Step 7 of our guide focuses on applying for a franchise. We look at how to narrow your list of franchise opportunities down to one or two, requesting information, attending an open day and what to expect at the interview.
Narrowing down your franchise options
When you have completed your due-diligence and have determined which franchise opportunities may suit you, then you should contact the franchisors for further information.
You can narrow down your list of possibilities to two or three companies, using an initial evaluation of the franchisors, their products and services, and their franchise opportunities.
Evaluate multiple franchises
In order to conduct a meaningful investigation of your choices as a potential franchise owner, you should explore more than one franchise company in great detail.
You may have sent an initial request for information to 10 or 15 companies, but you can't do an in-depth evaluation of all of them - and you won't need to.
Know what questions to ask yourself
In most cases, you can tell right away whether or not you are really interested in knowing more about a given franchise. By answering the following basic questions about each franchise that has immediate appeal for you, you will be able to pinpoint two or three real possibilities from among those that you initially thought might interest you.
- Would you enjoy making a career out of running this franchise?
- Do you have the skills - or could you learn them - to operate this franchise business?
- Do you have the resources to invest in and operate this franchise?
- Does it seem as if the returns of your investment in this franchise might be in line with your financial needs and objectives?
- Does the franchisor appear reputable, forthcoming, and the type of company with which you would enjoy a partnership?
Checking off the above points will help you decide which franchisors you would like to know more about. As you continue your franchise investigation, don't rely solely on the information companies send to you.
How to Wow at a Franchise Interview
By Anthony Round, Franchise Director, Burger & Sauce
At Burger & Sauce we get lots of enquires from potential franchisees. Only a few of these applications will be successful. As a franchisor, we need to ensure we only work with the best franchisees and those that impress at interview stage. These are the people who will represent our brand and in return we offer them access to our brilliant concept, carefully crafted to create a thriving and profitable business. The majority of franchisors will also be looking for great franchisees to represent their brand, so if you’ve found the perfect franchise opportunity for you: how can you impress at interview? Here are my seven top tips on how to prepare, demonstrate the right skills and ensure you move to the next stage.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of potential franchisees during my career. I want to know applicants have researched the brand in detail, without quoting bland statistics. As a fast-food operator, I also want to know the candidate has visited a store, tasted the product and liked what they’ve experienced! They need to have developed an excitement about the brand and show they are serious in order to move forwards.
2) Business Model
Potential franchisees also need to understand the business model and how it works. For fast-food it’s important to have a grasp of fixed and variable costs for example. Candidates also need to understand numbers as they will be managing a P&L, staff and supply costs and balancing the books on a weekly basis. As a franchisor we train all our franchisees to manage all aspects of the operation, but it really helps if they have a business mind and are savvy about the numbers from the outset. Prepare examples of when you’ve managed business expenses in this way.
For many franchised businesses, location is important. Most franchisors are selling defined ‘territories’ so franchisees need to live close by to the available area. In the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry, location takes on an extra importance because a convenience fast-foot outlet situated in the wrong place, aimed at the wrong target market or not able to attract sufficient footfall, will fail. Therefore, always think about where you plan to set up and demonstrate this insight to the franchisor. Your local knowledge of the area will be key here and so use it to your advantage.
4) A Realistic Business Plan
As the A Team used to say: “I love it when a plan comes together!” However, a plan will only ever work if it is well thought out, realistic and backed by solid research. Be prepared to discuss outline business plans at initial interview stage. Show an understanding of timing, an estimate of break once finances are brought into the mix and any timeline for launch. For franchisees considering multi-unit expansion, a more detailed plan including the timing of roll out is necessary for serious consideration.
5) Soft Skills
Interviews are the opportunity to demonstrate soft skills. They are the chance to show you are good with people which is important for any franchise situation. In the hospitality industry, managing staff and customer service is part of the everyday work and so franchisees need to be great communicators. Teamwork is essential in any franchise situation too, so and consider how you can demonstrate you are a team player. Think of examples and evidence where you have successfully been part of a team or have managed one for a successful outcome, to show you are good with people.
