If you’re interested in starting your own business and, in particular, If you are interested in becoming a franchisee, you will have heard of franchise discovery days.
A discovery day can be an excellent showcase for the advantages of franchise businesses: They help franchisors to demonstrate their business & the support they provide to franchisees. They also help franchisees to gain a better understanding of the franchise that they are interested in as well as a feel as to whether this might be the right option for them.
Because they are so important, potential franchisees often have a lot of questions when looking to attend their first discovery day. We have made a note of many of the most frequently asked questions and created a guide so that franchisees know better what to expect and can get the most out of these days.
Where possible, we prefer to provide one-to-one Discovery Days for potential franchisees: we find this enables us to give the franchisee a fuller impression of the business and what will be relevant to them. Over time, we have had positive feedback from franchisees who felt that their needs were better attended to in this way and that a one-on-one (or one family or one set of business partners) is the right way to start out a meaningful business relationship. This is not always the case with other franchises, however, where a group day is preferred.
Our guide provides answers to the most common questions and aims to be relevant to all franchise discovery days. Armed with this, you’ll know what happens on a franchise discovery day & what to expect.
What is a Franchise Discovery Day?
A Franchise Discovery Day is an event or a day arranged by franchisors for potential franchisees who are seriously considering investing in the franchise. It offers a comprehensive look at the franchise operation, allowing prospective franchisees to “discover” more about the business first-hand. Here are some of the most common elements of a Franchise Discovery Day:
- Introduction to the Team: Potential franchisees will get a chance to meet the corporate team, including key executives, managers, and sometimes existing franchisees. This gives them a sense of who they’ll be working with and the kind of support they might expect
- Tour of the Facilities: Attendees will often receive a tour of the headquarters, training facilities, and possibly a nearby operating franchise location. This provides a tangible sense of the business’s operations
- Detailed Presentations: Franchisors usually give presentations that cover the brand’s history, vision, growth plans, financial metrics, marketing strategies, training & support
- Testimonials: Sometimes, existing franchisees are present to share their experiences, challenges, and successes. This offers potential investors a peer perspective on the business
- Questions and Answers: Attendees get an opportunity to ask questions. This is an invaluable time as it allows potential franchisees to get answers to specific concerns or inquiries directly from the franchisor
- Initial Training or Demonstration: Some franchisors might provide a sample training session or demonstration to give potential franchisees a taste of the kind of training and support they can expect
- Next Steps: The end of the Discovery Day often outlines the next steps in the franchise application process for those interested in moving forward
Attending a Franchise Discovery Day doesn’t mean one is obliged to invest, but it’s typically an indication of serious interest. It’s also an opportunity for both the franchisor and potential franchisee to evaluate whether they’re a good fit for each other. If you’re considering attending one, it’s a good idea to prepare a list of questions and do preliminary research on the franchise to get the most out of the day. We’ll provide more information on preparation later in the guide.
What is the Purpose of a Franchise Discovery Day?
The purpose of a Franchise Discovery Day is manifold. Both the franchisor and the potential franchisee stand to gain insights and make decisions based on the events of the day. Here’s a breakdown of its main purposes:
- Education: It’s an opportunity for franchisors to showcase their brand, operational systems, support structure and the value proposition of their franchise model to potential investors
- Face-to-Face Interaction: While initial enquiries might happen over the phone or email, the Discovery Day allows potential franchisees to meet the franchisor’s team in person, fostering trust and understanding. This gives franchisees an opportunity to see the franchisor ‘walk the walk’ & demonstrate how their business looks to others
- Mutual Evaluation: While franchisors are presenting their business model, they’re also assessing the potential franchisees attending. They’re looking for individuals who fit well with their brand culture and who possess the necessary skills and mindset to be successful. Likewise, potential franchisees can evaluate if the franchise feels right for them.
