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Franchise earnings potential

How can I find out how much money is made with various franchises? 
This is not an easy question to answer, and many franchisors actually like that, so they can blame the government for their inability to discuss income.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regulates the nature of franchise disclosure and prohibits franchisors from discussing "earnings claims" unless they are supported by very specific language in the offering circular (the UFOC - Uniform Franchise Offering Circular). For a number of reasons, including the fact that franchisees in certain systems don't fare too well, only about 22% of all franchise companies publish earnings claims.

Investigation beyond disclosure requires interviews with existing franchisees. That can be difficult, since most people don't give personal information to a stranger. 
Brain Trust contributor: Principal, the Bibby Group; franchise consultant and entrepreneurship counselor
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