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The Importance of Proper Franchisee Selection

Granting a franchise is not the same as offering a business opportunity.

Mark Rose

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Whereas a business opportunity revolves around the product or service in question, a franchise is a blueprint to business success. Much depends on the correct implementation of this blueprint and this is what makes franchisee selection so important. This article examines the underlying considerations and explains how the selection process is usually carried out.

  • Introduction

Professional franchisors know that below-par performance by just one franchisee will damage the brand. This is in addition to the franchisee suffering severe financial losses. For these reasons, responsible franchisors are extremely selective. Expect them to ask lots of questions and investigate your background, abilities, likes and dislikes thoroughly before they award you a franchise.

Some prospective franchisees interpret this as arrogance, even take offence. Their thinking is that if they put up the money to establish a franchise, the franchisor has no business putting them through a selection process but this is short-sighted.

  • Why is a selection process necessary?

A successful franchisee needs to perform a balancing act between operating his/her own business while adhering to the franchisor’s rules. Not everyone is comfortable with that. Indeed, experience has shown that truly entrepreneurial individuals who want to do everything their way do not make good franchisees.

There is yet another issue to consider. It happens time and again that individuals are attracted to a brand for the wrong reasons. They only see what they want to see then happily sign the franchise agreement and make the necessary investment. It is only after they have taken possession of their franchise and are exposed to the realities of the daily grind that they realise their lack of passion for the business. If at that point they want to get out of the deal, they have only two options. They can:

  1. Attempt to sell the business. Because the business has just been established and doesn’t have a track record, this is almost certain to result in a substantial financial loss.
  2. Stay put. Because the passion is lacking, the franchisee will be miserable at least most of the time. It will not take long for customers and staff to notice the owner’s lack of passion for the business, and the business won’t develop as expected. This, too, could result in hefty financial losses.
  • The profile of the “ideal franchisee”

Drawing on experience garnered during piloting and by observing existing franchisees, responsible franchisors will have developed a profile of the “ideal franchisee”. Prospects are assessed against this profile and only those who match it closely will be accepted.

Should a prospect qualify overall but display specific shortcomings, these can be addressed. For example, the prospect can receive additional training in certain areas of business management, or may be encouraged to either take on a business partner or employ an individual with complementary skills.

Although a rejected prospect may not see it this way at first, the franchisor is actually doing him/her a favour – it prevents forcing a square peg into a round hole.

  • How is the selection process carried out?

The profile of the ideal franchisee is not a standard document but has been developed to match the needs of the specific franchise. Depending on the nature of the business, it may incorporate some or all of the following processes.

  1. One-on-one interviews conducted by several experienced members of the franchisor’s team.
  2. Thorough background check, including verification of the prospect’s professional and financial capabilities.
  3. A panel interview. The panel consists of experienced franchisor representatives; some brands include a franchisee representative as well.
  4. Psychometric testing. This is done by professionals with experience in franchisee selection and the results are evaluated by a qualified industrial psychologist. The test results are surprisingly accurate.
  5. The acid test – observation of the prospect in action. The franchisor invites a pre-qualified prospect to work for a few days at one of the brand’s outlets, usually a company-owned unit.
  6. By working in the different departments of the brand’s business, the prospect enjoys a unique opportunity to get a feel for what his/her daily life will be like. Any romantic notions the prospect may have harboured about the business will dissolve.
  7. At the same time, the franchisor has an opportunity to observe the prospect in action. It will become clear whether he/she has the right attitude and aptitude for the role of franchisee of this particular brand. This is an important step because it allows both sides ample opportunity to establish whether a good fit is likely to develop over time.
  • What role does finance play?

As a rule, franchisees own their franchised outlets outright and are expected to come up with the necessary finance. However, for reasons explained above, this should never override other criteria. It would be unwise to accept an unsuitable candidate into a franchise merely because he/she can support the necessary investment. By the same token, an outstanding candidate who is unable to come up with the full investment amount may be offered alternative forms of funding. This could be done by matching him/her with an investor or through a joint venture arrangement with the franchisor.

In the next article, we’ll examine how a professional franchisor should make its money. Should you wish to find out more about franchise finance in the interim, contact the Business Manager at the Nedbank Franchising Area Office in your area. For contact details visit www.nedbank.co.za or your nearest Nedbank branch.

