A Look at the Franchise Discovery Process From Another Perspective
Recently, I stepped into the shoes of my franchisee candidates. You see, over the last few months, I engaged in franchise exploration as a potential franchisee. Walking in my candidates’ shoes provided insights into the efficacy of what I do as a franchise consultant and the process I employ.
I believe deeply in the power of franchising and in addition to being a franchise consultant, I have been a franchise owner for several years. I was kicking around the idea of investing in another franchise business and engaged in the exact same process I take my clients through. The only difference was I did not have a dedicated franchise consultant guiding me but I received feedback and advice from several of my peers.
Important Lessons Every Franchise Seeker Should Know
A Structured Approach Works
I identified three brands that I wanted to explore more deeply. These are all brands that I respect and have placed clients in, but the perspective was very different as a potential franchisee. I employed the discovery process and questions that I recommend to candidates. The structured approach helped me gather the necessary information to make a fact-based decision. Most importantly, it helped me feel secure that I thoroughly and efficaciously weighed all the appropriate factors.
Guidance and Feedback is Imperative
As mentioned, even though I didn’t have a dedicated franchise consultant by my side, I worked informally with peers in the same manner that I work formally with my clients. My fellow franchise consultants asked me good questions and provided their insights. While joining a franchise is a very personal decision, it is important to engage with experts. I have a lot of experience in franchising and am not sure I would have been as comfortable with the decision without the support of my peers.
Validation is a Must
Validation — speaking to current franchisees — is the crown jewel of due diligence. My due diligence was conducted with brands I knew relatively well. And, I still learned so much during validation. My experience served to reinforce the fact that franchisees tell the truth during validation. They want to grow their brands with good candidates and also voice their feelings about the challenges they are experiencing.
The Franchise Agreement Should Not Scare You
The franchise agreement can be little scary if not placed in proper context. The agreement protects the brand and successful franchisees. Hard stop. As long as you are confident about your ability to succeed with a particular franchise (you should not consider joining if you are not) the agreement should not scare you. In addition, there are no significant areas for negotiation of the agreement but room for clarification.
I made my decision when I was 80% sure I found the concept. Nothing in life comes with 100% certainty except death and taxes.
There is no One-Size-Fits-All in Franchising
Fit matters. As a member of the IFPG franchise broker network, I work with the largest and strongest portfolio of franchise brands in the industry. With hundreds and hundreds of brands in all different sectors, there is a good match for practically everyone. Successful franchising is predicated on fit. A franchise must work for a person’s time commitment, skills, strengths, interests, financials, values, and a variety of other factors. There is no one-size-fits-all in franchising.
As I personally conducted my discovery, one brand resonated with me because of how well it aligned with my values, interests, time commitment, and franchise consulting practice. A recurring realization was how well it would enhance my business and my life.
Success in Franchising is Not Linear
By the time you attend a franchise discovery day (D-Day), you should be ready to make a decision. The purpose of D-Day is to cross your t’s and dot your i’s with the brand and to learn about the culture and connect with the people. Success in franchising is not linear and it is crucial to align with people and a brand who will support you during the ups and also during the inevitable challenges you will face.
Performance Comes Down to you
Reviewing item 19’s (earnings claims) and speaking to franchisees strengthened my view that success comes down to the individual franchise owner. Franchisees who execute the system with leading franchises do well.
There is no Such Thing as 100%
I made my decision when I was 80% sure I found the concept. Nothing in life comes with 100% certainty except death and taxes. But conducting strong due diligence and executing the franchisors’ proven system is how franchisees can set themselves up for success.
I learned a lot during my franchise exploration process that will help me become a better franchise consultant. Not only did this experience lead to investing in a brand that will enhance my franchise portfolio, but I can still do what I love as a leading franchise consultant: Help others become entrepreneurs!