Once you reach the stage of shortlisting franchise opportunities, there’s no better way of helping yourself come to a decision than attending a discovery day, according to Suzie McCafferty, managing director of franchise consultancy Platinum Wave
The majority of ethical franchisors these days host discovery days on a frequent basis, often every month. They represent a great opportunity for you to meet a franchisor and existing franchisees, as well as gain a more thorough understanding of the overall franchise opportunity and culture of the business.
Buying a franchise is a life changing commitment, so going along to a discovery day should be an essential part of your due diligence process. By attending a discovery day you demonstrate to the franchisor you are serious about the opportunity.
Discovery days are also about building mutual trust. You are unlikely to invest in a franchise owned by someone you do not trust and, likewise, what kind of franchisor would sell a franchise to a person they aren’t sure they can trust to protect and respect the brand they have worked so hard to build?
No hard sell
The best discovery days are those that don’t give you the hard sell. If you feel pressurised into making a decision, then perhaps it is indicative of a franchisor’s general operating style. Instead it should be an opportunity for an open, frank and informal discussion (without obligation on either side) about what the opportunity might offer you and what you can bring to the business.
The format of discovery days vary enormously. At one end of the scale are full days at a company’s headquarters, with presentations from the franchisor, franchisees and a supportive bank, plus a tour of the head office and meetings with the franchise support team. At the other, they can be as informal as a one-to-one meeting with the franchisor over a coffee.
Whatever the format, the following basics should be covered:
* Overview of the franchise opportunity.
* Start-up package - what does it include?
* Induction training - will you be taught everything you need to know to operate your franchise?
* Ongoing training and support programme - what level of ongoing support and training will you receive to help you grow your business?
* Financial investment - what level of investment do you require to not only purchase a franchise, but launch and develop your business in the early stages?
* How to prepare your business plan.
* How to choose the right territory.
Don’t be afraid to ask searching questions - you need to satisfy yourself that it is the right franchise for you. You are making a commitment of at least five years, so you must be confident there is a good fit between you and the franchisor.
Meeting them during a discovery day is the perfect opportunity to observe how they work with their existing franchisees and central support team. Do they have a good rapport? Would you fit in with the company values and culture? If possible, take the opportunity to speak informally to the franchisees present and ask their opinions on how the franchise is working for them. One would not expect 100 per cent positive comments, but if any negative ones are a concern it’s worthwhile investigating them further.
Here are some possible questions you might want to ask at a discovery day:
* How long had the business been operating before it became a franchise?
* How many franchisees do you have?
* How many support staff do you have?
* How many franchisees have left the network?
* How many of those had their contracts terminated?
* Can I meet some existing franchisees?
* What type of people make the best franchisees in your network?
In addition, here is a checklist to help you prepare for a discovery day:
* Am I prepared? Have I read and understood everything the franchisor has sent me and completed all necessary paperwork?
* Have I compiled a list of questions to ask? Have I written down my objectives for attending?
* How am I going to present myself? What is the culture of the organisation?
* Can I afford the franchise?
* Does the opportunity feel right?
In conclusion, regardless of format or level of sophistication, discovery days are about building trust between a potential franchise owner and the franchisor. During my 14 years in franchising I have seen the concept evolve and believe they are now an essential element in choosing a suitable franchise.
BETTER QUALITY DISCUSSION
A number of Platinum Wave clients host regular discovery days. This is what some of them had to say:
“Very often the first contact a potential franchisee has with a franchisor is a rushed conversation at a trade exhibition. The discovery day gives the opportunity for both parties to have a better quality discussion in a relaxed setting.”
David Hughson of Jim’s Mowing.
“Potential franchisees need to know they are dealing with an ethical, honest and financially sound business. There is no better way of demonstrating this than inviting them to company headquarters where they can get a feel for the company culture and meet the people behind the franchise.”
David Banfield of The Interface Financial Group.
“There is no better way that a potential franchisee can demonstrate their commitment and enthusiasm than attending a discovery day. If they take the time, trouble and expense to travel to the franchisor’s premises, it shows they have the right attitude to run a business.”
Denise Hutton-Gosney of Razzamataz Theatre Schools.