3 steps to find the right franchisee for your business

By Matej Varhalik | 02 Mar 2021 View comments

How do you find the right franchisee? Talking to other business owners, the topic often turns to how to find good people. And when I talk to other franchise owners, the discussion follows the theme: how to find good franchisees? Because every franchise is different, there is no definitive checklist for screening potential candidates, but over the years we’ve developed principles that can be transferred to other brands.

Find the right franchisee

The founding principle of just about every business is that the people in it should be the best representation of your brand you can find. It is especially important that franchisees uphold your brand’s values because they will have more power and responsibility as a franchise owner in the community they will be serving.

First impressions

How you connect with a prospective franchisee should tell you a lot about their intentions. Investor franchisees who enjoy the idea of having a portfolio of different businesses who will put themselves forward because they find your brand financially satisfying. As a franchisor, this could be a great way to grow your network with little interference or input from the franchisee.

What I’ve found with SpeedFit, however, is that our model works best with a franchisee who genuinely cares about people and making sure that everyone who comes through the doors receives an amazing experience. Their investment is not just financial but cultural. Drawing from a pool of existing clients is usually a good sign that a candidate understands and likes what we do and wants to join us to collectively advance the brand.

Where you recruit from will affect the kind of franchisees you attract so keep that in mind when you take your brand to market. An interested party at a franchise or business event versus someone who sees you at an industry event, or who is an existing client, may have different reasons for becoming a franchisee.

Building a rapport

Once you believe there’s a match, it’s time to find out if you can work together. This ‘getting to know you’ part of the relationship is usually a mix of pre-requisite checks and your gut feeling. The checks will vary from franchise to franchise, but should include any mandatory or desirable traits or skills you believe a franchisee should have, such as education level and/or experience in the industry, or perhaps local knowledge of the area they want to open in.

We run personality profiles and track the data overtime to help us continually refine what an ideal franchisee ‘looks like’.

The gut feeling is harder to quantify but it really does come from the exposure you have to the candidate, so talk to them as much as you can and meet with them if possible. Our process builds in at least six meetings before a franchisee can sign with us.

From this contact, potential franchisees should gain an understanding of the culture of the brand and franchisors should gauge the candidate’s attitude towards owning and running a franchise, as well as towards your brand specifically.

Be clear in your franchisor onboarding process about who you are looking for so there are no surprises in terms of your expectations. As a franchisor you need to make sure the candidate is comfortable with the brand and its values, plus the work needed to make it successful. If they don’t respond to that in a way that satisfies you, they are not likely to be a good fit as a franchisee.

Guiding the relationship

After you’re satisfied and the franchisee signs on, make sure you are both prepared for the journey ahead. The content of your induction training is really important at this stage because it will build the knowledge and confidence of the franchisee and give you a working understanding of the new franchisee’s strengths and weaknesses. No-one is perfect when they first come into a business, and induction is about finding those gaps and supporting them to improve.

At SpeedFit our induction process spans several weeks and the successful completion of induction training is compulsory before franchisees can proceed and it should be in your franchise too.

The relationship must be founded on clear expectations and responsibilities for both parties and needs to proceed with respectful exchanges of feedback.

A franchisee should feel safe to come forward with issues so that the network can solve them collectively. If they are not comfortable coming forward, problems become greater due to the lack of communication and that could potentially affect the network.

We have recently created two new roles that are dedicated to the ongoing training and support of our franchisees to ensure they have what they need to feel comfortable and achieve success. 

Evaluating a franchisee is a balance of checking against criteria and instinct. Sometimes a candidate who looks good on paper doesn’t feel right and sometimes a potential franchisee may not have all the credentials but possesses the right attitude to progress.

The good news is, as you grow, it gets easier to define what you’re looking for once you’re exposed to unsuitable candidates and good franchisees and that should make the decision-making faster with experience.