Written by Mark Rose of Nedbank and Eric Parker of Franchising Plus.
Copyright rests with the authors

Mark Rose is the Head of New Business Development at Nedbank Business Banking. He holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Oxford Brooks University, as well as various business qualifications from the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), the University of Stellenbosch Graduate School of Business, and the University of South Africa Graduate School of Business. Nedbank’s New Business Development unit develops customised industry specialised offerings to the medium sized business market, including Franchising, Agriculture, Professional – including Financial and Legal Practices, and the Medical Fraternity. This unit has also developed a unique Enterprise Development proposition. For specialist advice and more information on the Nedbank Franchising proposition visit the website or send an email to franchising@nedbank.co.za

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Franchisors

The Secret Sauce To Great Franchise Leadership

The upside down pyramid puts the franchisee at the center of everyone’s effort. Success follows.

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I am often asked to share the secrets of franchise success with my clients and audiences of franchise executives as I travel the country spreading the Franchise Bible strategies.

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The most critical of the three core strategies is what I call the upside down pyramid strategy. This is more than a catch phrase or slogan. It must become a true belief in order for this strategy to affect a franchise organization for the better. Lets start with some basic facts to clarify.

What it is                              

The upside down pyramid is a servant leadership model that makes sure that franchise owners always come first. This must be genuine for all members of your team.

Related: 3 Challenges To Establishing A Franchise System And How To Overcome Them

Franchising is different than any other business model in this way. A franchise organisation simply cannot thrive unless the entire corporate team is on board with this commitment. If it’s not, it would be like a medical team where some members simply did not care about healing the patient. It is a non-negotiable.

What it is not

This strategy is not a hand-holding philosophy that rewards lazy or non-compliant franchisees. One of the exciting outcomes from this system is seeing the franchise owners step up and go above and beyond the call of duty when they feel truly appreciated, valued and respected by the franchisor. I have seen amazing things happen from franchise communities that felt connected and part of the bigger picture.

The challenge

Many franchise organisation executives have a lot of experience as traditional employers so they tend to try to “manage” their franchise owners as though they are employees. In most cases this is the beginning of the most common problem that I call the traditional pyramid model with the boss on top.

The key to remember at this point is the reality that the franchise owners are not employees of the company. In fact, the exact opposite is actually the case. The franchisees invested their hard earned money into the franchise company and pay an ongoing royalty as well. This means that they are the customers of the franchisor and the franchisor should value them as such.

How do you implement this strategy?

I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in the franchise world. I can usually sense the company culture pretty quickly when I am among the franchise executive and support team. It is no surprise that the most successful franchise brands have a pretty solid grasp on this strategy. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Train: Introduce this strategy to your executive and support team and give them the opportunity to ask questions and learn. Remember that this may be a bit of a paradigm shift for some, so they may need time to get it down.
  • Reinforce: Use ongoing reminders during your meetings, training sessions and conferences to keep the ball rolling. Your system must be based on things that you and your team will do consistently for a long period of time. A short burst of change followed by a return to the former status quo doesn’t work, so make sure you can commit and stick with it.
  • Insist on buy-in: Everyone on your executive, training and support teams must buy in to this commitment for it to work. You have heard that one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. This is very true within a franchise organisation. You may have to replace team members if they refuse to genuinely commit.

Related: Col’ Cacchio: A Passion For Pizza

Leadership tip

You have also heard the saying that the fish starts to rot at the head. The common denominator that I see in failing franchise organisations is almost always due to poor leadership. I often say that a decent business model with great leadership will usually thrive and a great business model with lousy leadership will usually fail.

Don’t feel bad if you are not the best leader for your business. I have seen business founders step aside and hire in leadership experts to run with their creation. Knowing that someone else is a better leader than you for your franchise organisation is a sign of great discernment and wisdom. If you are not sure just ask your franchise owners to give you a grade as the leader. I asked a franchise CEO recently if he would get an A from his franchisees and he said, “Probably not.” I advised him to get back to work and make sure that he can earn that A.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Franchisors

Get Your Franchise Running Smoothly – Even When You’re Not There

Does the thought of taking time off from your franchise outlet make you nervous? Then you have to learn to run your business instead of letting it run you.

Diana Albertyn

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“A sign of a successful business is one that can operate without your physical presence 24/7,” says Brad Sugars, start-up expert, author and founder of ActionCOACH. While your franchise systems and operations are designed to run smoothly and consistently, is your staff trained to be productive in your absence?

“Franchises are already by nature systematised operations, so it boils down to how you as a business owner hire and train people to get the necessary jobs done,” says Sugars.

