How one franchisor initiative is easing franchisee recruitment

Inside Franchise Business: Quest has unveiled an Accelerator program to help staff become franchiseesQuest Apartment Hotels has just launched its Accelerator program to help head office staff or franchisee employees to step up and invest in their own franchise business.

In-house applicants are assessed on their submissions and successful applicants then evaluated for their development and training needs and given 12 month training programs which includes time at the Quest Academy.

On successful completion of the program, the potential franchisees then start the franchise application process. They may get some form of financial support (a discounted or waived franchise fee, or vendor lending for instance) before Quest matches them to a franchise partner.

Quest CEO Zed Sanjana says that a unique approach to franchise growth gives ample opportunity for incoming franchisees to get a foot in the market by partnering with senior franchisees.

Multi-unit growth is only permitted through a joint venture set-up, so senior franchisees who want to expand beyond their original business are only allowed to own up to 80 or 90 per cent of any additional properties, requiring them to partner with junior franchisees who can own 10 to 50 per cent.

“This is a win win for the franchisees. It incentivises their own talent in the business and gives them an appetite for growth.”

How the franchisees will structure their business and exit plan is up to them, depending on their own investment and aspirations. Some will opt for continual buy-in for the junior franchisee, others will work on a five year plan to sell and cash in the investment, or for the junior franchisee to buy out the senior partner.

The business has always encouraged internal applicants, says Sanjana. Nine intakes this year have come from corporate roles or have been employees at various properties.

In fact, staff members who have gone on to invest in the brand as franchisees now make up one third of the franchise network. Sanjana wants it to be 50 per cent in time.

“They understand the brand and the business, what works and what doesn’t,” he says.

“We find the best franchisees have energy and enthusiasm, but not necessarily capital. But they are committed to building wealth.

“The Accelerator program is providing a structure to what we’re already doing. It’s something to aspire to.”

This approach has always been part of the company’s DNA, says Sanjana. Founder Paul Constantinou encouraged young, under-capitalised couples to part invest in properties with the brand, then buy-out the franchisor.

Sanjana sees the new initiative builds on the enthusiasm and knowledge of Quest staff while following the tradition of supporting franchisees without the necessary capital to invest.