Franchise Package Elements – The Recruitment and Selection Package

So you have started on your Operations Manual, but who is going to use it?

By Lindy Barbour

Recruiting and selecting the right franchise partners is critical to the success of any franchise operation. Perhaps the greatest mistake a brand custodian can make in the implementation of their expansion strategy, is selecting inappropriate owner-operators.

While we discussed the Operations Manual in detail in the previous issue, it must be noted that the format of the Operations Manual is heavily dependent on the profile of your operators. If you are leaning more towards a product trade name franchise you will require a more sophisticated operator as your Operations Manual will be less detailed. If your franchise system is better categorized as a business format franchise you must weigh up the depth of the materials provided with the skills and experience of the people you choose.

By now you should be clear on the type of business to be franchised and similarly you should establish clear criteria and guidelines as to the profile of your ideal operator before you begin your operator search. Your operator profile should include the skills, education, experience, personal attributes and financial resources required. It is also advisable to draw up a job description for your franchisees. The comprehensive outline of the franchisee’s roles and responsibilities drawn up during the development process should assist you in completing both the operator profile and the job description.

Potential franchisees must be selected with care and with due consideration given to the critical success factors of your business. These may include elements such as:
·         Managing expectations throughout the process
·         Using the tools in the process to identify suitable franchisees
·         Careful selection of existing operators if there is a conversion strategy
·         Managing resources to save time and money
·         Managing the risks to the franchise brand
·         Recruiting the right people for the business
·         Formalising the process to ensure a level of professionalism

In addition to being thorough, the recruitment and selection programme of any franchisor should be geared towards attracting individuals who fit the culture of the brand and who will uphold its values. To ensure your rapport with prospective franchisees is pleasant from the initial enquiry while also making effective use of your resources, it is important to balance the personal elements with the formal steps of the recruitment process. With the objective of recruiting the best operators, the recruitment process should also incorporate an element of ‘gut’ feel.

The screening process in a good recruitment and selection programme should provide a filter for unsuitable applicants, effectively eliminating them in the early stages of the process to save both time and resources. Like a pyramid, the base comprises a pool of interested parties from which the unsuitable candidates are filtered out by the nature of the process. This allows only the most suitable applicants to make their way through the stages of the process and into the network. The recruitment process is, in fact, a ‘reverse selling’ process whereby unsuitable applicants are ‘weeded out’ on a continuous basis, ultimately leaving only the most suitable partners for selection.

Franchisors need to carefully consider the franchise marketing methods they employ. Depending on the business, these methods may range from expos to online franchise listings, franchise publications, magazines and so forth. Once the marketing is in the public arena, any enquiries received should be streamlined and channelled through the process. It will also be helpful to keep a record of where the enquiries are being generated from.

Your recruitment process should ideally start with an online enquiry form on your website, limited to key questions and basic information. The online application should be followed up with a more comprehensive application, asking detailed questions including all the financial information required. From this point the elements to the recruitment package may vary significantly to suit your business model. For candidates that pass the first round, applications should then be followed up with one-on-one interviews that could be combined with on-the-job exposure. Many franchisors also choose to add a psychometric test as a requirement which, if based on your specific franchisee profile and requirements, can be helpful, provided it is not used as a yes/no test that is cast in stone. Furthermore, a franchisee should not be accepted until they have not drawn up a business plan, which may be presented at the final panel interview.

The recruitment and selection programme should also provide for the respective package elements to be included at the appropriate times, but it is advisable to do so only after a Confidentiality Agreement has been signed. It is also advisable to have the applicant sign a Commitment Undertaking and pay a percentage deposit. It must be noted that this deposit cannot be non-refundable; if the applicant is unsuccessful it must be returned less only the direct and justifiable costs.

A professional approach to the recruitment process requires that the applicant’s success or failure in each step of the process be acknowledged in writing.

Remember that any chain is only as strong as its weakest link - more important than having franchisees choose your business system, is that you must choose the franchisees you allow into your network.

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