The 101 on the 4 Franchise Buyer Styles
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The 101 on the 4 Franchise Buyer Styles

The 101 on the 4 Franchise Buyer Styles

In the early 1920s, an American psychologist named William Moulton Marston subscribed to the idea that there are four dominant communication and behavior styles. Marston observed that those who possess similar characteristics also happen to speak, listen, process information, make decisions, and produce results in similar fashion.

For franchise sales training purposes FPG personified these styles, classifying franchise buyers as the Action Hero, Comedian, Faithful Sidekick, and Private Eye.

The Action HeroThe Action Hero

Action Heroes are visionary, entrepreneurial, results-oriented, big-picture thinkers. They are strategic and efficient, pushing for the quickest, easiest, simplest, and most efficient way to produce results. They would buy a franchise because, "It is an efficient use of resources and the quickest and easiest way to achieve my objectives." They see the franchisor as a strategic partner, but would predictably arm wrestle from time to time over issues of control.

Keys to communicating. Get right down to business. State your objectives for the call up front and ask what they are looking to achieve. Lay out a simple agenda and get their buy-in. Implement the "3 B" communications strategy: be good, be brief, and be gone. Have clear follow-up, knowing the answer to, "Who does what and by when?" Don't challenge their opinions without asking permission first, such as, "Would you be open to hearing any data contrary to your opinion?" or they might get argumentative.

The Comedian

The ComedianComedians are outgoing, gregarious, influential, charismatic leaders, personifying the typical sales and marketing personality. They are optimistic and entrepreneurial and work well on a team. They are brilliant at sales and marketing and make work fun. They see the franchisor as a teammate and seek to build deep personal relationships with the franchisor's staff. They need to align the business with their identity, looking to "see myself in the business."

Keys to communicating. Chitchat. Get to know them as people. Ask personal questions and expect them to ask the same of you. They only do business with friends, so be informal. Have an agenda for every call, but let them zigzag in the middle. Move quickly. Crack jokes. Ask questions that get them back on agenda as they drift. Put all follow-up action items in writing.

The Faithful SidekickThe Faithful Sidekick

Faithful Sidekicks are slow, methodical, data-based decision-makers. Like the Comedians, they are strong relationship builders, but more low key and better listeners. They follow processes and systems. They relate to the franchisor as an "insurance policy," thinking, "I would rather hit a single or a double with high degree of predictability than hit a home run but incur more risk." They desire security, stability, and belonging to a larger group.

Keys to communicating. Slow down. Have an agenda for every call with clear action items. They ask many questions and prefer detailed answers, so leave time. Ask questions to draw them out. They may not volunteer information unless asked. End calls with clear action steps. They take longer to make decisions than Comedians or Action Heroes. Don't push them too hard or they will shut down. They have a tendency to lose sight of the big picture, get lost in the weeds, and are cautious decision-makers.

The Private Eye

The Private EyePrivate eyes are highly informed, analytical, and pure data-based decision-makers. You must create a solid case as to why the business is unique, profitable, necessary to the customer, and sustainable for the long haul. They follow processes and systems to a "T." They are very quality driven, excel in the technical parts of a business, and prefer to work alone.

Keys to communicating. They move slowly and methodically, collecting reams of data and asking many questions. They are very risk-averse and may appear to be low on trust or lacking confidence. They are professional in their approach and it is wise to respect that boundary. Don't try to be "buddy-buddy" as they will see this as unprofessional and may create a trust issue. Have an agenda for every call. Follow the agenda closely without jumping around. End meetings with clear action items, detailing "who will do what and by when."

Predicting buying styles

When on a call, listen for the person's speed and pitch of conversation. All fast-talking, expressive "headliners" are either Action Heroes or Comedians. In face-to-face meetings they talk with their hands. If you encounter a fast-talking, expressive, headliner immediately create some professional distance. Action Heroes will respect the boundary and engage you formally. Comedians will cross the boundary by asking you personal questions.

Conversely, if you immediately experience someone as slow talking, more monotonic, and who speaks in whole and complete sentences, know you are talking to either a Faithful Sidekick or a Private Eye. Don't feel compelled to break it down further as their communication needs are very similar.

Simple rule of thumb: franchisee recruiters want to recruit according to their style, while franchise buyers want to buy according to their style. The best recruiters are masterful at simply letting buyers buy, giving them what they need and how they need it to make an intelligent investment decision.

Joe Mathews is CEO of Franchise Performance Group, a franchise consultant firm specializing in growth strategies, recruitment, lead generation, and financing. He is the author of four books on franchising. Contact him at 860-309-1484 or

Published: June 19th, 2017

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