Discovery Days are a time-honored tradition in franchising. The best prospects and their spouses visit franchise headquarters, learn about your company culture and system, meet the corporate team, and give leadership a chance to get to know them, too. It’s a great way for all parties to size each other up and see if it’s going to be a good match.
But as Mark Siebert wrote for Entrepreneur:
But make no mistake: Getting someone to Discovery Day is still a sale — and perhaps the most difficult one short of the actual close. You’re asking your candidate to take a day or more out of their busy schedule, spend time and money to travel to your location, and ideally persuade their spouse to come along.
In today’s tight labor market, getting prospects to come to Discovery Days is even more challenging. Unemployment in the United States was 3.7% in July 2019, a figure that changes the game when it comes to franchising. According to Franchise Performance Group:
In a stagnant economy or recession as unemployment rises, first-time entrepreneurs often believe the job market looks risky and starting a business appears secure. In today’s strong job market where wages are increasing and advancement opportunities are plentiful (even if it requires people to change companies and relocate), those same first-time entrepreneurs view the job market as secure and starting a business looks risky.
So, if your team is struggling to move prospective owners to the next phase of recruitment, it might be time to update your strategy. Taking Discovery Days to your prospects removes one obstacle to participation: travel. Meeting your prospects in their own hometowns might give you even greater insights than having them come to yours. And if scheduled wisely, mobile Discovery Days can help build visibility for your franchise, too. Here are some ways to make mobile Discovery Days work for your franchise system.
Meet the Team (And Your Prospect)
A well-rounded Discovery Day should work the same way as a job interview. Both sides get to meet each other, ask questions, and determine whether they’re compatible. Bringing key corporate team members along on your mobile Discovery Days will give your prospect a chance to meet the people they will be working and communicating with on a daily basis.
Since company culture starts with the franchise CEO, the CEO is ideal to lead the mobile Discovery Days team. This way, the prospect can get to know the true personality and lifestyle the franchise represents. Anyone involved in franchisee support and training should attend as well. In addition, consider bringing an established franchise location owner along to share their experience with the prospect.
It’s likely that you will see a different side of the prospect than you would if they came to headquarters. In their own community and environment, you will see how they interact with others in the community. Are they respected and respectable? Are they a good representative of your brand in their hometown? These are important questions to address before you’ve awarded them a franchise.
Your prospect doesn’t have to miss out on an in-depth tour of franchise headquarters just because your Discovery Days are on the road. Use multimedia and online connectivity to your advantage to give your prospect an immersive experience in their own hometown.
Create professional, high-energy videos for your prospect showing the best your headquarters has to offer and highlighting everything that makes your company great. Include testimonials from successful franchisees and behind-the-scenes looks into company culture. Be sure to show what they can expect from franchisee onboarding, training and especially the grand opening of their franchise location.
You could even use live-streaming to give a peek into the corporate office in real time and chat with any team members who couldn’t go on the road. Get creative and make it engaging, exciting, interactive and fun.
Make the Time Count
Taking your team on the road for Discovery Days can seem like a big expense. But there are ways to make the time and money do double duty. Pair Discovery Days excursions with speaking engagements for your CEO and other members of your leadership team, trade shows or interviews with local media. You could even invite your prospect along for some of these events to further build their excitement for your franchise culture.
These are events you can explore and schedule on your own or with the help of an experienced franchise public relations agency. Public relations professionals who know the franchise market space will be able to identify prime opportunities in the markets you visit and leverage their contacts to schedule the best engagements for your team.
As market conditions shift, it’s important for franchise leaders to find new strategies to keep growth steady. Tweaking traditional recruiting methods like Discovery Days can help you cast a wider net, keep prospects engaged, and make them more likely to choose you.
Heather Ripley is CEO of Ripley PR, a global public relations agency specializing in franchising. Orange Orchard, a division of Ripley PR, champions franchisors that cater to environmentally-conscious consumers. For additional information, visit www.ripleypr.com or www.orangeorchardpr.com.