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What We Look for in a Franchisee – A View from the Franchisor’s Side

The franchise sales process is kind of a paradox: both sides want the other to like them, to show that they are perfect for each other. At the same time, both the franchisor and the prospect want to make it clear that they’re looking for the perfect match.

In other words, franchise prospects want to put their best foot forward but make it clear that this is only one of several possible choices and the franchisor wants to impress the candidate, but make it clear that they are very selective in whom they choose to allow into their system.

So what is it that franchisors look for in candidates? Most franchisors talk of “awarding” franchises, rather than selling them. The difference is that they won’t sell to just any Tom, Dick, or Harry. You must be a Tom, Dick, or Harry who values the same things and is financially qualified. The franchisor is taking a risk by letting you into their system – here are some of the things they look for, either through explicit questions or by watching your non-verbal “answers” to situations.

Are you financially qualified?
You don’t have to have a six-figure bank account but you do need to a) show some resources of your own and b) show that you understand how to obtain money to cover franchise fees, start-up costs, and operating capital. You can do this through loans, friends, and partnerships. The last thing a franchisor wants to do is put someone in who doesn’t have enough capital to get over the initial customer ramp-up period. You make the cut if you show you understand how to obtain capital.

Are you self-motivated?

This seems obvious, and most candidates would say that they are successful people who have always been self-motivated. Your house is on the line, after all, so of course you’re motivated to succeed. But this goes more to what happens when things are hectic or there are challenges unique to your area. Franchisors want to know that you’re motivated to seek help within the system (franchisees, business consultants, and other resources) – that you recognize this is your business. The franchisor has many tools and resources for you to use. But it’s up to you to ask for them and to implement them.

Do you have a passion for the product or brand?
Passion overcomes many obstacles. Franchisors want to know that you can be an evangelist of their brand, to promote the products and uphold the trade dress in your market. A passion for the brand indicates a franchisees willingness to overcome challenges, while still keeping the brand’s best interests in mind. Passionate franchisees are generally more successful than others who just “want to be their own boss.”

Do you just want to be your own boss?
Very often, candidates will sit in interviews and expound on how they would do things or offer tips as to how to make the system better. These tips are appreciated when they come from existing franchise owners, but most often are red flags during the interview process. A franchise system is just that – a system. Franchisors need to know that you are willing to work within the system and that you’re not just buying a franchise because you can get open faster and then do whatever you want (it’s your business right? You can sell magazines and tourist items in your sandwich shop if you want to right?).

Good matches are like good marriages and take just about as much work. If you do your research, and are honest during the application and interview processes, your new relationship will have a firm foundation.

If you’re out to impress the franchisor and you oversell yourself, there’s a good chance neither of you will be happy with the partnership. Find what you love to do, then do it with passion.

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