Franchise meetings and how to lose franchisees.
I was sat at my desk a few years ago when a call came in from a franchisor I had heard of but never worked for. Let’s just say they were in the software business as I don’t wish to embarrass them online! They wanted to learn more about franchise meetings and why they weren’t closing many deals.
“Andy, you’ve been recommended to us and I want you to pop over, meet the board and tell us where we’re going wrong with our franchise”
It was quite a distance so upon agreeing a modest fee I asked them for some info. I asked for exactly what a franchisee would get at the pre meet up stage and to invite me to the meeting in exactly the same way they would a franchisee. Using the same email/letter/pigeon whatever it was they sent before their franchise meetings.
Hard to find venue for franchise meetings
I set off bright and early one winters day to go and meet them. My Sat Nav told me I had arrived but through the pouring rain and howling wind all I could see was a large double fronted sex shop. As a result I deduced I was nowhere near it. Furthermore there was certainly no parking anywhere near. I double checked the email confirmation. The address was correct, they were looking forward to welcoming me to find out more etc etc.
Thankfully a road sign confirmed I was on the right road, and a few doors down I could see a number above a shop, I was within a few doors or as close as I could be it seemed without seeing them! With my car semi abandoned in what I guessed was a parking space the rain and wind was awful. I took a deep breath, grabbed my case and confronted Mother Nature.
Counting the even house numbers took me back to the sex shop. A narrow path down the side of the building looked my only chance of finding this failed franchisor and with the wind billowing through the narrow gap I found a locked door with a tiny sign on it confirming I had arrived.
Finally found it
I rang the doorbell and for good measure gave a hearty rap on the door. The gusty wind rattled round me and the rain kept pouring. No one answered. I rapped and rang and eventually gave up. I headed into the sex shops recessed doorway for shelter and rang them up …. answerphone. Shouting over the wind and rain I left a message saying I was heading to Mary’s coffee shop to dry out and if someone would like to join me there we can make a start, otherwise I’ll finish my coffee and head off back from where I came.
Giving up on franchise meetings
No sooner had I got to Mary’s my phone rang again and the MD apologised and said they’d open the door if I could come over! I was wetter than a drowned rat when they finally let me in. In addition the offices were noisy, pretty basic and I remember thinking they were actually quite dark! Or maybe the bright lights of the sex shop or Mary’s had ruined my low light vision somewhat.
Finally I’m in the boardroom with three Directors already knowing with great clarity what the issue was. I asked them if they had any idea what the problem might be? The penny had dropped with two of the three but one did ask me: “We’ve tried everything Andy and whilst we can get them to meetings they don’t tend to commit. Some don’t even show up”
The value of an external consultant
There are moments in all business consultant’s lives where you realise the immense value you can bring as a fresh pair of eyes! They truly had no idea before I arrived. So I told them what you dear reader already know: “Franchisees will nearly always consider direct competitors. I don’t even need to visit yours because they can not possibly be worse than my first impressions here. Fix this dreadful first encounter with your brand and you’ve got half a chance”
How to do it right
One of my lovely clients Motor Republic always has a reserved parking spot outside the door. The offices are busy, clean and a warm welcome awaits. At Debonair Languages the offices are amazingly colourful and vibrant and Paul the MD takes pride in taking franchisees on the HQ tour. If you visit any of our clients you get a similar tour around the workshop, office, showroom / garage. You’ll meet a lot of passionate professionals as you go round. Another has a potential franchisees name on a wall board welcoming them to the company. I often text franchisees to let them know where they can park before they arrive.
Consider what the first encounter with your franchise is like. Take a cold hard look at your premises. Are you shooting yourself in the foot before you’ve already begun?
Lime’s consultants teach elite strategies that provide franchisors with the skills and knowledge to excel. Book a free consultation with us today, it will be our pleasure to discuss franchising – our favourite topic. If we agree to visit you please bear in mind all the above though!