Franchise Candidates: A Changed Mindset

This article was originally posted on August 13, 2009 as Franchise Candidates: A Changing Mindset. Well, I guess we can revise the title slightly to reflect candidates’ current views – A Changed Mindset. Nevertheless, the article may be even more relevant today as franchising attempts to rebound from the economic downturn and continues to explore more viable lead generation strategies that will attract today’s franchise candidate. Many continue to explore social media and have realized its position as an integral and effective component of these strategies… of course, when utilized according to a plan.

caution-01A look at today’s franchise candidates will reveal they are more sophisticated, better educated, and more technologically advanced than ever before. In addition, and even more so because of the economic downturn, they are extremely cautious.

Today’s candidates are spending more time researching opportunities, and doing so at a much slower pace. In order to be diligent in the process, more time is spent online pouring through page after page of information, constantly bookmarking, and moving back and forth from new information to saved information. They’re comparing notes with other franchise candidates on social networking sites. As well, they’re gaining invaluable insight monitoring online discussion groups and forums.

Ultimately, today’s franchise candidate desires and needs to be certain the franchise opportunity is as close to perfect for his or her situation, as humanly possible. In the past, and especially after previous recessions, franchise candidates took their capital gains and invested in a franchise opportunity. Many times leaving the principal investment untouched. There was a sense of throwing caution to the wind because they were investing profits. Many times ungodly profits, at least by today’s standards. Does anyone remember when money markets kicked out 17% profit margins?

Unfortunately, many individuals looking at franchise opportunities today are looking at things differently. They have to. Many are transitioning corporate executives staring at the back end of illustrious careers trying to squeak out just ten more years before retirement. Facing the challenge of younger talent, new technology, and a rapidly changing business environment, many opt to “buy” a job and explore franchising and small business ownership.

What Changed?

Here’s the difference between today’s recession, and of those in the past. As huge fortunes have been lost, and large gains have not been realized in current financial markets, today’s candidates are forced to invest all or part of their remaining nest egg in order to enter the world of business ownership. Of course, everyone knows and fully understand the risks involved in owning a business. But in yesterday’s business environment, many franchisees and business owners were “gambling” with profits.

Certainly, no one wanted to lose money in a business venture. But, many had fallback positions with funds still in retirement accounts and of course, if they had to, employment. For many of today’s candidates, failure is not an option because fallback opportunities are fast becoming non-existent. Actually, I believe many of today’s candidates might not have even considered franchise or small business ownership in the past.

So, as many individuals explore their options, they will focus more and more of their efforts online. Franchisors must embrace this fact, and dedicate more resources to the internet and look to social media to complement, not replace, their traditional franchise marketing strategies. By doing so, they’ll realize multiple benefits for their entire system including:

– Creating or further developing brand awareness with franchise candidates and consumers alike
– Generating franchise leads that are genuinely interested in exploring what franchising and small business ownership has to offer, and how a particular concept may be the vehicle to achieve their goals and objectives
– Establishing an interactive environment of communications and information sharing that will become the backbone of future franchise relationships throughout franchise systems

Last, many franchise candidates previously viewed franchising and small business ownership as a way of achieving their wishes, hopes and dreams, regardless of what those may have been. Today, it’s more about goals and objectives, and necessities. We, as an industry need to fully realize this, and understand the mindset of today’s franchise candidate.

Female Franchise Candidates: The Smart Choice For Growing Your Brand?

I just finished reading an interesting article about female entrepreneurs. It made me wonder how many franchisors have specifically targeted female entrepreneurs as franchise candidates. Even those “man-in-a-van” franchises could probably benefit by an influx of female franchisees. Maybe a paradigm shift is in order? It’s an interesting proposition to ponder.

Just recently, on Franchise Today, I had a conversation with Leslie Curran, Franchise Attorney and Partner at Plave Koch. As part of our time together, Leslie provided some insight on the Women’s Franchise Network. Of course, this group is mostly comprised of female franchise professionals within the upper ranks of franchise organizations, or at firms providing services to franchisors. A fabulous wealth of talent for sure.

I’m guessing there are female franchisees within the group. But most likely that number is relatively low. I wonder what the discussions would entail at a Women’s FRANCHISEE Network meeting? I envision discussions about improving systems and processes, as opposed to rants and raves about lack of support and other “blame it on the franchisor” issues as is typical in many predominantly male franchisee meetings. I know that may not be fair to say, but I can only go by what I’ve witnessed over the years.

As we know, the foundation of franchising is built upon relationships. And, what gender is better at relationships? Male or Female? No doubt, female. And, what gender pays more attention to detail? I cast my vote for female all the way. And, what gender is more apt to communicate and share information? Well, it’s unanimous, female once again.