- Clarify Expectations: It’s an opportunity to set and clarify expectations. Franchisors can detail what they expect from franchisees, and potential investors can get a clearer picture of what to anticipate when taking on the business
- Relationship Building: The face-to-face interactions during a Discovery Day are crucial for building a foundational relationship between the franchisor and potential franchisee. It’s an opportunity for both parties to get a feel for each other’s personalities, communication styles, and overall compatibility. For franchisees, this can be extremely helpful when it comes to getting support in the initial stages of their business
- Transparency: A Discovery Day allows the franchisor to present the business transparently, warts and all. This is vital for setting realistic expectations and building trust
- Hands-On Experience: Potential franchisees get a first-hand look at the business’s operations, perhaps through demonstrations, tours, or sample training sessions. This practical insight can be invaluable in the decision-making process.
- Feedback Collection: For franchisors, the Discovery Day is also a platform to gather feedback on their presentation, business model, or any other aspect of the franchise opportunity. Direct interactions with prospective investors can offer insights into potential areas of improvement
- Closing the Deal: For those potential franchisees already leaning towards investment, the Discovery Day can solidify their decision. Similarly, franchisors can use this event to nudge promising candidates closer to a commitment
For potential franchisees, attending a Discovery Day is a significant step in the due diligence process. It’s a chance to get answers, observe the company culture, and gauge whether the franchise opportunity aligns with their personal and financial goals. For franchisors, it’s a chance to showcase their brand in the best possible light, while also ensuring they onboard partners who will uphold and enhance their brand reputation.
Why are Franchise Discovery Days important?
If you’ve ever been to an open day at a school or university either for yourself or for your children, you’ll know how important they can be in providing an insight into the culture & values of that institution. The same is true for Discovery Days.
Franchise Discovery Days are important for several reasons, serving as a pivotal juncture in the franchising process for both franchisors and potential franchisees. Here’s why they are vital:
- In-Depth Understanding: While brochures, websites, and initial discussions can provide an overview, Discovery Days offer a deeper dive into the franchise’s operations, values, and systems
- Personal Interaction: It’s one thing to read about a franchise or discuss it over the phone, but meeting in person allows for richer communication. Personal interactions can reveal nuances about the franchisor’s team, their dedication, professionalism, and the culture of the organization
- Assessing Compatibility: Franchisors and franchisees are entering a long-term business relationship. Discovery Days allow both parties to gauge their compatibility, ensuring that they share similar values, work ethics, and business goals
- Hands-On Experience: Potential franchisees can get a feel for the products, services, and operations of the franchise. They might witness the day-to-day running of a location, experience training modules, or even interact with current franchisees
- Building Trust: Transparency during Discovery Days can cultivate trust. When franchisors are open about the challenges and rewards of the business, it instills confidence in potential franchisees
- Clarifying Expectations: Discovery Days provide a platform for both parties to lay out their expectations clearly. This can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts down the road
- Reducing Risks: For potential franchisees, investing in a franchise is a significant financial decision. Being thoroughly informed helps in making a well-calculated decision, thereby reducing the risks associated with the investment
- Feedback and Improvement: For franchisors, hosting regular Discovery Days can provide feedback on their presentation and approach. They can fine-tune their process based on interactions with potential franchisees
- Decision Making: The information, experience, and interactions during a Discovery Day can help potential franchisees make an informed decision—whether that’s proceeding with the investment or realizing the opportunity might not be the right fit for them
- Showcasing Success: For franchisors, it’s an opportunity to showcase successful franchise locations, present testimonials, and highlight the strengths of their brand
Discovery Days serve as a bridge between initial interest and the final commitment to a franchise agreement. They ensure that both franchisors and potential franchisees have all the tools, knowledge, and interactions needed to make informed decisions about their future business relationship.
What are the benefits of attending a Franchise Discovery Day?
