What do the best of the best franchisee recruiters have in common?
By Joe Mathews, CEO
Franchise Performance Group
When you walk the halls of the IFA, IFE and other events that VPs of Franchise Sales and Chief Development Officers attend, you will hear a common complaint: “I am having a hard time finding good franchise salespeople.” There appears to be a shortage, perhaps at a crisis level, of strong franchise sales talent. Many talented franchise salespeople have become franchise brokers. Others have elevated into senior roles within the franchise organization and are having a hard time finding or retaining their replacements. So who is it we are actually looking for? Who has what it takes to win as a franchise salesperson?
Some surprising research suggests several specific traits to look for in your next important hire to elevate your franchisee recruitment game. The research was conducted by Rebecca Monet, President and Chief Scientist at Zoracle Profiles, and Steve Olson of Olson & Associates in response to the dearth of recruiting talent in franchising today. Monet and Olson conducted an in-depth, 10-month study of 41 franchise sales professionals at the top of their game. The participants represented 100 franchise brands including Carvel, Cinnabon, Dunkin’ Donuts, The Dwyer Group, El Pollo Loco, Fantastic Sams, Great Clips, Jack in the Box, Jiffy Lube, Seattle’s Best Coffee and RE/MAX, and included FPG CEO Joe Mathews.
Here are 8 traits you should look for in your next franchise recruitment pro, along with the FPG take on each characteristic:
- Experience matters. The survey participants averaged over 20 years of experience. However, we are in an industry where experience and competency are often confused. These established sales professionals are not the kind of recruiters who send out resumes every 2 years; these aren’t the recruiters who replay their first year in sales again and again. These are professionals who declared early in their careers that professional franchise recruitment was their chosen field, and they sought to learn and master franchise sales as a discipline. These are professionals who understand buyer behavior, who know how to emotionally pace out a deal, who intuit how to move people from irrational fear to rational problem-solving. They recognize franchise sales as a highly nuanced skill where subtleties seem to make all the difference in the world. It takes several years of experience to identify those nuances and understand how to implement these insights flawlessly in any given recruiting situation.
- They recruit.. Experienced recruiters don’t sell; they solicit and acquire talented franchise candidates. They’re not necessarily great classical salespeople. Top-notch recruiters see themselves as successfully completing a recruitment process rather than “power-closing a deal.” Great recruiters aren’t tied to the final result or the commission attached to one singular deal. They’re worried about whether the candidate is a good fit and has what it takes to win. Years of experience have already told them they’re going to hit their numbers, whatever those numbers happen to be. This frees them up to let the candidate be a potential person rather than a potential close. If you were to interview a newly-recruited franchisee about their experience working with a top-notch recruiter, the candidate would describe the recruiter in terms of facilitator,”helper,” “educator” and “brand ambassador,” but they would never say “salesperson.” That doesn’t mean salesmanship wasn’t part of the process; it does mean the relationship was never defined in transactional terms. Top-notch recruiters help the franchise candidate discover the merits of the business on their own. They facilitate a process that connects the dots from where the candidate says they want to be in the future to where they are now, and they help the candidate discover how their skills and experience and resources translate into success as a franchisee of that system.
- They are “Type A” Personalities. Top-notch recruiters in this study were, results-oriented, problem-solving and competitive, and in the face of not knowing what to do next can figure out solutions on the fly. They make all their mistakes on the side of taking action rather than sitting on the sidelines and letting things unfold. Good or bad, they’re impact players, and their presence will be felt. They are not afraid of conflict. If they see the franchise candidate make an irrational decision or move in a direction away from their stated goals, they’ll run interference and challenge the candidate to get back on track. They also know how to create options where no options appear through creative problem-solving. They also often go to bat for a candidate they feel is a good fit for business. They let the candidate know, “Hey, the life you want is available here, and this will happen on my watch.” They take on the candidate’s goals as their own personal goals. They are fully prepared to walk away from any deal that is not in the candidate’s and the franchisor’s combined best interests, even at the expense of a commission check.
- They shoot straight. Top-notch recruiters don’t try to sugar-coat what the business is or isn’t. The tell it like it is. They paint what they believe to be a fair and accurate representation of what it takes to win. They’re not afraid of the perceived negatives of the business, and they know there’s no such thing as a perfect business. They can make a case as to why, on balance, the business appears to fit the candidate’s objectives. They want franchisees to go into business with their eyes wide open, fully educated on what it takes to win. They discuss where the potential landmines are and show the candidate how, by using the system, those landmines can be avoided. They aren’t afraid to make mistakes, and they clean up any mistakes or misunderstandings quickly. These recruiters could be described as being articulate, but never slick. They influence buyers through transparency rather than flowery promises and half-truths.
- They pay attention. Top-notch recruiters pay as much or perhaps more attention to nonverbal communication as they do verbal. They have an uncanny ability to understand people on an emotional level. For instance, a franchise candidate might say, “I will send you my financial statement in a couple of days,” and the recruiter will know instinctively whether that candidate will do as he says. They have an internal radar that tips them off when words and future actions aren’t in sync. When a candidate’s words lack conviction, a great recruiter can pick up on that. Combining good instincts with a Type A personality, they call the candidate out and hold them accountable to honor their commitments.
- They are authentic. Great recruiters immediately bond with their franchise candidates. They don’t assign to them overused labels such as “tire kicker” or “window shopper.” Instead, they see candidates as real people with real goals who have real issues, people who need to be heard and whose problems need to be solved. In a word, they are safe. And because they are safe, franchise candidates tell them everything. They have to believe in the concept they’re marketing, the franchisor’s strategic plan and the culture of the leadership, because they appear incapable of faking it. Franchise recruiters are materially the same people on and off the court. They don’t wear one face at work and another face at home.
- Extroverted introversion. When they’re with a candidate, they’re all in. They have conversations that matter. They possess all the interpersonal skills you would expect from an extrovert yet leaned slightly towards being introverted. However, when they’re done, they’re done. If they ever moonlighted and took down a second job, it would be a lighthouse keeper. They need defrag time. They need family time. They also need thinking, reading, YouTube, Netflix, and play time, and pity the fool who invades their space during their alone time.
- They lead. The best of the best act like CEOs of the franchise sales process. They are collaborative with the candidate and with the franchise sales leadership. They keep one eye on the goal and the other eye on where they are in the process. They don’t force a result, because they understand how to let the results occur naturally and they realize every deal has its own rhythm. They fully understand the impact of putting the wrong person in the wrong business, and they feel that their role can protect the brand and protect the resources of the franchise candidate at the same time.
When hiring your next franchisee recruiter, keep these 8 traits in mind. If you want an impact player who can put your brand on their own shoulders and drive their own results rather than riding your brand’s coattails, this is who you’re really looking for.
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.