New York franchise lawyer, Charles Internicola, has good blog post on Buying a Franchise: What do the franchise fees cover? It’s an excellent overview and Charles is right on point with his factors that are more important than the franchise fee itself.
The key in my opinion is to find a franchise that will deliver you a return on your investment. Don’t fall into the trap of buying yourself a job. The most successful franchisees I have seen are usually multi-unit operators that work "on" the business rather than "in" the business. They also make sure they have plenty of start-up capital to get through the lean times. Raising just enough capital to pay the franchise fee is not enough.
Plus, focus on franchises that deliver superior brand recognition in their marketplace. Buying an unknown franchise in any marketplace is seldom worth the expense in my experience. If you and your friends haven’t heard of the franchise, you might want to think twice.