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Preparation for Discovery Day:
What You Need to Know and be Thinking About
At this point you have explored the model enough to know that you want to be a part of the franchise. You are self-assured and know you can be successful with the model; I’m sure you are excited to begin. You will want to convey that sureness and eagerness to the executive team of the franchise at the Discovery Day (DD). It is important for them understand that this is how you feel. They need to believe that you can be successful as a franchisee. This is the last step toward becoming a part of the company so be prepared to ask and answers questions when attending their DD.
During this day of discovery, you will have the opportunity to meet the afore mentioned corporate staff, take a tour of the facility, tour a franchised location, maybe meet existing franchisee’s, and test the products and services. Discovery Day is also known as a Decision Day in the franchise world. If at the end of the day, the executive staff offers you a Franchise Agreement, you should be prepared to accept it. Have fun at your Discovery Day. Enjoy getting to know the people who you will be joining, by becoming part of the franchise family.
If you believe a franchise as something you buy, you are mistaken. Franchises are awarded to candidates that the company feels will be a good representation or face of the franchise, to the people of the territory in question. There are good reasons that a Franchise approaches this decision as they do and understanding their reasons will help you in the Discovery Day process.
First, as I just mentioned, a franchisee represents the business. All you do as a franchisee reflects on both the corporation and on the other fellow franchisees. Because customers have learned that a product or service will be consistent from one unit of a franchise to the next, they will generalize that all units are bad if they have an unpleasant experience at one. Therefore, when deciding whether someone will be awarded a franchise, the franchisor must determine if the candidate has the ability and skills necessary to follow the system and to present the business in a professional and positive manner.
Also, a business that closes tells the public that something about the concept isn’t working. By law, a franchise company must list all failed franchises in their Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). If a franchise company has a list of failed units, the odds that someone exploring the model continues to do so once learning this, drops dramatically.
Finally, as the franchisor collects a royalty on the franchisees’ revenue, the more successful the franchisees are, the more successful the franchisor will be.
Of course, it’s not all about them. The franchisor needs to convince you they know what they are doing and will be able to support and help you every step of the way. By the time you get to your Discovery Day, you’ll have done a good deal of investigation into the business and talked to a number of current franchisees. If you have any outstanding questions, this is the time to ask them. You’ll have the opportunity to meet with various teams so you’ll have a more in-depth understanding of each aspect of the business, from operations to marketing support. Your day will usually include casual time at meals to get to know the corporate staff as well as some structured presentations and meetings.
If everything falls nicely into place, you may want to sign a contract and hand over a check after the meeting.
Here are some suggestions to make the most of your Discovery Day meeting:
Dress to impress. Although you may consider this meeting as an opportunity for the franchisor to “sell” you on the attributes of their business, you are also there to sell yourself. Your attire should reflect this and you will want to look professional. In this day of business casual attire, you may not need to wear a suit and tie (or the female equivalent) to the interview but you will want to look polished. In other words, shorts and flip-flops are a no-no.
Be likable. A franchise is like a family and the franchisees of a system form a valuable peer group. A franchisor takes this into account when awarding franchises. Be personable, professional, enthusiastic and outgoing. Maintain eye contact when speaking and ask questions that show your interest. Be a good listener. Remember that not everyone is interested in every idea that pops into your head; however, everyone is interested in having you listen to their ideas.
Dale Carnegie, who wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People (which was first published back in 1936!), suggested using the following six methods to come across as likeable: Become genuinely interested in other people; Smile; People like the sound of their own name; Be a good listener; Talk in terms of the other person’s interest; Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely
Have industry knowledge. One of the main advantages of franchising is that you don’t need direct industry experience because when you are awarded a franchise you most often will receive comprehensive training from the franchisor on running your business. Having industry knowledge, however, will show that you’ve done your homework and you understand the franchisor’s customer base and competition.
Show you can follow a system. Franchisors are NOT looking for someone who will reinvent the business. If you are trying to improve the concept you are not working on your own business. This is a red flag. Don’t tell the franchisor that you plan to deviate from their tried and proven system. Do tell them they you are impressed with how thoroughly they’ve documented each and every step and that you plan to follow the system to the letter.
If you can’t do this sincerely, franchising really isn’t for you. If you want to take risks, think outside the box, make up the rules as you go along and be a true entrepreneur, you won’t be happy as a franchisee.
Demonstrate your business savvy. Be prepared to discuss your past business experiences, particularly as they will relate to running your franchise. Some important areas to elaborate on include managing people, customer service, and sales and marketing. Success you’ve achieved in corporate America is a good indication of the results you can see as a franchisee. Franchisors will be particularly interested in both what you have achieved in life and your expectations for your new business.
Prove you are financially qualified. No good franchisor wants you to borrow so much money for a business that you’ll never be able to pay it back. Franchisors are focused on success – success of each franchisee and success of the system. They have resources to help them determine the amount of money a new franchisee needs to open and run their business until a break-even point. You will want to do your financial investigations prior to your franchisor meeting so that you can demonstrate how you will obtain financing.
Fit in. This is sort of like “be likable” but not exactly. You can be a nice person but still not fit in to a particular group. We’ve all said about someone, “He’s a nice guy but I don’t think he’d fit in with our company.” Because this is an intangible quality, I’ve put it last on the list but that doesn’t mean it is of less importance than the other items.
Buying a franchise is not like buying a house or a car. The franchisor will closely evaluate you for personality, experience, compatibility, financial stability and business acumen. If you don’t measure up, they won’t risk their business on you. Also, it’s not uncommon in franchising to have two potential franchisees look at buying the same territory. After all the work you’ve done towards finding a franchise to invest in, don’t let the opportunity slip through your hands because of inadequate preparation for your Discover Day. With the right attitude and some basic research, you can make sure your Discovery Day meeting ends with a handshake and a “Welcome to the company!”
Here are a couple of articles from Entrepreneur Magazine on getting the most out of your Discovery Day: