The art of delegation: how to recruit franchisees you can trust

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As a franchisor, your focus should be on big-picture thinking and strategy, leaving the daily running of the business to your franchisees. But do you feel worried about letting go and handing over? If you recruit the right franchisees, delegating is much easier. Here’s how effective recruitment can help you master the art of delegation.

When you’ve built a successful business, deciding to franchise and handover some of the reins can be hard. You know your business backwards, and are used to the daily grind. Will your franchisees uphold your reputation? Will they provide the same experience your customers love?

The problem is, doing it all yourself isn’t sustainable. You’ll burn out. And your business won’t grow – at least not as fast. The downside of being entrenched in the day-to-day is that you can’t give your business the strategic oversight it needs.

As a franchisor, your focus should be on the big-picture projects – the strategy, market analysis and growth projections – while letting your franchisees do the rest. Dan Haggerty, a franchisee of International Minute Press, says it best: “Give yourself a chance to work on your business without having to always work in the business”.

This strategic thinking is what franchisees will expect of you. So freeing yourself up to do this means delegating more daily operations to your franchisees. Some business owners are natural delegators. Others are not. There’s an art to delegation. Good delegators are like air traffic controllers: with a view of every runway, they coordinate to make sure everything runs smoothly. But they trust the pilots to fly the planes.

Delegating is easier when you can trust your franchisees to do the job their way, and to do it well. The first step to successful delegation, then, is recruiting franchisees you’re comfortable depending on. Here’s a few steps on how you can do that.

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1. Market your franchise correctly

Good recruitment starts with you. How and where you advertise your franchise affects the type of people you attract.

Before advertising, make a list of your personal requirements. Are you looking for franchisees who are home-based, or who love the bustle of business hubs? Are you looking for three franchisees, or hundreds? Knowing exactly what you’re looking for will inform whether you advertise in smaller community magazines, or across social media, and the tone you use.

Your list of requirements will also inform the contents of your advert. Like job adverts, state what you’re looking for from the start to attract suitable applicants. But also tailor your benefits to appeal to the type of person you’re looking for. If it’s homebodies and family types, highlight flexible working hours. If it’s confident self-starters, share the level of business autonomy they’ll have.

2. Be stringent on your values

Do you stand for collaboration? Initiative? Transparency? Make a list of your core values, then find franchisees that represent, share and champion them. Make your value system known from the first interaction and continue to reinforce it through every engagement and communication thereafter. Schedule regular training, forums or workshops that encourage franchisees to take ownership of the values, and live them in their day-to-day. That way, you can trust your franchisees with your brand, knowing your reputation is less at risk.

If you adhere to the bfa Franchising Code of Ethical Conduct, make this known at the onset too. Share a copy with your franchisees, so that they understand your and their obligations from the get-go.

3. Ask smart questions beyond the obvious

Recruiting franchisees isn’t like hiring an employee. Because anyone can open a franchise – regardless of background, experience or demographic – age, sex or work experience isn’t the most important recruitment information. This information can help you deduce a lot, including skillsets, motivation to succeed or staying power.

However, use the interview to ask smart questions, which give you a sense of someone’s beliefs, values, character traits and soft skills – abilities and aptitudes that can be applied to any industry. Look for coachable people with abilities the business needs. But also look for new skills that could fill gaps, or challenge and improve how the business is run. Sometimes, to keep a brand consistent, franchisors are tempted to recruit the same personality type – or someone just like them. While it has its benefits, it can stifle creativity and new ways of thinking.

When asked what he looks for in new franchisees, Tim Harris of ChipsAway and Ovenclean says:

“The attribute all of our successful franchisees have in common is that they are not afraid of hard work. They know that in order to reap the rewards, they need to put in the effort to establish their local business.”

4. Use your Discovery Days wisely

Discovery Days are great for assessing personalities, because they offer face-to-face interaction. Use this informal, unpressured time to get to know potential franchisees, and ask questions that give you a really good sense of who they are and how they work.

Understand their motivation for getting into franchising, so that you know whether someone is willing to put in the hard work, or are looking for an easy route. While previous experience in a sector isn’t necessary, enthusiasm for it is. Ask what attracts them to the business. Additionally, ask them about their goals and leadership styles – and share your own back so that everyone knows what they’re getting into.

Remember, Discovery Days and interviews aren’t just there to sell your business to interested franchisees. They’re about finding your ideal business partners. Ask the questions now that will make you feel comfortable delegating to them later.

5. Do the necessary checks

A credit check on all potential franchisees is a must, followed by security clearance – especially if you’re working with children, the elderly or in finance. Some franchisors, however, also opt for psychometric testing, which is a more objective ways of assessing someone’s ability and personality than a Discovery Day chat. Consider adding psychometric testing as part of your interview process.

Now let your franchisees learn and grow

Once you’ve recruited your franchisees and given them everything they need to meet expectations, step back and let them do the job. If you’ve recruited franchisees effectively, you can do this with confidence – trusting the hands you’re putting the work into.

Remember, your franchisees won’t always get things right. Sometimes, you need to let them make their own mistakes and learn from them. Resist the temptation to micromanage, and only check in when you need to. The beauty of franchising is that it’s a learning and growth opportunity – for all. Use this as an opportunity to grow your own leadership and delegation skills as well.

For examples on how franchisors are marketing their businesses to recruit ideal franchisees, read the descriptions on our UK Franchise Directory.

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