Questions to ask before becoming a franchise owner:• Do you thoroughly understand the franchise business model, including how and why it works?• Have you done a thorough self-evaluation to make sure that you’re suited for a franchise business?• Have you thoroughly investigated the franchise opportunities that you’ve chosen to look into?• Did you get proper legal advice before you signed your franchise agreement?• Did you obtain the right type of small business loan for your business?Source: Small Business AdministrationConrad Cluff had big dreams for his general contracting firm. But as he spent 12 years trying to grow his Clark County business, he kept coming back to the same basic truth: His strengths were as a contractor, not a marketing guru or a business development expert.“I did a lot of experimenting, I read a lot of books, and I learned that to grow I was going to require investment, consultants, staff,” Cluff says. “But I could never quite break out of the mold of the guy with a trailer and a couple of toys.”So when Texas-based Rainbow International asked Cluff if he’d like to start a north Vancouver cleaning and restoration franchise, he was intrigued. “They have a pattern that has been duplicated over and over and has been proven successful in different markets,” he says.Franchises can be a great path to business success — if the right person invests in the right business opportunity, says Joel Libava, a franchise ownership adviser who writes about the topic for the U.S. Small Business Administration. But as Cluff and other Clark County business owners have learned, it can take months or years for a franchise investment to pay off, and investors should do their research before getting started.Expect high costs, low salariesMcDonald’s is perhaps the best-known franchise in the country, and it’s also one of the more expensive chains to invest in. According to Entrepreneur magazine, potential owners typically must have $750,000 in available cash to invest in a new McDonald’s, and initial investment costs are typically $1 million to $2.2 million per location.