6) Business Elements
A franchisor is potentially going to hand over the ‘keys’ to their brand and successful operation, so they will need to trust that you understand the main areas of the business. For example, this may include: operations, profit and loss, customer service, staff management, rotas or supplier relationships. This list is long, and this will be relevant to individual franchise opportunities. Consider what’s involved and show you are across all the different elements of the business.
Franchisors will be keen to promote and expand their brand. Therefore, they will be looking for someone who will cooperate. Someone who will work with them not against them. Franchisees will need to follow the franchise manual and take direction when needed. They must be creative and have the flare and drive to set up their business but work with the franchisor and the established business model for ultimate success. In some ways, if a potential franchisee is an “intrapreneur” rather than an “entrepreneur” this will work better. In other words, the applicant knows how to develop a business but sees the value of brand support and the following of a system, without taking reckless risks. Demonstrating these attributes will help at interview stage.
Any franchise interview is a two-way street. The franchisor is keen to recruit a new franchisee to expand the brand but not at any cost. Franchisees therefore have to use the time with the franchisor wisely: to find out information they can’t find elsewhere, but also demonstrate they are a good candidate. The better the franchise opportunity the more the franchisor will expect from the franchisee at the interview stage. If you can WOW the franchisor, then this could open the door to a very lucrative business model. Good luck!
About the Author
Anthony Round Franchise Director, Burger & Sauce has worked in the franchise industry for over 30 years, with great brands like Dominos Pizza, Papa Johns, Yum brands GDK, and the COOP. Experienced working in both in Development and Operational Roles, franchising is Anthony’s passion, and he loves the challenge of matching great people with great brands, then seeing them develop into highly skilled and very effective multi-site operators. Find out more about Burger & Sauce.
Questions to Ask During a Franchise Interview
By Paul Sheard National Business Development & Training Manager, Propertynest
I’ve worked in the property industry and franchising for more years than I care to remember! Interviewing prospective franchisees is always interesting. It’s the chance for a franchisee to show they are a good candidate and the chance for an applicant to ask well researched questions. But what questions should franchisees be asking?
How much will I earn
Probably the most frequently asked question! The answer will depend on the structure of the franchise but also the franchisee too. How much effort are they willing to put into building a business? The earnings of franchisees within the same network, all following the same manual and using the same business model can vary widely, so the question might be better phrased as: “I’d like to be earning £X, is that realistic and what will I need to do and how will you support me as a franchisor to achieve that goal?”
How does your business model work?
I’d really like to see that the potential franchisee has researched and already understands the franchise concept here. I would expect more detailed questions around the business model – about advertising, marketing, supplies, territories and support for example.
What Training is included?
Most franchisors will not expect technical knowledge, but they will expect drive, determination, resilience and a raft of soft skills such as communication and the ability to build relationships with customers. For example, as a Propertynest franchised estate agent, a background in property is not necessary but face-to-face sales experience is essential. A franchisee who has the right transferable skills and can identify the gaps where they will need further training, should enquire about the support they will get in relation to filling those gaps to come over favourably. Also be sure to ask about ongoing support.
Why Should I Join You?
This is an ever-popular question, but potential franchisees need to understand franchisors usually have many applicants. A franchise interview is a two-way street and it’s as much about the franchisor choosing the right franchisee to represent their brand as a franchisee buying into an opportunity. I would expect to see the prospect demonstrate their research and be prepared to discuss the pros and cons of the franchise opportunity compared to the competition.
Tell me about the Company Culture?
This is a good question as most franchises and certainly the Propertynest franchise opportunity is run as a collaboration between franchisor and franchisees and values need to be aligned on both sides. Some franchises are run more like corporations, and this may not suit those escaping from the corporate world looking for a way out of that ‘employees must take direction’ type of environment. At Propertynest for example, we work in partnership with our franchisees. If they succeed, so do we and we all share the benefits.
How do you use Technology for lead generation?
Most franchisors these days are embracing technology on different fronts. Tech can be especially helpful for lead generation and franchisees should enquire about this as it can save them huge amounts of admin time, enabling them to focus on their customers and growing their business, if done well.
Can you introduce me to sources of funding?
