One of the benefits of working with a group of professional, seasoned colleagues is we share ideas and information. A colleague of mine wrote the article below and I wanted to share it with you. Having been a franchisee I believe it highlights extremely well the perspective to view your next potential position.
By Tim Church
In my line of work, I get to help people who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, upbringings, and paradigms. Sometimes, I end up working with people who start out thinking that the process of buying a franchise is like any other big purchase. Some will approach it like buying a house or a car. I’ve heard people say things like, “I’m the guy with the money. They need to treat me like the customer.” Or, “Let me see a list of your top franchises in my investment range and I’ll tell you which ones I am interested in.” And even, “I don’t want to talk to the franchisor until I have reviewed all of their materials and documents.” That last one makes me think of how funny the process of buying a house would be if someone wanted to review the closing documents and mortgage agreement before they were willing to go look at the house. That person would never become a homeowner.
In each of those examples, the prospective franchise owner had no idea that they have to get approved by the franchisor. You can’t just buy a franchise. It’s kind of like applying for a job. It’s not just what’s on your resumé or in your bank account that matters. Franchise companies don’t want someone owning a territory for a decade or so if they don’t believe that person will succeed and will be a good representative of their brand and their company’s culture.
The right to take a pass
Imagine walking into a job interview with your arms folded across your chest and a furrowed brow. Take it a step further. What if you refused to have a nice conversation until they agreed to disclose the salary, benefits package, what day the weekly meeting is on, and where your desk would be. That might not be the most effective way to get the job even if you have the most awesome resumé and work history of all of the applicants. In fact, you probably would not receive an offer. Looking at franchises is similar to a job search in that regard. Like a job offer, you can always decline to accept an offer to buy a franchise. That’s the beauty of it. No franchisor (not a good one, in my opinion) is going to accept your money and enter into an agreement with you unless you are both really looking forward to a long term relationship! And, they need to believe that you are their best bet to grow a business under their brand in that territory.
Changing your stance
I think that some of us have been conditioned to feel like we need to be “on guard” if we are considering a financial transaction where we are the ones with the cash going across the table. We automatically believe we are the customer if we are about to spend or invest money. The “I am shopping for a car” approach can cloud one’s perspective and derail what could have been a good investigation process. One thing I help potential franchise owners and investors understand is how the investigation process works. Not just from the prospective franchisee’s side of the table, but also from the franchisor's. I have been a franchisee and a franchisor and have been in both seats, numerous times. The best approach is to change the “on guard” stance to a position of information gathering and education. You can gather a lot of information with an open mind. You can also become pretty well educated about a franchisor, an industry, or set of business methods with an open mind. If we change our tack from, “Let me figure out why this business won’t work,” to, “Let me understand how I can make this work for me,” the defensive positions seem to move out of the way. Then, a solid, logical, methodical investigation can happen in a way that makes sure all of the necessary information has been gathered. The franchise companies I work with have a process for the mutual gathering of information. By “mutual” I mean that they will also be gathering information about the person who is investigating their opportunity. First impressions mean a lot because all of us are humans with feelings. We tend to get a good or a bad feeling about people pretty quickly even if we don't realize it when we do.
A few bad apples
There are actually some franchises that will happily take your money without a meaningful mutual approval process. The ones that aren't serious about an approval process, typically, are not the ones you want to partner with. Think about it. If they let you in simply because you can write the check, what kind of cohesive group can you expect your fellow franchisees to be? You can’t expect anything. If you want to invest in yourself using a brand that aligns with your goals and values, you will want that brand bringing other people into their system that you fit in with. The good news is that identifying the companies that are “out for the quick $” can be done. You don’t have to waste time talking with them. You can spend your time learning about franchise companies who want to grow their business in a way that is sustainable on a long term basis. They will have more stringent approval guidelines, but that’s a good thing for all parties.
Mutual information gathering
Many franchisors will have a very well-defined investigation process. They know that in order for you to understand their business model you must learn about all of the aspects of it; staffing, marketing, operations, computer systems, real estate, etc. There may be areas of their business that you don’t know about and would have no idea what questions to ask. They will make sure you learn about everything. They will have materials and presentations that are designed to feed information to you at a pace that is digestible and comes to you in a logical order. They know that you cannot make an educated decision without gathering all of the information about the brand and its business model. They’ll use a series of meetings (phone calls and online presentations) and other tools to get the information to you. The meetings and presentations also serve two other purposes. The franchisor's development manager gets to know you through their conversations with you. They also figure out if you are willing and able to follow a process. If they learn that you are financially qualified, you can follow a process (and keep commitments), then all you need to do is… wait for it…
Yeah. That’s it. An important approval factor can be how well you fit in with their franchise family and culture. Do you like them? Do they like you? If you are having a tough day, can you lean on their support team? That’s where being nice comes in handy. If you are nice, you have a better shot at being seen as someone who is easy to get along with and that can be what gets you approved.
The takeaway is this: If you find yourself apprehensive, nervous, or negative going into a franchise investigation, just take a step back. Reset your focus on educating yourself. Just that. You are gathering information to become educated about a business. And be nice. You’ll find that you can get through investigations efficiently and, when you arrive at decision points (yes or no), you’ll know that you arrived there in a methodical and educated fashion.
Where does a business fit into your plan?
If you would like to connect and find out if franchising is a good path for you, call me at: 800.361.8292 or please reach out by clicking on the icon below: