Discovery Day: Down to Details

This is the second of three parts about how to maximize the effectiveness of your Discovery Day. To see or review part one (Fundamentals) in last month's Franchise Update Sales Report, click here.

Set expectations at the outset

When your candidates arrive at Discovery Day, naturally you'll start with a warm welcome. Explain the purpose, process, and activities for the day to ensure everyone is "aligned" in the right direction. This provides further clarity for your Discovery Day guests and eliminates any potential confusion that may occur during the event.

Here's one approach to setting the stage: when a group attends, ask each candidate to make a brief personal introduction including their business background, how they found out about your opportunity, and why they are so interested in your franchise. This familiarizes everyone with their peers, validates the desirability of your concept, and accelerates the bonding process among the group. It also gives you an early read into their mindsets and interest levels. Next, review the scheduled events and tell them who they will meet. Wrap up this orientation by reaffirming expectations for their visit:

"Put your best foot forward. Express yourself, ask questions, show your personality. You have all diligently conducted your research. Today it's most important for our corporate staff to get to know you, and for you to get acquainted with our professional support team. This strong relationship is the key to success for both of us. We're dependent upon each other, and we can profit together through our partnership. Our job is to build the car, start up the engine, and provide you with a road map for success. It's your job to follow the course and drive the growth of your business. This is what successful franchise relationships are all about. Today is about ensuring there can be a good fit.

"At the end of our day, I will speak with each of you privately before I present you to our executive approval committee for consideration. If a personal concern does come up during the day, please address this with me when we get together later. After the event concludes, our review committee will meet and review your skill sets, suitability to our culture, and willingness to follow our system. Their key question is, 'Do we believe you can be successful in our franchise system?' Your development executive will contact you within the next 24 hours to inform you of the committee's decision."

Assign a tour guide

When staff are available, a personable facilitator who ushers and assists prospects throughout Discovery Day is invaluable. Their presence makes a good professional impression on your guests, showing them the attention your franchisees are given. It also elevates the stature of your development executive, who isn't always there seemingly waiting to grab their checkbook. From airport pickup to rearranging departmental presentations if needed, the facilitator keeps the schedule and can prevent potential mishaps and provide on-site feedback to your development team about the candidates.

Additional tips

Here are some additional practices franchisors have found increase the success of their Discovery Day presentations:

  • Provide an advance agenda--Furnish the schedule of events, names and bios of department executives your attendees will meet, specific information, and any other helpful instructions or information; ask for contact names for family emergencies. This preview heightens the importance of the event and provides useful information in assisting attendees in preparing for their trip. Savvy franchises post this on their website using a password-protected page for "Discovery Day Guests." It's more efficient and stimulates curiosity from new site visitors.
  • Get your housekeeping in order--Your guests are influenced by everything they see, touch, and hear at your home office. This includes bathrooms, paint, carpets, shrubbery, plants, trash, office décor, etc.
  • Post a welcoming board--Display your visitors' names on an attractive display stand. Recognizing their presence shows your candidates they are important to your company... and helps your staff members remember who's attending!
  • Post department names--Identifying different department areas with door tags or labels shows organization and professionalism, and provides your visitors with a better sense of how your company works.
  • Display your "Franchisee Wall of Fame"--Photos of owners featuring your top franchisees and franchisee advisory council are impressive to your guests, bringing home your powerful relationship and appreciation for franchise owners. Unfortunately, not enough franchisors leverage the impact of showcasing their franchise stars at their headquarters.
  • Furnish a personalized notebook--Provide the schedule of events, meaningful reports, presentation outlines, and other relevant material that candidates can take home with them.
  • Standardize your corporate dress--Whether in company polo shirts or suits, establish a consistent dress code for Discovery Day. Franchising by definition means uniformity; an "anything goes" attitude toward attire does not communicate a professional image.
  • Schedule departmental presentations--It is essential that your field support, real estate/site selection, and marketing, and customer service departments participate in Discovery Day. Qualified buyers want to meet the people they will be working with. Likewise, key personnel should speak with prospective franchisees and offer their insights in qualifying them.
  • Invest in multi-media--Quality, well-prepared presentations make the difference in motivating buyers. PowerPoint, video, TV and radio commercials, intranet, and software demonstrations enhance the impact of your messages.
  • Conduct a facilities tour--Don't keep your guests prisoners all day in the same room. A closet remodeling franchise made this mistake until a prospect finally asked to see their warehouse and was happily surprised: "I never realized you are producing such great product!" He signed on the next week. Don't assume aren't important. Even with a no-inventory service business, prospects often don't realize the commitment of personnel and resources required to support a franchise network until they see it for themselves. Seeing is believing!

Next time: Preparation for Discovery Day, and a Discovery Day Checklist.

This is an excerpt from my book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.

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