Why 98% of top franchise recruiters in recent survey are married

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10 characteristics of successful marriages and great franchise recruiters

By Joe Mathews, CEO Franchise Performance Group

Our franchising colleagues Steve Olson and Rebecca Monet recently completed an in-depth  Masters of Franchise Sales study about what separates top-notch franchisee recruiters and everyone else in the field. We spotlighted their findings in our last blog, titled “Who makes a great franchisee recruiter?” One of the amazing “I never saw that coming” takeaways was that 40 out of 41 respondents designated as “top franchise salespeople in the country” were married. We thought this warranted highlighting, analysis and deeper understanding on its own.

Coincidently, my daughter Taylor, also a franchise salesperson, got married in May (pictured above). My wife and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in October. So my daughter and I have been actively engaged in conversations about what it takes to win in franchise sales as well as what it takes to have a successful marriage. Until now, I never drew the comparison. This article highlights what happily married couples can teach us about successful franchisee recruitment.

The power couple who have arguably done more than anyone to study and catalogue what makes a successful marriage are Drs. Julie and John Gottman, who have been studying monogamy for over four decades. In the mid-80s John Gottman and another researcher set up a simulated apartment called the “Love Lab”’ where they could examine marital behavioral patterns in a somewhat natural environment. There were specific patterns of behavior that differentiated successful couples from those who were bound to break up. They were able to create predictive models for divorce, which they claim demonstrated more than 90% accuracy.

There is an old saying among old psychologists, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”  Assuming this is at least somewhat true, we took the top 10 characteristics they say create a happy marriage and examined how these same characteristics create a top-notch franchisee recruiter.

  1. Calm demeanor. In a successful marriage, spouses aren’t given to quick bursts of anger. In franchise recruitment, that translates into someone with a cool head for problem-solving. When your recruiter doesn’t hear the answer they want, you don’t want someone prone to quickly dismissing the franchise candidate because they didn’t hear what they wanted to hear. Mediocre recruiters have a nasty habit of making the franchise candidate wrong and following their own sales agenda.
  2. Friendly in the face of disagreement. A great franchisee recruiter likes the candidate more than they like the close or the commission. They want the candidate to win and they expect a few bumps in the road, which is why they cement a trusting relationship first. That puts them in a position to problem-solve in the face of disagreement or conflict. For instance, a candidate might not get the territory or location they want or that they’re familiar with, therefore they want to exit the deal. That doesn’t throw a skilled recruiter, who may be able to find a statistically similar market that will still deliver results with a high degree of probability.
  3. Masterful sharing. Happy spouses are adept at creating togetherness or “sharing a moment.” In franchisee recruitment, many of the reasons franchise candidates kill deals are often withheld from the franchisee recruiter, meaning the recruiter is never given the opportunity to problem-solve.  A masterful recruiter knows how to get the candidate to share everything — the good, the bad, the indifferent. They sort out the feedback and help the candidate make sense of it, heading off potential issues that could surface later in the process.
  4. Attitude of gratitude. Masterful recruiters understand that franchise candidates don’t want the business, they want problems solved, goals achieved and prayers answered. What is a more worthwhile and noble calling than to help others achieve their dreams? Successful recruiters think, “I have the greatest job in world! I’m listening to people who are sharing what they want their lives and careers to look like, and I’m giving it to them. What could be better than that? Who wouldn’t be thankful to have that job?” In contrast, less successful recruiters seem to live and die with every deal and exist in a constant state of frustration and tension.
  5. Acceptance. If you start treating your spouse with contempt and derision every time something goes wrong or they tell you something you don’t want to hear, your marriage is going to start to unravel. The same is true in the recruiter-candidate relationship. Unskilled recruiters often unknowingly practice contempt. They quickly judge, labeling candidates as “hot,” “tire-kickers” or “someone who can’t pull the trigger” or is a “waste of time.” Successful recruiters don’t have that head noise. Largely, their opinion of the candidate isn’t tied to an outcome. They give candidates the experience that they are accepted and appreciated whether or not they join the franchise.  
  6. Kindness. Every franchise recruiter will eventually face rejection, but skilled recruiters don’t exhibit their frustration to the franchise candidate. They offer kindness even when they don’t feel like it. Some conversations take place in the evenings and on weekends and are not always convenient for the recruiter, but they can always make it sound like the timing is perfect. They put the candidate and franchisor first and themselves last. Sadly, kindness in today’s society has become a lost art. Monet and Olson say it well: “Kindness and patience (deliberate acts of love) have a currency in both marriage and franchisee recruitment.”
  7. Emotional maturity. When a franchise candidate says “no” to a peak-performing franchise recruiter, the recruiter’s world doesn’t just end. Top recruiters go right to the next call. Marginal recruiters call it quits for the day, go to their local watering hole and cry into their adult beverage of choice, blurting out old W.C. Fields lines like, “Who put the tonic in my gin and tonic?!”
  8. Appropriate boundaries. If you’ve been married for any length of time, you already know: There are certain places you just don’t go, such as mother-in-law jokes, male pattern baldness, or new-found facial wrinkles or back fat. You know what happens when you step outside the lines. Top recruiters can ask questions and go places an unskilled recruiter can’t. A skilled recruiter can ask a question like, “I hear your concerns, but what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” and then, “So why aren’t you doing that?” That line of questioning, in a firmly established recruiter-candidate relationship, can often lead to a candidate having “Aha!” moment and taking an action they would not have otherwise.
  9. Doing the right thing. A skilled recruiter walks away from a deal that shouldn’t get done, regardless of the commission or the sales quota. They’re always transparent. They don’t sugar-coat the business.  They make certain candidates go into business with their eyes open. Weaker recruiters withhold information or emphasize what they believe to be the positives of a concept to try to sell the deal.  Their commission check is more important to them than the candidates’ long-term financial well-being.
  10. Shared joy. When a new franchisee executes a franchise agreement, top notch recruiters celebrate their decision with them.  They share a victory.  Underperforming recruiters celebrate their “personal accomplishment” and “commission check.”  Top notch recruiters have a network of friends called “franchisees” all over the country, many of which would come running if the franchisee recruiter was ever in personal need.  Underperforming recruiters relate to franchisees as “hash marks” or “notches in their belts” and the relationship ends after the transaction happens.

We’re not suggesting you have to be blissfully married to be a great franchisee recruiter. The key takeaway is that your bottom line results are tied you view and the consistent patterns you exhibit as interact with others. A ruthless person does not put away his daggers at 5 o’clock; he is likely to be just as ruthless with cashiers, servers and his own family. Likewise, those possessing honor and integrity will almost always exhibit those characteristics around the clock.


We’d like to thank Steve Olson and Rebecca Monet for spearheading this research and sharing the results with FPG, which has over 30 years of experience in high-performing franchisee recruitment and lead generation. We were honored to be a part of this study and agree wholeheartedly with the outcomes, which jibe with our field experience. For more information about Zoracle Profiles, please visit www.zoracleprofiles.com. To learn more about Olson & Associates, please visit www.olsonandassociates.com.