Having been in leadership roles for numerous fast-growing national and international franchise chains, I’m often asked to share my secret to market success. And I’m quick to bust a few myths in the process.
Contrary to what many believe, I’ve found that you don’t have to micromanaging your operators to ensure full compliance isn’t going to get the brand to 100, 1,000 or even 10,000 locations anytime soon.
So, what are the true keys to successful franchise development?
DEFINE WHAT STANDS OUT ABOUT YOUR CONCEPT
In the early stage of franchise development it’s important to remind yourself that every good idea is not necessarily a franchise, and every franchise is not necessarily a good idea. What makes your opportunity special? And, more importantly, why should it be special to a prospect? In truth, your concept has to be rock solid.
What I personally look for, which not coincidentally is what my development team markets and what our prospects are evaluating, are the key attributes that make our concept attractive. To me, those key attributes include: being a recession resistant business, having a low overhead cost, a low investment level, and requiring no brick and mortar location to get started.
Find the keys to your concept, and you’ll have the keys to a strong development message. Consider these features your unbeatable elevator speech when showcasing a standout opportunity. And then train your team to champion them daily.
ASSEMBLE THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST SALES TEAM
Speaking of presenting a hot concept, there is nothing more compelling than building a superior development team to represent your opportunity.
If you hire and grow a fantastic salesforce, compensate them extremely well, provide them with the tools to do their job and then stand back and give them room to work, everything else will fall into place.
That also means giving a team time to do its job effectively. More sitting in meetings every week. They don’t make money in meetings. They make money on the phone.
And most importantly, I evaluate their results not only on rapid growth, but also sustainable growth. A solid organization is far better off by expanding with the right people, versus just expanding. A nd a good development team understands that.
AWARD FRANCHISES TO THE RIGHT CANDIDATES
Who are those great candidates that will exponentially grow your network? And just as important, who are the ones you need to gladly turn away.
Just because someone has the money to operate a franchise doesn’t mean that they should. There is a reason why we call it “awarding” a franchise, and it’s important to have your sales team adopt that same mindset.
Quite honestly, the wealthiest prospects don’t always make the best operators. I’ve witnessed many rich people try to open a business with more than enough capital, only to fail because they were not hands-on managers, they didn’t mind the store, and they tried to be a remote owner when accountability really mattered. You must inspect what you expect, even as a non-operating owner.
Instead, what a successful franchisor looks for are superior prospects who are passionate about joining the business. When people are passionate they will exceed expectations, they will work hard to champion the brand, and they will rise to the top in their markets regardless of the competition.
In addition, you want to do the extensive vetting when it’s most important — before a location opens. In the franchising arena, that means to qualify and close prospects who will follow a proven system, not those who want to reinvent the system.
Why not just go for hitting the numbers the fastest way possible? There is not enough time in the day to deal with a franchisee who decides to go rogue. The bottom line is selectivity, the 101st franchisee, these closed deals will determine the future of the franchise concept.
SKIP THE DOG AND PONY SHOW
Once you’ve found a solid prospect, it’s important to be transparent. And my philosophy at this stage in the sales journey goes against most ideas about Discovery Day. That’s because many franchisors want leads to discover their the best franchise candidates expect and deserve to see a day in the life of the business. And to be honest, that’s not always glamorous. But it’s utterly real and greatly appreciated.
This is huge. As a franchisee, they will not be working at headquarters every day. They are coming to you to explore what they should expect at the grassroots level. Deliver on those expectations. Be proud of the brand you have built, but be realistic with your prospects and show them all facets, not just the shiny and pretty parts of the business.
LET THE TRAINING BEGIN
Congratulations! You’ve shown your date all of your best qualities and you’ve agreed to take the plunge. You have decided to award a franchise. Now the real fun begins in the most critical component that will deliver on the promise: new franchise owner training.
I believe that selling and training are equal partners in the franchise development marriage. You simply cannot love one and cheat on the other. Why would you want to handicap the potential of your franchisees by granting them permission to operate under your cherished brand only to send them out into the wilderness to do with it what they like?
Training your franchisees is just like building a house. You start with the tools to build on that. And, by the way, you’re never done. You bring them back for advanced training. You create peer networks for best practices across the system. You even showcase what they do well that might just be adopted across the network. Training is constant, it helps support a growing network, it builds your happy validators, and they talk to — you guessed it — future prospects about why they should join the system.
If all of that seems neatly packaged, it’s not. There are many moving parts to get from point A to point B and from a complicated pool of leads to a nicely organized network of franchisees. But a great franchise concept represented by empowered development people to quality prospects who like the real-life opportunity and train well to execute it will result in a fantastic success story.
Gary Findley is the
CEO of Restoration 1 headquartered in Waco, Texas. For additional information about franchise opportunities
at Restoration 1, visit Restoration1Franchise.com
Article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Franchising World Magazine