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What do Franchisors Look for in a Franchisee?

Aug 18, 2007
After you've done all your research and made an informed decision about which franchise is right for you, your first step toward buying a franchise business will be your application, which-according to Craig E. Yaris of The Lemon Tree-is basically a "weeding out process" for the franchisor.

The application serves as a guide for the franchisor in determining with whom they will speak further and to whom they will refuse a franchise agreement. So, how can you make a good impression on your application? What is the franchisor looking for in a prospective franchisee?

Yaris says that Lemon Tree looks at five key factors, and he explains that his company's criteria are similar to other reputable franchises, so this list can serve as a basic navigation system for filling out any franchise application.

The first thing a franchisor wants to know about a prospective franchisee is whether he is a "people person." On your application, you should list and explain all work experience you've had that involves dealing with people, and this is not limited to customers. It includes coworkers as well.

Second, the franchisor will evaluate the applicant's financial situation. You will need adequate financing to cover not only the franchise fee but also start-up costs. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need liquid assets in the amount required to start your franchise. While some of the money will almost certainly come from your savings account, you should list all financial aid available to you. This would, of course, include bank loans but also personal loans from friends and family.

The franchisor will run a credit check, so it is in the applicant's best interest to be forthright with all financial information. A previous bankruptcy and buying a franchise are not mutually exclusive, but the franchisor will prefer to have all the information upfront rather than finding surprises on the applicant's credit report.

Franchisors are curious about your readiness to follow direction. Sometimes, a sense of this trait can be acquired by reviewing an applicant's previous jobs and how long each was held. If you don't feel that your employment history clearly demonstrates this trait, then explain how your previous job responsibilities exhibit what the franchisor is looking for.

A franchisor will also want to know if a potential franchisee is motivated to succeed. Again, your employment history can provide a little insight. For example, someone who advanced rapidly within a company might prove to have the motivation necessary to make a new franchise succeed. Here, too, you should explain how your personal history exemplifies just the type of motivation a franchisor would want in a new franchisee.

Finally, based on your application, the franchisor will attempt to decide whether you really believe in the system of which you are trying to become a part. Buying a franchise happens in a competitive arena. The franchisor has many, many applicants from whom to choose. Show them that you've done the research and that you liked what you found when you got to their company.

How Can I Make Myself Stand Out?
Clearly, there will be more applicants who meet the criteria than there are franchises available, so how can you make yourself stand out amongst the other qualified candidates? There are a few things you can do to get noticed:

First, is simply to be neat. If you have a doctor's handwriting, you may want to ask someone else to fill out the application for you. Also, be sure to use correct grammar. What does it say to a franchisor if you don't even take the time to proofread your application?

Second, give detailed responses. Use a separate, typed sheet if you need more space than what's allotted on the application. Just be sure to plainly indicate on both the application and the additional sheet that this is what you've done.

Remember, the franchisor is taking a risk on you too, and they will appreciate having as much information as possible available to them in your application. Be reasonable, don't write a dissertation, but don't be afraid to give all relevant details.

Lastly, show excitement about the business opportunity for which you're applying. Exhibit your belief in the product or service your franchise offers.

How Should I Approach the Interview?
Once you've made it through the initial application process, if there is still mutual interest, you'll be asked to come in for a face-to-face interview. Here are a few tips for success in the interview:

As obvious as it seems, dress for success. Arrive at the interview in a suit unless you've been specifically told by your interviewer that his office is business casual (Even in this case you'll want to be more business than casual.).

Don't, at anytime during the interview, suggest that you have a better way of doing things. Remember, the franchisor is looking for someone who will fit neatly into their established system. If you have a legitimate idea for improving the way business is done, best to save it until your unit is up and running and you can propose it through the appropriate channels.

Emphasize your familiarity with the community in which your new unit will be located. Discuss any community activities in which you participate or have participated in the past.

Although the franchisor will train you as far as the specifics of the franchise are concerned, they will expect you to demonstrate basic business skills. Be prepared to discuss, in detail, your work and management experience.

You should also plan on discussing your finances. This would include where you'll get the money for your initial investment and any facts on your application or credit report that need further explanation.

Prove you've done your homework. Ask questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the franchise and the competitive environment in which it exists. Show the interviewer that you are sincere in your dedication to adding another successful unit to his franchise.
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