Staying organized and providing access to brand executives will help prospective franchisees sign on the dotted line.
Discovery Day is here. You and your franchise development team have done it—you’ve vetted viable franchise candidates and educated them as much as you can about your brand. Now it’s time to really show them what you’re all about.
Three franchisors shared their tips for a successful Discovery Day: LemonShark Poké founder Tobi Miller, Goddard School director of franchise sales Jeff Travitz and CARSTAR vice president of development Dave Foster.
Stay organized and do your research
Brands would do well to stay organized and lay out “a clear agenda” of the day’s events, according to Miller.
“If you are a restaurant concept, you should definitely be sampling food and touring a store,” Miller said in an email, adding that discovery day should be about discovering a brand and not simply a hard sell.
Indeed, taking a good look at the food itself and delving into what makes it so great is critical for LemonShark Poké.
“Most importantly, we let the environment and food speak for themselves,” Miller said in an email. “But we also show how every single item is procured and prepared in the kitchen. It's a great opportunity to show off our low labor model while also discussing brand values such as a strong emphasis on quality control, training, and service.”
Brands should also go the extra mile and research the prospective franchisees attending Discovery Day the same way they have undoubtedly researched the brand.
“One of the things we do that is really important is really getting to know the prospects before they come to Discovery Day,” Foster said. “We send out a bio of each and every prospect to all of the people that will be speaking at Discovery Day. The key to that is to know who you’re bringing in. If you don’t know who you’re bringing in, you don’t know the pain points, you don’t know how to steer the conversation and you’re less likely to be successful.”
Travitz noted that Discovery Day should never feel rushed, and that prospective franchisees should be given ample time to get their questions answered.
“Brands that have pre-canned presentations and agendas with strict timelines restrict the learning opportunities a prospective franchisee can have while immersed in a franchise’s culture and operations center,” Travitz said in an email. “Too often, brands do not allow enough time for back-and-forth and Q&A. [The Goddard School] loves the tough questions and we do not script any answers to give prospects the answers we think they want to hear.”
Provide executive team access
Discovery Day is a great opportunity for prospective franchisees to meet with a brand’s executive team members and get a feel for the type of support and culture within a system.
“Several years ago, we renamed our Discovery Days to ‘Meet Our Team Day’ to set the appropriate tone for prospective franchisees,” Travitz said in an email. “We want our prospects to know they’ll be taking a deep dive into our business and the support we provide as a franchisor. Our goal is to allow prospective franchisees unfettered access to each department’s approach to business operations and what sets us apart as the leader in early childhood education and care.”
Travitz noted how The Goddard School takes things even further by making sure employees across the brand are invested in the day.
“The day is blocked on all our employees’ calendars and we really drive home the importance of these days to our employees,” Travitz said in an email. “That way, when we tour the prospects through the office, there really is a sense of welcoming and excitement. Additionally, we make sure to invite various team members from each department to lunch to make sure our prospects have time and access to as many team members as possible to ask questions and learn, but also to develop relationships and begin to feel part of what we are building at The Goddard School.”
Franchise development executives will agree: Discovery day is a big moment, and brand representatives should be sensitive to that. This is especially true for a brand like CARSTAR, which mostly deals with franchise conversions.
“It becomes an emotional moment,” Foster said. “CARSTAR is a conversion franchise organization, so we’re taking existing body shops—sometimes they’ve been in the family for 50 years—and converting them to CARSTAR. We really have to be tuned in to the emotion of the moment. As a sales organization, we have to be very professional about how we manage emotions; how we manage the people and their questions; how we’re sensitive to the branding piece and that we ensure them that this transition is seamless. We’re not going to get rid of their local identity.”
Foster praised the CARSTAR sales team for being especially in-tune with this aspect of the business.
“They are true solution-oriented sales professionals that have this empathy for the existing body shop and owners—the generation that has worked in the body shop—to what the local identity means to these independent body shops,” Foster said.
And again, the hard sell should not be the focus on discovery day.
“We don't think discovery day is a good time to push for signatures on paper,” Miller said in an email. “I would recommend avoiding the ‘hard sell.’ Discovery day can, for sure, help close deals, but keep the focus on what's happening in the restaurant—the rest will take care of itself. We'd actually rather candidates take a bit more time to digest what they've discovered before deciding to sign on."