Thinking about becoming a franchisee? Excited about the opportunities out there but overwhelmed by all the information? We’re here to help: The Franchisee Blog is presenting a series of informational posts about how franchising works. In the coming months, we’ll share valuable information from Great Clips franchise professionals and other franchising experts.
Once you’ve decided which franchise business you’re interested in, the franchisor will start the qualifying process—figuring out if you have the right qualifications to be a franchisee with their organization. Each franchisor has its own process. At Great Clips, the process starts by talking with a Lead Qualifier.
The Lead Qualifier’s role is to answer some initial questions and to ask questions. At Great Clips, we look for what we call the “ideal owner”: a hands-on leader who is, above all, a people person, who is looking for a manager-run business, and who is willing to take direction as well as give it. Franchise businesses use a time-tested system, and the most successful franchisees are those who follow that system. Those people who are more entrepreneurial and want to do things their own way may not be the best fit for most franchise companies.
The Lead Qualifier will also determine whether the prospective franchisee lives in an open market and if they meet our financial qualifications. (Visit our Great Clips Franchise website for more information.)
If the Lead Qualifier determines that a prospect fulfills these preliminary qualifications, the prospect is asked to fill out a confidential application, providing more details about their finances and background.
After verifying this confidential application information, the prospect is referred to a Franchise Development Manager who acts as a sort of tour guide, helping Great Clips prospective franchisees navigate through the learning process. They cover everything from staffing and training, how to make money in a franchise, how to manage their haircare business without being in the salon every day, marketing and real estate support, as well as other general aspects of the business.
The process formally begins when franchise candidates receive the Great Clips Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). This required legal document clearly outlines obligations of the franchisee and franchisor, and provides information about Great Clips and its business model to help potential franchisees evaluate it as a business option.
After candidates review the FDD and decide to proceed with the investigation process, they go through the Prospective Franchisee Learning Center (PFLC). The PFLC provides more information and assigns “homework” designed to help the candidate prepare for a series of informational calls that the Franchise Development Manager schedules with each of them. The calls allow candidates to “hear” from the Great Clips subject matter experts who cover everything from people development to growing your customer base to real estate.
The investigation process also requires that candidates talk with at least three franchisees to make sure that they hear first-hand about the business, its challenges and its rewards.
Laura Roper, a Franchise Development Manager with Great Clips, uses the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to describe the process: “I give candidates all the different pieces of the puzzle they need to look at to evaluate the business and whether it’s right for them. Once they put the puzzle together, if they like the picture, they join us. If they don’t, they move on.”
“This due-diligence process is designed not only to make sure that Great Clips is right for the candidate, but also to make sure the candidate is right for Great Clips,” explains Laura.
“As we go through this process, we get to know the candidates pretty well. This can take anywhere from four weeks to six months, and we’re talking with candidates often during this time. We get a feel for who they are and whether they’re willing to follow a system because our due-diligence process really is a system. We want to make sure they do their homework, do what they say they’re going to do. And it’s an opportunity for the candidate to see if we can really deliver on what we say we will do for them—they validate the opportunity.”
There have been times when Laura has had to tell candidates she didn’t think Great Clips was the right business model for them. One example was when a candidate treated people rudely. “This is a people business,” says Laura. “If you’re not good with people, this is not the business for you. That’s okay.”
“I try to be straightforward and honest. I want people to make the right decision for themselves and their families,” says Laura. “At the end of the process, if they see we’re a good fit for them, and we see that they’re a good fit for us, the Legal team sends them the franchise agreement and they become partners with us,” says Laura.
At that point, Laura’s official responsibility for the franchisee ends. However, her relationship with the people she’s helped put into business doesn’t end. “I’m not obligated to stay in touch once they become a franchisee, but I do,” says Laura. “In a lot of cases, these people have become my friends. I really care about their success. I call them up to see how they’re doing, I congratulate them when they hit sales records and I love catching up with them in person at our annual convention.”