The best way to avoid joining a scamchise (!) is to speak to existing franchisees in the network, and not only the ones that should be provided to you by the franchisor, but by finding people through yellow pages, etc. Bear in mind that these people are running a business so you must be respectful if just cold calling them, because if done in the wrong way, you will be met with a cold response…
Franchises are currently unregulated in the UK which is why there is a great potential for misleading info going out and leading to people making bad decisions. If you would like to speak to an independent financial advisor who is well versed in franchising, and who, for a fee, would fully and unbiasedly evaluate businesses on your behalf just let me know as I can set up a 10 minute initial chat, and if you were happy to go ahead, he would carry out a full evaluation.
This can go hand in hand with paying an experienced franchise solicitor to go over the franchise agreement (which is recommended and costs a similar price) and I’d be happy to recommend the ones I rate highly and are also not so expensive.
I’ve seen far too many people make the wrong decision simply because they didn’t do their due diligence in the right way, so spending a bit of money to get to a right decision can be more than appropriate.
The analogy I like to use is one where one should never buy a house without spending money first to have a complete structural survey done, because although it adds to the upfront costs, it could identify a problem which would either allow you to negotiate on the asking price, back out entirely, or it could simply put your mind at rest somewhat and allow you to make an informed decision and commit with a positive feeling.