Never the twain shall meet

It’s an old saying meaning that sometimes things or people are just different and they shouldn’t be put together.

It may be old, but it’s still relevant, particularly in franchising.

I’ve just delivered a fairly tough week’s worth of training and it was tough because two different categories of person on the course.  Let me explain more.

There were 5 people on the programme, 3 of whom were brand new franchisees.  They were buying single territories and, what’s more, they were new to business development, having decided to give up corporate life to do something more real… or in other words, to line their own pockets, not other those of other people.

All that is well and good, but the other 2 guys on the course were joining the network under a kind of agency arrangement.  They were already in the industry in question and they were experienced sales people, used to a slightly harder sales environment than that of this particular franchisor.

Now, the franchisor had done all the right things in terms of setting up the course with these guys.  They had been told that, to all intents and purposes, they were to act as ordinary franchisees and that no-one was to know of the separate arrangement that had been made.  To be fair to all concerned, everyone stuck to their guns and everything went swimmingly.

But, even though everything went well, it was still tough, for 3 reasons:
  1. The 2 guys from the agency were experienced sales people, used to using all the tricks of the trade in a hard sell environment.  I don’t mind this but I was trying to teach the inexperienced guys how to sell effectively using a consultative sales process and I’m sure it was getting confusing. Here’s an example.  We always teach sales people to calculate and deliver price absolutely straight; no gimmicks, tricks or manipulation.  Price the job you have in front of you and then explain why it’s good value for money.  The problem was the other guys were into pricing high and immediately knocking 50% off to make it look attractive.  The words Double and Glazing spring to mind.
  2. Not everything I was saying to the franchisees was particularly relevant to the agency guys.  Especially the stuff about record keeping and communication with the franchisor.
  3. Finally, the agency guys, were on a different commission structure so bulk rather than quality was the name of the game and this was different from the franchisees.  All in all there were some awkward conversations at various points.

Having said all that, the week went well and everyone played their part, but it struck home to me why it’s important to keep franchisee training for franchisees.

There’s nothing wrong, per se, about having different types of people in a network, it can work very well.  However, to mix them up on a training course can lead to some difficulties.

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