Monday, September 2, 2019

When is the Best Time to Engage a Franchise Attorney?

Franchise Buyers: Is there a right time to engage a franchise attorney?

Based on my experience, some people wait too long to engage a franchise attorney (Well, at least most of those folks still hire counsel before they buy). I suspect that those who do delay are concerned about incurring legal fees before they select the "right" franchise. That may not always be the case.

I cannot speak for all lawyers who represent franchise buyers but my belief is that most franchise lawyers are happy to conduct a preliminary call BEFORE you are locked into a specific system. Helping buyers, by providing general, early guidance, creates a fair amount of credibility; in essence, reinforcing the idea that you have contacted the right lawyer. Screening the lawyer may be as important as screening the franchise system.

So how can this early connection help? First, counsel may simply outline the best way to work together going forward. That is, offering general guidelines as to when counsel can become effectively involved, offering the chance to ask questions along the way, and steering the potential buyer to resources to build their own "searching skills." Also, by simply directing a franchise buyer to look for the most important items in a Franchise Disclosure Document. A franchise buyer can also determine the fees that will charged once the clock is turned on. All in all, it makes you a more intelligent buyer!

On the resources, for instance, I provide potential buyers with a copy of my e-Book, How to Buy a Franchise. There are many other resources online and in print. Buyers should take advantage of these resources. My website provides a Resource section, that leads to many online guides, including information from the Federal Trade Commission, various franchisee associations, and franchise consultants.

Finally, the franchise attorney you contact may have prior experience in the category you vetting (i.e., daycare centers, home care, fast food, etc.) and may be able to offer early warning signs or guide you to a reliable franchise company.

So make the call, get on the right track, and take advantage of the resources.

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