Jody Fiveash, uk recruitment manager at taxassist accountants, gives you the inside track on the events that allow you to meet franchisors face to face
As part of their franchisee recruitment process, many franchisors hold discovery days, either on a regional basis or at their corporate offices. As the name suggests, these are events that allow you to discover more about the franchise opportunity and if it could be a good fit for you, so are an important part of your due diligence.
But what in reality is a discovery day? Is it a heavy sales pitch? Will you be asked to commit to a franchise there and then?
Discovery days are designed to allow you and a franchisor to meet face to face. For you, it’s a chance to take a good look around the franchisor’s headquarters and meet the people who’ll be supporting you should you join the network. For the franchisor, it’s a chance to meet you and show you the great opportunity on offer.
Discovery days can be group events or one-to-one meetings. Our preference is for group sessions, as we find they allow you to get more out of the day. Someone will invariably ask a great question you may not have thought of and as our franchise is a business building one, with franchisees expected to attend networking events, it’s a great opportunity to see how prospects interact, both with support centre personnel and other attendees.
It’s worth remembering that discovery days are very much a two-way thing - while you’re assessing the franchisor, we’ll be doing the same to you.
We always encourage attendees to bring their partner, a family member or trusted adviser along to these events. As you are looking to invest a sizeable chunk of your savings, possibly take on a business loan and, in many cases, be leaving the security of paid employment, family support is critical, so involve them in your research, let them meet the franchisor and hear first-hand about what you are looking to invest in. Not only will it make the decision making process easier for you, from a franchisor’s perspective, it also shows additional commitment, as both of you have taken the time to visit.
Franchise candidates shouldn’t expect to discover anything negative. If you knew you were having company at your home on a particular day, you’d make sure your house was in order. You should keep in mind that, as well as showing you how the franchise works, most discovery days are designed to impress you.
The key things a franchise discovery day will often cover includes:
* The franchise’s background, including history and current statistics, such as size of the network, how long it has been franchising and overall network performance.
* The franchisor’s business background, including any awards or accolades it has won either in the franchise arena or business sector in which it operates - both are equally valid.
* Overview of the business model. This will likely be brief, as it will have been covered in the franchise prospectus and pre-discovery day conversations with the franchise recruitment team.
* A breakdown of the franchise package and what is included in the franchise fee.
* More detailed information on the training package provided.
* How the franchisor will support you in growing your business.
* Business planning and bank funding options.
* The franchise agreement, next steps and guidance on the due diligence you should be carrying out.
* General question and answers.
Much of the background information shared with you on a discovery day is already available to you. As a franchisor, we would expect that by the time someone reaches the stage of attending one of our discovery days they would be fairly well educated about the business model. The day is as much about getting to know the people involved and for you to assess if the facilities the franchisor has meet your expectations.
Discovery days also provide you with an opportunity to ask questions. We always recommend prospective franchisees call or visit existing franchisees to get an unbiased view and a realistic feel for the business from people who have been through the process.
All our prospective franchisees have to attend a discovery day, as it’s a great opportunity for you to meet the team and see if our franchise is right for you and for us to see if you are right for the franchise.
By the time someone attends they will have had a copy of our prospectus, supplied their CV and application forms and had initial conversations with the recruitment team to assess their level of suitability.
The discovery day comes at an early stage of the process and all we would expect someone to sign on the day is a standard non-disclosure agreement. Throughout the day we involve all the executive directors and senior managers, so that you get to meet everyone who will be involved in supporting you and we can collectively assess your suitability, so that all are in agreement before we offer someone a franchise.
One of the primary concerns prospective franchisees often have is about securing finance. As a well established franchise network, we have a good relationship with the top banks and a relationship manager from one of the main banks is on hand at our discovery days to discuss funding with you.
At the end of our discovery days we offer one-to-one sessions in order to discuss any questions or concerns in private. It’s not about hard selling. Our mission is to give you the information and facts you need to go away and think about how you want to proceed.
After the discovery day we supply prospects with a pack that includes a directory of all our franchisees, a copy of the franchise agreement, a copy of the British Franchise Association code of ethics and a business plan template.
Whichever franchise you are talking to, take the time you need to make an informed decision. We’ve had franchisees join us just three weeks after a discovery day, as well as up to 10 years after an event.
After the day, take the time to reflect on the opportunity and the company culture. Assuming you like what you hear and feel the franchisor is someone you could work with for the next five, 10 or even 20 years, you can then move onto the detailed due diligence stage.