If you’ve made it to the Discovery Day, then it means that in our eyes, you could absolutely perform well as a franchise owner. But on this day, you have one more seal of approval to earn. As much as Raintree works to align franchisee candidates with brands of best fit, the final decision is ultimately up to the franchise owner of your selected brand.
Remember that franchisors wouldn’t be responsible brand owners if they didn’t take the opportunity to meet with candidates in-person before making final decisions about awarding franchises. In franchising, this final opportunity is commonly known as “Discovery Day”.
We want successful matches to go through and not be hindered by an unfortunate first impression, and we also know that nerves can sometimes make you act in ways that are out of character for you. And nothing solves a case of the nerves like feeling prepared. This article gives you everything you need to know for your last leg of the franchisee candidate journey.
Discovery Day is the day when franchisee candidates get to meet the franchisor. It’s the last step in the process before the brand awards franchises, and it’s a critical moment designed to give the franchisor and franchisee an opportunity to assess one another directly and feel out a sense of what the franchise relationship might be like.
The goal for a franchisee on this day is to complete his or her due diligence of the brand, as well as to increase the candidate’s chances of getting approved. This day ends with both the franchisor and franchisee saying to themselves either “Yep, this works for me” or “No, it’s just not the right fit”. Since at this point in the process, candidates have already completed the 4-16 week education process, they’re usually sold on the brand, which is why Raintree commonly refers to this step as “Approval Day”.
But don’t forget that no agreements have been signed and both parties reserve the right to end Approval Day with a “No”. And that’s why you should focus on being yourself and doing some preparation so that you feel confident meeting the franchisor. Quality franchisors carefully evaluate every candidate and award franchises only to those who tick all the boxes.
As a franchisor myself, I’ve seen the unfortunate and often shocking result for the franchise candidate who has just invested months of time in learning about a brand, made the decision that they were indeed going to invest in becoming a franchise owner and invested in flights and a hotel to visit the brand, only to be told shortly after Discovery Day, “I’m sorry franchisee candidate, we don’t think it’s going to be a fit.”
Some franchise brands prefer to host their Discovery Days virtually. This became a more popular trend during the pandemic, for obvious reasons. Many brands continue to use the virtual method and cite the primary reason as efficiency and convenience for both parties.
I am of the opinion it would be a poor decision to invest in, or represent, a franchisor whom I have never met in person. Call me old school, but I believe in the necessity of looking your business partners in the eye, shaking their hands, and breaking bread with them before going into business with them.
If the franchisor is unwilling to host candidates for a full day or more and prefers to just “get it over with” via Zoom, it says something about that brand’s dedication to customer and franchisee satisfaction. At worst, the brand doesn’t value the relationship and doesn’t intend to invest their time or resources into your success.
Discovery Day is meant to be about transparency, but not all brands approach it in this way. And one way to tell if you’re attending a real Discovery Day or a planned performance is to pay close attention to the content that’s delivered and how time is allotted on the agenda.
By Discovery Day, franchisors will have completed their homework on the franchisee candidates in attendance. For that reason, it’s important to carefully complete and submit all requested additional information from the franchisor, which can include things like:
You’ll want to revisit the notes you took throughout the discovery process. If you have questions that you feel are unanswered or need a clearer explanation, come armed with them on the day. On most discovery days, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions in a variety of ways, whether that be a Q&A during a formal presentation or a one-on-one interview with the Franchise Founder, CEO or senior leadership.
If you need to, also revisit the article in this series on the Peer Review stage. There are infinite questions you can ask about the brand, and if you try to ask all of them, you’ll fall victim to something we commonly refer to as “analysis paralysis”. Be strategic about asking your questions, and make sure that your questions have a strategic purpose, rather than feeding anxieties you have about becoming a franchise owner.
Again, your job as a franchisee on Discovery Day is to make sure you walk away from the brand having achieved two objectives: completing your due diligence and maximizing your chances of being approved.
The first of a candidate’s two objectives on Discovery Day should be to complete his or her due diligence and ensure that you are making a well-informed decision about the brand.
Quality franchisors will proactively send an agenda of what the day looks like. If you are not sent an agenda, you should ask for one. Check it to see if any of your lingering questions can be addressed in planned discussions or presentations.
