TRANSITIONING FROM IN-PERSON TO “VIRTUAL” MEET YOUR TEAM DAYS — WHAT STAYS AND WHAT GOES IN 2021

Franchise Development

By Roxan DeGennaro, Authority Brands

Meet Your Team Days (MYTDs) are the last piece of the puzzle for franchisors and potential franchise owners.

By the time the big MYTD day happens, we’ve already formed relationships and answered most questions about whether each candidate is at a level to succeed in the Authority Brands family. All that’s left is determining whether there’s that all important alignment with culture, vision, and personalities. We need to feel confident about awarding a franchise, and candidates need to feel comfortable making a life-changing decision.

It’s like shopping. Some people need to go and touch it before they buy, and some people don’t. It’s about meeting their needs.”

          —ROGER EWART, FRANCHISE DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, AMERICA’S SWIMMING POOL COMPANY

Is the impact of your office space really helping to convert candidates into franchise owners? Maybe it is — and that’s okay! Across Authority Brands, the answer is different depending on which of our 10 brands you’re talking to. For example, Mosquito Squad and America’s Swimming Pool Company (ASP) share a stunning headquarters in Macon, Georgia where they never stopped hosting in-person MYTDs. Other brands, like Homewatch CareGivers, awarded a record number of franchises during the pandemic despite going fully virtual. The adjustment to virtual hosting and having an outdoor space for Discovery Days helped our brands thrive without the standard in-person options.

Back to Normal? Not So Fast.

As much as we’re all eager to get back to normal after the pandemic turned everyone’s approach upside down, rushing back to the old ways is a mistake. After transitioning some or all parts of MYTDs to virtual experiences, now is our chance to let the lessons of 2020 inform our practices moving forward.

Remote events remove a barrier to learning more about us, and that’s a win for everyone. In-person Meet Your Team Days have the potential to cause a lot of stress due to coordinating travel and taking extended time away from work and family. Ultimately not all decision makers can make the trip in the exact week your brand is hosting. If there are other partners joining the business, they can now also attend virtually. In the past with only the in-person option, we may have lost otherwise great candidates. Eliminating worry about hotel, airfare, transit, and childcare is monumental for candidates. Virtual events also give the operations team more scheduling flexibility. No more missing major life events because it’s a MYTD.

This benefits of going virtual were nagging at us well before COVID-19. In fact, some of our brands began an overhaul of MYTD program in 2019 to shift to a more asynchronous approach. The benefits were evident immediately.

As we adapted and worked to create relationships with the operations team throughout the sales cycle, we found that allowed candidates to become even more emotionally connected to the brand.”

          —COLT FLORENCE, VP OF FRANCHISE DEVELOPMENT, AUTHORITY BRANDS

Value Everyone’s Time

We streamlined eight hours of live presentation into four hours of pre-recorded video that candidates watch ahead of their official MYTD. Assigning video viewing as homework allows candidates to get all the critical information from subject matter experts, with the added ability to rewind, rewatch, and structure their own time. 

Even the ideal candidate can find their attention flagging by the end of a marathon MYTD. We’ve all seen candidates pull out their phones to check in for flights or catch up with work email. But when candidates have control over when they review our experts’ presentations, they can absorb the information they need and be ready to ask the questions that really matter to them during live interactions — whether that’s in-person or virtual.

Potential Shortfalls

There are a few common concerns around incorporating more virtual elements in Meet Your Team Days. First, the issue of technology. Bandwidth problems and audio issues are valid concerns, but the experience of 2020 has gone a long way to increase most people’s comfort with online meeting platforms. Thoughtful, asynchronous content can help you sidestep lingering problems, and troubleshooting with candidates is a great way to test their tech-savviness.

th candidates is a great way to test their tech-savviness. Some people are worried that virtual options make things too easy. Our take? Your vetting process should establish a candidate’s ability to make the financial and mental commitment long before they reach the point of MYTD.

One drawback everyone understands is missing the magic of the human element. Yes, that’s hard to recreate, but if you’re confident in your ability to build relationships, going virtual doesn’t have to get in your way. If you can’t break bread together or shake hands, you’ll have to get creative. We start by introducing team members earlier in the process and encourage them to connect with all departments. We used to focus only on the key players involved in the ownership transition. We are now able to use virtual introductions and trainings with more brand leaders although they are all over the country.

There’s only one thing I will miss about in-person Meet Your Team Days—the hugs.”

          —JAMIE LAVIGNE, FRANCHISE DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, HOMEWATCH CAREGIVERS

Choices Make It Easier to Say Yes

The goal is to be able to offer candidates more choices, faster. Why make them wait any longer than necessary? 

Before 2020, no one imagined virtual settings for big decisions, but now candidates expect it as an option. If a candidate wants to come to smell the chlorine at ASP, we’ll throw our doors open, and if a candidate is ready to say “yes” to The Cleaning Authority in a Zoom meeting, we’ll be there too. Why not save the trip for training and not just for paperwork?

While so many businesses were shut down, Authority Brands’ streamlined, virtual MYTDs resulted in awarding incredible candidates who would never have made it to an in-person Meet Your Team Day. No matter where they are when they join Authority Brands, we’ll welcome them with open arms at our annual, in-person convention.

 

Roxan DeGennaro is the director of marketing, franchise development at Authority Brands.