Attending a Franchise Discovery Day can offer a multitude of benefits for potential franchisees. It’s a chance to see the ‘whites of the eyes’ of the people you’ll be dealing with, to network & learn more & it’s usually the only way in which you can progress to the purchase of a franchise as the franchisor will want to get to know you & determine whether you’ll be a good ambassador for their brand. Here’s a breakdown of the advantages:
- Comprehensive Information: Beyond the basic details found in brochures or websites, Discovery Days provide in-depth insights into the franchise’s operations, training methods, marketing strategies, and more.
- Direct Interaction with Franchisor Team: Meeting with the corporate team, including key executives and support staff, allows potential franchisees to gauge the quality of the people they would be working with and the level of support they might expect
- Experience the Brand First-hand: There’s no better way to understand a business than seeing it in action. Tours of facilities, live demonstrations, and observing real-world operations can provide invaluable insights
- Ask Questions in Real-Time: Potential franchisees can address their queries and concerns directly and receive immediate responses. This is vital for clarifying doubts and understanding the intricacies of the franchise offering
- Meet Current Franchisees: Some Discovery Days allow potential franchisees to interact with current franchise owners. These conversations can offer unfiltered insights into the day-to-day experiences, challenges, and successes of running the franchise.
- Evaluate Corporate Culture: Understanding the corporate culture can be crucial for prospective franchisees. It provides insights into the values, ethics, and overall environment they would be stepping into. Management guru Peter Drucker once said that “culture eats strategy for lunch” meaning that having the right business culture is far more important than anything else when it comes to the success of a business. The culture of the franchise will be evident to a franchisee in everything they do and in how well they do it
- Get a Feel for the Training: Franchisors might offer sample training sessions during Discovery Days. Experiencing these sessions can help potential franchisees understand the quality and depth of training they’d receive
- Build Relationships: Networking with the franchisor’s team and other potential franchisees can establish a foundation for future collaboration and support.
- Assess Financial Potential: While financial discussions might have been initiated earlier, Discovery Days often provide an opportunity to delve deeper into the numbers, understand potential ROI, and clarify investment details.
- Clarify the Path Forward: Discovery Days usually outline the next steps in the franchising process, helping potential franchisees understand what’s expected of them if they decide to proceed.
- Validation of Research: For those who’ve done their homework, attending a Discovery Day can validate (or sometimes refute) their initial findings, ensuring that they’re making a decision based on accurate information.
Attending a Franchise Discovery Day equips potential franchisees with the knowledge and confidence to make an informed decision. It’s an essential step in the due diligence process, ensuring that they’re not only investing in a viable business but also partnering with a brand and team that aligns with their personal and professional goals.
When to attend a Franchise Discovery Day
Attending a Franchise Discovery Day is a significant step in the franchising process, and timing it correctly can be essential for potential franchisees. Here’s a guideline on when you should consider attending a Discovery Day:
- After Initial Research: Before attending a Discovery Day, you should have already conducted preliminary research on the franchise. This includes understanding its business model, market presence, brand reputation, and potential competitors
- When Considering Investment: Discovery Days are typically designed for potential franchisees who are seriously contemplating investing in the franchise. If you’re still in the very early stages of considering franchising in general (and not necessarily committed to a specific brand), it might be too soon to attend. You’re not obliged to invest when you attend a Discovery Day & you don’t need to be completely committed but it will be more relevant for those who are prepared
- After Initial Discussions: Usually, before a Discovery Day, there would be initial conversations or interviews between the potential franchisee and the franchisor. These discussions can help gauge mutual interest and fit. If these preliminary talks are positive, attending a Discovery Day is the next logical step
- When Financially Prepared: While attending a Discovery Day doesn’t mean you’re committing to buy a franchise, you should be financially prepared for the possibility of moving forward. By this stage, you should have a clear idea of the investment required, and your financial situation should allow for such an investment
- When You Have Time to Commit: A Discovery Day requires time and often travel. Ensure you can commit a full day (sometimes more) to the event and that you can absorb and contemplate the information presented without being overly rushed
- Before Signing an Agreement: Attending a Discovery Day is a crucial step before committing to any franchise agreement. It provides a hands-on, detailed look into the business, allowing you to make a more informed decision
- When You Have Practical Questions: Before attending, prepare a list of questions you want to be answered. This could include queries about training, ongoing support, marketing strategies, territory allocations, and any other aspect you’re curious about
- When You’re Ready to Network: A Discovery Day isn’t just about learning from the franchisor; it’s also an opportunity to network with other potential franchisees. If you’re in a mindset to interact, share experiences, and perhaps learn from others’ questions and perspectives, it’s a good time to attend
Do you need an invitation to attend a Discovery Day?