But in our minds, the real value of Discovery Day for both franchisees and franchisors is confirming the culture fit.
Whether we’re growing a franchise brand as a partner with Raintree as a franchise development company, trying to acquire franchisors or investing as a franchise owner, the most important saying I have for my team is “culture is critical.”
By this, I mean that it’s imperative to know and understand the people running the brand so you can answer fundamental questions for yourself, such as:
For culture-fit, don’t think about it as a rehearsed list of questions or answers. It’s more about instincts and how you feel. If you feel at ease, like everything checks out and seems consistent with what you’ve learned in earlier stages of the process, then that’s a good sign.
Each franchisor and franchisee is unique, and thus, so is every franchise relationship. If you’ve made it this far in the process, it’s because you have what it takes to be a franchise owner, and Discovery Day is all about highlighting who you are and what you bring to the table.
While much of what franchisors are looking for is brand-specific, there are some general franchisee characteristics they’ll be on the lookout for:
Research shows that successful franchisees demonstrate grit, as well as a number of other characteristics, including agreeableness, openness to experience, leadership and self-efficacy. They have the communication skills, trust, realistic expectations, and brand loyalty to work with the franchisor in solving problems.
All of these are critical in assuring the franchisor that the relationship will have what it needs to make sure that the problem-solving skills are there to resolve issues constructively. Remember that as in all relationships, the quality of the relationship is not defined by an absence of conflict, but rather in maintaining an equitable relationship where problems are solved constructively (and with solutions amenable to all parties).
Even though, as a franchise owner, you’ll get the playbook and a host of people ready to help you get your new business open, you’ll likely find some of the most challenging days of your career are ahead. Opening a business isn’t easy, and you’ll want to show that you’ve successfully overcome hard times in the past and worked your way through them.
The fastest way to fail as a franchise owner, in my opinion, is to take the vantage point that you know the business better than the franchise owner does. The reason you pay all those franchise fees and royalties is to benefit from the proven playbook. Good franchisors don’t want true entrepreneurs– individuals who, more often than not, want to change the model and/or brand.
Instead, they want savvy business folks who can take a business model and execute it in their particular market. When my franchisor hat is on, this is what I look first for. It’s the number one thing for both sides.
For the good franchisor, they will be looking to try to understand who you are. Be yourself; don’t try to be who you think they want to see. And certainly don’t hold back from speaking or asking questions. If you are too closed off, the franchisor has nothing to make the decision on and may not have the confidence for any decision but a “No”.
Most franchisors set aside one day every so often as a Discovery Day. You can get a sense of how quickly a brand is growing based on how frequently they hold Discovery Day events, with more rapidly emerging brands holding these events far more often than their less popular peers.
Quality franchisors will do their best to be accommodating, but this can be difficult for fast growing brands facing steep time and resource pressures. But be careful here not to demand or expect an exact day of your preference.
Understand that on Discovery Days, the franchisor must coordinate schedules amongst their entire leadership teams (and also try to accommodate the time constraints of their franchise candidates). So, while the franchisors will try their best to be accommodating, there are some requests that simply can’t be fulfilled.
As a reminder, Raintree is an industry leader in national franchise sales because of our robust, evidence-based, and proven methodology, which we apply when vetting both franchise brands and franchisees. And we know that successful franchise relationships hinge on four main factors:
For most franchise candidates, your franchise relationship begins on Discovery Day. If you value the performance of your future franchise business, then it’s in your best interest to make sure that your franchise relationship gets off to a strong start. And in that same vein, you’ll want the franchisor to reciprocate the same level of interest in you as you have in them.
Remember to be curious, and prepare some questions in advance if you think you might get nervous. This final step is all about building trust in your future franchise relationship and confirming your belief that this brand is the right match for you.
For that reason, don’t think about Discovery Day as an interview. In this step, imagine that you’ve already made it to the finish line. This last step is just about getting together and doing a final check to ensure that everyone is who they say they are and that each is bringing to the table what they say they will.
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Rivera, Lauren. “Hirable Like Me.” KelloggInsight. https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/hirable_like_me.
Thi Thao Hien Bui et al. “A Literature Review of Franchisee Performance: Insights for Further Research.” Taylor & Francis Online. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311975.2022.2044573.