Having just finished writing an e -book for people looking to invest in a franchise, I found many things were coming up for me on the franchisor front and I definitely thought it warranted a post on it.
Providing advice and guidance to prospective investors is a really interesting one for me, because I can share some stories and insights to people whose toes curl up when they hear about what can happen if you don’t go into an interview with a franchisor with your eyes wide open and your feet bolted firmly on the ground.
So, my top tips for franchisors when they are interviewing prospective franchisees are:
1. Be Consciously Respectful
The amount of times I hear of boltchy, arrogant franchisors who admit people into their ‘domain’ and ‘grant’ the person the time of day…man, I could write a book just on that! Of course these people are (generally) in the minority….but bad behaviour travels just as fast as bad news. Stop it in its tracks. Do you how much it takes for that person to be sitting in front of you? Be kind enough to acknowledge that its a big step this person is taking, and that it probably took a lot of courage to be sitting in front of you.
2. Be Aware of Franchise ‘Ignorance’
The franchisor is pretty clear about what the franchising model entails and means in practice, but most prospective franchisees haven’t got a clue. Be mindful of this when going through the proposition with the interviewee…or at the very least give some background to the franchise business model to give the person some kind of frame of reference to compare your discussion to. I use the example of a Head Honcho with Indians vs. Cowboys.
Head Honcho with Indians = Indians are replicas of the main ‘dude’ so to speak (hence: Honcho)…and although they carry out the ‘work’ as they are directed to do, they don’t create the ‘system’ or way in which they carry out the work (that is engrained into them as being a part of the Honcho’s crowd) [Franchisor with Franchisees]
Cowboys = generally are a gang of individuals finding their way in the world, guns blaring and behavioural antics alter with how long they have been in the gang. So, they have no real ‘quickstart’ to a system they need to follow..to actually achieve anything quickly. [Self-employed finding their way on their own.]
3. Clearly Articulate How You Make Your Money
I educate prospective franchisees to ask this question and be clear on how the franchisor makes his profit. Why? Because they really need to work out that the revenue structure works for BOTH sides. A franchisee never wants to find a franchise where it seems ‘cheap’, ‘easy money’ and there’s no real responsibility to the franchisor for growth or performance criteria. A franchisor needs to be profitably in this for the long term and be able to provide all of the support and resource frameworks promised to the franchisee. Please acknowledge the importance of this when interviewing a prospective franchisee – also…this will nip any conflict in the bud early on. As you will know…in a franchisee lifecycle – you will get to the ‘teenage’ phase where they will start to question your value and how much they pay you!
4. Never Slam the Competition
Please please please! As most best practice business professionals will tell you – this is a sure fire way of undermining your position and making you look like Iddy the Idiot. A more professional take would be to actually provide the interviewee with a list of who the competitors are and invite them to investigate those offerings as well. Perhaps it would also be good to highlight ever so politely the differences between them and yourself. (1) This gives the interviewee a heads up on who else is in the market and (2) Gives you an opportunity to be look helpful but at the same time (3) Highlight where your offering fills the gap.
5. Pack in the Punch
When I advise prospective franchisors at the planning stage to ‘pack in the punch’ in the offering – make sure you REALLY do. Franchising is very competitive and if you haven’t put together something that really takes away all of the aches and pains for a start-up business, this is where you will lose out in signing up more franchisees. Yes its important to have market share, an edge and a compelling brand…BUT…a prospective business owner is looking for a wholesome package that will help in all aspects of setting up a business. So, how can you put more into your offering to put you ahead of the rest of the crowd? You will notice the difference in the interview: a prospective franchisee will just light up when you work through all the avenues you have covered. Basically…he will have made his decision then and there…and it won’t take that much more to get a YES.
6. Remember that Interviewee’s are Interviewing You too
Yes, there is the major element that the person you are interviewing has to meet your strict entry criteria and profile – but don’t forget the tender aspect of you meeting their standards and expectations. You, as the franchisor, are also being interviewed (however subtle that might be). So, even if you did approve of their application….they need to approve yours to be their franchisor!
All I’m really trying to say I guess is that SMART franchisors recognise the opportunity to really shine and engage a prospective franchisee in the initial interview – but my 2cents worth of wisdom is that you need to be emotionally and professionally intelligent about how you conduct yourself and present the offering in that interview. If it goes badly, you will find that your enquiries start to dwindle (bad news travels fast as I said) and won’t have a second chance to clean up your mess!
So…Interview with the End in Mind. The ‘End’ being bringing on board a franchisee who respects you and has chosen your franchise because of your great offering and professional handling of him during the whole interview process.