Kieron McVeigh, international training manager at Papa John’s, reveals the personality traits of the company’s most successful franchisees and how he goes about evaluating them
It’s in the interests of franchisors that their franchisees become as successful as possible. Papa John’s, like many major franchises, has a set-up that’s arranged as a win-win situation: the more product - in our case pizza - our franchisees sell, the more profit they make and in turn we do better as a franchisor.
Success comes down to having excellent systems in place, a superior product, great service and training, but also the very best people. So what are the personality traits of our most successful franchisees and how do we go about evaluating them?
Ingredients to succeed
Franchisees come from all walks of life and their levels of experience and backgrounds can vary hugely. Yet, regardless of prior experience, with the right attitude and training, plus world class service and product and financial backing, all the ingredients are in place for anyone who’s motivated and determined enough to create a successful franchised business.
When recruiting, a franchisor is looking for the best candidates to work with as franchisees. They become custodians of the brand, so need to be dedicated, enthusiastic, hardworking and want to be part of a growing team.
From Papa John’s point of view, candidates should share our values and outlook on providing a superior product and customer service and we welcome and support those who are focused on growing their portfolio of stores too.
In-store experience day
After receiving an application and an initial telephone call, suitable candidates attend a one to one discovery meeting. If successful, this is followed by an in-store experience day at Papa John’s European headquarters in Milton Keynes.
The format of these ‘meet and greet’ style days are designed to facilitate two-way communication between potential franchisee and franchisor. The process is about the whole Papa John’s team evaluating the candidate and, at the same time as getting to know each other, the potential franchisees can see how our business model works in practice.
We want candidates to experience what it’s like to be in a busy store, managing the team to ensure deliveries are out the door on time every time.
During the in-store experience day, we also take the opportunity to present on the Papa John’s values - what’s important to us and our brand. Next, we have a tour of the fresh dough making factory, so franchisees can see first-hand what goes on behind the scenes.
We also talk about the training franchisees receive to ensure they will be ready to run a store. The management training is detailed, but we discuss our programme, which includes six weeks in-store, plus two weeks at Papa John’s headquarters.
Then it’s off to a real store to experience the practical challenges of preparing pizza in a busy consumer environment. Here it’s time to put aprons on and the candidates get the chance to make pizza and see what’s involved in running a store on a day to day basis.
We’re looking for people who will thrive in this environment. Although many of our successful franchisees have worked in the fast food sector before, they don’t necessarily need to have an industry background. What’s more important is that they can demonstrate their communication skills and desire to work as part of a team.
Like many other franchises, this industry is a people business. Therefore, we’re looking for candidates who get on well with others in the group. They need to be quick and efficient and take direction. Making pizza well can be tricky, so franchisees and their staff need to be able to follow instructions. If they can’t do this - how will their stores be well run?
The most successful franchisees need to be as dedicated and passionate as us and also able to adapt to a proven way of working. The desire to roll up sleeves and get stuck in, which means everything from making pizza through to managing staff, goes a long way.
Because they will be managing a team of staff, how they communicate with others is particularly important. Franchisees deal with customers as well as lead a team on a daily basis, so a sense of humour can help too, as long as candidates recognise the importance of providing the best quality service and product possible at the same time.
It’s also a physical job. People need to enjoy the challenge and pace of a busy customer facing environment. I like to see potential candidates getting involved and engaged in the process of taking orders, making pizza and overseeing the delivery of the final product.
The best franchisees are organisers with a can do attitude - they are people who get things done. However, like an unhappy marriage, this job won’t suit everyone. However, the role can be incredibly rewarding for the right person.
The agenda of the in-store experience day is carefully designed for candidates to observe and learn about the culture and values of Papa John’s and also experience how one of our stores is run.
We minimise the numbers of people we invite to HQ through preselection at the discovery days. This ensures they receive individual attention and, importantly, we can get to know them. It means they get a taste for what has made Papa John’s so successful and what it takes to run a franchised store.
At each stage of the subsequent recruitment process the franchisee and our team at Papa John’s ensure everyone is keen to move forwards. Successful candidates are invited to move to the next stage, which is business planning.
Where the in-store experience day is about experiencing the store environment, the business plan stage is about understanding the numbers associated with running a successful store.
The candidate will present their research, the financial forecasts and how they’re going to operate a successful Papa John’s business. Transparency on both sides is the name of the game and by the franchisee approval panel interview stage everyone should have a clear idea of what’s expected.
This final meeting is a chance for the franchisee to show they have completed their own due diligence, particularly on the financial aspect of their business.
The final decision is with the operations and leadership team to approve the candidate to come on board. It’s a team decision and we don’t always say yes.