How to apply for a franchise?
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.
The franchise interview
It is important to start this article by highlight that as all franchise systems are different, franchisors will look for different required skills and characteristics depending on the nature of the business.
The franchise interview is where the franchisor decides if you are right for their business, and equally where you decide if the franchise is right for you. Remember it is a two-way interview and whilst you need to sell yourself to the franchisor, they should be selling themselves to you. Use the interview to find out everything you need to know about the franchise.
We have outlined below some common attributes that franchisors look for and how you should present yourself in the interview:
We know it sounds obvious but people still query what to wear in an interview. You should always go formal unless asked not to by the franchisor.
They way you present yourself gives the franchisor an indication of how you would represent the company. No franchisor would hire someone who looked scruffy in the interview! And it is not just about how you look but how you present yourself. Be professional at all times and come across in a positive light.
You need to be willing to follow the franchisor’s system
The franchisor has spent years building their system so that is operating successfully as a franchise; they do not want someone to come in and start suggesting changes to it.
You should demonstrate in the interview that you have a good grasp of how the system works and that you are keen to be part of it.
Be able to express why your skills meet those required by the business
What experience do you have? What are your skills? Why you would be an asset to the franchise. Show your business acumen.
Show the franchisor that you know about their industry
Research it before you go so that you can impress them with stats etc. Ask questions about the competition and any threats or weaknesses, strengths or opportunities you have identified, talk about any of the company’s promotion you have seen and what you liked about it.
It is ok to ask questions but do not interrogate them about negatives as it will only make the franchisor defensive.
Demonstrate your knowledge of the area you are interested in
Tell them why you think you can make the franchise a success in this area. Reveal any community initiatives you are involved in. Display to the franchisor where you are getting the money for the franchise.
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!