Yes, in most cases, you do need an invitation to attend a Franchise Discovery Day. The event is typically not open to the general public, but rather to potential franchisees who have expressed serious interest in the franchise opportunity and have already undergone some preliminary discussions or screening processes with the franchisor. Here’s why the invitation is usually required:
- Selective Audience: Franchisors often want to ensure that Discovery Day attendees are genuinely interested and are potential good fits for the brand. This helps in focusing their efforts on the most promising candidates
- Resource Intensive: Organizing a Discovery Day requires time, effort, and often financial resources. By inviting select individuals, franchisors can optimize the use of these resources
- Confidential Information: Some franchisors may share sensitive or proprietary information during the Discovery Day. Limiting attendees to serious candidates helps protect this information
- Tailored Experience: By knowing who will attend in advance, franchisors can customize the Discovery Day experience to better address the needs and interests of the attendees.
- Facilitate Better Interactions: A smaller, more targeted group allows for more meaningful interactions and discussions between the franchisor and potential franchisees
- Logistical Reasons: Depending on the venue and the nature of the event, there might be capacity limits. Knowing the number of attendees in advance helps with logistics and planning
In many cases, Discovery Days will be done in a one-on-one basis as opposed to one-to-many. This means that the day can be tailored to the potential franchisee, their interests, needs & questions. When this is the case, an invitation will be required in order that the franchisor can prepare & to ensure that the franchisee will turn up – these aren’t a case of a franchisee joining a large crowd of sightseers.
How to prepare for a Franchise Discovery Day?
Preparing for a Franchise Discovery Day is essential to ensure that you get the most out of the experience and make a well-informed decision. Here’s a checklist of steps to help you prepare:
- Conduct Preliminary Research: Before attending, familiarize yourself with the basics of the franchise. Understand its history, market positioning, key competitors, and general business model
- List Your Questions: Prepare a list of questions you want to ask during the Discovery Day. This can include queries about training, marketing, ongoing support, territory rights, financial expectations, and any challenges the franchise might face
- Review the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD): If you’ve received the FDD, review it carefully. The FDD provides a wealth of information about the franchise, including its financial performance, any litigation history, and details about the franchisor-franchisee relationship. Note down any questions or concerns you might have
- Plan Logistically: If the Discovery Day requires travel, ensure you’ve arranged for accommodations, transportation, and any other logistical necessities. Arriving relaxed and on time will help you focus on the event itself
- Dress Appropriately: Dress in a professional manner that’s suitable for the industry and the nature of the event. First impressions matter, and you’ll want to present yourself as a serious and professional potential franchisee
- Speak with Current Franchisees: If possible, connect with existing franchisees before the Discovery Day. Their firsthand experiences can provide insights that might not be covered during the event. Plus, you can compare what they say with the information given during the Discovery Day
- Understand Your Finances: Be clear about your financial position and how much you’re willing and able to invest. This will help when discussing potential financial arrangements, fees, and other related topics during the event
- Prepare for Interviews: Some franchisors might use the Discovery Day as an opportunity to interview potential franchisees. Be ready to discuss your background, experience, motivations for wanting to join the franchise, and your business aspirations.