If you know a sick day will cause havoc in your store, an assessment of how you’re running your business is needed. Are you really running a successful franchise if things fall about without your supervision? Take a step back and consider the following steps to manage your franchise without it controlling your life. Pretty soon you could book that vacation.

Determine your role in the franchise

Are you managing the franchise, taking orders, doing admin and handling every other aspect of the business? Then you’re not hiring the right people, because those roles should be filled by people who can be left to carry them out unsupervised.

Related: How To Write An Operations Manual For Your Franchise

“And if you don’t have the right people for the job then it might be time to start hiring, so you can free up your franchise’s most valuable resource – you,” says Pieter Scholtz, co-Master Licensee for ActionCOACH in Southern Africa.

“You need to get an idea of how you can hire people to take repetitive or administrative tasks away from you. Ask yourself: ‘Do I really need to be doing this?’” says Sugars. Your business cannot run optimally if you’re the single most-knowledgeable and capable person there.

Lead with clarity

You have long-term goals for your business, perhaps even acquiring more locations and running multiple units. While growth is good, you need to share the load and ensure everyone employed in your business is working towards the same goals, otherwise, it’ll be difficult to get there. Sugars suggests asking yourself the following:

  • How will you make your vision a reality?
  • What makes you different from other franchisees and business owners?
  • What kind of team do you want to recruit and create?
  • How does all of this deliver value to your customer?

Conveying your vision can help ensure employees know how to get to the end-goal faster and more efficiently.

Related: 3 Steps To Ensure Your Franchisees Flourish Your Support System

Plan for long-term cash flow

Loyal customers ensure a constant flow of cash through the franchise and this requires exceptional service and the building of strong relationships. “Target your top-spending customers and establish a good relationship with them for long-term cash flow,” Sugars suggests.

Although the broader campaigns are covered by the marketing fee you’re paying to your franchisor, it’s wise to focus on your local’s tastes and suggestions when looking to deliver an experience worth returning for.

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Are Your Employees On Board With Your Franchise’s Brand Promise?

You cannot run a successful franchise if your staff isn’t aligned to the brand’s values.

Diana Albertyn

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Are the people who work in your franchise outlet familiar with the franchise’s brand promise? As a franchisee, you’re required to deliver a uniform experience, so any customer who walks through your door feels like they’re at the same store the franchisor has across multiple locations. If your employees aren’t able to embody the franchise’s brand promise at every interaction, you have a challenge on hand.

“If your company’s brand promise is a warm and friendly atmosphere, you can’t deliver that if your employees aren’t warm and friendly,” says Robin William, Senior Practice Consultant at Gallup.

“Selecting the right employees is essential to providing the right brand service. Hiring people who can’t behave the way the brand wants them to will doom a service initiative.”

Related: How To Write An Operations Manual For Your Franchise

When employees know what’s expected of them, they’re able to keep the promise the franchise makes to customers – leading to higher customer and employee engagement, trust, and revenue.

More than a mission statement

Even if you’ve ensured every one of your staff members know the brand’s mission statement, how can you be sure they’re able to exemplify it in their behaviour every day? William suggests that you do the following:

  • Create structures and mechanisms to consistently instil brand values in the franchise’s culture.
  • Discuss brand behaviours daily.
  • Demonstrate brand behaviours yourself every day.
  • Praise the efforts of individuals who demonstrate brand behaviours.
  • Hold employees accountable for not exhibiting brand behaviours.

Once you’ve clearly defined the right brand behaviours, it’ll be easier to have staff on board who deliver your franchisor’s brand promise.

Internalise the culture

Here’s a conundrum. Do your staff know what to do in a situation where a customer’s request might not be aligned with the brand promise, but the brand promise is always to deliver on customers’ requests? It’s a tricky situation, but if you’ve clearly articulated the promise, your staff will know how to “Behave the brand”, says William.

“Do whatever it takes to deliver on its brand promise. Whether it’s focusing quality, fast service, customer care, or low prices,” he says.

“Employees must execute brand and service behaviours consistently, and frequent reminders can help employees understand and internalise these behaviours.”

Related: 3 Challenges To Establishing A Franchise System And How To Overcome Them

Empower your staff

Investing in your staff is the best way to encourage them to act in line with your brand’s promise. Once they understand why it’s important to act along the lines of your brand, they will feel empowered and motivated to do so.

Starbucks trains employees to memorise customers’ names and preferences in line with their promise of making everyone who visits their stores feel at home. Apple’s strategy of hiring nice, smart people who are passionate about service and the product aligns with the company’s belief that knowledge can be improved, but personality cannot.

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