Creating the Profile of Your Ideal Franchisee
By Kay Ainsley, Managing Director, MSA Worldwide
For franchisors, the key to successfully marketing their franchise opportunity begins with being able to create a profile of their ideal franchisee. Once you know who you want as your franchisee, it becomes easier to create a message designed to pique the interest of your target candidate and to select media that will reach your target audience.
This task is somewhat easier for established franchisors than for a new franchisor. Once you have a number of franchisees who have been open and operating the business for an extended period of time, “the cream will rise to the top.” The knowledge, skills, and abilities that are necessary to operate the business to brand standards become better known, and a profile can be crafted from looking at those who have operated the business successfully. (Personality quirks and attitudes to be avoided also become readily apparent.)
Great American Deals, a concept that brings online daily deals to a local community, has been franchising for several years. Their actual experience as a franchisor helped them refine the profile of their ideal franchise. “GAD is not only a great idea and is backed by TV personality and icon Pat Sajak, but the business model requires no storefront, no inventory, and no receivables. When we first began offering franchises we had a long line of interested candidates,” said Mark Vannuki, COO and Director of Franchising for GAD.
“As we grew, we learned what it really takes to be a successful franchise and have narrowed our profile. Today, we are looking for people who are truly devoted to their communities, have an incredible understanding of the local businesses and consumer habits in the community, and possess a limitless amount of energy and determination,” said Vannuki.
But you have to start somewhere. When MSA works with companies that are just launching their franchise program, we begin with the basics – general characteristics every franchisor looks for – enthusiasm for the concept, a record of success in prior endeavors, stable work history, sufficient capital, honesty, integrity, strong character, ability to be a self-starter, the willingness to take a risk and to take responsibility for the results – someone who would be an asset to the brand.
From that starting point, a new franchisor can look at the managers of their current location(s) for more specifics. What skills set apart the great managers from the managers who are not so great? Who on the staff would you like to clone and why? While a review of the staff can help define the profile of the franchise, it is important to remember that the role and responsibilities of the franchisee may be different than the role and responsibilities of the manager.
- For example, does your manager place local advertising, or are advertising decisions made at the corporate level?
- Does your manager handle ordering and inventory, or does someone at headquarters handle that function?
- And, perhaps most importantly, does your manager have P&L responsibility?
As independent contractors, franchisees assume full responsibility for the profitability of their business. Managing the financial success of the business may require a different skill set than managing staff or handling customer relations.
Another consideration in developing the profile is what aspects of operating the business the franchisor can train a new franchisee to perform, and what skills the franchisee must bring to the relationship. For example, a business-to-business client’s concept is heavily reliant on the operator’s ability to sell a service. While the company is prepared to train a franchise on the strengths and advantages of their service vs. those of competitors and their proven sales process and techniques, from prospecting to closing, they maintain that a person needs to have “natural” sales ability to operate the business.
As another example, working with children can be very rewarding, or very trying. The franchisor of a children’s supplemental education concept can teach a franchisee how to execute their program and the administrative practices for operating the business to the brand standards – but they can’t make you love working with children 50-60 hours a week. The franchisee’s attitude toward children can affect the business, because it is something that the children and their parents will sense.
Creating a profile is a tool. It enables you to craft a message to your franchise prospects that hits their hot buttons, and helps you place that message where it is most likely to be seen. Profiles are not always the perfect predictor, and there is never any guarantee of performance. Any experienced franchisor will tell you that sometimes a prospect who meets all the criteria for a franchise doesn’t do as well as a prospect who seems a little “iffy” at first, yet turns out to be a star performer. But overall, a target franchisee profile does enable you to more effectively spend your franchise sales advertising dollars and create a more efficient sales process.