Objective: Attend Discovery Day at your headquarters for executive approval of the franchise
This is part of an ongoing series about making the most of your Discovery Day presentations. Previous articles on Discovery Day, as well as other excerpts from my book on building a world-class franchise system, are available online in past issues of this newsletter.
This week I offer some guidelines for cross-checking your Discovery Day program. In the next issue I'll provide additional tips.
Before investing time and money in a home office visit, Discovery Day attendees should get their funding in order through a third party or direct financing program. Clearing this obstacle paves the way for a more productive Discovery Day. Yet some franchisors skip this preliminary procedure and instead, at the event, provide qualified attendees with sample business plans to present to lenders when they go home. This doesn't make sense for either party. Potential buyers want to know early on if they can qualify for funding. Why waste the time if they can't? Lenders are more than happy to spend 30 minutes or more to determine if a potential client is prequalified for financing. This step speeds the closing process and reduces wasted energy with prospects who "don't have the dough" to make it.
Track your current closing rates to establish which environment may be more suitable and successful for you. A home care franchisor discovered their greatest success with personal, one-on-one Discovery Days. Yet an advertising franchise found group presentations far more productive for their recruitment success. Their vice president of development said, "The presence of several people further validates our concept, and the enthusiasm of the attendees feeds off of each other, creating additional interest." At one franchise I represented, we noticed a tendency of more multiple-unit purchases when we had larger Discovery Day groups. Some wavering participants bought more than one unit after speaking with others who had committed to several units. (I'm not saying this was a positive, just an observation about group dynamics.)
Every activity at Discovery Day must be analyzed, rehearsed, and monitored. Your goal is to make a positive impression on the candidate. Your franchise system is on stage and must exude professionalism, organization, and leadership. According to a study conducted by Dunhill Personnel many years ago, 85 percent of what your prospects absorb at Discovery Day is visual, not informational. Minor details create major impact. What attendees observe greatly influences their decision to join your system. "By whom and in what car was I picked up at the airport? Were employees friendly and interested in me? Was my name posted on the company sign? Were the employees well-groomed and dressed appropriately? Did I relate to and feel comfortable in your environment? Was the home office well-maintained or were the bathrooms dirty? Did I get to meet the president or CEO?"
To illustrate the power of what's really important to some buyers, Once Upon A Child, a children's franchise, snatched a strong candidate out of the arms of a competitor at the eleventh hour. The new franchisee changed her decision because "The people were much nicer and I really sensed they were happy working for the system." In another instance, a direct-marketing franchise beat out a competitor when their CEO offered his guest room to a highly qualified prospect whose evening flight was cancelled by bad weather.
When your candidates arrive at Discovery Day, naturally you'll start with a warm welcome. Explain the purpose, process, and activities for the day to ensure everyone is "aligned" in the right direction. This provides further clarity for your Discovery Day guests and eliminates any potential confusion that may occur during the event.
Here's one approach to setting the stage: when a group attends, ask each candidate to make a brief personal introduction, including their business background, how they found out about your opportunity, and why they are so interested in your franchise. This familiarizes everyone with their peers, validates the desirability of your concept, and accelerates the bonding process among the group. It also gives you an early read into their mindsets and interest levels.
Next, review the scheduled events and tell them who they will meet. Wrap up this orientation by reaffirming expectations for their visit: "Put your best foot forward. Express yourself, ask questions, show your personality. You have all diligently conducted your research. Today it's most important for our corporate staff to get to know you, and for you to get acquainted with our professional support team. This strong relationship is the key to success for both of us. We're dependent upon each other, and we can profit together through our partnership. Our job is to build the car, start up the engine, and provide you with a road map for success. It's your job to follow the course and drive the growth of your business. This is what successful franchise relationships are all about. Today is about ensuring there can be a good fit."
Conclude by saying, "At the end of our day, I will speak with each of you privately before I present you to our executive approval committee for consideration. If a personal concern does come up today, please address this with me when we get together later. After the event concludes, our review committee will meet and review your skill sets, suitability to our culture, and willingness to follow our system. Their key question is, 'Do we believe you can be successful in our franchise system?' Your development executive will contact you within the next 24 hours to inform you of the committee's decision."
When staff are available, a personable facilitator who ushers and assists prospects throughout Discovery Day is invaluable. Their presence makes a good professional impression on your guests, showing them the attention your franchisees are given. It also elevates the stature of your development executive, who isn't always there seemingly waiting to grab their checkbook. From airport pickup to rearranging departmental presentations if needed, the facilitator keeps the schedule moving and can prevent potential mishaps and provide on-site feedback to your development team about the candidates.
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.
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