Simon Dalziel, franchise consultant and co-founder of Bluebird Care, explains how to stand out as a prospective franchisee
There is much advice around about how a prospective franchisee should evaluate a franchise offering - what questions to ask the franchisor, what research should be carried out on the market, what to ask existing franchisees, etc.
However, what can be forgotten in the process of franchise recruitment is what a franchisor is looking for from prospective franchisees.
Joining a successful franchise network can be a competitive process, with many applicants for the same territory or outlet, and the franchisor will be looking for the person who they believe is going to be the most successful.
It’s not dissimilar to a job interview - any company will be looking for the best person to fill the vacancy, in the same way a franchisor will be looking for the best person to take on the available franchise.
Remember, you will be trading with its brand, so the franchisor needs to ensure it has the right people, as the wrong people will damage the brand.
Of course, buying a franchise is different to taking a job, but from a prospective franchisee’s point of view, much of the preparation that should be undertaken for a job interview should also be undertaken before meeting a franchisor.
Fitting The Profile
A franchisor should have a tried and tested franchise recruitment system to enable it to find franchisees who meet its profile. In setting up the franchise system, a franchisor will have identified the profile of franchisees it seeks, who it believes will be most successful in running the business.
Like staff recruitment, the franchisor may use profile tests in its recruitment programme. The profile a franchisor seeks in its franchisees will be in terms of possible previous experience in the sector or elsewhere and characteristics and skills an individual will need to be successful.
Without doubt, the success achieved by the Bluebird Care franchise network, for example, was a result of, firstly, a business system that gave both franchisee and franchisor the opportunity to be successful but, as important, a robust and tested franchise recruitment system that brought in the right applicants and then selected those who met the criteria to own a Bluebird Care franchise.
So the message is, if you want to join a successful franchise network ensure you stand out during the franchise recruitment process as the best candidate. Not surprisingly, the successful franchises will be the hardest to join - there is good reason why they are successful because they select their franchisees carefully.
Make a Good First Impression
How do you stand out from other applicants? A franchisor’s recruitment process should start for both the franchisor and prospective franchisee from the first contact between the parties. The saying: ‘You have one chance to make a first impression’ is true here too.
If you’re keen on the business you’re investigating, ensure that comes over to the franchisor, even at this early stage of the process. The franchisor should be noting this initial discussion, will see that you’re keen and, if the right questions are asked, may well start to see you may have the profile it’s looking for.
The application process will continue and will probably include completing an application form and sending more details about yourself. This will probably be your CV, so ensure it’s up to date and highlights relevant skills or experience.
Meeting The Franchisor
If both parties agree, the next step will be to meet at the franchisor’s office. Now is your best opportunity to show the franchisor you are the right person to take on the franchise. Preparation before the meeting is vital to your success. Research the business and market it sells into, check out the competition in that market and prepare a list of questions you wish to ask the franchisor.
Ensure you have addressed your financial situation and know the scale of investment the business requires, both initially to set up and on an ongoing basis. The better prepared you are, the more it shows the franchisor you are serious about the business and the better chance you have of securing the franchise you want.
Remember, you’re not making a commitment at this stage and, like a job, you can turn down the franchise offer.
Review The Meeting
Once you’ve met the franchisor, it’s important to evaluate and review the meeting. Did the franchisor and business meet your expectations? Were all your questions answered satisfactorily?
If you’re still keen on the business, evaluate how you think you came across at the meeting. One of the main post-meeting evaluations you will make is if you felt the franchisor made efforts to assess you and your application and did not simply sell the business to you. Ask the franchisor what they think of you.
Keep In Contact
If the franchise still meets your criteria at this stage, it’s important to ensure your application continues to stand out from others. Keep in contact with the franchisor and keep to any deadlines agreed. A professional business will expect those interested in becoming franchisees to act in a professional manner.
Successful franchise recruitment is about ensuring a win-win situation. The franchisee wins because they join a franchise they’re keen to be part of and the franchisor wins because it opens another outlet with someone it believes will be successful.
If both parties are honest with each other, there is every chance the franchise partnership will be fruitful for both parties.