The Wall Street Journal (online edition) just ran a great article (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704204304574543610390266916.html on the importance of franchisee validation surveys.
Our feeling is that the more transparent a Franchisor is willing to be, the less 'buyers remorse' there will ever be. These reports can be a real clue-into the culture of the system too. As well, it can save a prospective Buyer days/weeks/MONTHS in the research and Due Diligence process by obtaining such a research report from a reputable company with no ties or vested interest in the Franchisor.
That has always been one of the reasons why I have never put much stock in the 'Online Rankings/Polls' that get put out by magazines each year -- the ranking criteria is not disclosed and some top-ranked companies that make it in year after year are some of the absolute worst franchise options out there.
These 3rd-party, independent research companies, like FranSurvey-The Franchise Research Institute are at least unbiased and here you can be rest-assured that 'the data don't lie'!