While some people are more trusting than others, it’s natural, even healthy, to initially be a little careful when we meet someone new. The job of the brain is to keep us alive, so evolution has taught our brains that it’s better to be safe than sorry when going into novel situations or interacting with someone we don’t know.
If you are responsible for franchise sales, assume most franchise buyers will be somewhat wary when first dealing with you. Not only is this normal, it is probably a positive sign you are dealing with someone with sound business acumen.
So your first and most important task is to reassure them that they can let down their guard and be open with you. In other words, to trust you.
Trust has two aspects – feeling safe, and feeling confident that something is true. To build trust with another person we need to create an environment where they feel safe, and we need to provide evidence that we are who we say we are, and what we say is true.
With this in mind, here are 10 tips for building trust with franchise buyers.
1. Treat trust as something to be earned, not something you are entitled to. Assume your franchise buyer will initially be cautious in their dealings with you. Be careful that everything you say is 100 per cent true. A slight exaggeration or white lie such as the reason you are late for a meeting can undermine your credibility.
2. Show gratitude for their enquiry and practice good manners at all time. Always be respectful in what you say and how you say it, and treat them as someone who is more important than you.
3. Provide factual information to support everything you say. For instance instead of saying “We are the market leader”, say “An independent study of our market by Brunton Research concluded that our brand is the most popular among consumers.”
4. Take a genuine interest in what they want. Ask open ended questions to understand what they would like to know or get from their conversations with you. Also ask about their goals and why they want to own their own business. And let them know you are listening by paraphrasing what you hear.
5. Ensure you are well groomed and your office is clean, orderly and professional. Appearances do matter, as this is all people have to initially go on. A well-ordered environment settles the mind and enables people to relax and concentrate.
6. Be friendly, pleasant and professional at all times. This does not just apply to your dealings with the franchise buyer, but to all your dealings with others, including their family and your own team. They will be watching you carefully to assess what sort of person you are.
7. Share some relevant personal information about yourself. This may be about your family, your interests and even what sort of a day you’ve had. It helps if you can find a genuine point of connection or something you have in common with the franchise buyer. Self-disclosure is a quick and powerful way to build trust.
8. Do your homework on the person and be up to date on all aspects of the franchise. Prior to the meeting, thoroughly reading their application form and any other background information you have access to. This demonstrates you value them and are taking them seriously. And be sure you can confidently answer all the common questions that are asked about the franchise offer.
9. Give them certainty about the recruitment process. Explain how the process works and the stage they are at. Treat the recruitment process as a series of baby steps and always leave each discussion with a clear explanation of the next step. This certainty builds confidence you are taking to in a safe place.
10. Finally and most importantly, ensure your company is able to deliver on your promises. Unmet expectations are the biggest cause of later franchisee unhappiness and damage to a brand’s reputation. A healthy franchise relationship is built on trust and it all starts with the franchise recruitment process.