How the right lead generation strategy and recruitment process will grow your brand

James Young | Head of Recruitment | DC Strategy

Lead generation and recruitment in the franchise space are changing. There is greater competition than ever before in attracting quality franchisees to your network. The long-term success of your network is being determined the minute you start reaching out to the market and generating leads.

Whether you’re a young start-up business looking for your first franchise partner, or an existing network looking to reinvigorate your franchise sales program, there is always something to learn. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting your messaging and recruitment process right from the start. It has a huge impact on a franchisee’s performance once they become part of the family. 
Having represented over 40 franchise brands worldwide, and granting several hundred franchises – single and multiple unit and masters – I’ve learnt what makes some franchise brands succeed and others fail. It shouldn’t surprise anyone but it all starts from how you attract and bring franchisees into your network.
In my experience, there are four steps to consider before you take off or re-launch your lead generation and recruitment program.

1 Who is your perfect franchisee?

Before you start directory listing, Facebook advertising, exhibiting at expos, driving interest through social media, print or radio advertising, you need to consider what type of person you’re looking for. What is this person doing currently, what influences and gets them excited, whom do they trust? You need to ensure your franchise opportunity speaks to the heart of what they’re looking for.
Create a franchisee avatar of who the perfect person is, listing the attitudes and attributes you need. Consider carefully what has made you successful. Questions you must know the answer to before launching your franchise lead generation program are:
• Do they believe in the same values as your brand?
• What skills and experience do they need to have to be successful?
• Are they willing and able to comply – with your systems, your direction and the agreement?
• Where do they live and does this match where you want to grow? Don’t open somewhere just because a candidate wants you to!
• What is their personality type - does this match the profile you are looking for?
• How much borrowing ability do they have?
• Do they align culturally to the empire you are trying to create?
• Are they willing to work hard and fight to improve your brands standing?
• Are they committed to working in the business? (Especially the first 12 months).
There are no perfect franchises but there’s a perfect franchise for the right franchisee.

2 What’s your story?

Over-promising during the franchise recruitment process creates huge problems once a franchisee is in the network — and it is usually the operations team that are left to deal with the mess.
The picture that is painted in the lead generation and recruitment stage - and how closely this matches up to their eventual experience - will directly impact a franchisee’s happiness, performance and profitability. It is no longer a sales process. Recruiters look to source the best candidates in order to screen and qualify them for the grant of a franchise. Knowing what your recruitment person is saying about you and your offer is critical from a legal and cultural aspect and again directly impacts the relationship your franchisees will have with your head office team in the future. So present the facts and ensure your team can deliver.
How do you find and recruit the right people who will perform as you envisage? Lead generation needs to sell the dream but also ensure it presents a realistic view of life as a franchisee. The goal of a franchise recruiter should be that six months into a franchisee running their business, they are delivering all the things the franchisor requires. And just as importantly that they are getting exactly what they thought they would from head office and the business.

