Sales intelligence gives you the competitive edge. Growth companies know that if you're not guarding your front and backside, you'll fall behind in the race. They keep smart and savvy by gathering data, insights, and profiling information from their franchisees, sales people, and competitors. Periodic feedback sets you atop of and in tune with the highly competitive recruitment environment. You can reap the rewards and gain the inside track on building a better, more attractive franchise program for franchisees.
During a consultation, a home service franchisor bragged to me about their established market position and quickly brushed off competitors, claiming there was no need to research or shop their development efforts. Yet shortly afterward, an industry source reported significant gains by one of their "not to worry about" competitors. This young, hard-charging franchise was rapidly closing the gap with an improved franchise program and sales team. You snooze, you lose! The cavalier franchisor eventually woke up, removed their blinders, and shifted into emergency mode to regain lost market share. Ego and denial are too expensive in today's recruitment race. Unfortunately, this franchisor's refusal to monitor their market is not that uncommon.
Knowing your competition's strengths and weaknesses prepares you both offensively and defensively. By studying your leading competitor's sales presentations and techniques, you often learn how to improve your own team's performance. You may want your franchise sales people to shop the competition, as well as franchisors in other industries. This can be a fast-track training tool for your development staff. There also are some employee recruiting benefits. After shopping one franchise system some years ago, we tried to hire their sales person, who was in the process of leaving the company. We knew he was outstanding in his presentation and follow-up process because we shopped him!
When evaluating franchise sales candidates, you should also consider mystery shopping as part of your hiring procedure. This gives you the chance to see how they perform on the job before you decide if they are right for your development team.
Learn what your franchise owners are saying to prospects, how they are presenting your opportunity, how willing and helpful they are in answering your questions, and their attitudes about the business. What your franchisees say to you may not always be what they say to prospective buyers. You need to know the real story to be a well-informed, responsive franchisor.
I was asked to mystery shop a successful retail postal franchisee who wanted to become the area developer for his region. You would immediately think he'd pass with flying colors. Not so. When I asked this motivated owner, "If you had to do it over again, would you sign on with this franchise?" He responded, "Want to know the real answer? This is a great business, but it doesn't really matter which franchise in this industry you join. They're all pretty much the same. Who gives you the best deal and negotiates the best location is what counts." Bye-bye area development opportunity for him!
Don't keep yourself in the dark. It's important to know what your franchisee partners say and how they are representing you. We know franchisees can share whatever they like with prospective buyers. I certainly did as a franchisee. As independent operators they certainly have the legal right to do so. However, it's good practice to know what they tell prospective owners so you can better prepare candidates when they make their due diligence calls. One of your recruitment priorities is educating new franchisees that system growth fuels their individual business success. Expansion is a collective effort that benefits everyone. Cost savings, greater branding, and consumer awareness are the strength of the franchise model. Don't be bashful in communicating the advantages of system growth to your franchisees through newsletters and your intranet--and remember to show your appreciation to those who actively support your ongoing development efforts.
Next month, Part 2: Shop your sales staff, shop your website, and don't get caught off-guard by what you find!
This is an excerpt from my book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." Order copies at www.franchiseupdate.com/magazine/growtogreatness/
A targeted, quarterly magazine that takes CEO's, VPs and Sales Executives to the cutting edge of franchise development.