There are quite a few ways to investigate a franchise before investing in it. The reputation of a company is easy to glean from customer reviews online, as well as by speaking with frequent customers. Of course, franchisors will always provide plenty of literature about the ins and outs of running one of their stores, and checking out a company's competitors will always yield some valuable information.

However, because franchises are usually numerous and similar to one another, an important step that should not be overlooked is to go to a franchise location and learn as much as possible from the view of someone in the front of house. Doing this with little to no foreknowledge of an organization will allow a potential entrepreneur to see things from a perspective that will quickly be lost to them once they sign a franchise agreement. Investigate the following details when stepping into a franchise for the first time.

Its physical state
This is one of the most obvious details and speaks volumes about the reputation of a company. If everything is neat and orderly, it is clear that a high degree of professionalism is required to run a store or office. Messy service areas and poorly-decorated waiting areas indicate that cleanliness and organization is not being emphasized, which may mean that franchisees will have this reputation to contend with if they decide to make an investment offer to the franchisor.

Visibility of management
Some companies that have front of house areas may not require the upper levels of a store's management to be visible, while others require that the owners and shift leaders take a strong hand in the guidance of this part of a franchise. The management style of a future small business owner will differ depending on whether this appeals to her or not. Those who enjoy interacting with customers should take note of the frequent presence of a manager, while those with a hands-off approach who prefer to run things from behind the scenes will appreciate franchises where managers are only available when called upon.

Customer reactions
Speaking to customers in a franchise is one thing, but observing them without interacting is also a valuable investigatory device. Take careful note of their impatience, attitude and demands to understand how they perceive a store, what draws them in and if they are regular customers or not. Forming a conception early on about what actions need to be taken to improve a franchise will lay the groundwork for a successful management strategy and will also demonstrate to a franchisor that he has the administrative abilities required to be an effective franchisee.

About Liberty Tax Service
Liberty Tax Service is the fastest-growing retail tax preparation company in the industry’s history. Founded in 1997 by CEO John T. Hewitt, a pioneer in the tax industry, Liberty Tax Service has prepared over 8,000,000 individual income tax returns. With 42 years of tax industry experience, Hewitt stands as the most experienced CEO in the tax preparation business, having also founded Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.

Liberty Tax Service is the only tax franchise on the Forbes “Top 20 Franchises to Start,” and ranks #1 of the tax franchises on the Entrepreneur “Franchise 500.” Each office provides computerized income tax preparation, electronic filing, and online filing through eSmart Tax.