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6 Ways to Improve the Franchisee Validation Process

Encouraging transparency and respecting a current franchisee’s time are just two ways to ensure a smooth franchisee validation process.

Part of the lengthy process of signing on new franchisees is having them go through the franchisee validation process. This validation stage is a crucial turning point in the discovery process, as this is when many prospective franchisees decide whether they actually want to franchise with a brand.

1851 Franchise spoke with Kim Swanson, the director of franchise development for Young Rembrandts, and Joseph Berger, VP of corporate strategy at You’ve Got Maids, and garnered their thoughts on this particular phase of the discovery process.

Here are six ways franchisors can improve the franchisee validation process.

Respect the current franchisees’ time

Franchisors should respect the time of their current franchisees and not only make sure they are speaking with viable candidates, but that they are also not being asked to speak to too many candidates.

“I think it’s very important to prepare your current franchisees for how to respond to prospective franchisees,” Swanson said. “I’ve always thought that it’s very important to acknowledge their time and their efforts and really show my appreciation for them taking the time to speak with them.”

You’ve Got Maids is also mindful of protecting its franchisees’ time.

“We just kind of make sure that we are protecting their time by setting up the meeting and making sure that we’re not asking any one of them to do like 10 calls a week or anything,” Berger said. “So we just protect their time and ask them to be honest.”

Properly vet candidates

Swanson and Berger believe that prospective franchise candidates should be thoroughly vetted before they get in touch with current franchisees.

Swanson, for example, is so cognizant of a franchisee’s time and making sure they are speaking with a real prospect that she requires prospective franchisees to provide the franchisee they are put in touch with a “verbal password” provided by her.

She educates current franchisees that if anybody reaches out to them, they must recite that password “and that password will signify that they are actually going through the process with me,” Swanson said. “And again, it’s really acknowledging my current franchisees and their time that they give in speaking to these individuals. We know that validation is the most influential stage of the research process. It is important for candidates to speak with our franchisees so they truly understand the day-to-day operations of our business.”

Berger also noted the importance of making sure current franchisees are actually speaking with viable candidates rather than people who are just “fishing for information,” he said.

“We make sure that we’re always quarterbacking the situation so that they’re talking to somebody who’s actually interested,” Berger said.

Don’t rush the process

A big mistake Berger has seen is when franchisors push candidates too quickly through the validation process. This, he said, can lead to higher turnover.

“We take our time with our process,” Berger said. “There’s no pressure. We want them to do things in their own time. We’re pretty patient. I don’t think it’s good for anybody, franchisee or franchisor, to push people quickly through a process.”

Educate current franchisees

Educating current franchisees on the importance of attracting qualified candidates to the system is also important, Swanson said.

“We also like to really educate our current franchisees on the importance of expanding our current market share, the importance of getting new qualified franchisees in the system to continue to grow the brand and the reputation,” Swanson said. “It’s very important that they view it from the top down as a system. Not only are they growing their own market in their communities, but it’s important to realize that there is consistency and brand building in all areas of the world.”

Talking. Lots of talking.

Berger noted that for You’ve Got Maids, a good cultural fit is crucial. To that end, his team makes sure that prospective franchisees speak to as many people within the system as possible.

“We do a lot of talking,” Berger said. “We want to really make sure that we align as far as our goals and our mission.”

In addition to current franchisees, prospective You’ve Got Maids franchisees talk to members of the company’s franchise development team. They’ll also talk to the CEO at some point, and definitely before a contract is sent out, Berger said.

“They talk to a lot of people before they sign a contract,” Berger said. “Everyone needs to check off and recognize that this is a person that is going to fit with our culture.”

What this helps lead to, Berger said, is that everyone is on the same page. And it pays off. Berger described company gatherings as friendly get-togethers.

“I’ve never been to a convention where everybody likes each other as much as our convention,” Berger said. “It’s something I’m very proud of and I think that’s a testament to the way in which we bring people on.”

Swanson ensures that prospective franchisees talk to the team members and franchisees that they actually want to speak with, with her serving as the connector. Sometimes prospective franchisees want to talk to someone who, for example, had a certain previous career experience or is located in a similar market to the one they want to be in.

Be transparent

A big mistake brands can make with prospective franchisees is having a lack of transparency.

“As a franchisor, you have to encourage open communication,” Swanson said. “You have to be as transparent as possible with your candidates. Let them talk to everyone. Let them talk to franchisees that aren’t doing as well as others. It’s okay. Don’t hide the challenges of the business.