Through my experience in the franchise business, I’ve learned firsthand that to attract and nurture qualified franchisees, franchise sales leaders and their teams must create an educational pathway for interested investors, rather than a hard selling process. Being pushy is a turnoff, and today’s candidates want control. By creating a platform for them to educate themselves, you’re meeting them where they want to be met with an informative process.
While this might seem counterproductive, relinquishing a portion of control by providing an in-depth educational process for potential franchise owners helps both the brand and the candidate determine if it’s truly a good fit. And, as a franchisor, the value of having franchisees who you know are dedicated to the concept from the get-go is priceless.
Joining a franchise system is a long-term commitment that cannot be taken lightly. Whether we like it or not, it can pose many challenges. But by providing full transparency to prospective franchisees from the start, our teams at Meineke and Maaco have been able to identify partners who are well-prepared and have a clear understanding of what’s to come once they open up shop. Ultimately, regardless of industry, franchisors must align with franchise investors who have full confidence in operating their own business.
The path to ownership
At Meineke, we’ve established a 10-step educational process that has proven to work well for candidates and our team, helping both sides make informed decisions. It’s a mix of live conversations on the phone, virtual meetings and presentations, email communications, and web-based user experiences. The process allows us to identify strengths in prospective franchisees, and allows franchise prospects to gain a full understanding of the business model, along with required operational and financial commitments. We’ve found that for our business model, this is the best way to establish open, transparent communication from day one. It provides 10 weeks for our team to interview prospects, and 10 weeks for prospects to interview us.
As you consider implementing a due diligence process that is more educational and informative, it’s essential to start the journey by going back to the basics. Talk to your franchise candidates about the brand’s franchise positioning today. While it might seem obvious to review these elements, it’s a key factor in making sure the person is synched up with your brand values, mission, and future.
Aside from brand values, the operational logistics of running the business are also a deciding factor for many franchisees. By providing a thorough explanation of the business model and what it takes to scale and manage the business, potential owners can learn the extensive responsibility that comes with owning a business. Once the intangibles, financials, and operational aspects are clearly researched and discussed in the due diligence process, the prospect should be sent the FDD for review to get a clear understanding of what’s to come. This step is a landmark moment in the process because it clears the way for several other crucial discussions about the investment, operations, and franchisor support.
It’s usually at this point that we encourage franchise prospects to connect with current franchise owners. We don’t beat around the bush on this, it’s 100% recommended and we’re an open book. They can hear firsthand what it takes to run a Meineke or Maaco business and find out what a day in the life as a franchisee looks like. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to gain perspective on the benefits of franchising, such as the lifestyle and earning potential. It’s also a good time to do a 180 and recognize that moving forward is not the best way to proceed. The rubber often meets the road here.
At the end of the 10 weeks, we invite the franchise prospects who are still in the process to immerse themselves even more through our educational discovery day. This is the most important step and often is the turning point in signing a franchise deal. We use this day to allow the prospect to interact directly with the entire management team and decide if it’s a good fit, both on our end and theirs. It’s after this milestone in the process that the excitement of new franchise ownership becomes a reality for all sides.
Advice for interested franchise investors
While I’ve considered both franchisor and franchise prospect perspectives here, I do want to share some specific guidance for candidates considering a franchise investment. When deciding whether a franchise opportunity is a good match for you, there are must-do considerations, regardless of the vertical industry you are considering. Of course, having a passion or being drawn to business ownership in the brand’s industry is important, but you must also consider if you are capable of being a leader. If necessary, can you manage a diverse team of employees? Do you know how to set key objectives and measure results? Do you have the skill set to manage operations, or should you consider an operating partner? By having an honest and thorough conversation with yourself, you can identify if a brand – or franchising in general – is right for you.
The training and education process doesn’t end once you close the deal. Learning continues in parallel for both franchisee and franchisor. Franchisors must continue to identify where franchisee support is needed, and franchisees should continue to challenge their knowledge and encourage collaboration with franchisors to advance their continual education about both the brand and franchising itself. After all, no franchisee or business is perfect. There’s always room for growth.
Jeff Todd is Vice President of Franchise Development at Driven Brands, with a focus on Meineke Car Care Centers (Meineke) and Maaco America’s Body Shop (Maaco). He leads a team responsible for awarding each brand’s franchise opportunity to qualified investors, working closely with individuals and operator groups who are either interested in diversifying their portfolios or seek to transition into entrepreneurship in the attractive automotive aftermarket segment. Click here for more information.
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