We asked Michael Powers, managing director at Painting with a Twist, to discuss the importance of franchisee validation--and how the brand uses it as a sales and development tool.
Unit franchise growth is the fuel that supplies life and sustainability to every franchisor's existence. Without significant annual unit growth, your brand and market share will eventually erode away while your growing competitors will gladly capture the excess and continue to grow their own brands. Simply put, you are either growing or dying. And in today's competitive franchise environment, the latter is not an option for any franchise organization.
Franchisee validation can heavily influence your development success, whether you're an emerging franchisor or a large established one. Conversely, a franchisor may employ alternative temporary strategies if they are not receiving positive validations from their franchisees. In any case, and with the proper relationship, getting franchisees to validate should be a willful act of genuine satisfaction with the franchisor and the brand they invested in. Most candidates weigh franchisee validation as heavier and more valuable than the home office pitch and presentation.
In my experience, a franchisor's preparation and intent to create positive validations has been the key to getting them. To earn honest and frequent validations, a franchisor must be properly aligned with its franchisees, must hear and resolve challenges that franchisees face, and have a constant focus on improving unit financial performance. The benefits of franchisee validation to the franchisor and the system go well beyond the validation itself.
Even if franchisee feedback is less than favorable for the franchisor, the act of encouraging conversations between candidates and franchisees exemplifies an openness and transparency between the franchisor and candidate at the onset of the process. Important constructive criticism will most likely be fleshed out in the process, and the franchisor then has the opportunity to rectify issues it may not have been aware of. With proper support and home office collaboration, a franchisor's worst critic can change their tune and become the system's best validator.
The purest lead conversion will come by way of franchisee validation. Strong validations also will instill more confidence in new franchisees during the early stages of opening and will set positive expectations from day one. The most valuable validations are not solicited or incentivized by franchisors - they are earned and deserved.
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