3 Should you outsource or work in-house?

Both have the ability to add great value to an organisation and in equal measure create future problems for your brand. The key elements to success are the same whether you outsource or recruit in-house. The recruiter has to understand what makes a successful franchisee and they have to respect and fight to protect your brand.
One of the mistakes franchisors make is out-sourcing their recruitment to brokers or suppliers who do not have a passion for their brand or intimate knowledge of what makes a franchise business or brand unique. Outsourced partners need to spend the time learning about your business from the inside. And then creating a specific franchise lead generation and recruitment process for your brand that by the end of the process, ensures it has educated, tested and delivered a franchise candidate primed for success.
Do not allow an outsourced partner to dictate your lead generation and recruitment process without considering your overall long term objective for your network. The right outsourced partner will take the time to understand and tailor the information that reaches your target audience and presents your offer and your brand authentically.
Throughout the screening process candidates need to be tested for their ability to comply with your operational and brand procedures, to determine they have the necessary passion to commit on average seven years to your network, and to understand what life will be like once they are a franchisee in your business. Allowing the wrong brokers to be involved in your re-sales process or even your greenfield grants has huge implications. Franchisors need to control this as much as possible by participating in profiling their ideal candidates, approving the lead generation and selection process and determining who they want. Partnering with an organisation that is just focused on “getting a sale” is a huge mistake. Outsourcing to a third party to do your franchise recruitment can be very successful but the secret is ensuring they are willing to represent your brand values with integrity. They are often the first face of your brand and your voice in presenting your opportunity, so they need to invest the time to understand who you are, why you do what you do and who you are looking for. They need to understand the DNA of your brand and your vision and work with you in creating the franchise recruitment process that will attract and qualify the best possible candidates and get that right time after time with each recruit.
The potential issues with in-house recruiters are that they may not have the experience to ensure the legal requirements are met in both the representations they make or in explaining the legal processes under the Franchising Code. Allocating adequate time and retaining focus on recruitment is also a challenge for an in-house resource because the day-to-day demands and pressures of running the network inevitably take precedence. And if you have a dedicated recruitment person at head office, the fixed cost of employment may not be justified by the number of franchises you grant each year, particularly in the early stages.
Incentivising your franchise recruiter (in-house or outsourced) in the wrong way, ie: purely by the number of sales will almost certainly set your organisation up for failure.
Have you considered your operations team ranking the readiness of the franchisee to start the business? Do the new franchisee’s expectations match reality? How are they performing after three or six months? Could you link incentives based on what they bring to the network once they are operational? There are so many questions that need answers, so you need to be ready before you recruit. Again, a good in-house recruiter who understands the importance of bringing the right partner is a huge asset to your business. Another question to consider is who decides the criteria and approves your potential franchise partners? Is anyone who will pay the franchise fee approved? Is it the recruiter’s decision? Is it one director’s decision? There will be different answers for everyone but I suggest that the operations team should have a say, as they will keep your whole team genuinely focused on the outcome that has the best chance of working.

4 Pay attention. How a candidate behaves during the recruitment process is how they will behave as a franchisee.

It can be very hard to walk away from someone willing to pay you a franchise fee and it’s very flattering that they believe in your brand. But it is even harder to repair the damage that an unsuccessful grant of a franchise has on your brand and future growth. Just because yhey want to join doesn’t make them magically fit the criteria of the ideal franchisee that you should have created with your ‘franchisee avatar’. Don’t compromise. Go talk to any established franchisor and I guarantee they would tell you to protect your brand with everything you have. And will no doubt have stories of the costly waste of time and resources a mistake in the recruitment process had on their business. Are they suited to franchising? Can they follow systems, are they team players? If a candidate won’t follow your franchise recruitment process, they won’t follow your franchise systems, procedures or agreement. If they are late to meetings and don’t do what they say they will, in the time they say they will in the franchise recruitment process, nothing is going to change after they are in the network! In fact most times they get worse. Franchise recruiters with some experience have a saying “If it’s a maybe, it is a NO”. Take the time to understand who your franchise partners need to be in order to succeed. The clearer your picture of the franchisee you want, the more time and cost effective you will be in both finding and screening them.
Make sure the team or person finding and talking to them during the initial stages also understands this and that their goal is to bring on board the very best candidates for your business.
This in turn makes these candidates more likely to be successful and happy so they become your best ambassadors, not only to your customers but to incoming franchisees considering joining. This leads to higher levels of profitability for them, for you and your network. Do not compromise and remember: the road to building a long-term thriving franchise network is getting your recruitment right from the start. 
James Young heads up the recruitment division at DC Strategy, recruiting franchisees for well over 40 major franchise networks in Australia and internationally. Previously a State Development Licensee in two states and a multi-unit franchisee for Hairhouse Warehouse, with roles in both national recruitment and leasing. A licenced business broker, James assists franchisors with exit strategies and negotiations.
DC Strategy is the only end-to-end franchise consulting, legal, recruitment, franchise brokerage and brand, marketing and technology firm. For over 30 years their experienced specialist teams have developed franchise programs for many of the most successful national franchises, many of which they’ve taken to the world. In the last decade alone they have built over $1.8 billion in enterprise value for their clients. They have also brought many well known international franchise brands to Australia and assisted many franchise networks to exit. DCS’s expert franchise lawyers offer fixed fee franchisee legal reviews.
Contact James on:
0404 078 782