This is one of my Tannerisms (#4) that I learned early in my franchise career. “You need to go and visit the franchisor…Be impressed with what you see.” You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into until you see, feel and touch the people you’re going to be on speed dial with. There are several questions you need answered: “Who are these people?” “What is their professional experience?” “I know they have expectations of me, but what are they going to do for me?” You’re investing your future happiness and security in an A-Team you barely know. You owe it to yourself and your family to expect to be impressed. That said, you need specifics and EXAMPLES of what the franchisor provides franchise owners. This is critically important in the area of marketing: How is the brand perceived in your market? What does the franchisor have in the way of a Grand Opening plan? What marketing pieces will you have to capture and to keep customers? What support will you receive to fend off competitors? How deep is the franchisor into social media and digital platforms—the emerging marketplace? One aspect of marketing that is often overlooked is public relations. This puzzles me. Public relations isn’t free as all public relations people will tell you. After all, franchisors have to pay for the public relations people. And, often it’s a tidy sum because PR people have an outsized concept of their worth, but they do provide a valuable service with complementary benefits to paid advertising. Let me give you an EXAMPLE. We continue to grow our franchise footprint in Canada. We’re advertising in one of the national franchise magazines to reach prospective franchise owners. We pitched the publication on a front cover position promoting a successful multi-unit owner and because we have a great story to tell and were persistent in telling it—a key attribute of PR people—the May 2013 issue of Canadian Business Franchise magazine features of photograph of our Thunder Bay, Ontario, owner, Kris Rydholm, in a smart-looking branded shirt. When a franchisor promotes the brand through the word of mouth of a franchisee, the message is more powerful and credible. That’s the value of public relations. You want the franchisor to have public relations resources available to you to promote and to grow your business. So when you’re face to face with a franchisor, be sure to ask about public relations support. If it’s not available, don’t be impressed. They might as well be working out of a trailer with a 40-watt bulb.