In last month's FUSR, we began a three-part series on how to better understand the psychology of franchise buyers. These tips originally appeared in "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system - faster," a book by Steve Olson, president of Franchise Update Media Group.
Franchise follow-up is undergoing a service crisis. Franchise Update's Annual Franchise Development Report continues to expose poor lead follow-up by most franchisors: late or no call-backs to email requests are the norm rather than the exception; inquiring prospects often receive material two to three weeks later; and enthusiastic respondents are thrown into voicemail 57 percent of the time when they try to contact a franchise representative.
Brands such as Floor Coverings International, PostNet International, and Express Employment Professionals understand the strong competitive edge of establishing a quick, professional response to their franchise requests. They employ internal systems and standards that require live phone coverage and same-day follow-up to lead inquiries. PostNet has an after-hours and weekend phone service to ensure every inquiry is personally answered. When nobody else is there, you can bet these two high-performance companies are. As Tom Wood, president of Floor Coverings International, confirms, "First to the door wins!"
Most of your prospects haven't purchased a franchise before, so how would they know how to go about it? You're the expert, not them. It's your role to take firm control of the investigation through leadership. Define your specific investigation process for them early on, or they will create their own! Buyers want you to guide them. High-growth companies like Great Clips know most serious franchise buyers can, and are willing, to commit to a franchise within six to eight weeks. Why is this? Because their qualified candidates have agreed to make their decisions by a specific date.
Many of us have experienced the value and prestige of receiving approval onto an executive board, into a country club, or into a fraternity or sorority. Qualifying to join a select group of franchisees is a lot more attractive than investing in an opportunity that opens the door to anyone waving a check. If you haven't already, create an executive committee responsible for reviewing and approving each candidate before awarding a franchise. It elevates your franchise's stature with buyers, existing franchisees, and your employees.
No one can be considered a potential prospect until they speak with a development executive. Without personal interaction, you simply have inquiries. This is why responsiveness to requests is critical. When one-on-one contact is made, the relationship-building and sale begin. High-tech tools help develop inquiries and facilitate communication. Unfortunately, some companies struggle by relying too much on email campaigns. Without systematic phone follow-up they miss out on sales opportunities. There's a reason they call it "dialing for dollars!" Once you make the live connection you can begin filling your prospect funnel.
"How will your franchise help me achieve my business and personal goals? What are the benefits of your industry? What are the unique advantages of your franchise system? How do I qualify? What training do you provide? Can my family be involved?"
Prospects don't contact you to find out more about the custom, curved counters in your stores, special white sauce on your noodle dishes, or torque ratios of your service equipment. First and foremost, they are interested in the ownership opportunity, benefits, and lifestyle rewards your franchise offers. Focus on what your business can do for them, rather than dwelling too much on what your business does. The candidate wants to know, "If I'm qualified, can your franchise provide the blueprint for my future success?" Unfortunately, selling product rather than the opportunity is a big problem for many franchises. If you are guilty of this, development consultants can be quite helpful in refocusing your recruiting approach.
Next time: More tips on the psychology of buyers.
This is an excerpt from my Amazon.com best-selling book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.
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