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Meeting a franchisor: how to make a good first impression

Meeting a franchisor: how to make a good first impression

Here’s what a franchisor looks for when coming face to face with a prospective franchisee for the first time

The first meeting with a potential franchisor is an important one for both parties. This is the first time both sides will come face to face and start asking some probing questions.

A potential franchisee should take this meeting seriously and prepare as they would for any conversation that might change the course of their working life.

Non-disclosure agreement

You will almost certainly be expected to sign a non-disclosure agreement at the first meeting, as the franchisor will be revealing information to you about the financial elements of the business.

You shouldn’t be alarmed by this and should respect their desire to keep commercially sensitive information private.

Top tip:

be prepared to sign an NDA.

Be positive

There are numerous things I look for at this first meeting, but possibly the most important is, has the applicant got a fire in their belly, a desire to run their own business, do they have a good attitude and do they look as if they really want to succeed?

Top tip:

give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the meeting and do as much research as you can to demonstrate your commitment to wanting to buy a franchise.

Remember, franchises are awarded to a select few. It isn’t a case of you choosing to purchase, the franchisor is interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them.

Are you looking for a job or to buy a business?

We’re careful to weed out anyone who is just looking for a job.

Buying a franchise is not buying a job and it’s important candidates understand the difference.

As a franchisee, you’ll be expected to run your own business, including doing marketing, advertising, basic bookkeeping and using software such as Excel, Word and any specific accounting packages the franchisor has.

If you don’t have the skills, they will teach you, but you need to have the ability and aptitude to learn.

Top tip:

be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for and be prepared to explain that during the meeting.

Can you sell?

No matter what franchise you choose, you’ll almost certainly start as a small business owner and the biggest advocate of your business will be you.

You’ll need to be happy to talk about your business, possibly even attend local networking events - pandemics allowing - to promote yourself. Having the ability to sell your business is a must.

Top tip:

ask yourself if you’re comfortable with promoting your own business to win customers? Can you follow a franchise model?

The entire premise of franchising is following a proven business model. Franchisees don’t adapt. They don’t diversify.

The most successful franchisees are those who can follow the model without trying to change it.

Top tip:

consider if you’re good at following a set model or will your entrepreneurial spirit be constantly wanting to ‘tweak’ things?

Have you done your research?

Either at the meeting or before, I’ll want to know why a person has decided to buy a franchise and, in particular, why ours?

Have they done their research on us as a brand and also on franchising in general? Have they visited the British Franchise Association website? Have they read articles about the industry? Have they visited our website and read our blog and social media posts?

It may seem counterintuitive, but I will actually be happier if they say they’re looking at a number of different franchises rather than just ours because then I know they’re serious about the purchase and are doing due diligence before making a decision.

I’m not interested in which other brands or even which sectors they’re looking at, just that they’re considering other options.

Top tip:

do your research on the brand and franchising in general and look at other options; don’t be shy to share this fact with the franchisor.

Financing your purchase

There are a host of reasons why buying a franchise is not buying a job and one of the biggest reasons is that if you are launching a brand new territory there’s almost certainly no pay packet at the end of the first month or indeed for many months to come.

So I will need to know what a prospective franchisee needs to take out of the business to pay their rent/mortgage, feed their family, pay their bills every month and how they intend on financing that while they grow the business.

Of course, the franchisor is there to support them with knowledge and expertise, but they will need liquid assets to help them through the first stage of their journey until the business is able to pay them a wage.

Due to the stability of the franchise sector in the UK, finding finance for a franchise shouldn’t be hard; many brands, including some of ours, are preapproved with high street lenders.

If you buy a resale territory, which is a franchise that’s already up and running with an existing customer base, things could be a little easier, however. But be aware of any costs that will come with the business.

For instance, if machinery is involved chances are it could need replacing soon so and you’ll need to be prepared to cover those costs.

Top tip:

think about how you’re going to pay your bills before your business starts earning money and be prepared to discuss this with the franchisor.

Suited and booted or smart casual?

This will depend on the type of industry you’re looking at buying into.

If you were going into a white collar sector, such as an accountancy franchise, then you’d be expected to wear a shirt and tie. However, if you were looking at a man-in-a-van vehicle cleaning franchise, such as our PVC Vendo brand, then smart casual would suffice.

Top tip:

dress according to your sector. If in doubt, ask.

Case studies

A good attitude

During a phone conversation with a potential franchisee, I asked him to gather together some information and bring it to the meeting.

At the meeting, he not only turned up with all the information I had requested but had also done extensive research into competitors in his local area and had an idea of how many potential customers he’d have.

This is exactly the kind of attitude a franchisor is looking for. Needless to say, we awarded him a franchise and he has made a record-breaking start to his business journey.

First impressions count

Many years ago, I’d had two very encouraging phone calls with a young man about buying a franchise.

He turned up for a meeting with myself and the owner of the company. His shirt and trousers were torn and he looked generally unkempt and, frankly, unclean.

He hadn’t done any of the research I’d asked him to or even read up about the company. His application was rejected. Remember, for a franchisor-franchisee relationship to work you need honesty and trust.

Your franchisor will do everything in their power to make your business a success - after all, it is how they make their living - but they need you to be honest about your reasons for buying, your expectations and your commitment for it to be a successful working partnership.

The author

David Callister is group franchise director at Taylor Made Franchising.

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