How to tell if your franchise prospect is lying

By Sarah Stowe | 01 Mar 2018 View comments

Inside Franchise Business: how to spot a franchise buyer who is lyingBecoming a franchisor is an exciting prospect. Having a long held dream of working for yourself, with an idea that you have fostered in its infancy to finally release into the world and then creating an empire of franchisees around you to continue building upon your success sounds almost too good to be true.

But the old saying is correct. “You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with”. This quote is even more important for today’s franchisor, with businesses booming one day and crumbling the next due to poor management of your idea and your blood, sweat and tears.

Allowing people into your franchise ‘family’ is not a quest to be taken lightly. People have to be the right ‘fit’. Are they friendly and eager, professional and committed? Does their previous career history reflect tenacity, drive, problem solving and sales? And how can you tell if they’re lying?

Read on for some useful tips on how to manage your franchisee recruitment process to ensure you pick the right people, every time.

Be known as a great franchisor

By taking the time to build your brand awareness and offering great benefits to join your franchisee team will help you attract the right people. But don’t make it too easy. Formulate a strict guideline outlining your expectations for potential franchisees and include things like “must be able to demonstrate effective leadership” and “must have financial acumen to successfully manage a business”.

You’ll want the best prospects seeking you out because they respect and want to work for your franchise, in turn you need people that aren’t going to run it into the ground.

Look first at in-house candidates

Providing franchise opportunities to your current internal team positively boosts morale and makes your current staff members feel their talents, capabilities, and accomplishments are appreciated. By offering a franchise to someone you already know professionally can alleviate a lot of stress in the long run.

A current employee already knows the business, is aware of the goals and direction you want to take your franchise and gets the chance to run their own ‘ship’ so to speak. Sometimes great franchisees are right under your nose.

The interview process

When screening potential franchisees, I encourage a number of meetings. Perhaps an informal coffee and a chat to start, followed by a more formal interview process with franchise management involvement, to be concluded by a meet and greet with the rest of your team.

Perhaps involving another existing franchisee to take on an informal “buddy” role, to answer any questions the new person may have, as well as explaining the process as it unfolds would prove beneficial.

But how can you tell if a franchisee is lying? During the interview process, I have found that when you ask open ended questions such as “describe a time when you experienced a difficult team member and what was the eventual outcome?” forces the candidate to pause and give specific examples back.

At least that is what I am hoping for. I find the candidates who are vague in their answers and provide no specific examples start to trigger alarm bells. However, you must always allow for interview jitters, and give people a chance at redemption.

By forcing yourself to remain silent in an interview, for almost painful periods of time can again force the candidate to start talking, about anything. Instead of you verbally prompting them, silence can unnerve people enough to break through their barrier allowing you to see the real them. They start to chat to fill the silence which can allow you to jump back in with some more probing questions. Silence can be golden.

And don’t discount your gut feel. Sometimes people can look right and sound great, but there is just something that doesn’t quite feel right. Run with that first.

Do lots of background checks. I would always recommend getting at least two business referees that you could call to further validate your potential new franchisee. If they didn’t want to offer any from their current employment, ask for accountants or any legal representatives they might have encountered. Basically someone who can verify their existence and career history.

And don’t forget the power of social media. Sometimes Facebook can show you a totally different side to the person you have just met!

When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of engaging a new franchisee and things like financial history needing to be proven and transparent, again listen to your gut. If something doesn’t sound right, or the figures don’t reflect what the person is saying, probe until you get the answers.

Ask for further proof, stress the importance of knowing that this is a true reflection of their financial status will be in everyone’s best interest going forward. If they run for the hills, you may have dodged a bullet. If people are serious about buying into a franchise, total transparency should not be an issue.

When I interview, I don’t want ‘yes’ answers all the time, I want humility and problem solving and “what I learned from this failure” type scenarios. This indicates to me that they are real people, with real life experience. And these people often end up the best franchisees to work with to continue to enjoy success both now and in the future.