As a franchisor, I’d really like a potential franchisee to have a handle on the numbers. An understanding of the amount of investment required, how they plan to fund the business and how they will support their lifestyle while building it. Franchisors are usually able to introduce franchisees to quality sources of funding, but franchisees need to be realistic and demonstrate an understanding of where they need financial input. Honesty and transparency are important from the outset to ensure the greatest chance of success.
What will be my breakeven point?
This will vary depending on circumstances. However it should be an important discussion point. Similarly, cover details about the franchise manual. Franchisees who stick to the plan are more likely to succeed and reach their break even point earlier. Find out what is expected.
Can you help with my exit plan?
This might seem like an odd question for a new franchisee! However, franchisors regularly help people build up a business to sell. Transparency from the start will not put a franchisor off an applicant, but instead, help them devise the best strategy to achieve their goal.
Can I speak to existing franchisees?
This question should really be: can I speak to any franchisees I choose, not just your top performing franchisees? Anyone considering franchising needs an honest appraisal of what it’s like to represent the brand before they jump in headfirst!
Attending a discovery day
If you are considering investing in your future with a Franchise you will be offered the chance to attend a discovery day. Belvoir! Franchise outlines what exactly a discovery day is, why attend one and how do you prepare to get the best out of it.
Look for Discovery Day Opportunities
Firstly a Franchisor will offer to let you attend a discovery day for one important reason; that is to let you and the Franchisor take a good look at each other.
The format is different depending on who you are dealing with but should fall into one of two categories, either a ‘group discovery day’ or a ‘one to one discovery day’. The former usually proceeds the latter.
At a group Discovery Day a number of potential Franchisees will be presented to by the Franchisor and given information to start the process of discovering more about the opportunity. After this a smaller number of potential Franchisees will then move forward to a one to one discovery day. Confusingly both are called discovery days by Franchisors.
The reason for the explanation is that in many cases, such as with Belvoir, we only hold one to one discovery days. I will therefore be using the term discovery day in the context of the one to one meeting from now on.
What are the benefits of attending a Discovery Day?
I suppose the clue is in the title, you want to discover more about the opportunity and the Franchisor needs to discover more about you.
There is a mass of information on the internet that deals with the subject of franchising. A good place to start your research is on the website of the company that you are considering as a business partner.
Even though you can find out a considerable amount online, visiting the company is an absolute necessity.
The main reason is that you can look at them closely. When you walk into the office how you do feel? This might seem a little old fashioned but how else do you manage to really get that sensation? When you speak to the Franchise Sales Manager do you believe in what they say? I’m not suggesting that anyone would lie to you, but, does what they say seem right for you?
Personal interaction is still very important when making a big decision and I would argue that investing your life savings and the next decade of your life is a relatively big decision.
What should you expect when you attend one?
You will also have the opportunity to meet your support team. One of my favourite sayings about franchising is ‘you are in business for yourself, but, not by yourself’. This sums up the essence of franchising. You are running your own business, supported by experts.
Well quite simply put are those experts any good? When you meet them and look them in the eye do they inspire confidence?
You should meet all the support teams that will be helping you, for instance; the premises team, the business development team, the IT team, the marketing team and the audit team.
You should also be given some key information at the meeting. Most importantly of all is access to the whole of the current Franchisee network. If a Franchisor will not give you this access I would very strongly suggest walking away. I cannot see any ‘good’ reason why this would be withheld.
You will receive information on the opportunity itself, in some considerable detail and may find that the information is tailored to your specific circumstances usually depending on your level of aspiration.
What I mean is; if you are looking for a single business that will facilitate a long term lifestyle this is different to looking for a multi outlet business generating millions in income.
Whatever you are looking for it is important that the Franchisor understands this and allocates you an opportunity that does not impose a ‘glass ceiling’ restriction on you.
You are going to be given a huge amount of information at a meeting that will last 2-3 hours. Not all of it is written, most of it is received by meeting people and starting to put a picture together of your new business life moving forward.
How do you prepare to get the most out of the discovery day?
Firstly and most importantly please have an honest discussion with yourself or selves. I’m not trying to be funny here, it is vitally important that you understand what it is that you want. Why are you looking at franchising? What are you hoping to achieve?
You also need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Are you more comfortable out of the office dealing with customers or do you prefer to manage from the office? There is no such thing as a right answer here, just an honest one.
