Meeting the Franchisor: First Impressions Count.

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Meeting the franchisor for the first time

When you meet your prospective franchisor, as with any interview, first impressions really do count. Even if you’re an expert on how to buy a franchise and build a successful business, you still need to ensure you make the best impression on your prospective franchisor.

So, here are some tips on how to make a success out of your first meeting.

Eight things you need to demonstrate when you meet your franchisor for the first time:

1. Your passion for the industry

Tell your franchisor why you want to run your own business in this industry. This is especially important if you have neither formal experience in the franchisor’s industry nor any relevant qualifications. For example, if you’re interviewing for a franchise in the hotel industry and you haven’t worked in this area or taken any recognised hospitality qualifications (such as an NVQ), you'll need to prove you have the passion for driving the business forward and steering it through the good and bad times.

2. Your eagerness to learn

Show your franchisor that you’re willing to invest as much time as possible in learning about how to buy a franchise, the franchise model, and how to operate your business as smoothly as possible. Let the franchisor know that you’re enthusiastic about their business concept and are happy to conform to the franchise model, as this will prove that you won’t try to run your business in your own way (i.e. not conforming to the franchisor’s requirements).

3. Your professionalism

You'll need to wear business attire when attending an interview with your franchisor, although this may not be essential, depending on the sector and franchise brands. Arriving about 5-10 minutes before the meeting will also show that you have excellent time management skills and value the franchisor’s time.

Although it’s unlikely, you may be invited for an online interview, which could be an initial screening to determine whether you’re the right fit for the franchise. Technically, you’re not meeting your franchisor in this scenario, but you’re still making a first impression. Therefore, even though an online interview may seem unconventional and less serious, it’s still important to dress formally, just as you would for a face-to-face meeting. Choose a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted, and make sure the room has sufficient lighting and that your volume is turned up high enough.

4. Your curiosity

As with any interview, make sure you have a list of questions to ask your franchisor once they've asked you all their questions. Try to find as much franchise information as possible from the franchisor’s website so you can ask relevant questions about the network’s training programmes and support infrastructure.

Many interviewers will be put off if their interviewee doesn’t have any questions to ask at the end of the meeting, as this will imply a lack of interest in the role and the franchise brands. By having a few questions or ideas that you’re willing to share, you can keep the conversation going for at least a few more minutes. Plus, if the interview lasts longer than expected (i.e. an interview scheduled for 30 minutes ends up lasting 40 minutes), you’ll know you’ve made an impact.

A good question to ask would be whether the franchisor helps with financing or has a lending partner, although only ask this if you were unable to find the answers on the franchisor's website/marketing materials. There's no harm in asking how much money you will make, too, as this won't carry the same meaning as it would in a regular job interview. Unlike an employer that has a financial incentive to encourage a prospective employee to agree to a lower salary, a franchisor will make more money if you make more money, assuming they charge a percentage-based fee. Plus, you’ll be your own boss earning your own income, so asking this question won’t sound too direct or impolite.

5. Your ability to manage a team

As the new franchisee, you’ll be responsible for recruiting and training your staff, so show the franchisor how you will build and run a successful team. If you already have experience in running your own business, tell the franchisor what kind of attributes you’d look for in new employees and how you would empower them to reach their potential and provide an outstanding service for your customers.

Your franchisor may ask you questions on how you would respond to a challenging situation, such as an unsatisfied customer or a conflict between employees. This is your chance to show off your professional skills and how you can resolve disputes effectively while minimising disruption to your franchise.

6. Your willingness to carry the brand culture forward

Show the franchisor that you embrace the brand culture and will be an excellent representative of the business concept. Make it clear that you share the same goals and values as the brand and that you'll strive to reinforce these values as you grow your business and recruit staff. You also need to convince the franchisor that you’ll be committed to your franchise brands for the duration of the contract, which could be 5, 10, even 20 years.

7. Your reasons for choosing this franchise network

Why have you chosen to attend an interview with this franchisor? What makes them stand out from their competitors or other brands that are currently advertising franchise opportunities? Your goal here is to make your franchisor feel special. Convince them that you’re investing in this brand because you believe it’s the best opportunity you’ve seen yet.

8. Your business skills

Show your franchisor your analytical and problem-solving skills, so they know their brand will be safe in your hands. Although many franchisors won't expect you to have formal accountancy or business qualifications, you'll still need to prove that you can manage your cash flow and understand your tax obligations.

Hopefully, you’ll find all of the above useful if you’re preparing for an interview with your franchisor or looking for some general advice on how to buy a franchise.

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