- Stay Open-minded: While it’s good to come prepared, also remain open to new information and insights that you’ll gather during the event. This balanced approach will help you assess the opportunity holistically
- Take Notes: Bring a notebook or tablet to jot down key points, answers to your questions, and any new insights or concerns that arise during the day
- Know Your Next Steps: Understand what the process is after the Discovery Day. Are there further interviews? Is there a cooling-off period? Knowing what to expect can help you plan your post-event actions
Remember, the goal of a Franchise Discovery Day is not just for the franchisor to evaluate you, but also for you to evaluate the franchisor. Approach the day with a combination of preparation and curiosity to ensure you make the most of the opportunity
Buying a franchise, like buying a house or having a child is a significant event in a person’s life. In addition to the checklist, it’s important to ensure that your family is supportive of your decision. Belvoir Group has a lot of families involved as franchisees – some of them are multi-generational. In addition, we are used to having husbands & wives attend our Discovery Days in order to ensure that everyone is working together to support our common good.
What to wear to a Discovery Day
Dressing appropriately for a Franchise Discovery Day is essential, as it communicates your professionalism and serious intent to the franchisor. One sign of your franchisor’s foresight is that they will give you guidance as to what’s appropriate to wear.
While the specific dress code can vary based on the industry and the franchisor’s culture, here are some general principles:
Business Casual: This is often the safest choice for most Franchise Discovery Days. For men, this might include slacks or khakis, a collared shirt, and dress shoes. For women, this can mean slacks or a skirt, a blouse or top, and closed-toe shoes. Depending on the franchise and location, a blazer or suit jacket can be added for a slightly more formal touch
Avoid Overdressing: While it’s essential to look professional, you don’t want to appear overly formal unless the industry or franchisor’s culture dictates it. For instance, if you’re exploring a franchise in a more laid-back industry, a full business suit might seem out of place
Avoid Underdressing: On the flip side, avoid attire that’s too casual. Items like shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts, and distressed jeans are generally not appropriate for this type of event
Consider the Franchise’s Industry: Align your attire with the industry. For instance, if you’re looking into a high-end spa franchise, your attire might be more upscale business casual. If it’s a fitness franchise, a polished casual look might suffice
Neatness is Key: Regardless of the specific outfit, ensure that your clothes are clean, ironed, and fit well. Personal grooming is equally important. A neat appearance communicates attention to detail and professionalism
Comfort: Remember that you might be on your feet for extended periods, whether you’re touring facilities or networking. Wear comfortable shoes and attire that you can move around in with ease
Accessories: Keep accessories minimal and professional. Avoid anything too flashy or distracting
Research in Advance: If you’re unsure about the dress code, it’s entirely appropriate to ask the franchisor or the event organizer in advance. They’ll appreciate your intent to make a good impression
In essence, your attire for a Franchise Discovery Day should communicate professionalism, respect for the franchisor’s brand and culture, and your serious interest in the franchise opportunity. When in doubt, it’s better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.
What Happens After a Franchise Discovery Day?
After a Franchise Discovery Day, several things happen both on the side of the franchisor & the franchisee. Here are the most common next steps:
- Post-Event Debriefing: Many franchisors conduct an internal review after the Discovery Day. They evaluate the potential franchisees, discussing their fit with the brand, their questions, and their overall engagement during the day
- Follow-Up Communication: Most franchisors will reach out to attendees after the event. This could be in the form of a thank-you note, a request for feedback, or additional information based on questions raised during the event
- Further Discussions: If both parties are still interested, deeper conversations will likely ensue. These can revolve around specifics like territory rights, financial arrangements, training schedules, and other particulars
- Final Interviews: Some franchisors might have another round of interviews after the Discovery Day. This is a chance to delve deeper into the potential franchisee’s qualifications, financial capabilities, and motivations
- Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) Review: If not provided before the Discovery Day, the potential franchisee will typically receive the FDD after the event. This legal document outlines key details about the franchise opportunity, including obligations, costs, and past performance. It’s crucial for potential franchisees to review this thoroughly, often with the help of legal or financial professionals
- Decision Time: After absorbing the information from the Discovery Day, reviewing the FDD, and having any further discussions, it’s time for the potential franchisee to make a decision. Is this the right franchise opportunity for them? Are they willing to invest the time, money, and effort required?
