The internet is clearly a great source to research Canadian franchises, but there are other ways to gather information that you should access, too. Before you decide on your new business, vet and compare the brand via the sources outlined below.
The franchisor itself
While you need to closely examine and verify any information you receive from a franchisor as best as you can, there is still some very important data there. Promo materials, the franchise disclosure document and other materials you receive from a franchisor are a window into the system. You should also speak to current franchisees about their experiences and discuss areas where you want more clarification or information with the brand's salesperson.
The industry and trade show circuit
Both franchisor and industry trade shows can give you an overview of the brands you are considering and the industry as a whole. At industry and franchise-only shows, you'll be able to speak with several brands at one time, and there may be free workshops and seminars you can attend to gain a better understanding of how franchising works in general.
The direct competition
Take a look at businesses that are competing with the brands you are considering in your community, both independent and franchise. Drive around and visit the locations, search them on the internet, and take notes. Find out who all the competitors are and how long they have been in business, in addition to what their weaknesses and strengths are. You'll also want to learn details about the businesses--such as what locations they have and how they charge--so you can compare them to your prospective brands.
The current locations
Beyond talking to franchisees, you should visit franchise locations in the system you are considering in different markets. Check whether they offer the same products and services and at similar prices to your location. This will help you gauge how consistent the system is, which is important for customers, and how well the franchisor is doing in managing its locations. Take the time to observe the operations; sometimes, seeing something in action will give you an idea of how much you would enjoy doing the same each day.
When you investigate franchise opportunities, you need to approach it from all angles to get the most complete picture possible. Weigh all you learn carefully--both on the internet and offline--before you make your final decision.