Let's face it. Most of us do not work at large franchise companies with multiple layers of franchise development management. Many of us work for smaller companies that do not have a formal training program or scheduled updates for franchise development personnel. Frequently, the franchise development staff is isolated from marketing, operations, training, product development, and distribution. This leaves them with little to no idea of what is really going on outside their department, in your markets, or among franchise owners. After all, it's franchise development's job to just sell: as many as humanly possible. Sales people don't need to know what's going on elsewhere. It will just slow them down.
Most times this situation is simply the result of how the franchise company evolved from two or three employees to 20 or more. Today's challenge is that many executives have yet to realize that isolation of the franchise development staff is a critical weakness to the sales function. Mark it down on your SWOT analysis of the franchise development department: Isolation from mainstream information decreases productivity.
Why would isolation reduce productivity you ask? It has everything to do with when the sale of a franchise occurs and what information the development staff needs to facilitate the sale.
Surveys prove that we are all fairly competent at explaining the programs that make up our franchise offering. We can execute a clear and comprehensive program review webinar talking about market, product or service, differentiation, support, training, and real estate. We can work our way through the FDD review pointing out the fees and investment and the powerful results disclosed in Item 19. We are competent at the rational stuff. Unfortunately, these conversations explain the franchise offering, they do not sell the opportunity.
Most sales personnel realize these presentations answer only the obvious questions and explain the steps to becoming a franchise owner. Sales professionals know a sale has not yet been made. Seasoned sales professionals know sales are actually made during the upcoming, informal, yet informative follow-up conversations. Strong sales performers know the "in-between" calls matter most. They seal the relationship, create confidence in the franchisor, and help candidates see themselves as the business owner.
These "in-between" conversations about how well your system works are the real closing tools. They connect the candidate's goals to the strengths of your system and brand. When the connection is made, the candidate begins to "lean forward" and you can hear it and feel it over the phone. Then, to no one's surprise, we are attending discovery day and you are sending franchise agreements.
So what do strong-performing franchise development professionals talk about "in between"? (Remember, all the rational facts and figures are already on the table.) Mostly they tell stories about the very departments that many senior executives want to keep them isolated from. The development team must be well-versed in the facts and trends, and must be expert in communicating the "in-between'" message to remain in compliance. Here's what they need to know.
Many times, "in-between" conversations become educational when they address the following: real estate selection, lease negotiations, tenant improvements and the evaluation of multiple sites; available cash and net worth requirements, financing options, and financial planning; employee recruitment, retention, and management; and accounting, payroll, tax filing, forming corporations, and more.
Include your franchise development personnel in weekly management updates and review of every department. When something good happens, make sure franchise development is the second department to know. The development staff needs to know when marketing programs skyrocket, when PR occurs anywhere, when an outstanding sales performance occurs, and all new strategies that are successfully implemented.
An old saying states that franchise development needs to know as much about the company as the CEO does. Many CEOs support this belief. They know that franchise development is the brand's face to the world of candidates and the recruiter of their next great customer.
When you consider the many and different disciplines your development staff needs to master, you may change your mind about the qualifications the development staff must possess, the formal training program you require they attend, and the training updates you regularly provide. You may also consider outsourcing the entire process to franchise development professionals who previously held those corporate-level positions and have the experience to command the varied topics that effectively grow your brand.
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