Understanding the unique concerns of the post-pandemic franchise buyer can help lead to more sales success
The franchise industry has been anticipating for months that the current economic climate would produce a ready pool of franchise candidates. For many, the first stages of this recovery are starting to feel a little more like “franchise sales on steroids” than simply a return to “business as usual.”
While there are tried and true franchise sales practices franchisors and their sales personnel can turn to, now that we’re turning the corner on the pandemic, no one can simply ignore what has happened since the early months of 2020. Understanding the unique concerns of the post-pandemic franchise buyer can help lead to more sales success.
Today’s potential franchisees are poised for business ownership as they realize they may no longer be able to secure the same high-paying jobs available pre-pandemic. They may have lost their jobs due to the COVID fallout, but these prospects with solid operational and management backgrounds are uniquely qualified to be franchise owners. Not wanting to build a business of their own from the ground up, these prospects are attracted to the proven systems and teachable operations inherent in franchising. In the past, access to capital was one of the biggest roadblocks to franchise ownership. Today’s buyers may be coming out of the pandemic with a severance package, increased home equity and enjoying the loosening of restrictions on borrowing against retirement savings. They recognize (or franchisors can help them recognize) that the cost of capital to start their own business is at a historic low.
A different world
The pandemic has certainly persisted perhaps longer than any of us would have initially imagined, and it must be acknowledged that buyers remain fearful of the Delta variant and other consequences of the pandemic in one form or another. And even as businesses continue to re-open, franchise buyers may fear labor shortages and the added cost of increased wages to lure workers back. Fears of inflation are also on the horizon. Franchise sales personnel need to be equipped with facts (because there is a lot of fear and a lot of misinformation out there) and be able to point to concrete examples of the franchisor’s adaptability during the last nearly year and a half.
We also have to acknowledge that even mainstays of the franchise sales process such as the financial performance representation will look different for the time being. Franchisors, in conjunction with their franchise attorneys and franchise consultants, may need to present less or different material depending on how their business was impacted by Covid. But this is nothing to shy away from. A good salesperson knows how to meet objections and can tell the story in an accurate way that also demonstrates a franchisor’s resilience.
Simply saying “the worst is behind us” or “our franchise is pandemic resistant” may not be enough to convince potential franchise buyers.
A trustworthy response
Of course, simply saying “the worst is behind us” or “our franchise is pandemic resistant” may not be enough to convince potential franchise buyers. You must be able to demonstrate it. Much of this can come from the franchisor’s marketing materials. Your story, as told through these materials, (websites, e-brochures, social media posts, press releases, PPC ads, direct marketing pieces, and more) are more important than ever in the sales process. The flexibility afforded by these online and digital materials allow you to tell a full story yet still adjust messaging if it becomes apparent in the sales process that certain buyer hesitancies need to be addressed. That said, marketing messaging can be kept somewhat evergreen while at the same time not ignoring what happened in 2020. So rather than saying a concept is simply pandemic- or recession-resistant, franchisors can talk about how their concepts can adapt and have adapted to changing times, changing market conditions and consumer preferences.
By its very nature, the story of the strength of a franchise system lends itself to a discussion of how the brand has become more efficient and responsive over time, with tested system adjustments. Franchisors need not be timid about pursuing franchise sales in the months ahead. The new landscape is less scary than many would make it out to be. It is hoped that franchisors have been continuing to market during these past difficult months in order to build a stream of qualified candidates who can be among the first post-pandemic franchisees to open their doors to new business-building opportunities.