The importance of laying the right foundations for successful franchisee recruitment and selection is often times overlooked and perhaps even pushed aside, replaced instead with a sense of complacency that you’re the one who knows your business model best so recruiting franchisees should be easy right? Well not exactly.
Interestingly this is how many franchisors, both new and mature, approach franchise recruitment and selection. In a marketplace where competition is high, people are no longer looking for franchise opportunities that are relevant to their past trade or profession, instead choosing something completely different. An opportunity, a culture and a brand that will fuel their interest and desire to own their own business, ignite their passion and build a lifestyle they love.
So as a franchisor, the key question is firstly, how do you capture the attention of your ideal franchise candidate and; secondly how do you bring them onto a path of discovery with you, until they either deselect themselves, are deselected by you or,are granted one of your franchises?
There are 3 key selling skills all franchisors must have…
We’ve all heard it before…. Gone are the days where you just “flog” your franchises. It’s about granting them. Often times this is associated with a passive sales process and one that doesn’t fully support the fundamental function of a franchisor and that is to ‘sell franchises’. So if you are not in the business of selling franchises, yet your livelihood and success of the brand depends highly on it, it’s important to understand the key elements to success franchise recruitment and selection.
Build solid foundations with a solid sales process
When you understand the lifecycle of a customer in this case a franchisee and you, prepare and lay and develop solid foundations, you will accelerate your pace of expansion in the marketplace. The real statistics of franchisors and franchise sales people are dismal at franchise recruitment and only a small percentage however are real pros at it. It also helps if you’re supported with a robust system that can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. We can talk about that a little later on. Old sales techniques simply don’t work anymore and short-cutting the franchise process won’t support you either.
So what’s a solid sales process look like and how will it support you? A well-defined sales process will clearly lay out what steps you must take in what order and at what time, so you help prospective franchisees make a smooth transition to franchisee. Take some time out now to jot down some thoughts about the steps you want your prospect to take as soon as they see your ad, land on your landing page, sign up to a webinar, or simply attend the first meeting. If you map it all out into a framework that enables the process to flow, you will be in a much better position to create leverage, scale and grow.
Building Strong Relationships
Back when I started in franchise recruitment I was a master of the Tom Hopkins style of selling. I led, influenced and convinced and won them over and yes that meant I then took their money. That style of selling just doesn’t work anymore. People are more aware; they are well educated and informed and are truly stacking your franchise opportunity up against another. I am a big believer that you just can’t possibly build strong, personal relationships with every prospect as there is simply not enough time in the day and secondly, not everyone will be the right fit for you and therefore doesn’t require as much one on one time and energy from you. It could therefore be said that the key to building strong relationships is to have a solid sales process and follow up strategy in place that incorporates a balanced mix of personal, sms and email touch points. Prospects are still loved, and you get to focus your time and energy where it’s needed most.
Learning how to close effectively
When you listen to a beautiful music composition, you would never hear a complete pause or stop after it’s built up to a crescendo. The crescendo smoothly transitions to a decrescendo and then continues with the rest of the piece.The same can be said with closing the sale. The crescendo is the final step in the process, where the candidate must make that life-changing move and take a leap of faith into your franchise world.
Therefore it could be said that closing the franchise sale is an art and a science. One if mastered will serve and support your franchise brand in achieving both short term and long-term strategy. Closing the franchise sale requires confidence, leadership, and a clear understanding of who your ideal franchisee is and what they are thinking. It’s having clarity around what will comfortably lead the candidate to your franchise rather than further away. This one element alone separates the masters of franchise recruitment from the rest.
This is a topic that deserves a book, a suite of master class training and the rest, so keep an eye out for that on our website, however lets jump straight into how you can implement a compelling sales process as the foundation of you mastering and being more successful at franchise recruitment and selection starts exactly there, with your sales process. It’s the ‘anchor to embracing, informing, guiding and closing quality candidates who will help you build your system and franchise brand.
Your franchise sales process must be refined to work most effectively for your franchise business model and brand. Establishing your franchise sales process is about creating a solid plan for success. Follow the plan and the plan will work. Add a robust CRM and marketing automation program like Infusionsoft or Active Campaign and you will be recruiting more in less time.
Your franchise sales process is an evolving process that recognises the changing marketplace, competition, buyer motivations and current strengths and challenges within your franchise. Every franchise brand may have a slight variation to the process however the principles are simple and highly effective. The execution is quite demanding, however when followed correctly and combined with some sophisticated automation to do some of the lifting for you, it can produce rewarding results.
The process incorporates self-qualifying and self-closing principles. These steps are:
1. Pre Qualification:
Determine WHO your ideal prospects are, pre qualify them quickly. Your initial conversation with potential prospects is critical. It’s about asking the right questions right upfront. Your closing objective is to move them quickly to the next stage.
2. Present – Explore – Qualify
Present initial information, qualify the prospect, build rapport and establish the process. It’s your role to take control and lay the framework for the next stages. Follow up can include one on one, and automated emails and sms. It’s important you explain your role in the process ie my role is to educate you about our franchise… This will help you easily transition the prospect through to the application stage. Probe with more open-ended questions to show interest and to discover more about the prospect. This will also help you guide their investigation more effectively. Having clarity around their hot buttons and where their interests lie is more important than raving on about you and your products and services.
Find out what’s the key to their decision-making and what has turned them off looking at other opportunities and dealing with other franchisors.
3. Application stage
Request for application form, collect deposit, and move them to the business review. This stage should be short and sweet so your candidate can step into reviewing the business model in more detail.
4. 360 Review
This is the stage where you can present next stage information, webinars, videos, written material etc along with your Disclosure document and Franchise agreement. This can all be automated excluding phone calls of course.
A great closing and qualifying question to wrap this stage up is simply asking…’ now that you understand what our Disclosure Document and business model is all about, do you feel comfortable with how our franchise model works?’ franchising isn’t for everyone so make sure your prospect understands and buys into the franchise way of doing business. If not, wave the red flag and disqualify the candidate. Bringing mismatched candidates into your franchise network will create more trouble than what it’s worth.
5. Granting the Franchise
This can be a very overwhelming and stressful stage for the incoming franchisee. It is important you support them and keep the energy up during this time. This stage includes: Franchisee approval, legal docs executed, training booked, pre launch execution.
6. Training & Launch
Before your franchisees can launch they need to be trained in how to operate you franchise system. This provides an important foundation for your new franchisees to build their success upon.
7. Ongoing Coaching & Mentoring
Many franchisors underestimate the power in ongoing coaching and mentoring. You can do this in a leveraged way using a combination of group coaching, monthly master classes, online tutorials and one on one support. Whatever you do, be sure this is part of your system.
Franchise recruitment and selection is a highly specialised process requiring sales principles and techniques foreign to most other business development strategies. New franchisors and sales personnel quickly realise the process is counter-intuitive, and doesn’t adhere to selling fundamentals you may have practiced in traditional business in the past.