Signing up quality franchisees is essential for building a franchise business. The franchisee-recruitment process needs to be the most systematic and well-planned facet of a franchisor’s business plan.
Enlisting the wrong franchisees and wasting precious time and resources recruiting people who are not a good fit for your business can set back a company's growth several years.
Devote significant time and energy into attracting knowledgeable multiunit operators with a track record of proven success in the franchise industry.
Focus on these four steps to attract top-level talent:
1. Choose the right industry events.
Franchise industry trade shows can help a company attract the right type of franchisee.
My company, Corner Bakery Café, makes it a point to send attendees and sponsor and exhibit at key annual industry conferences and trade shows such as the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference and the Restaurant Finance and Development Conference.
Don't rely on gimmicks or flashy booth designs to lure attendees to your booth but rather deploy a consistent, professional and transparent approach to draw solid prospects.
Conference websites have important details readily available to exhibitors, as well as sponsorships and speaking opportunities. A company's executive team should frequently participate in discussion panels and in roundtables to increase brand visibility.
Be sure to submit speaking proposals six months to a year prior to a conference. A presentation should be designed stand out amid the competitors' pitches to increase the company's exposure to top-notch franchisees.
2. Foster a strong company culture.
Even the most sophisticated investors in franchises will say that the corporate support team is one of the main reasons they choose to become a part of a company.
Having strong systems and structures in place will influence individuals to join a franchise network. Showcasing recent technology upgrades and back-office tools can help make potential franchisees feel that the home office is positioning them to succeed as operators.
My company, for example, showcases its culture during franchisee Discovery Days. Our strong presentation, highlighting all the tools and support available, has increased the chances of securing solid franchise partners.
In addition, introducing new prospects to the entire executive team helps them develop relationships with those leading the company's overall strategy and growth.
Prospects are invited to see the back-of-house operations and introduced to the culinary team to show them how invested the company is in the food quality and operations side of the business.
This helps the franchisee feel that the franchisor truly understands day-to-day operations and what it takes to run a successful store.
3. Identify brand advocates.
A network of existing franchisees can be a terrific source of lead generation. Identifying franchisees who are successful and encouraging them to reach out to business partners and contacts can pay off for your organization.
My company has received an influx of potential franchisees who learned of the opportunity from existing partners. This is partly due to promotion of an open line of communication between franchisees and the executive team, in person and via phone and email. When franchisees feel as if they are part of a team, they are more likely to become advocates for the brand.
4. Create a strong online presence.
Profitable investors in a franchise make their decisions as a result of thorough research and data analysis, and the Internet is typically their primary research tool.
A strong presence on the Internet can help attract the sophisticated investor that a growing company needs to succeed.
To aid in prequalifying target prospects, your website should clearly outline your company's requirements and expectations and should be current, accurate and informative to garner the best franchisees. It should be clear about what the company is seeking in a franchise partner.
If you are constantly receiving applications and inquiries from unqualified candidates, you may need to rethink your online messaging.