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How to Close a Deal at the 2023 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference in Las Vegas

Looking to catch the big fish? 1851 Publisher Nick Powills explains why franchisors need to adjust their expectations and plan for the long game heading into next week’s multi-unit franchising conference.

There is a reason nearly every franchisor has identified the multi-unit/multi-brand franchisee as their ideal candidate. They have more financial resources, they understand franchising, they are scalable, they are influential, they can grow faster and their expectations are aligned with good business versus perceptions.

You are hunting the unicorn. And for a brand that doesn’t have people hunting them down like crazy, that unicorn will cost a lot of time and money.

But, what if you start looking for the wolf?

The best way to hunt a wolf is by waiting — staying in the same spot, not moving, remaining committed to the process.

Multi-unit franchisees are the same.

In a recent webinar, 1851 Publisher Nick Powills outlined how franchisors can take advantage of the upcoming 2023 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference in Las Vegas, which takes place between April 25 and April 28. The event brings together franchisors and franchisees in bulk, making it the ideal platform for networking and growth. Powills offered strategies to help franchisors stand out and connect with potential multi-unit operators attending the conference.

Understanding the Multi-Unit Candidate

Multi-unit operators are highly attractive to franchisors as they own multiple locations, are easier to work with and can significantly impact cash flow. But if there are 500 franchisees and 500 franchisors in the room at the conference, Powills says only about 10% of the franchisees will actually be willing to invest in another brand, and only around five are looking to buy right now. That is why it becomes much more challenging for franchisors to secure their deal. 

To succeed, franchisors need to differentiate themselves by focusing on leadership, opportunity and financials. In addition, they need to understand who they are targeting and adjust their expectations accordingly. 

Three Types of Audiences at the Conference

  1. The ones ready to buy right now: These sophisticated buyers seek differentiation in the market and are passionate about the product. They focus on financials, scalability and the leadership vision of the brand. To connect with them, franchisors should be prepared to answer questions about their growth plans, marketing and operations support and the performance of existing multi-unit operators.
  2. The buyers who want to buy in the next year: These individuals have already built a name for themselves in the franchise community and are looking for synergistic opportunities. Franchisors should research brands with synergies and build connections to attract these buyers. When engaging with them, franchisors should discuss growth plans and ensure alignment between the parties.
  3. The ones not ready to buy anytime soon: These potential buyers may not invest immediately, but franchisors can still network with them and keep their brand in mind for future opportunities. Building a relationship with these individuals is crucial for long-term success.

Setting Expectations and Networking

Franchisors should approach the conference with the expectation of signing zero franchisees, focusing instead on networking and gathering valuable insights. Powills suggests asking two key questions to multi-unit operators: what they look for in a new brand and what would stop them from investing in the franchisor's brand. The answers can be incredibly valuable in helping franchisors refine their strategies for future events. 

Remember, Powills says, just because multi-brand operators have succeeded with another business, doesn’t mean they are the right people for your franchise. Signing a multi-unit operator who stops growing after one location can be a huge hindrance to franchisee validation down the line. 

Powills says that if franchisors walk away from this year’s show with a big goose egg, but they have some answers on how they can adjust their Why You?/Why Now? positioning to reach the right candidates next year, they’ve won.

Beyond the Show

For those who manage to build connections with potential buyers looking to invest later, Powills notes that franchisors should maintain contact through LinkedInemail drip campaigns and ongoing communication. If a deal is closed, franchisors must leverage it for PR, marketing and storytelling to attract more multi-unit operators.

In conclusion, the 2023 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference offers valuable networking opportunities for franchisors — don’t be afraid to say hello. By adjusting their expectations and employing strategic approaches, they can successfully connect with multi-unit operators and stand out in the competitive franchising landscape.

Learn more about the conference, here