating business and taking the enterprise forward to meet the goals you have set unless you have the right mindset from the outset.

Research the franchisor

To be sure of longer-term success, you must find a franchisor who will be prepared to stick with you right through your business journey. It’s not uncommon to find that some franchisors regard support as largely a matter of getting your business up and running – after that, you may be virtually on your own.

So, do your due diligence and look for a franchise brand prepared to invest in your success further down the line. That can mean access to business consultants, a commitment to develop and share new products or cutting-edge initiatives across the brand.

You should be looking for a franchisor who will not only stand by your side, but who is also committed to continue building the brand into the future. And any franchise agreement you sign should demonstrate the expectation that your own franchise is an important part of that future.

Take care of your team

If you are ambitious and want to expand your enterprise by owning more than one franchise in the future, you will need to be able to trust and rely upon your staff. It’s the people you hire and train who will engage with your customers. Spending time identifying and developing those members of your workforce with the right qualities and attitude will pay off handsomely as time goes on.

Building a skilled and enthusiastic team also means fully utilising the support, training and development programmes your brand provides. There is no better way to gain solid business growth than acquiring good staff who secure loyal customers, who then become loyal brand ambassadors as a result of the excellent customer experience they receive.

Network with other franchisees

When you become a franchisee, you also become part of a brand network. Unless your due diligence suggests otherwise, that means all franchisees see themselves as brand allies – colleagues rather than rivals.

A franchise offer that reveals a vibrant and supportive community of franchisees eager to pool expertise and share problem-solving insights is an asset which is every bit as important as any official training programmes.

As a new franchisee, you will want to become part of this network as soon as possible. A strong collaborative spirit is not only good for your brand, it also provides a readily available mechanism to speed the development of your own business to grow and become an important part of that healthy brand network.

Take the leap

The only way you’ll ever be your own boss is if you get to look at all the options. Franchising is a great practical way to do this while enjoying the security of a well-proven business model and the knowledgeable and enthusiastic support of a head office.

Rather than thinking of any restrictions this may entail, focus on all the benefits: such support can help you overcome any initial difficulties more quickly and easily, and in addition, it offers you the relatively assured opportunity that comes along with a well-honed business model you can exploit to build your own business.

By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.