When you're researching Canadian franchise opportunities, it pays to be as thorough as possible. After all, you want to know as much as you can before you make such a significant investment of your time and your money. While the web is certainly a great place to hunt for possible franchises, there are some other options you can also access to get the most information you can.
Franchise brokers or consultants
Franchise consultants can be very helpful in your search. They are not limited to one brand like a salesperson is, so they often represent several franchisors. In a good network, the consultant will be trained to help prospective franchisees get their list down to the few opportunities that are their best match.
You may need to pay a fee to a consultant, although it's more typical that their service is "free" to you because they receive compensation from a franchisor if their contact with you results in a sale. Keep in mind that a consultant can be a solid resource with value, but they are not the 100-percent unbiased advocate that some people believe. You'll still want to make the decision on your own. Make sure you use a reputable consultant. Although it's not common, there are some less-than-honest consultants who will steer you toward franchises based on their financial incentive and not on what's best for you.
Industry and trade shows
Franchise trade shows are a great place to get information. If you are considering a specific field, there are industry shows to visit as well. At these shows, you'll be able to talk to several franchisors in a relatively short span of time, and there are also usually educational seminars about franchisees that you can attend. Try to attend whatever sessions you can, as you can learn a lot at these types of seminars about franchising as a whole.
The actual competition
Visit businesses--both independent and franchised--that are competing with your franchise in your area. Research those competitors and see how established they are, what their weaknesses and strengths are, and details about their structure, including pricing and the number of locations. This will help you see the playing field, so to speak, and will be of great assistance when you are drafting questions to ask your prospective franchisors.
Always research as much as you can before you invest in a franchise. The better your research, the wiser your decision will be.