How Franchisors Develop Productive Franchise Broker Relationships

Make sure brokers are informed, nurtured and consistently marketed to with honest, accurate information that will help them sell your  concept .

BY LENNY VERKHOGLAZ

A question that heads of development at franchisors routinely ask themselves is, “Am I doing all that I can to grow my franchise with cost effective sales programs?”

This self-reflection is more common than ever before because of the litany of options available. There are many tactics franchises can deploy to spur growth, and with new digital lead generators and sales support systems emerging regularly, it’s essential that franchise developers continue to do their analysis.

One channel for sales growth that I analyze closely and continue to find benefitting our system is the franchise broker network. The consultation expertise and capability to connect our concept with the right, qualified candidate are skills that allows us to further develop our business and focus on the performance of our existing units. Now, the question for you is, do I need to tap into the broker networks?

When Executive Care decided to turn to the help of brokers, it saved us time and resources. Most importantly, we were able to advance our growth plans as desired. In the beginning we were relying to heavily on advertising portals. Instead of receiving promising leads, we got hundreds of unqualified candidates. Our analysis showed it wasn’t the right answer for us.

For us, working with franchise brokers makes sense. We truly believe in this because we have found that the right franchise broker partner takes time to learn our franchise and makes an emotional investment in our brand. They share the same end goals – 1) Growth with franchise partners that will execute the model to provide high quality care to our clients; 2) Continue to raise the value of our system; 3) Increase the investment each franchisee has made in the business.

Provided the impact they can have, think of working with brokers as a relationship that needs to be nurtured. As with all meaningful relationships, working with brokers requires attention and care in order to ensure a productive experience.

Here are three steps franchisors should take to ensure they develop productive relationships with brokers.

Be proactive

Before a franchisor is accepted into a broker network’s portfolio, it must prove itself.

Brokers want to know that they are not making a mistake (or wasting their own time) trying to find leads for you. This is why brokerage firms have multiple steps in place to prevent this from happening.

First, the firm will research the franchise.  The franchise infrastructure will be examined very closely.

“The worst thing that can happen is a franchise starts to receive qualified leads when it is not prepared for that level of growth that brokers make possible,” said Meg Schmitz, FranChoice of Chicago senior franchise consultant.

Only if the infrastructure is ruled stable and fit for growth, will a franchise be brought into the inventory.  Once entered, the franchisor needs to make the brand stand out, especially if the brand’s market is saturated. As a franchisor, you are paying the broker network to help you. Don’t you want to get your money’s worth?

Go the extra step, make the additional phone calls to brokers. Let them feel your passion and share with them the reasons they should join you in the excitement. .

Attend the semi-annual conferences

Broker networks host semi-annual conferences that are designed for the franchisors. Franchises already part of the broker network inventory and ones that hope to join are invited to attend. Think of these as a very large, important show and tell.

Attending these conferences offer a valuable opportunity for franchises to present themselves to the entire broker system. Even if already a member of its inventory, this is a prime chance to reposition the brand to the brokers. What is new? How is the brand progressing? Why is your franchise different than the others? These are some of the questions brokers want answers to. It helps them more easily connect your concept to their candidates.

“When we are at the conferences, we can see a dozen or more of similar concepts,” said Schmitz. “It is crucial that a brand stands out and makes itself known.” Especially, if you have not been receiving the desired attention from brokers, the conferences offer a way to capture and pull them in. Leave them with something they will not forget.

After the conference, call the brokers you met. Remind them why they should promote your franchise. Re-explain what the right candidate looks like to you.

Host a broker-only discovery day

Discovery days are designed to show potential franchisees what they will be buying into, why they want to be a part of the franchise and how the franchise is prepared to assist in the process of launching and sustaining their business.

Franchises should host a broker-only discovery day. This would mimic the discovery day for potential franchisees. But, instead of showing the franchisee why they want in, you show the broker why they should promote the franchise. At the same time, the broker gets a better understanding of who is the right candidate for the franchise.

The more informed and comfortable a broker is with a franchise the better. This is a great opportunity for the broker to meet the executive team. It will also show how prepared the franchise is for growth.

“If I’m feeling hesitant about a particular brand, sometimes I’ll call and ask if I can come for a discovery day,” said Schmitz. “Other times the franchise invites me as they know it will help me help them.”

One thing to keep in mind is the importance of guiding brokers to find the right leads.  Remember, the franchise disclosure document (FDD) has to list any franchisee that has gone out of business. Ideally, this number should be zero or as minimal as possible. If the broker doesn’t understand your business well enough, the wrong lead might be referred. Franchisees that go out of business usually close because the franchise was not the right fit.

To be sure you are receiving promising, qualified and prepared leads, make sure the broker is informed, nurtured and consistently marketed to with honest, accurate information that will help them sell your franchise concept.

Lenny Verkhoglaz is the co-founder of Executive Care, a Hackensack, N.J.-based home care franchise that offers skilled medical and non-medical care. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.
FRANCHISING WORLD MARCH 2015