Jersey Mike's has developed a recruitment system that's strong on speed, efficiency, and good communication, says Brian Sommers, vice president of franchise development for the Manasquan, N.J.-based franchisor.
"Most of our prospects are already well informed and have done some due diligence. They've already been into our stores and have checked out the website," he says. "As soon as they fill out our first form, our prequalification representative contacts them. Our rule of thumb is that the contact takes place in under 24 hours." In most cases, he says, it's within one to three hours.
In addition to working with prospects to complete the requisite applications and financials, the sales rep also begins screening each person for compatibility with the Jersey Mike's culture. "The reason our system works so well is that we're all on the same page here. The prequalification guys are looking for the same things the development VPs, area developers, and CEO are looking for," says Sommers. "In addition to having the capital and business experience, prospects have to be passionate about our brand--and they have to be aligned with our core values, which include giving back and making a difference in people's lives."
After a complete application with financials is in the hands of the franchisor, prospects meet with a development vice president and then an area developer in the local market. "At this stage, we have an FDD review and lots of questions are fielded," says Sommers. "We've given them the document very early on and provided any information that isn't already on our website so that they have all the information they need to fully understand the agreement. We do this because we know the only surprises people like are birthday parties."
This phase of the process can be completed as quickly as in a few days, he says, depending on how responsive a prospect is in filling out the forms and providing their financials. "At the same time, we're very selective. We're looking to protect our brand," says Sommers.
Prospects who pass muster with the vice president of development and area developer are then placed in a store to give them a better idea of what a day at Jersey Mike's is really like. "At this point, it's a two-way street. They're evaluating us, and we get to evaluate them to see if they're a good fit. They can work in the store for a couple of days or more than a week. It's up to them. We want them to take as long as they need to see if this is what they want to do," he says.
Once a mutual decision has been reached to move forward, the franchisor and the new franchisee discuss areas and contracts. If everyone is in agreement, this step can be fast-tracked. The most time-consuming part of the process is the prospect's due diligence, says Sommers. An important part of that due diligence, he says, is "finding answers to questions we can't answer" about earning power and sales. "We give our prospects a complete list of our franchisees and their contact information. We tell them to talk to or visit as many of them as they can. We want them to get the full story and to know what they're getting into."
In the end, he says, "What's unique about our system is that by the time candidates reach the top level of our company, they have already been screened on three levels. We call that top level a final folder review." Also, he says, every candidate goes through an in-depth interview with the founder and the CEO before a contract is signed. He says Jersey Mike's is not afraid to engage strong candidates by letting them know that the company is excited about them.