How to Attract Great Franchisees

I’ve recently been reviewing the research on successful franchisee recruitment. Because many franchisors have seen a decline in enquiries from new franchisees, I’m going to share eight proven strategies to achieve greater success in this area. But a proviso. These strategies will only work long-term if the franchisor team is caring, competent and ethical, and the business model is producing reasonable financial returns for the bulk of your franchisees.

1. Approach recruitment as the beginning of a journey

A franchise is not a product to be sold like a car or a house, it is a business relationship. Smart franchisors approach franchisee recruitment as the start of a business journey that will last on average seven years, in many cases a lot longer. So treat the recruitment process as the start of a long-term business relationship, not the end of a sales process.

2. Aim for quality over quantity

Get clear on the type of person who is a good fit for your business. Some companies are now referring to this as their “Franchisee Avatar”. Reach out to these people through targeted digital marketing channels using an appropriate tone and message. Talk about your ideal person’s financial capability, time commitment to the business, passion for your products, level of business acumen, expectations on what they want to achieve through the business (which should be realistic), and their fit with your culture. Poor quality enquiries from people who are a bad fit for your business are just a distraction.

3. Get back to people quickly

There is a direct correlation between the speed at which you reach out to people who have lodged an enquiry, and the likelihood they will ultimately join your network. People who are contacted within four hours are more than twice as likely to end up as a franchisee with your group! This is because you are connecting with them when their interest is high and they are more likely to be open to talking with you.

4. Encourage referrals from within

While digital marketing attracts the highest quantity of enquiries, the best franchisee candidates come through referrals from existing franchisees. In fact, nearly three times as many franchisees are appointed each year from referrals by existing franchisees than any other marketing channel. This, of course, means you need to have satisfied franchisees, which brings us to the next tip.

5. Look after your existing franchisees

Our extensive research clearly demonstrates that existing franchisees are far more likely to recommend a franchise if they feel optimistic about their future in the business, are enjoying their work, believe the franchisor team care about their success, feel they are getting a reasonable financial return, have a strong sense of connection to the brand and culture, and are not in conflict with their franchisor.

6. Invest in a dedicated franchise website

Franchisee investors are different from consumers in the sort of information they want from a website. Think about the questions you are frequently asked by candidates and write specific content to answer these. Your website should include positive statistics about your industry, what gives your business an edge over competitors, why your franchisees have a great life, and why this is a good financial investment. A dedicated website will also enable you to more effectively track important metrics.

7. Adopt a coaching mindset

Don’t fall into the trap of adopting a sales or training mindset. Your job is to guide candidates through the process and answer what’s on their mind, not lecture or pressure them. This means understanding their goals, concerns and needs, by asking specific, open-ended questions. For instance, “I would love to know what interests you about our business?” or “Tell me about what you’d like to achieve through the business and why this is important to you?” Most recruitment executives talk far too much. A quality candidate will have already learned about your business from your website. Before engaging your mouth, ask yourself the WAIT question, “Why Am I Talking?”

8. Offer multi-unit opportunities to mature franchisees

Most franchise networks have a sizeable pool of mature franchisees who are getting stale and bored. A great way to reengage them is to explore if they are willing and able to operate additional units. This is a win-win as you will be able to grow with people you know, and this is likely to give them a new lease of life. But ensure you carefully assess their readiness to expand. At FRI, we have developed a useful tool for this purpose called The Multi-Unit Diagnostic.

In conclusion, because the best franchisee candidates come from referrals by existing franchisees, the most important lesson I can share is contained in the following quote, by a franchisee from a survey we were conducting for a client. “When I first started in this business I was treated like royalty. Now I am treated like royalties.” What a great reminder to look after your existing franchisees.

By the way, if you want the people on your franchisor team to be equipped with proven, practical ways to add value to your existing franchisees, we still have some places in this month’s Field Manager Bootcamp in Melbourne on March 21–22. I will be personally conducting this workshop.

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