If you don’t know who you are and what you want, how can the Franchisor help to build a support structure to compliment you?
Research is very important. Does the market sector that the franchisor operates in excite you? How many franchisors operate in the sector and who are you going to approach? My advice, look at all of them online first.
You can get an understanding from the company website, which will allow you to answer your initial questions without having to start many conversations. You can contact the Franchisors when you have whittled them down to a smaller number of three or four.
Prepare your questions. Sit down and consider carefully what it is exactly that you wish to know and write it down. Make sure you spend a few days with your list open so that you can add to it before you visit the Franchisor. You will have many more questions after the meeting, but, to get the most out of it prepare your list thoroughly.
Look carefully at your financial situation before you meet the Franchisor. They will ask you specifically about your overall position. The Franchisor will probably refer you to a third party for a more detailed discussion regarding finance, usually to a qualified financial expert.
Have a conversation about the time commitment needed to successfully open a business. Before meeting the Franchisor please be aware of your ability to commit time. If you are only able to work for three hours a day, two days a week you will probably not be accepted by the Franchisor.
Running a business following a predetermined process and method is relatively simple, but, definitely not easy. It will require a lot of time and effort on your part, so understand what your limitations are before you meet.
Benefits of attending a franchise discovery day
Mail Boxes Etc. outline the benefits of attending Discovery Days when researching franchise opportunities.
When researching a franchise opportunity, attending a Discovery Day can be one of the most valuable ways to gain first-hand experience of the franchise and to help you make an informed decision about whether the opportunity is right for you.
The Discovery Day forms part of the recruitment process and is a chance for you to ask any questions you may have to help you fully understand the franchise. Franchisors only invite people they believe to be serious and qualified for their franchise opportunity so it is also your chance to sell yourself to the franchisor. Outlined below are just a few benefits of attending Discovery Days.
Find out more about how the franchise operates
By the time you attend a Discovery Day, you should have started your due diligence and know enough about the franchise for you to be interested in pursuing the opportunity further. However, there may be some elements of the business that can only be discovered by meeting the team face to face and seeing first-hand how the business operates.
Many franchisors hold Discovery Days at their Head Office locations to allow you to find out more about their support team. At Mail Boxes Etc., we invite prospects to discovery days held at one of our flagship stores to experience first-hand the daily operation of a working store. Mail Boxes Etc. believe that this will help you to visualise yourself in the business and understand the products, services, customers and network.
Regardless of format, a Discovery Day is one of the most important steps in your decision-making journey. You may have read all you can about the franchise and spoken to a team member over the phone, but nothing will bring the franchise to life more than experiencing the business on a first-hand basis. Discovery Days are a key part of the recruitment process and as such, most franchisors will require you to attend before progressing further.
An opportunity to meet the support staff
Franchisors are keen to present you with the best overview of the franchise, so they may introduce you to key members of their support team throughout the day, which gives you a great opportunity to meet the people you may be working with.
As a long-term investment, it is essential that you come away feeling comfortable that they are people you would enjoy working with.
Get to know the team and gain information from them too, after all they will be the people you may work closely with once you have launched your franchise and supporting you throughout the length of your franchise agreement.
Have your questions answered
Attending a Discovery Day is a great way to speak to the franchisor face to face and to have all your questions answered. Meeting the franchisor in person will help you to further assess the opportunity and whether it’s the right fit for you.
Prepare a list of questions and no doubt you will find that even more will occur to you on the day. Asking questions will demonstrate your genuine interest in the opportunity.
Sell yourself to the franchisor
Although Discovery Days are designed to help you further your decision on a particular franchise opportunity, they are also a great way for the franchisor to get to know you and decide whether they think you would fit into their network.
Make sure you dress smartly and engage in the day, the same way that you might for a job interview. The franchisor is looking for competent individuals who they feel will add value to their network so whilst you are looking at them, they are looking at you too!
Meet like-minded people
Most franchisors hold Discovery Days on a regular basis so, often, you will not be the only one in attendance. Discovery Days provide a suitable opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals who may be in a similar position.
This is your opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with them whilst also listening to what they’ve got to say. They may even raise important questions that you had not considered!