Overcoming Fear: Your Greatest Franchise Recruitment Obstacle

First, a fish story.

Many years ago (I won't say exactly how many) as a small boy, I would fish off a wooden pier on the banks of Mobile Bay near the Gulf Coast. To this day, my younger brother talks about the "Monster Fish."

Sitting for what appeared to be eternity, I carefully watched the fishing float or "stopper" for movement indicating an interested suspect. Then, there it was: Movement! I quickly rose to my feet as the stopper bobbed from an apparently interested fish (suspect). Then BAM! FISH ON! The fish struck so hard I fell on the pier and almost into the water. All the time both my brother and I were screaming in excitement. My pole was bent into the shape of a horseshoe. For what appeared an eternity (but probably less than a minute) I fought to collect my prize. This was going to be the biggest fish I had ever caught, and in my mind even bigger than anything my Dad had ever caught. Amid the crowd that had grown and shouts of instruction, I now wrestled my "prospect" toward the finish line. As I tried to reel in my prize, the monster rose from the depths. But just when it was coming to the surface, SNAP! The line broke, and back into the deep went my prize.

So it often is with the franchise candidates we have "on the line." This has happened to most, if not all, of us. We speak to a candidate on Friday. We're excited! They're excited! They love our concept, they have money, and we even have an available zone in their backyard. We think FISH ON! when often they are only bobbing at the bait. Some may actually bite, but then fight to get loose.

We agree to speak again on Monday. But when Monday comes they don't call, and don't respond to our phone messages or emails. Your prospect is actually too embarrassed to call to cancel the meeting or tell you what's happened. (Sound familiar?)

Surprise! You're the victim of the "Dinner Veto." I call it the Dinner Veto because after your call, they sat down at the dinner table and their desire was "vetoed" by a spouse, significant other, friend, or other person. The question is Why?

Fear, the biggest obstacle

While many believe our biggest challenge in franchise recruitment is funding, it's actually Fear. More precisely, it's fear of loss--of losing their savings, job benefits, retirement, a steady paycheck, lifestyle, home, or other things they value. It is my belief (shared by many) that major decisions are made based on emotions. People simply use facts and figures to support emotional decisions (whether they know it or not). With this in mind, it's important to understand what motivates--or demotivates--franchise candidates.

Candidates are moved by three primary factors:

  1. Fear /pain
  2. Obligation/responsibility
  3. Desire/passion

In most situations, two or more motivating factors are present, and the stronger one tends to win out. Once you understand what factors are motivating your prospect and what may be their primary obstacles you can help navigate them to a desired goal by "increasing" desired motivational aspects (franchise purchase) and by "reducing" detrimental factors that could kill a deal.

Think of parents. There is no direct risk for a parent to drive a child across town to a practice, nor often a great desire to do so. They do so out of a sense of obligation and responsibility. So, for example, if your client has a religious, management, or other area of obligation/responsibility this can be an effective area of focus when fear comes up as an obstacle to what appears to be a good fit of the candidate with your system.

The biggest mistake we often make in sales is a tendency to focus on only one motivational aspect without addressing the others. We frequently attempt to create desire and excitement about our concept (build wealth, be your own boss, growth potential, etc.) without addressing potential deal-killers (fear of failure, loss of a steady paycheck, ability to find funding, risking their home's equity, etc.). This mistake is a primary reason that more than 98 percent of Americans (65 percent of whom would rather be an employer than an employee) never start a business. It's not that they don't have an interest or desire. They simply have the perception that the risks outweigh the rewards or prevent them from doing so. In essence, fear becomes your deal-killer. Understanding this, your goal is to develop solutions that address the candidate's perceived, and often real, fears.





For example: The perception may be that they don't have enough funds to pay themselves a salary (referred to as "No-Paycheck Phobia"), or enough to pay their personal expenses because it will take 10 months to break even and they have savings only for six.

Potential reality: They have a 401(k). They can use part of those funds to pay themselves a salary, eliminating a major deal-killer and No-Paycheck Phobia. Since these funds are debt- and interest-free, it can often significantly shorten the time to profitability below the perceived 10 months, further reducing the candidate's fear.

In summation: On the very first call, make the candidate aware that 1) fear will rob them of opportunity (whether that opportunity is yours or someone else's), 2) that perceptions are often not reality and 3) that you, as an expert who has seen this many times before, can help them overcome many of their perceived risks. Have them make a commitment to present all their concerns, i.e., fears, to you before looking for the "exit door."

Next month, Part 2: The Fear of Ladders: Creating Engaged Candidates by Overcoming Fear.

Larry Carnell is Senior Vice President, Business Development for FranchiseProfs. He also founded and is CEO of FranCastle Enterprises, a strategic consulting firm to the franchise community and other business entities. He served as vice president of business development for BeneTrends from 2007 to 2010, where he was instrumental in helping the company more than triple its revenue in less than 3 years. Contact him at 770-652-5393 or lcarnell@sbcglobal.net.

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