Experts warn that the only way you can grow a franchise is with great validation
Franchise marketing, advertising, public relations and digital can do amazing things in delivering the brand story for a franchise brand. However, if franchisee validation is shot, then all of the above’s value quickly becomes diminished.
Thus, constantly investing in the happiness of the franchisees within a system quickly becomes the most critical element of the franchise sales process.
“Nobody can make a bigger impact on a potential candidate than an existing franchisee,” said Steve Beagelman, CEO of SMB Franchise Advisors. “They hold the key to not only encouraging, but confirming the decision to take the leap into this particular business ownership model.”
In fact, while not an official or legal part of the sales team, those conversations a franchisee prospect has with your current franchisees will ultimately play a significant role in the sales process: Third party credibility.
“Candidates expect to be ‘sold’ by a sales team. Franchisee validation gives them confidence that the sale is also in their [the prospect's] best interest, since the current happy franchisee is also a former candidate,” said Michelle Rowan, President and COO of Franchise Business Review.
At what point does franchisee validation become important? With the very first franchisees, says Kay Ainsley, Managing Director of MSA Worldwide.
“Strong validation is critical. The first franchises must be successful. Selling to that next group of franchisees, who have the ability to ask the first group how they’re doing, will be tough if you are not successful with your first franchisees,” she said. “New franchisors definitely want to set realistic expectations and under-promise and over-deliver in order to maintain positive future validation and impact.”
“It is all about validation. It is all about shared values,” he said. “A good ‘fit’ results in pretty incredible and dynamic relationships with someone that can execute the business model the way it was designed. A bad ‘fit’ results in the ‘-ations’-- Litigation, arbitration and mediation -- along with poor customer service and delivery of inferior products or services to the end user.
If you have great franchisees with great stories, franchise marketing, advertising, public relations and digital will now help in the diligence process. While franchisors cannot legally lead a franchise prospect to a candidate, you can position your stories and testimonials on your website to showcase high performers. The franchise candidate should be directed to existing franchisees with similar profiles through your content and stories on your site. The purpose of the website or online activities is to engage the candidate so they want to learn more,” Slavin said.