Q: Under what circumstances does a prospective franchisee typically meet the franchisor’s team for the first time?
Most likely, your first point of contact will be the franchisor’s sales representative, either in person at a trade show or on the phone after contacting the franchisor for more information. This representative could be an in-house employee, a senior management team member or a consultant engaged by the franchisor to sell franchises. It is important to know which is the case, as consultants who sell many brands may not be as familiar with the particulars of the franchise in question as an in-house representative would be.
Should you decide to pursue the opportunity, the sales person will ask you to complete a confidential application form, which the franchisor will use to evaluate your candidacy. If your application is accepted, then you will be invited to meet the senior management team at the head office.
This should not be a one-sided meeting. It is important to ask questions of the senior management team. What experience do they have in franchising and business development? How well-capitalized are they to fund expansion? What is their vision for the future of the brand? Franchise agreements normally carry a 10-year term, so you want to make sure the brand is stable and well-supported.
The people you really want to meet are the field team, including the area manager and, if applicable, the marketing director. You must feel confident about working well with them. If not, do not buy the franchise. No matter how good the senior management team is, the field personnel—with whom you may be in contact on a daily basis—need to be a good fit.
Q: When attending a discovery day, what can the prospective franchisee expect to see and hear?
After your application form has been accepted, you may be invited to visit a franchise or corporate unit for a day to discover how the system works and what is involved in a ‘day in the life’ of a franchisee. It is also an opportunity for the franchisor to evaluate whether or not you would be a good fit for the system, both personally
As you go through the day, use the time to learn more about the opportunity and the franchisor. If you are placed with a franchisee, it is also a chance to ask them about the type and amount of assistance provided by the franchisor.
During the discovery day, the franchisor will look at how involved you become in the operations. If you just stand in the corner and watch, you will not get a feel for what it would be like to own the franchise—and your lack of participation will be a red flag to the franchisor that you are not a viable candidate.