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It can be helpful to check out the management running the franchisor of the top franchises you are investigating. Find out the names and employment history of the managers. Do they have prior experience in running a franchise operation? Also, check out any indication of shady business deals. In other words, look for criminal records, bankruptcies, and a lawsuit histories related to your top franchises. Alternately, look for past examples of meeting obligations, behaving honorably, and earning stellar reputations.
When you invest in a franchise, you want to be sure it's of top quality. You are relying upon the franchisor to meet their obligations to you so don't ignore omens presented by their past business dealings.