You have started on your Operations manual but who is going to use it? In order to ensure the success of the franchise partnership the recruitment and selection of the appropriate people is a critical success factor. The greatest mistake the custodian of a brand can make in its expansion strategy is to choose inappropriate owner-operators.
The Operations Manual was discussed in detail last month. It must be noted that your Operations Manual is heavily dependent on your profile of operator. If you are leaning more towards a product trade name franchise you will actually require a more sophisticated operator as elements such as your Operations Manual will be less detailed. If your franchise system fits better in the business format category you need to weigh up the depth of the materials provided to the operator with the skills and experience of the person you choose.
By now you should be clear what the business to be franchised is. It is now crucial that you outline the profile of your operator before you begin looking for him or her. Clear criteria and guidelines should be outlined as to the profile of the prospective franchisee including: skills, education, experience, personal attributes and financial resources. Further to this it is also necessary to draw up a job description for your franchisee. In your development process you should have clearly outlined the roles and responsibilities of your franchisee and this comprehensive list should assist you with creating the profile and the job description.
All franchise opportunities require careful selection of potential franchisees and it is important to determine what the critical success factors are for your business. These may include elements such as:
- Managing expectations throughout the process
- Using the tools in the process to identify good franchisees
- Careful selection of existing operators if there is a conversion strategy
- Management of resources in order to save both time and money
- Manage the risks to the franchise brand
- Ensure recruitment of the right people for the business
- Formalise the process and ensure a level of professionalism
The recruitment and selection programme of any franchisor should thus be very thorough and geared towards both attracting individuals who fit into the culture of the brand, and who will uphold its values. The recruitment process must be used to effectively eliminate unsuitable candidates in the early stages of the process as this saves both time and resources. This process that you decide on should be a guideline to be coupled with an element of “gut” feel, as the objective is to recruit the best operators.
It is important going forward to balance the personal element in the recruitment process with the formal recruitment steps in order that your resources are effective but that the rapport you have with prospective franchisees is pleasant from the initial enquiry. The screening process in a good recruitment and selection programme offers a filtering of unsuitable applicants. Like a pyramid, the base comprises a pool of interested parties. Unsuitable candidates must be 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. It should be noted from the outset that the recruitment process is a “reverse selling” process whereby unsuitable applicants are “weeded out” on a continuous basis. This allows for the most suitable partner to ultimately be selected.
The purpose of a tailored recruitment and selection programme is to attract people of the required caliber who will fit the ideal profile as you have outlined it. As franchisor you need to carefully consider the methods you use for franchisee marketing. Depending on the business these may range from expos, to online franchise listings, to franchise publications and magazines and so forth. Once the marketing is in the public arena you should start receiving enquiries and it is key to streamline them and channel them through the process. It will assist you further if you keep a record of where your enquiries are being generated from.
Your recruitment process should ideally start with an online enquiry form on your website. This should ask for the basic information you require and ask the key questions only. From that point there are a number of elements that you could include in your recruitment package. There should be a follow up long application form asking very detailed questions including all the financial information you require. Once the paperwork is out the way you should be having one on one interviews and perhaps be combining this with on the job exposure. Many franchisors also choose to add a psychometric test as a requirement. This is useful if it is based on your specific franchisee profile and requirements but a word of caution is that it should not be used as a yes / no test that is cast in stone. Furthermore, a franchisee should not be accepted as part of the business system if they have not drawn up a business plan. This can be followed up by a final panel interview where this is presented.
In order to be as professional as possible each stage of the process should have the required written communication acknowledging receipt of application forms and advising where applicants have been deemed successful or unsuccessful.
Incorporated in your recruitment and selection programme should be the provision of the respective package elements at the appropriate times. It is advised that this is done after a Confidentiality Agreement is signed. Furthermore, it may be advisable to have the applicant sign a Commitment Undertaking and pay a percentage deposit. It must be noted that this deposit can not be non-refundable – if the applicant is unsuccessful it must be returned less only the direct costs that are justifiable.
As much as you may think your franchisees choose your business system it is more important that you choose your franchisees and allow them to partner with you. The chain will only be as strong as the weakest operators in the franchise network.