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Franchise Goal Setting Part 4: How to Understand the Search/Research of Your Franchisees

Understanding the search of the franchisee can often be done through standard franchise development practices like interviews and discovery days. The key is that the franchisor approaches those opportunities with intention.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
Updated 12:12PM 10/11/22

As franchisors work to draw in prospective franchisees, understanding the background and desires of the prospects can be a powerful way to inform outbound messaging and evaluate whether a prospect will actually be a good fit.

“We want to set up our franchisees for success, and that means they need to understand the brand and know what they are getting into,” explained Clifton Rutledge, CEO of Shipley Do-Nuts. “We ensure the prospect matches our successful franchisee profile. We also want to understand their motivation behind wanting to be a Shipley Do-Nuts partner, so we’re aligned on expectations beyond the tangibles.”

Devoting a bit of effort to understanding the search of each prospective franchisee can be incredibly beneficial to everyone involved in the franchise development process and larger franchise network. 

Franchisors who maintain a spirit of curiosity throughout the process can understand the needs and interests of prospects — and in turn, understand what they are looking for in an opportunity — while evaluating their own assessment of the prospect.

A strong franchising relationship requires a good fit for all parties. Rutledge shared a few of his favorite ways to work toward achieving that healthy fit.

Conduct an Initial Interview

This is the space where a franchisor can ask questions of the prospective franchisee and share any information that could “make it or break it.” Rutledge says he likes to ask questions like “What is the motivation behind wanting to become a partner with Shipley Do-Nuts?” and “What is your knowledge of the brand?”

He also ensures the prospect’s lifestyle will fit well with the Shipley Do-Nuts model. A prospect should not proceed in the process if they are unaware of or unable to execute the 3:00 a.m. call time that a donut concept may require.

Review a Complete Application

A thorough application should include things like financial information and professional history. Reviewing this information carefully provides the franchisor with additional context and information about the applicant, allowing them to understand where the prospect may be in their life and exactly what kind of opportunity they are looking for.

Conduct a Discovery Day

Discovery day is yet another chance for the prospect and franchisor to further evaluate fit. This allows the prospective franchisee an opportunity to learn more about the company, meet team members in person and participate in conversations that further reveal compatibility.

This time period also creates space for prospects to bring lingering questions or ask things that may come up in the moment as they discover more about the company and the people within it.

Look at Open Territories

After a prospect has seemingly done adequate research regarding the opportunity as a whole, they must understand the unique experience of franchisees in different markets. Taking time to look at open territories and discuss any quirks of available areas is another step that works to ensure a great fit. 

A franchisor’s larger values and mission may align with the prospect's, but a prospect should also understand what may be different before making a final decision. Taking this step also provides them the full information they need to ensure the franchise, as it exists in the given market, aligns with their search.

Utilize a Franchisee Committee

“We have a Franchisee Committee that approves all new franchisees to make sure the prospect is a fit with the brand and they are set up for success,” Rutledge said.

Having a group dedicated to evaluating all of the information gathered about a prospect and their search can create a sort of buffer or neutral third party to encourage a reasonable decision. With all the time spent learning about a prospect, what they are searching for and what their questions may reveal about their interests, the final decision should not be rushed or made haphazardly.