How to Prepare for Your Initial Franchisee Interview
Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to choose a franchise opportunity in which to invest. You’ve likely been looking at some already, and may have even narrowed down the field to a handful of opportunities to which you are truly drawn. Once you have a short list of franchise opportunities, it’s time to prepare for the initial franchisor and franchisee interview.
Once you inform a franchisor that you are interested in their franchising system, you will experience their system of evaluation. Each franchisor will have a different process, but all will partially judge your candidacy based on your ability to follow their process. So, you could say, you are being scrutinized from the very beginning of contact. Don’t take it personally; lots of resources are at stake, and everyone wants to make the correct choice, including you.
In most cases, your initial franchisee interview will begin with a call, where you and the franchisor or his or her development director will talk. The purpose of this call is to immediately begin qualifying you as a potential franchisee in their system. Every person will approach this call differently, with various methods used to test you, find out what motivates you, explore your financial situation, and more.
They will also seek to set a long-term agenda into place to keep the decision-making process moving along. This will include more calls, paperwork, and meetings to ascertain your suitability to operate a franchise in their system. Here are some suggestions to help you prepare for this initial interview, and for all subsequent calls and meetings.
In every interaction you have with a potential franchisor, be sure to answer honestly. For example, under- or overstating your net worth will eventually be discovered when hard data is presented, and you will be disqualified. If you are only seeking preliminary data, and are not seeking to enter a franchising agreement for at least a year, be honest and reveal this to your interviewer. They may need to focus on other clients who are farther along in the process right now, while just providing you with basic information.
Since you’ll likely be interviewing multiple franchisors in a relatively short period of time, you should keep accurate notes from every call and meeting. Facts that are similar between more than one franchise opportunity will blend together to form an inaccurate picture in your memory. You will receive a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) from each franchisor, but you need written data that you can refer to, even much later, from each interaction. This will be invaluable when it’s time to narrow down your list of potential franchisors even further.
During the initial call with a franchise representative, and especially afterward, you will be asked to review some material and complete a series of forms. One of these will be a confidential information request form (CIRF) or application that will provide the franchisor with more details on your qualifications. The typical CIRF will ask for contact information, educational background, business experience, income, balance sheet information, banking information, and personal references.
Being prepared with all the necessary information makes the process of completing this form simple and accomplished at a single sitting, which prevents confusion and mistakes. They will likely also ask you to authorize a records release and a background check. A later call will usually be scheduled to go over the CIRF with you.
While some may feel that asking for such information at this time is intrusive, it’s actually an important step in the process. Of course, the franchisor wants to know if you’re a qualified candidate as early as possible. If you are not, he or she needs to save time and move on to other qualified candidates. But also, your willingness, ability, and how you handle this process is a crucial test of how closely you will follow instructions; like a franchise system of operations.
Depending on how many franchise opportunities are on your list to investigate, you will endure this process many times. You should handle each franchisor the same. Remember, this is a time for you to evaluate them as well. You may very well determine that you can or cannot work with someone simply by how they handle this initial franchise interview and screening process.
For more questions about franchise opportunities, preparing for the initial franchise interview, or about franchising your business, contact the professional advisors at Franchise Guardian.