Stop Wasting Time! Separating the Real Candidates from the Chaff

A major problem for many franchise sales people is how to say "No" to unqualified prospects early in the process (especially in today's highly competitive recruitment market).

We all want quality franchisees. Often, systems seek aggressive growth and want to close as many deals as possible. Yet a major cause for struggling franchisees is accepting fat checks from people doomed to failure from day one. This is the dirty laundry of franchise selling that plagues some systems. "Just say no," and you will win in the long run. Satisfied, successful franchisees are the catalysts that ignite major growth! Floundering, disgruntled operators can torpedo your expansion.

If you've developed a self-qualifying sales process, then it will automatically weed out 75 percent of your unqualified candidates. Unfortunately, the other 25 percent often hang on too long and rob your time unless you cut them loose. Learning when and how to ease these individuals out of your process frees you to focus on more desirable prospects.

Candidates who can't make decisions

Procrastination and stalling accomplishes nothing positive for you or the prospect. Keep your process in motion, with each activity moving a candidate closer to buying. There is nothing worse than: "Let me think this over before we continue," or "I still just haven't had a chance to read your material, so why don't you call me back in another week," or "Oh, I'm sorry for not being available for our scheduled appointment, but I went out for ice cream with my daughter and the time got away from me."

Cut these people loose, because chasing is wasting. Actions speak louder than words. What they are saying is your franchise opportunity is no longer important to them. Confront these stall tactics with, "It certainly appears you are no longer serious about our franchise program. Is this correct?" If they claim they really are interested, they must agree to follow your process--or they don't qualify. If they confess their interest has waned, gracefully erase them from your database. "As you know, we work only with individuals actively considering our opportunity. Thanks for your initial interest. We wish you the best of success in your future endeavors. Good-bye."

Separate dreamers from doers

"Dreamers" love the idea of owning their own business. They envision themselves as happy proprietors of a fun ice cream store, socializing with smiling families raving about their scrumptious hot fudge sundaes in their Ben & Jerry's franchise. Gracefully disqualify these passionate individuals before they soak up your selling hours. Since they often are raving customers of yours, let them down gently. They just don't realize the difference between eating at and owning an ice cream store. Share the hard realities of working 80 hours a week, fixing broken machines with 10 people impatiently waiting to be served, and 2 employees on the busiest shift not showing up for work. It's time to cut the cord and push them out of your pipeline, or they'll keep hanging on.

How about the "professional lookers," those distinguished elite who turn franchise investigation into career hobbies? Have any of you franchise veterans run into the same prospects attending franchise shows three years in a row? Or what about the "armchair entrepreneurs"? I had a tennis buddy who bought the complete $3,500 library of Entrepreneur magazine's 80 start-up business manuals. He bragged about reading every manual cover to cover. Bill confessed he had explored owning a business for the past 15 years, and probably would be for the next 15.

In short, weed out the dreamers, and work only with the "doers" motivated and driven to commit to a business they can operate within the foreseeable future. They are engaged in your franchise model and are ready to say "Yes" if the match is right.

Send them to "reform school"

Robert was a franchise broker who was exceptional at keeping prospects in line with the sales process. One time I worked with one of his candidates who skipped our appointment without notice or apology. When I told Robert I was stood up, he "threw him in jail" and told him to call him back in a week if he promised he would never commit such a crime again. It sounds a bit harsh, but it worked. Tail between his legs, the guilty candidate apologized profusely and marched perfectly through our process after that.

In summary, don't mess around with the wandering masses. Engage your energies with serious candidates with profiles and attributes you desire for your system. You'll increase your productivity, free up wasted time, reduce turnover, and produce a much stronger, successful franchise network.

This article is an excerpt from Grow to Greatness: How To Build a World-Class Franchise System Faster by Steve Olson. For order information, go to www.franchiseupdate.com/gtg.

Published: February 1st, 2010

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