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Tips for Recruiting Franchisees to your Franchise Network

Catherine Sedgley

Congratulations, you have established a small network of franchisees and built a reputation in your brand; now is the time to recruit franchisees to your network. Franchisee recruitment is an on-going challenge for many franchisors, but it does not need to be with these seven quick tips that our expert franchising lawyer, Catherine Sedgley has put together for you.

1. Look after your existing franchisees

It may sound simple and mostly common sense, but an existing happy franchisee is a franchisor’s best marketing tool and are far more likely to recommend a franchise if they feel good about their own business.

Franchisees who are optimistic about their future, enjoy their work, believe their franchisor cares about their success, feel they are getting a reasonable financial return and have a strong sense of connection to the brand will be a strong advocate for the network and their franchisor.

2. Reward good/mature franchisees with additional units/territories

A great way to re-engage with an existing mature franchisee is to explore if they are willing and able to operate additional units.

This is a win-win for franchisors’ as they already have an existing relationship with the franchisee, the franchisee is a proven performer and has knowledge of the systems and operations of the business and the franchisor will have less franchisees’ to “manage”. This will enable franchisors to grow with people they know, and this is likely to give franchisees’ (who may be looking to exit the network after their initial term) a new lease of life.

3. Encourage referrals from within

While franchisors’ tend to commit significant resources to websites, recruitment campaigns and digital marketing to generate enquiries, some of the best franchisee candidates come through referrals from existing franchisees.

In fact, most franchisees are appointed each year from referrals by existing franchisees than any other marketing channel.

This, of course, means you need to have satisfied franchisees, which brings us back to our first tip.

4. Aim for quality over quantity

If I ask a franchisor to describe their recruitment strategy and they reply “we will take anyone who has a heartbeat”, I instantly cringe.

A franchisor needs to be clear on the type of person who is a good fit for their business. Talk amongst the leadership team about who the ideal person is, their experience and financial capability, time commitment to the business, passion for your products, level of business acumen, realistic business expectations and cultural fit. Franchisors should not be afraid to decline a prospective franchisee if they do not fit the criteria. Poor quality enquiries from people who are a bad fit for your business are just a distraction to the franchisor and the franchise network.

5. Be a coach

Don’t fall into the trap of adopting a sales or training mindset. As a franchisor your role is to guide candidates through the recruitment process and answer what is on their mind rather than lecture them on how good your business is or pressure them into joining.

This means taking time to understand the prospective franchisee’s goals, concerns and needs, by asking specific, open-ended questions.

For instance, “What is your interest in our business?” or “What do you hope to achieve by joining our network?”

Any well-prepared candidate would have already done their own due diligence of your business and won’t want to hear your sales pitch.

6. Be prepared to provide potential franchisees with a work experience trial

Providing a prospective franchisee with an opportunity to work in the franchise and gain first-hand experience before signing the franchise agreement allows both parties to check each other’s capabilities.

Franchisors can see what the franchisee is like in action, get a better feel for their personality and how they handle the pressure, as well as whether they are going to be a good fit for the franchise.

The franchisee, on the other hand, can get a real taste of what it will be like being part of the franchise.

7. Invest in a dedicated franchisee website

Franchisee investors are different from consumers in the sort of information they want from a website. Prospective franchisees will have a list of questions they seek answers to, and franchisors can stand apart from their competitors by including FAQs and content on their website to answer these questions (taking care not to make any misrepresentations).

Your website should include positive statistics about your industry, what gives your business an edge over competitors, why your franchisees have a great life, and why this is a good financial investment.

A dedicated website will also enable franchisors to track enquiries and traffic to their website.

If you have a query relating to any of the information in this article, or you would like to speak with an experienced franchising lawyer regarding your own franchising matter, please don't hesitate to get in touch with a member of Coleman Greig's Franchising team, who would be more than happy to assist you.