Objective: Qualify the prospect, build rapport, and establish the process
Length of conversation: 45 to 60 minutes
This meeting with your prospective candidate is the most important step in the recruitment process. It's your first real "date," the one that determines whether you two have what it takes for a serious relationship. Your prospect certainly is interested in your franchise. They responded to your franchise offer; were previously interviewed by you or your qualifier; reviewed your initial franchise package and website; and submitted their RFC, providing their personal information, work history, and financial statement.
This 30- to 45-minute session presents the opportunity for you to speak more openly with these motivated respondents. The vast majority have no reference point on how to buy a franchise. First and foremost, you must assume a leadership role, otherwise the consequences can be disastrous. Aggressive buyers will certainly take delight in assuming command. If you are a brand-new franchisor, you'll quickly realize this after a few "free-for-all" conversations with prospects that have no structure to follow.
It's your role to take control and lay the framework for the Program Review. This will include a review of their RFC, goals, and expectations; addressing basic questions and discussing your program; and, if they are interested in taking the next step, sharing the investigation process for your franchise.
First, review their RFC. If it's illegible, sloppy, or incomplete you probably don't have a very qualified or motivated candidate. If they can't take the time to fill out your application properly, that's a warning signal. They need to follow your process if they want to qualify. In these cases, bounce the RFC back to them, asking for their completed application if they want to be considered and receive proprietary information about your franchise. You may think that's harsh, but once you see the difference between candidates with well-prepared applications and sloppy ones, the light bulb will go on for you.
When reviewing a completed RFC, ask the prospect at least three specific questions to clarify and dig further into their information. Just telling a prospect their RFC "looks good" without further attention lessens the stature of your franchisee selection process. Focused questioning shows prospects you care about their ability to qualify for your program. It also tells them you want to know more about their personal interests. For example, "Joe, I see on your application you spent time as a studio musician and operated a recording studio. How does that business work? How did you successfully compete in such a competitive industry? I also notice you take time to coach your daughter's soccer team. What motivated you to take that on?"
Now paint the picture of your ideal franchisee, describing the skill sets and attributes of successful owners in your system (or for start-up franchisors, those you believe are the right match for your program). This is a great qualifier, often prompting serious prospects to "sell" their capabilities to fit this profile; or sometimes prospects will excuse themselves, realizing they don't have what it takes for your franchise.
Second, address general questions the candidate has about your program, deferring any specifics that will be answered in the FDD or later in the process. Next, ask some telling open-ended questions. Use these probes and you'll better understand each prospect's motivations and concerns, resulting in more effective presentations focused on their hot buttons. Too many sales executives don't probe enough, and then wonder why they lost a buyer to another opportunity. When you focus more on your prospect and less on your program, candidates will develop a stronger interest level in your franchise! If you ask the right questions, you'll also know the key drivers to their decision-making.
Now involve your prospect by providing an assignment that further engages them in your process, one that requires active participation to complete the task. These are great qualifiers that will provide clear signals demonstrating the seriousness of your buyer. These interactive assignments should be simple and reinforce the desirability of your opportunity. An inspection service franchise exec may say to their prospects, "Check out local Yellow Pages and record the number of plumbers in your market. These can be prime customers for our inspection services. Let's discuss what your market opportunity is in our next conference call." A coffee franchise exec may instruct their prospects, "Go sit in a local Starbucks between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Count customers served during a half-hour period and multiply by the industry average of $4 per transaction. Let's see what you come up with in our next meeting!"
Next time: Step 2, Part 2 - Pre-closing during Program Review.
This is an excerpt from my Amazon.com best-selling book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.
A targeted, quarterly magazine that takes CEO's, VPs and Sales Executives to the cutting edge of franchise development.