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I am in the same position of looking to buy a business, although not a franchise. I have found it hard to find a professional for the due diligence. I have found a free service in Victoria called Small Business Centres Victoria (http://www.sbcv.com.au). They are usually based in TAFEs and colleges. They are helpful for general information when starting your plan, but that is about all.

Regarding purchase price, i have contacted a few business brokers to put a 2nd opinion value on the business. They cost well over $1000, but i was especially disappointed to find out that they value a business almost entirely on the turnover and profit, without taking any other factors into goodwill consideration (like changes in the industry, staff situation etc). I didn’t get one done.

Obviously it is important to see an accountant and a lawyer before going ahead (i haven’t yet). I see this as the last point of call after i am satisfied with the situation. I really feel that accountants put too much focus on the tax reduction side of things, which, as important as tax is, is usually not your priority at this stage (personally, i have hundreds of more important questions). For me, a lawyer will just look over the whole purchase agreement for any flaws. Other than this, i see a lawyer as expensive advice, unless you know one, or a friend recommends a good (helpful) one.

There doesn’t seem to be one profession that deals with this situation (someone please tell us both if there is). So, after considering my position (which seems to be similar to yours), i concluded that the most reliable and informative (and maybe free) professional is another business owner. Someone who has owned, bought or sold a business. Someone who has experienced it. Even if you don’t know them personally (your mechanic?). I have an uncle that can help me. He has never been in the same industry as me, but i don’t think that matters for the questions that i have.

Hope that is some help. I haven’t posted on FS in years. Good to be back.