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Posted on Jan 04, 2011

Meeting the Franchisor - Maximize Your Benefits From Discovery Day

A crucial step in the process of purchasing a franchise is meeting with the franchisor at corporate headquarters. It’s an important time for the franchisor and prospective franchisee.

Whether it is a “Discovery Day” or other term that the franchisor uses, most franchisors require prospective franchisees to visit their corporate headquarters as a pre-requisite to buying a franchise.

Although, some franchisors try to schedule the corporate visit at an early stage in the franchising process, the franchise candidate should attend Discovery Day after:

  • Speaking to several franchisees
  • Having reviewed the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD)
  • They have gained a good understanding of the franchise program.

A word of advice: some franchisors will not provide a copy of the FDD to a prospective franchisee until the candidate visits the Franchisor’s headquarters. I believe that once a franchisee completes and submits the application to the Franchisor and is approved, the Franchisor should be willing to forward the candidate a copy of the FDD.

Each party should have objectives they wish to achieve as a result of Discovery Day:

Franchisor Objectives:

  • Meet the franchisee candidate face to face.
  • Review the qualifications and make a collective decision regarding the candidate as a future franchisee.
  • Present the franchisor program and key staff to the candidate.
  • Resolve any open items or questions on the part of the candidate.
  • “Close” the franchise transaction.

Franchisee Objectives:

  • To observe, recognize and understand the franchisor’s corporate culture.
  • To obtain answers to any remaining questions.
  • To ask questions raised from franchisee interviews.
  • To negotiate any open items pertaining to the franchise agreement.
  • To gain feedback from franchisor staff regarding the individual franchisee's business plan and strategy.

Typically, the franchisor will have a set agenda or format that is used for Discovery Day visits. Be sure to request a copy of the agenda before your meeting. It should include a list of those individuals who you’ll be dealing with as a franchisee.

From a functional standpoint you want to meet those people:

  • Who furnish training and support services to the franchisees.
  • Who are responsible for marketing and sales promotional activities.
  • The franchisor senior management or founder.

This visit is very important, since it usually comes near the end of the franchising process. It may be the last chance you’ll have to obtain answers to important questions before you decide to sign the franchise agreement and pay the fee. Based upon the results of your interviewing franchisees and the review of the FDD, you should have specific questions for the franchisor staff. From the franchisor’s perspective, recognize that the franchisor staff is going to make a decision as to whether they feel you are qualified to be a franchisee.

Hopefully, you have been able to have a positive visit with the franchisor and have resolved the questionable items, with the result that you will sign what you and your attorney feel is an equitable franchise agreement. It is important that you utilize legal counsel to advise you in this final step because once you sign the franchise agreement you put your name and money “on the line.” Do you feel, based upon all of the information you’ve gathered, that they will “deliver as promised?” This is the question you should be able to answer at the end of Discovery Day.

About the Author: Ed Teixeira has over 35 years of franchise industry experience as a franchise executive and franchisee. He has served as a franchise executive in the c-store, manufacturing and home healthcare industries and has licensed franchises in Asia, Europe and South America. He has spoken on the subject of franchising throughout the world. Ed operates FranchiseKnowHow which provides information and advice to prospective and existing franchisees and franchisors.

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