Setting Your Franchise Apart— Discovery Day Strategies
Franchising World March 2011
By: Brian Curin
A potential franchisee has researched many aspects of your organization and has decided that your franchise opportunity may suit his or her goals for owning a business. But, prior to signing a franchise agreement, he or she would like to learn more and experience the brand. That is where the all-important discovery day comes into play.
During discovery day, a candidate gets his or her first true impression of the brand, the culture and the people. It is a critical portion of an individual’s or group’s transition into ownership with your concept, which can strongly influence the potential franchisee’s decision about entering into a franchise agreement.
Discovery days are typically large productions put on by the franchisor. They are filled with endless meet-and-greets, interviews, and tours. Since many of these days can run into one another, making them difficult to differentiate, franchisors may want to ask themselves: how does my discovery day set itself apart?
Some companies take advantage of their headquarters to showcase the latest advances in technology that they utilize, while others focus on the unique lifestyle that their brand conveys.
Presenting a Unique Experience
In over 15 years of franchising and building brands, I have concluded that to properly expose a potential franchisee to your concept, it is important to define your brand at the beginning of the relationship. But how does a company incorporate its culture, vision, mission, philosophy and goals into a discovery day process that truly makes it a unique experience?
First, the brand’s identity should be integrated into every aspect of the discovery day so that potential franchisees can clearly see the elements that define the brand and the business opportunity. From the dress code to the meeting’s venue, each step is a chance to impress potential franchisees. Franchise companies that skimp an opportunity to showcase the brand will only hurt their success rate when recruiting franchisees.
For example, Flip Flop Shops has reinvented the idea of a discovery day and steers clear of the typical structured corporate event. Our “shop day” begins with a maximum of 10 prospective shop owners that travel to Irvine, Calif. to meet with the president, CEO and shop management. We like to keep our groups smaller, so that we are able to engage with every potential shop owner present. During their visit at our training shop in Irvine, Calif., they have the opportunity to relax, try on our flip flops, ask as many questions as they like and live out our free-your-toes mentality.
At our shop day, we put on our laid-back lifestyle approach to franchising. The typical business clothes can be left at home, because everyone in attendance, from prospects to company executives, is in casual attire, including flip flops, shorts and tees.
Our goal is to help potential shop owners live the brand’s essence, as we get to know them and likewise. We want our future franchisees to feel the unmistakable Flip Flop Shops vibe.
After we meet at our local shop, we then take the small group to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Southern California for our casual meet and greet. We enjoy some amazing food and beverages, while chatting about why we love being a part of this brand. This atmosphere gives everyone the opportunity to relax and have fun, while learning about the passion we have for our business. This crucial component allows our team to fully engage with each prospective shop owner and allows them to speak with us for as long as they would like; something not typical on discovery day.
What type of activity defines your brand? By connecting the potential shop owner with the brand’s vibe the moment they step foot into shop day, we are successfully introducing our culture and vision, which will help them truly understand our brand.
In addition to the necessary discovery day practices, such as agendas of the day, presentation notes and tours, here are some questions to help determine whether your discovery day process benefits your organization:
Does the discovery day process accurately convey the essence of our brand?
• Meet with the discovery day planning team and discuss the key points of thebfranchise that sets it apart from its competition. Be sure to discuss ways to incorporate these ideas into the discovery day process.
• There is no excuse for blandness here. Bring the marketing and creative groups together to pick apart the day to see where there are more creative ways to showcase the brand.
Did the discovery day process solidify the investment your current franchisees made in the concept?
• Get the opinion of the franchisees that have recently been through the discovery day process. Once they have joined the franchise system, perhaps a survey is handed out. This will give the new franchisees an opportunity to anonymously speak about what worked, what they liked and what did not benefit their learning process.
What can a franchisee learn about the brand by simply walking into a room with the executive team?
• Have an open dialogue with the executive team regarding if they are upholding all aspects of the brand. Do they represent the brand to the best of their ability? What could be improved?
What is the success rate of signing franchise agreements with investors attending discovery day?
• Be sure to keep a record of the success rate of your discovery days. It is important to see the impact you are having on potential franchisees.
What feeling do attendees walk away with?
• When potential franchisees leave a discovery day, are they filled with excitement that translates to word-of-mouth marketing for your brand?
• Add components to your discovery day that will leave a lasting impression with the potential franchisee. Word-ofmouth is an extremely beneficial and free way to market your brand, so take advantage of the opportunity by providing potential franchisees with memories that will last. They may tell their friends to inquire.
What can my discovery day promise franchisees that no other brand can offer?
• Since every franchise holds a discovery day, how can it distinguish itself from its competitors? What does the brand have that competitors don’t? If your team can’t define the special qualities of your discovery day, then it is time to reevaluate the impact the franchise organization is having on a potential franchisee.
These six questions can raise some red flags. To help candidates connect with your brand, put your own personal touches on discovery day. In the end, it will help the franchise and prospect make better decisions about each other. Overall, clearly conveying your brand to potential franchisees will help them share in your passion for the business.
Brian Curin is the president and co-founder of Flip Flop Shops Franchise Company, North America’s first retail chain exclusive to the latest styles of flip flops and sandals. He has an extensive background in franchising and can be reached at