So, are female franchise candidates the smart choice for growing your brand? Or, maybe, it should be the obvious choice.

What We Can Learn From Female Entrepreneurs
By: Jill Brown on Entrepreneurs Mindset

Our latest recession created a revolution led by female entrepreneurs ready for a new beginning. According to the latest polls half of all businesses are owned by women and contribute roughly $3 trillion to our Female Entrepreneurs economy; a complete turn around from yesteryear.

Female Entrepreneurs were always held back from the business arena by stumbling blocks including sexual discrimination for being female. The negative images from the “old boy’s network” of overly emotional stressed out mommy’s wanting to “play business mogul” was always a major contributor to mental bombshells that attacked success.

Women were not given the same opportunities or access as men. But women learned how to cultivate positive images and turn those negative stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

The female entrepreneur learned early on that it was far more difficult to obtain funding as in bank loans than it was for a man. While a women’s business plan was just as good as any man’s business model, men seemed to have a more personal closer relationship with banks. But in the end, women are less eager to give up their vision and think their way into winning.

The future female entrepreneur learned the super conscious secret – to believe and achieve. Whatever your mind believes you can achieve. Women used it passionately to empower and eliminate negative mindsets. Female entrepreneurs tap into intuition and allow it to work for us. And female entrepreneurs have a different take on building a business.

Women can blend easier than a man; aspiring to balance their family life, leisure, and business, but the most important motive for both is the start of their own new enterprise.

Women are more motivated by the outlook of more flexibility and equilibrium between family, work, and leisure whereas men are motivated more by the aspiration of becoming an entrepreneur and escaping slaving for others.

Female entrepreneurs work smarter not harder when it comes to building a business. Not to say they are not challenged but they are in tuned to seek out technology and innovative ways to balance their lives and manage their time.

When it comes to creating new enterprise women’s goals differ from men’s. The fact that by starting their own business they attain a higher position for themselves and their family is less important to women than to men.

In general, female entrepreneurs know that they are responsible for where they are going; women have that positive action to conquer in the midst of adversity – meet it, greet it and defeat it.

While many of us still hold self-limiting fears and surrender to the dictates of others there are many up and coming female entrepreneurs that dare to be different and can visualize the success.

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Franchise Sales During the Recession

WSJRecently, in one of the franchise groups on LinkedIn, there was some discussion about the Wall Street Journal article, “Franchise Sales Pull Back During the Recession.” Several franchise professionals posted their comments and, of course, I added my “two cents” as well. Okay, I was definitely long-winded compared to the others, but as most of you who read my articles are well aware, I have a passion for franchising and franchise success and tend to go on and on to share the same with all who will “listen.”

“I too, believe there are many well-qualified candidates exploring franchising. Some as a career alternative, and also, in the case of already being a small busines owner, as a business expansion strategy and/or an income diversification plan.

No doubt, the number of overall franchise leads has diminished quite a bit. But I believe many of the “tire kickers” have gone by the wayside while the more qualified candidates continue to search, inquire and ultimately decide franchising is right for them to achieve their goals and objectives. However, in order to fully realize this trend, one must realize that the candidates’ approach has evolved.

Today’s qualified franchise candidate is more sophisticated, educated and technologically advanced than we have ever seen before. Add to the mix, a sense of extreme caution, and their process in exploring franchising and specifc franchise opportunities has become more of a detailed, well-thought out strategy.

Always understanding that there is risk in any entrepreneurial endeavor, today’s candidates explore franchising because it may provide even the slightest edge against failure. Their mantra has become, “failure is not an option” and they now live it by doing everything humanly possible to dot every “i” and cross every “t” and then rechecking only to do it over and over again until they have full, complete confidence in their decision.

To that end, the overall process from initial inquiry to franchise award is much longer than in years’ past and that is something franchisors must be prepared to effectively handle. It’s a primary reason I believe social media works so well in the new era of franchise sales as it creates an environment for today’s candidates to research organizations, share information, communicate with individuals at all levels of the franchise organization from franchisees to corporate executives, view photos, audio and video, etc. And, they can do so at their own pace and to their full understanding. That is the key.

Understanding and adapting to today’s qualified franchise candidate will help franchisors ride out this current economic downturn. Putting their heads in the sand and just complaining about the poor economy and the franchise candidate pool drying up will only incorrectly prove true that their negative thoughts are correct.

All that being said, certainly there are challenges in securing financing and other variables that must be contended with and addressed accordingly. But as the franchise candidate pool diminishes and many of the tire kickers aren’t around to waste our time, we should now have more time to explore all options, use our creativity and innovation, network beyond our comfort zones and seek out alternative solutions. I believe those solutions are out there and many are capitalizing on them as we speak. They will not only survive, they will thrive as others have done in other recessionary periods.”