Two recently signed franchisees share their Discovery Day experiences so that franchise candidates know what to ask and where to look for insight.
Discovery day—a day, or weekend, in which prospective franchisee candidates visit the franchisor’s corporate headquarters to learn all they can about the brand. For leadership teams and prospective franchisees alike, the day is full of important questions and high-value answers. Traditionally, the discovery day process is an opportunity for franchisors to market themselves, with candidates encouraged to use the time to get to know the brand’s team and operations with a goal of determining whether or not they wish to pursue the franchise opportunity.
Because Google has allowed for franchisees to start researching franchise opportunities long before ever speaking with a franchise consultant or brand representative, discovery day for many brands has transitioned into a later step in the franchising process—one final chance for the candidate to find validation before making the deal.
Two newly signed franchisees—Tom Dang of Wag N’ Wash and Monte Shah of SoBol—both with discovery day fresh in their minds, offered tips on which questions candidates should bring with them on the big day.
‘Who Am I Dealing with Here?’
This first question is perhaps the most fundamental and really points to the inherent value of a discovery day experience. Franchise prospects visit a brand’s headquarters to ensure that they are as informed as possible about the franchisor. It is important that candidates have the opportunity to get comfortable with the team and are able to see themselves as a part of it.
“My Discovery Day experience at Wag N’ Wash was my first true impression of the brand,” said Dang. “It was a great chance to get up-close-and-personal with the company and the leadership team to learn about their values, attitude and support system. It’s not just about the basic questions; it is about everything, from the energy of the team to body language.”
Almost every franchise candidate who comes to a discovery day has already engaged in a thorough vetting process known in the industry as due diligence. Instead of one rife with cut-and-dried information that could be easily found online, the experience should be a way for candidates to connect with leadership and existing franchisees and ask deeper questions.
“The biggest question I had going into Discovery Day was whether or not I could trust the company,” said Shah. “I needed to see that everyone on the leadership team was open and honest, providing straightforward information and support that matched up with my own research.”
‘What Are Other Franchisees Saying About the Brand?’
Many franchisors will include established franchisee testimonials in their discovery day itinerary. Each prospective franchisee who walks into the room is looking for validation and nothing is more validating than identifying with another’s journey as a way to see yourself and your family in the business.
“I had talked to franchisees about their businesses before attending Discovery Day, so I had a list of expectations going in,” said Shah. “Once I saw that everything the leadership team was telling me lined up with what the franchisees told me, my confidence and trust in the brand was established.”
Oftentimes, a brand is able to put prospective candidates in touch with successful franchisees who may be able to shed some light on the day-to-day operations.
“After my Discovery Day, I still had some concerns about the differences between running a Wag N’ Wash in an urban area versus a suburban area,” said Dang. “The executive team was able to put me in contact with a franchisee in Seattle and before I knew it, I was up there meeting the owner and his partner. Seeing a successful operation in that kind of setting settled all of my doubts.”
‘How Is This Company Going To Support Me?’
Even if the leadership team is helpful and engaged during the Discovery Day experience, it is important to ensure that the support will continue throughout the entire franchising process.
“Ultimately, these are the people that will become your day-to-day franchise support,” said Dang. “It is important to learn everything you can about their support system. I needed to know that I would receive the same support as the top-performing franchisee.”
“Be sure to meet each and every person on the team,” said Shah. “Learn about the expertise of everyone, from the owner and vice president to the marketing and technology director, ask about the logistics of their position and how it will benefit you as a franchisee. The deeper you are able to get with your questions, the easier it will be to determine if the team is passionate about their work.”
‘Will I Make Money?’
Buying a franchise is usually the largest investment a candidate will ever make, so it is essential to prioritize questions that relate to ROI, Item 19 and associated costs.
“Financials are obviously extremely important, but make sure the company is interested in more than just short-term growth,” said Shah. “The more confident you can feel about investing in the company and building the brand, the better. I needed to know that the company wasn't simply interested in adding stores, but had a long-term plan for success.”
“There are certain logistical questions that you shouldn’t forget to ask,” said Dang. “Take construction for example; are they going to help you find contractors, pay for construction fees and negotiate real estate offers?”
‘How Does the Brand Hold Up in Its Industry?’
Discovery day is a great time to find out how the leadership team positions itself within the industry and methods they are pursuing to stay ahead of the competition.
“Ask about how leadership would rank the brand among competitors,” said Shah. “Specifically, get to know the product and how it stands up to the competition. For example, I took my kids to SoBol and once they loved it, I knew other kids were going to like it.”
When both the franchisor and the prospect are prepared and engaged in the experience, discovery day should provide an open and transparent dialogue for both parties to make an educated and confident decision on the next steps.