Impress Prospective Franchisees with a Discovery Day to Remember

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Discovery days for franchisees

Discovery days play an important role in attracting new franchisees. They’re an opportunity to show applicants what day to day operations are really like, what kind of work culture you’ve developed, and what they can expect life to be like as a franchisee. However, they’re also an opportunity to impress. On a discovery day, you want to make an impact and organise a day that attendees will remember. To help you do this, we’ve compiled this 10-tip guide to discovery days.

1. Make it enjoyable, make it something to remember

For prospective franchisees, the discovery day is a big deal. Unless you’re a hugely experienced franchisor who’s been doing this for years, it’s probably a big deal for you, too. With this in mind, it’s important to live up to the hype and consider ways in which you can make it both enjoyable and something to remember. If you’re a big franchise, this may mean using your financial clout to treat attendees to a special event. If you’re a smaller franchise, you’re going to have to be a bit more inventive.

2. Don’t wing it, don’t script it

The best franchises will put on a well-organised discovery day that's been scheduled and structured so there's no room for error. However, they'll also ensure that the discovery day doesn't feel too scripted. Potential franchisees don't want to feel as though they're being attended to by a robot or that the franchisor is simply going through the motions. They want the opportunity to interact on a natural, face to face basis and sound out their future working relationship.

3. Set pre-discovery day homework

Discovery days are also a good opportunity for franchisors to test attendees. One of the best ways to do this is to set a little bit of homework. This may involve researching industry-specific regulations or looking into the history of franchising in a particular sector. Those who come to the discovery day having done their homework are likely to be the most committed and most serious about the opportunity.

4. Go on-site

Some franchises hold their discovery days at a neutral venue and speak to attendees on a variety of topics, show some videos, and respond to questions. In our opinion, this simply isn’t good enough. An excellent discovery day will provide real insight into how the franchise operates and will take future franchisees onsite to see what day to day operations look like. With this in mind, franchisors have two options. First, run the entire discovery day onsite. Second, run half of the day at a venue close to your flagship franchise unit and take attendees onsite for the second half.

5. Ensure your staff understand what’s required

In order to avoid any embarrassing mix-ups, it's a good idea to brief all of your staff on what's required of them during discovery days. This ensures that they're as helpful, polite, and communicative as they need to be and that they understand that certain standards are demanded on discovery days.

6. Provide attendees with literature

All attendees should be provided with literature that guides them through the discovery day and discusses other important issues, such as the franchise agreement or advice on franchise financing. Not only will this help them feel comfortable on the day, it also ensures that they’ve got something to walk away with when they leave. The literature should also contain contact information for those individuals involved in franchisee recruitment so that attendees are able to get in touch and ask questions whenever necessary.

7. It can’t be a sales-centred experience

Though franchises clearly use aggressive sales techniques to attract prospective franchisees, there has to be a point where this stops and the sales team step back and allow other parts of the business to take over. If franchises rely too heavily on sales techniques, attendees are likely to develop unrealistic expectations. This can cause big problems in the future - when these expectations are not met. Franchisees can feel as though they were misled and resent the franchisor for being untruthful. This is not the way for the franchisor and franchisee to start a long, mutually beneficial relationship based on trust and open communication.

8. Make it a family affair

Just as franchisors develop strong support networks in order to make informed decisions, attendees will have their own support networks. Typically, these are partners and family members. If you really want to make an impact on attendees, try offering a +1 invite to potential franchisees and paying for their guest’s accommodation, too. Not only will this be considered a nice gesture, it will ensure that attendees have their support network there to help them make decisions and talk about the future.

9. Ask for feedback

Like any aspect of business management, discovery days will need to be improved and refined as you accumulate experience. One of the best ways of ensuring that you are making them better is by asking for feedback from attendees. This could involve a simple questionnaire, it could be incorporated into the discovery day itself, or it could constitute part up of the follow-up process. Which leads us on to our final piece of advice…

10. Follow up quickly

Once potential franchisees have attended a discovery day it’s important to follow up quickly, while the event is still fresh in the memory. Optimally, this would involve the senior figure in charge of franchisee recruitment making a personal phone call. If this isn’t possible then email communication or a written letter can be a pretty good substitute. The follow up is important because it gives you a better idea of how the day went, who’s thinking of continuing down the path to franchise ownership, and who doesn’t think they’re a good fit for the franchise.

As a franchisor, discovery days are an opportunity to demonstrate what an attractive investment proposition your franchise is. However, it is necessary to balance your desire to sell the franchise with the responsibility of managing expectations. Consequently, you'll need to put on the best show possible, while also ensuring that your discovery day presents franchise ownership in a realistic light.

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