- Signing the Franchise Agreement: If the potential franchisee decides to move forward, the next step is usually signing the franchise agreement. This is a legally binding document that outlines the terms of the franchisor-franchisee relationship
- Initial Fees: Upon signing the franchise agreement, there will typically be an initial franchise fee to pay. This fee can vary widely depending on the franchise
- Training and Onboarding: Once officially part of the franchise system, the new franchisee will usually undergo a training program. This could involve visiting the franchisor’s headquarters, attending training sessions, or receiving on-site training at their own location
- Site Selection and Build-Out: If the franchise involves a physical location, there will be steps involving site selection, lease negotiation, and build-out of the location to match the franchise’s branding and specifications
- Grand Opening: With training completed and the location ready, it’s time to open the doors to the public. Some franchisors provide additional support and marketing for a franchisee’s grand opening
It’s essential for potential franchisees to maintain open communication with the franchisor throughout this process. Questions will arise, and it’s in the best interest of both parties to address these promptly and thoroughly. Remember, the goal is a successful, long-term franchisor-franchisee relationship.
Questions to Ask at a Franchise Discovery Day
When attending a Franchise Discovery Day, it’s crucial to ask questions that will provide clarity about the franchise opportunity and help you make an informed decision. You may already have asked a number of questions of your franchisor but here we outline some of the most important topics that are best covered off on the Discovery Day & before you proceed to purchasing a franchise:
Training and Support:
- What type of training will I receive as a new franchisee?
- How long is the training, and where does it take place?
- What ongoing support will I receive after the initial training?
- Are there ongoing training opportunities for franchisees?
- What are the total initial costs, including franchise fees, equipment, inventory & other expenses?
- What are the ongoing fees, such as royalties and advertising fees?
- Are there any financial performance representations available for existing locations?
- How long does it typically take for a franchise to break even or become profitable?
- How is the territory defined for each franchisee?
- What guarantees do I have regarding territory exclusivity?
- Can I open multiple locations?
- What proprietary systems or technologies will I have access to?
- What marketing and advertising support will I receive?
- Can I speak to current franchisees about their experiences and challenges?
Products and Services:
- What are the best-selling products or services?
- How often are new products or services introduced?
- How does the franchise handle inventory and supply chain management?
Legal and Compliance:
- Are there any current or past litigations involving the franchisor?
- What are the main reasons franchise agreements might be terminated?
- What processes are in place for conflict resolution between the franchisor and franchisees?
Culture and Values:
- How would you describe the corporate culture of the franchise?
- What values are central to the franchise’s brand and operations?
- How does the franchisor support diversity and inclusion within the system?
Growth and Strategy:
- How has the franchise grown over the years?
- What are the future growth plans for the franchise brand?
- Are there any anticipated changes in the industry that might affect franchisees?
- If I decide to sell my franchise in the future, what is the process?
- Are there any restrictions on selling my franchise?
- Does the franchisor have the first right of refusal?
- What does a typical day look like for a franchisee?
- What are the most common challenges faced by franchisees, and how are they addressed?
A Discovery Day is as much an opportunity for you to evaluate the franchisor as it is for them to evaluate you. Make the most of it by asking detailed questions and seeking clarity on any aspect of the franchise opportunity that is important to you. It’s also a good idea to write down the answers or take notes, so you can review them later when making your decision.
At Belvoir Franchise Group our discovery days entail an in-person interaction with our team at the Central Office. We present our proposal at a time that suits your convenience. Learn more about our property franchise discovery meetings.
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