By Paul Hanson, President of Epcon Franchising
When you think about the big purchase decisions we make in our lives, you typically think of things like purchasing a house, buying a car or choosing your college. While those are, of course, major life decisions, they typically affect a relatively small window of a person’s life when you consider the fact you’ll only be in college four years, will probably want to change cars after a few years and could decide to relocate into another house as your life circumstances change. The decision to purchase a franchise, though, is one that is meant to affect the remainder of a person’s working life.
This means franchises have a unique sales process. Buying a franchise is an incredibly personal choice. Combined with the large amount of capital required, it can be one of the most challenging decisions a person makes, and franchisors need to consider this when creating their sales process.
Become a trusted advisor.
The best franchise sales process offers the assistance of a trusted advisor that will guide a prospective franchisee through discovery and due diligence with integrity. To become a trusted advisor, you must learn about the potential franchisee, the problems they are looking to solve and the goals they want to achieve. As you demonstrate this level of concern for their business, they will see that you are truly interested in establishing franchise relationships that are mutually beneficial to both parties.
For example, when prospective franchisees begin communicating with our business development team, we know they approach our conversations with a certain level of skepticism. Therefore, we approach every conversation with the mentality that we do not “sell” franchises, but rather we “award” franchises to candidates that are a good fit for our program and will benefit from our services. This allows us to spend the early conversations learning about their situations and, if applicable, existing businesses that may eventually coexist with their franchise.
Choose and train the right sales team.
Your franchise sales results will be a direct reflection of the quality of your business development team. Do they listen well? Are they able to write and communicate in a manner that breaks the complex decision of purchasing a franchise down into a series of simple decisions that guide the candidate to the purchase decision? Do they believe in your concept to the point that they feel they would be doing a candidate a disservice if they allowed him or her to forgo the opportunity your brand provides? If you cannot answer an emphatic “yes” to all three of those questions, it may be time to upgrade.
Even when you have a great business development team, don’t be afraid to challenge them. There is often the mentality that the complexity of franchises means recruitment must take a long time. This does not have to be the case if you present your opportunity in a compelling manner. Some sales teams may also shy away from self-generating leads, but they can be successful in proactively approaching ideal candidates if you encourage them to do so.
Streamline your process with the franchisee in mind.
No two recruitment paths are the same, but a franchisor should have a general process. During the initial conversation between the sales team and the potential franchisee, many development teams make the mistake of talking too much about their brand and its services. Instead, this call should be focused on learning about the candidates as much as possible. Limit your discussion about your brand to answering any direct questions they ask about it, and craft a message at the end reinforcing that there is tremendous opportunity in making a career or business services change.
If both parties want to move to the next step, it’s a good idea to get an existing franchisee involved. For example, providing the candidate with a list of current franchisees allows for open dialogue between the candidate and current franchise owner, which often provides incredible validation for the candidate and deepens the “trusted advisor” status of our business development manager.
The final step of the process is usually some kind of “Discovery Day.” This is the time to allow the candidate to get to know the franchisor’s leadership team and have a more open discussion. It’s also a final check in the process to determine a cultural fit between all parties.
Focus on becoming a trusted advisor instead of dumping information from the get-go to improve your franchise recruitment process.
Article originally published on SmallBizDaily.