When a franchisee signs, the hard work begins

Traditionally new franchisee courses are bulging in January.

There’s a big franchise show in October which gives people time to make their decision, quite often things slow down for November and December and franchisors are keen to get a great start to the year.

It seems as though 2010 is no different and our customers are reporting their January courses are going to be bumper events.

But out of the blue I got a call from an old friend yesterday who is joining a franchise operation in a couple of weeks. He had an issue!

Apparently throughout the recruitment process the franchisor had been brilliant. The process was open, honest and my friend was pleased with the level of support he received. Of course, he knew that he was being sold to, and that was fine. He also knew that the promises being made would be tempered somewhat when he joined the network.

The thing that really attracted him was the aura of professionalism the franchisor exuded.

A few days ago he received an email with details of his course and links to pre-course work he had to complete before the course.

The joining instructions were fine, but the pre-course work had some problems.

Firstly, the links to an e-learning package didn’t work. When he resolved that problem the web based learning package kept crashing, no matter how many different PCs he tried it on. The second issue was with a couple of Word documents he was to read. They were boring to look at, the diagrams were old fashioned but, much worse, they were poorly written and difficult to read.

In short, the work he had been sent – or, to put it another way, the first opportunity the franchisor had to prove their professionalism – left him feeling worried about he decision he had made.

It seemed to him that now he was on board the promises that were made were just that – empty promises to get him to part with his franchise fee.

He called me to ask what I knew of the franchise and to ask whether he could reverse out of the franchise agreement he had signed.

There’s a lesson here, for all franchisors – both new and well established. You have to pay as much attention to every part of your interaction with franchisees as you do the recruitment process.

Look at it critically from the franchisee’s point of view and ask yourself: ‘what do they think about you and what you’re doing?’

It turned out that I did know the franchisor in question pretty well and I was able to reassure my friend that he’d made the right decision.

I really hope it works out for him.

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