For many prospective franchisees, their first step into the world of franchising begins at Discovery Day. Traditionally, this day serves as a marketing tool for franchisors, and long before the convenience of the Internet, prospective franchises used them to “discover” the plethora of information they needed before considering opening their own franchise. Today, even in the golden age of Google, the importance of a Discovery Day still remains--franchisors must offer prospects more than what they can simply find online. That’s why, over the years, it’s evolved. For many brands, Discovery Days are now one of the final steps in the franchising process instead of the first—a final trip to the company’s headquarters can ultimately make or break the deal.
We spoke with a few experts in franchise development to hear their top five tips for conducting a successful Discovery Day.
Do your homework.
Before a potential franchisee comes to Discovery Day, franchisors have a lot of homework to do. Make sure you have assessed their financials and reviewed their work history to ensure that there are no surprises down the road. After your research, you can start to determine if, on paper, they might be a fit for your franchise.
“In order to have a successful Discovery Day, you need to lay the groundwork and be able to tee up the right conversations. Be prepared to ask the right questions to candidates so that you can learn the information you need to make a decision,” says Mark Cairns, Director of Franchise Development at Toppers Pizza.
Have a scheduled plan for the day.
The last thing you want is for your potential franchisees to be bored or unengaged. Have a structured day planned out.
“Setting up the day correctly, laying out clear expectations and having a process in place are certain things that need to be done beforehand. Understand it took a lot of time and work for them to get there, and respect that,” says Connie Peyton, Director of Franchise Development at Which Wich.
Run through all aspects of the business—from operations, training and marketing to the process of actually opening a location. Potential franchisees should be engaged and asking the right questions.
“A successful Discovery Day is when a candidate is fully engaged and is inquisitive. We are looking for people who ask the right questions and are comfortable in the setting,” says David Wheeler, Vice President of Franchise Development at Saladworks.
Differentiate yourself but don’t try to be something that you’re not. Do you have a unique culture? Is the office a casual environment? Make sure your brand’s personality shows and that you’re portraying yourself in the best light possible. These are all things that potential franchisees want to know about the franchise since it’s a big life decision and a long-term commitment.
At Which Wich, Discovery Day is called Leap Day, and it starts with a grand welcoming that includes a confetti canon, music, cheering and high fives.
“So much of Which Wich culture is our positive energy, and we start Leap Day off with a bang. It’s a fun way to start the day and it shows people who we are, what we’re all about and the dedication of the executive team,” explains Peyton.
You want to make sure you find your true franchisee match. Don’t tell them what they want to hear. Tell them the truth—what it’s really like to be a franchisee with your brand.
“If you feel you have to sell them, then you don't want them to be a part of your franchise. Each department should be extremely transparent. That's what makes it successful,” says Wheeler.
Jennifer Durham, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer at Checkers & Rally’s, explains her goal for the big day.
“Try to put yourself into the shoes of the franchisee. We explain to them exactly what the 4 percent royalty fee will get them over the life of the franchise agreement. Who will support them and what will they get from the branded business?”
Let your franchisees and your executive team tell your story.
Cairns believes it is critical for potential franchisees to meet the founder and president of Toppers Pizza, Scott Gitrich.
“Candidates want to hear his story and know his direction for the company,” explained Cairns.
For other franchise brands, it is important for the team to be involved to help make a decision together on potential franchisees.
“The franchisee approval process should be a team decision. Everyone is going to be engaging with them moving forward,” Peyton said.
If you are able to have franchisees at your Discovery Day, they can discuss exactly what it is like to be a part of the team, the support and training they receive and what their day to day is like.
Whether Discovery Day is in the beginning or the end of your process for finding new franchisees, you must come prepared to show exactly why your brand is the one to invest in.