While financial qualification is certainly very important in franchisee selection, many candidates that are financially qualified would be terrible franchisees in your system.
By Theresa Huszka, CFE, Senior Consultant, MSA Worldwide
It’s always interesting when I meet new people and they discover that I work in franchising; the majority of the time the first question I am asked is: “What’s the hottest franchise opportunity right now?”
People seem to believe that the “hottest” concept is always the best choice for them because if it’s working for someone else, then it will work for them as well. They couldn’t be more wrong.
What most people don’t realize is there is a more important question to consider as a franchise candidate: “What am I passionate about?” What type of business will motivate you to work harder than you ever have before and be able to maintain that motivation and passion in business for the next 5, 10, maybe even 20 years? Often this is a critical element in determining if a franchisee will be successful or will fail.
Franchise candidates aren’t the only ones that often overlook this extremely important question. Many franchisors consider the most important aspect of determining if a franchise candidate is a good fit for their franchise is whether they are financially qualified; while this is certainly very important, many franchise candidates that are financially qualified would be terrible franchisees in your system.
A strong franchise candidate needs to be able to embrace your culture and be a strong ambassador for your brand in their local market. They will be the “face” of your business locally, so you need to be confident that they are going to represent your brand in the way that you would.
A few years ago, I experienced a worst case scenario of how both the franchisor and the franchise candidate both failed to understand the importance of this simple concept. I was having lunch with an old friend to discuss her interest in purchasing a franchise from a local quick-service restaurant that was just starting to franchise, and she was going to be an owner/operator. She went on and on about how busy their corporate stores were and how the owners were great guys (she had already been to their Discovery Day) and they were making money “hand over fist”…so it’s a great concept to buy, right?
I asked her two questions. The first question was “What is it about the food that makes it so great?” Her reply shocked me! She said “Oh, I’ve never eaten there; I wouldn’t eat that kind of food!” You see, the restaurant was a hot dog shop and she was a vegetarian. So, I asked her a second question: “What are you going to say to potential customers about why they should come to your shop to eat; if you won’t eat it, why should they?” She had no answer, and she didn’t end up buying the franchise.
Both the franchisor and my friend failed to understand how critical it is to the success of a business to be passionate about what you represent. The questions your franchise recruitment teams need to be asking are: “Is your franchise candidate a strong cultural fit for your system?” and “Can they be passionate about your business?” As a franchisor, your job is to educate your prospective franchisees about your brand and help them determine if the vision, system and culture of our franchise opportunity is a good fit for the goals and dreams they have for themselves and their family. Can the franchise candidate (and their family) embrace your culture and follow the system that you have in place?
So, how do we determine if a franchise candidate is a good fit for your system? First, franchisors need to ask themselves a few important questions:
- “What is the unique value proposition our system offers?”
- “How do we wish to be perceived in the marketplace?”
- “What is the level of service we want our staff to provide our customers?”
A franchisor needs to have a clear understanding of the values and standards of service their franchise offers and, most importantly, be sure to communicate those standards to all levels of their team; headquarters staff, field staff, franchisees, their employees and even their vendors. Second, they need to ask themselves: “Who are our most successful franchisees, and what personality traits have been critical to their success?” Once a franchisor has answered all these questions, they can structure a system targeted to the specific type of owner they feel best fits their profile to maximize the success of their recruitment efforts. How you can create this targeted system and the different tools available are the topics for Part 2.
Theresa Huszka, CFE, is Senior Consultant for MSA Worldwide, providing franchise and business development programs, conference presentations, and restaurant operations audits. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.