Franchise Sales: Tips from the Top

Tom WoodTom Wood, president and CEO of Floor Coverings International (FCI), is well-known for his "First to the door wins" approach to franchise sales. This past October he served as chair of the 2013 Franchise Leadership & Development Conference. Based in Atlanta, FCI has been franchising since 1989. We asked Wood for his thoughts on franchise sales in the year ahead.

What are the most important factors and characteristics you look for in assembling a successful sales team?
Sales people who understand what they are doing in the role: "selling." While we are looking only for the best franchisee candidates, the right people will still need a sales professional to guide them through the process and keep the process on track. Characteristics include 1) goal orientation, 2) a realistic outlook on the business and a strong communication style to communicate it, and 3) an ability to manage by the numbers.

How do measure the performance of your sales team?
Three ways: contact ratios with candidates, personal presentations and meetings, and qualified candidates to discovery days.

What are the most important things you measure?
The most important thing is meeting our quota of qualified new franchisees coming into the business and the system. In addition, the franchise sales staff is measured by how quickly the new franchisee gets started up and meets their business plan.

Do CRM systems and other marketing automation help you measure your sales team's performance?
They do, but I think they are even more valuable in helping us measure the progress a candidate is making. We use the automation tools to help us maintain better contact with our candidates and to ensure that information is provided to them on a near real-time basis.

Would you say your development team has a performance-based culture (KPIs?)
For sure! We measure the numbers every week: leads, contact ratios, personal presentations, meetings in person, and discovery day candidates.

What are you doing to improve the speed and effectiveness of your responses to prospects?
We always try to have contact with our prospects within hours of the initial lead coming to us. We define "contact" as either a call in person or an email discussion. It needs to be interactive.

How often do you assess and adjust your annual sales goals based on performance?
Quarterly, though adjustments (minor) are always made on the fly.

What kind of feedback do you provide to your sales team to improve their performance? How often?
We have a weekly team meeting and a weekly individual meeting. In the team meeting, the sales staff is encouraged to provide feedback to one another. In the personal meeting, we review the candidates who are in the funnel as well as the KPIs. The team always knows where they are against the business plan.

Do you mystery shop your sales team?
Twice per year.

Do you use outside consultants to help assess your team's performance?
Not at this time.

How do you attract and retain top talent in your development department?
I've been very fortunate that I have not had very much turnover through the years. I think this is because we foster a strong team identity and workplace. Everyone is important and everyone is encouraged to be a part of other facets of the business.

How do you balance marketing automation tools with face-to-face interaction and maintaining a personal touch?
Marketing automation tools are only used to facilitate contacts and to pass very basic information along. Nothing replaces personal contact!

Is there a way to measure the value of "personal touch" in franchise recruitment?
Our closing ratios are much higher if we have had personal contact with the candidate!

What role does social media play in franchisee recruitment?
Only as a resource--no other purposes.

How do you measure the performance/effectiveness of your media spend on lead generation?
Leads to contacts, leads to meetings, leads to discovery day, and leads to close.

What role do current franchisees play in your development strategy?
They help us a ton with validation and with referrals. They do calls with our candidates and also participate in a web conference during our discovery days.

Do you/your team still fly out to meet with candidates?
We do! This is very helpful to us.

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