How to run a discovery day

Inside Franchise Business: John O'Brien, PoolwerxWhen and how should you organise a day for your potential franchisees to learn more about your business model?

John O’Brien, CEO and founder of Poolwerx Corporation reveals the approach this award-winning franchise chain takes and what discovery at the deep end looks like…

Discovery Days at Poolwerx come early in the buying process:

  1. Initial contact and mutual expressions of interest
  2. Detailed application
  3. Discovery

This is partly a matter of maintaining momentum but also recognition that people put a lot of time and emotional energy into these applications. To that end, we hostgroup Discovery Days monthly and there can be up to five applicant couples involved in each.

Why do we take this approach?

Group discovery days

Some people question whether hosting groups is a little impersonal and potentially distracting. We find the opposite. Of course there are one-on-one sessions, but the overall group setting helps participants relax and they often pick up on each other’s questions

Working with potential couples as franchise buyers

If applicants are in a relationship we insist that both attend. If we sense that one person has greater hesitation than the other we explore this, because it’s essential that they’re equally committed – in fact the majority of our most successful businesses are managed by life-partner teams.

Hesitation isn’t necessarily a negative – we focus on and endeavour to address whatever concerns that person might have

Prospective franchisees are our guests

Our applicants are treated as guests. Our senior team members pick them up at the airport, take them to their hotel and ferry them to and fro, personally. No taxis. We take great pains to attend to their comfort and wellbeing in every way.

Participants fly (or drive) in the evening beforehand and meet our team at a round-table, getting-to-know-you dinner.

What’s included in a discovery day?

Next day starts with a Q&A followed by a step-by-step introduction to the key elements of our franchise disclosure document. After that a round robin of introductions to our support team and presentations from marketing, our training and educational academy, business development, and field support teams.

These sessions also are attended by a representative from one of our preferred lenders i.e. ANZ or Westpac.

During the afternoon, the group splits up and in turn, individual couples make a formal presentation to our senior management team – why they have chosen Poolwerx and their plans and expectations for the next three to five years.

At the same time, the other couples have any specific areas of interest or concern addressed in tailored one-on-ones with relevant executives. For example, they might want more detail on finance and risk, or resources and requirements associated with their local area marketing plan.

Why these franchise discovery days work

It’s an intensive day-and-a-half but our aim, by conclusion, is to have presented a full and accurate picture of our business and brand, and to have gained a solid appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of our applicants.

It’s also expensive to stage. We pay applicants’ airfares, accommodation and other costs and there is a lot of senior time involved. But it’s a crucial investment in ensuring we have the basis of a mutually stable and profitable franchise partnership.

Either the applicant or we choose not to proceed 20 per cent of the time but 80 per cent is well above the industry mean, testament both to our initial screening procedures and the quality of applicants choosing to partner with Poolwerx.