Recruitment needs to be part of a franchisor’s core strategy if they are to attract the right calibre of franchisees to their network, says Angie Coates, founder and CEO Monkey Music
Franchising continues to remain one of the most popular options for people looking to start up their own business. The concept of ‘working for yourself but not alone’ still appeals to prospective business owners and, in this sense, little has changed in the world of franchising. However, the recruitment of new franchisees has evolved over time and there are new platforms to explore and indeed new work experience being brought to franchisors from their new franchisees.
Of course, this also impacts potential franchisees and the way in which they can access and research franchise brands. People now have information at their fingertips, and social media offers them an intimate introduction to the brand, as well as the franchisor and their senior management team. A potential franchisee’s first interaction with a brand may not be in a store, restaurant, or attending a class. It could simply be searched online. This not only increases the number of people exposed to the possibility of franchising, but it also raises the awareness of a brand.
Whilst the mechanics for reaching new franchisees has changed, the strategy for the final selection and actual recruitment of new franchisees should not. Most franchisors look to administer a recruitment policy based on the quality of the leads, not necessarily the quantity. It may be important to cast the net wide in search of attracting numerous leads, but the ultimate selection process remains crucial if a franchisor wants to maintain its brand values and attract the right people. Of course, the advent of social media marks a two-way process as franchisors also have immediate access to potential new franchisees’ profiles and their work experience, and therefore an element of selection can begin early.
Building on her own experience of recruiting a network of almost 50 franchisees, Angie Coates, founder and CEO Monkey Music, discusses how franchise recruitment has changed over the years with franchisors now having to meet the challenges of an evolving market.
Recruitment needs to be part of a franchisor’s core strategy if they are to attract the right calibre of franchisees to their network. The recruitment strategy must never be an add-on or afterthought. It is fundamental that franchisors make good, measured decisions about who they bring into their network. Tempting as it is to take anyone who expresses an interest in your brand, which can often be much higher numbers with the ease of modern information share, it is still worth being selective so you can grow steadily with a strong and proficient franchise network.
Content is key
Over the past few years, there has been a shift in internet-based lead generation such as search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. However, with instant access to research on any brand, franchisors need to ensure that the starting point for any potential franchisee, namely the brand website, is consistent and positive. By creating a website dedicated to the sale of your franchises, you can then pack it with content potential business owners would want to explore. This will help them determine whether your brand is the right brand for them and whether the opportunity is worth exploring.
A well-managed franchise website ensures a number of ‘filters’ have already been implemented prior to contact, for example knowing the cost of the franchise, where a franchise can be launched, specific skill sets required and more. Whilst these approaches are very effective there is still no greater access to new franchisees than a personal recommendation. By looking after your current franchisees you can ensure valuable and believable referrals are made by those already using the business model. There can be no greater endorsement.
Follow the process
A multi-layered approach is the best practice in the recruitment process. This allows not only for the franchisor to explore the suitability and potential success of a candidate but more importantly, allows for the prospect to explore and interrogate the business model, adhering to the bfa Code of Ethics.
“We have an extremely thorough application and recruitment process to ensure all our prospects fully understand and appreciate the nature of their potential new role as a business owner,” explained Kat Foster-Jenkins, business development manager at Monkey Music. “It is critical that we make good, well-considered choices about who we decide to award the franchise to. On balance, we can’t be a successful franchisor unless our franchisees are also successful in their own businesses. By being selective about our franchisees, we have been able to build a robust and talented franchise network and find candidates who have the right approach and aptitude to work with us.”
Alison Bolivar of Monkey Music Clapham and Battersea is one franchisee who joined the network in December 2020, swapping one successful role for another. She was fast developing a career in corporate finance running her own business, but then felt she needed a new challenge and one that worked alongside being a new parent. She said: “After having my son, I knew I wanted to find a new profession which fulfilled me, whilst giving me the ability to work flexible hours both when and where I chose to work. Not knowing what I wanted to do next, I started looking around and was interested in franchising as it offered the independence of small business ownership supported by the benefits of a big business network.
“I had always been impressed with Monkey Music having taken my son to the classes for three years, so when we moved to a new area in South London, I enquired about the availability of the franchise and the rest is history. I really wanted to recreate the same joy we had received with Monkey Music but in our new community and turn it into a new career. Despite the learning curve being incredibly steep at the start, it has also been hugely rewarding, and I have since grown my franchise to over 250 families attending 43 classes per week across eight venues.”
Lucie Jennings of Berkhamsted and Rickmansworth is another franchisee who bought a Monkey Music franchise in April 2018. Having worked in the media industry for 18 years and been made director of operations at a post-production facility in London, she felt it wasn’t giving her the satisfaction she thought it would. “I reached a turning point in my career where I needed to find a new profession which would enable me to work for myself while fitting around my young family,” said Lucie. “I am extremely driven and saw this as an opportunity to start a new career, build something for myself… without a commute!
“I first discovered Monkey Music when I took my daughter to baby classes and was captivated, as was she, from the outset. When the time was right, I enquired about the availability of a local franchise area, but it was already taken. I bought the neighbouring one. It has been a fantastic experience from day one – hard work at first, but so rewarding financially and mentally. The support from the network and Head Office Support Team (HOST) has been great throughout my journey and I have recently qualified as a teacher trainer consultant, training other teachers across the network. I’m always looking for the next challenge and plan to expand my business with more teachers and classes – we currently have around 300 Monkey Music families attending 30 classes per week across four areas in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.”
Each franchisor should have a bespoke recruitment plan. With a strategy in place to engage with your potential audience, coupled with having the correct personnel in your office and an excellent franchise business model, recruitment will be effective, efficient and ultimately rewarding for both franchisor and new franchisees alike.
Angie Coates is the founder and CEO of Monkey Music. She used her passion for music, having studied at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama with stars of stage and screen, to build a hugely successful business and subsequently franchised it to scale up the brand nearly 30 years ago.