Pre-Engagement Matters! 4 Top Takeaways from the 2018 Mystery Shop
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Pre-Engagement Matters! 4 Top Takeaways from the 2018 Mystery Shop

Pre-Engagement Matters! 4 Top Takeaways from the 2018 Mystery Shop

It's another year and another Franchise Leadership & Development Conference Mystery Shop. With a few modifications to the process, we have some big findings! Our eyes have been opened much wider to what's truly happening in the pre-engagement phase of recruitment. If you care about growth and shareholder value, keep reading and get your results from the 2018 FLDC mystery shop today.

Before I share key findings, let's start with defining "pre-engagement." Pre-engagement is where an individual goes from being a suspect to a prospect and then a candidate for a franchise brand. A suspect wants to remain at a distance. They will go to your website, social media pages, mystery shop a location, research your industry online, and more. They like getting information from a brand but want it on their terms. Their desire as a suspect is to keep things safe and efficient in the beginning to determine if they will become a prospect.

A suspect becomes a prospect when they decide to communicate. It's now two-way with the brand vs. one-way from the brand. Based on the quality, style, and approach of communication a prospect will decide whether to become a candidate and engage in the brand's recruitment process or disappear. The activity, before engaging and becoming a candidate, is the "pre-engagement" phase.

Here are our top takeaways from our 2018 mystery shopping:

  1. Lack of attention and resources means fewer candidates. Survey results revealed no training, lack of a defined process, few tools, little content, and no dedicated individual and more being dedicated to the pre-engagement process. Study after study shows that there is a huge number of leads generated annually that never hear back from a brand. Suspects cannot develop into a candidate without serious attention and tracking in the pre-engagement phase.
  2. Quality is more important than speed. The brands that completed the mystery shop the fastest scored the worst. We've all said it... "Time kills deals." But in the pre-engagement phase, nothing kills the chance of a suspect becoming a prospect and candidate more quickly than careless speed. Communication must be safe, measured, relevant, and meaningful. Know the difference between speed and quality.
  3. Big $ is being wasted on marketing. "We need more leads!" ... "I need better candidates!" These are battle cries heard regularly by franchise development recruiters. Survey results show again this year the problem isn't lead generation. Look at pre-engagement.
  4. A phone number on the website matters. As a group, brands with a phone number had an average score of 15 points and completion of the mystery shop of 30 percent. Brands without a phone number had an average score of 4 points and 4 percent completion. Maybe brands with a phone number listed simply view the pre-engagement process as more important.

The 2018 Mystery Shop has again pointed to what we believe is the #1 problem facing franchise brands in recruitment: poor execution in the pre-engagement phase. Make it a priority in 2019 to track and improve your brand's pre-engagement, to have a better shot at a solid brand and shareholder growth.

Let's go to work!

 Art Coley has been helping franchise brands maximize their investment in recruitment and onboarding of new franchisees for more than two decades. Contact him at 254-239-5411 x101 or

Published: April 28th, 2019

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