We want YOU! Franchisee Recruitment...

Franchisors must understand the importance of a well-managed recruitment programme. Done right, it lays the foundation of a high-quality, well-motivated franchise network. Done wrong, it can sow the seeds of a franchisor's undoing. FDS Northern Consultant Tony Urwin reports

I recently visited two companies that had successfully franchised their business with the help of our services. Both had systematised their operations, and had developed the tools required to transfer both their knowledge and methods to franchisees. The marketing tools we provided were bearing fruit, and leads were pouring in. Unfortunately, both companies were completely overwhelmed.

The owners of the first company had been spending all of their time responding to enquiries, leaving little time for the day-to-day operation of the business. The owners of the second company were so busy with the operation of their business that they didn't have the time to follow up on leads, resulting in a growing mountain of unanswered enquiries. Clearly, the neglect of either the business or of prospective franchisees is troublesome.

Frankly, the recruitment of suitable franchisees is one of the most time-consuming aspects of any franchise development programme. A targeted marketing campaign must be developed and implemented, and the results measured. Once the phones start ringing and the inbox starts filling, each and every lead must be systematically (and promptly) followed up. The franchisor should take the details and answer the questions of every enquirer and, subject to passing the initial screening, send them documentation, usually a prospectus. Returned application forms should be processed, and subsequent interviews scheduled and conducted. The marketing efforts, screening process, relationship management and data collection involved can very well exhaust even the most committed franchisor.

The Cost of Cutting Corners

A shortcut or oversight in the recruitment process can undermine a franchisor's path. Ill-conceived advertising efforts deliver no return on investment, or attract inappropriate candidates. Hot leads left unanswered quickly go cold. Poor or no candidate screening will ensure failed locations and troublesome franchisees. No matter where the problem lies, the consequences are the same: wasted time and money, unstable systems, financial issues, personal angst and possible legal woes.

What is a Franchisor to Do?

Franchisors should first identify their ideal candidate and then ensure that their marketing efforts are directed at getting serious information through to such a person. The goal is to accurately market the salient benefits of the opportunity directly to the franchisor's target audience. The more targeted and accurate the pitch, the more informed and appropriate the resulting leads. Editorial and other PR coverage can be quite helpful in this regard over and above appropriate advertising.

Secondly, enquiries have to be properly handled. People who have been moved to initiate contact will turn away (or even worse, turn hostile) if their interest is not reciprocated. This is why a reliable lead-management mechanism must be part of any recruitment strategy. All incoming leads should receive a prompt and appreciative acknowledgement of their enquiry. Contact details should be collected, and more detailed information dispatched.

Franchisees must be understood as business partners, not as customers. Franchising is a long-term relationship between franchisor and franchisee, and franchisors have just as much interest as franchisees in selecting a partner with care. Franchisors are advised to carefully assess their candidates. A qualification process is necessary to weed out individuals who lack the attributes of a successful franchisee. Successful franchisees are the best marketing tool for any franchise once they are established. They serve as great advocates of the franchise system as well as the franchisors themselves. In business as in life, a good long-term partner is invaluable.

Strategies, anyone?

Know what you're getting into - New franchisors frequently underestimate the demands of franchisee recruitment. Talk to at least one established franchisor and ask them about their experience. Contact the British Franchise Association and Franchise Development Services for advice. A few phone calls and a little reading could save you a whole lot of time, money and hassle.

Plan ahead - Take the time to chart your course. Remember, a recruitment programme should be proactive, not reactive! Decide on the image you wish to project, identify the attributes you need in a franchisee, determine how you'll reach qualified individuals, think out your lead management system, and develop a sound candidate evaluation method... before you begin.

Manage your costs - Monitor your recruitment costs! You should be able to calculate how much you are paying per signed franchisee. Don't forget the cost of your time and other overheads. You want to ensure that your recruitment costs per head are far less than your franchise fees.

Hire someone to manage the process or use a professional lead generation and recruitment service - As the owner or director of a franchise company, you probably do not have the time to manage a franchise recruitment programme yourself. We strongly suggest that you appoint a person within your team with recruitment responsibility before you attempt to market your franchise.

Alternatively, our professional full-service franchise recruitment programme is available to facilitate the entire process. Franchise Development Services employs its extensive resources to develop targeted marketing, generate and manage leads, pre-qualify candidates and track your success. The service keeps a lid on your costs as it maximises your chance of recruitment success. Your focus must be on doing things right from the start. This means developing proper pilot operations, proven operating systems, full documentation, sensible marketing material, a solid picture of your targets, and a reliable method of tracking your progress. A well-run recruitment programme offers much more than savings. Successful franchisees are the foundation of a successful franchise system, and are the best marketing tool for any franchisor.

If you have any questions about franchise recruitment or would like more information about our proven professional lead generation and recruitment service, contact us today.