Discovery Days are important for both the franchisor and would-be franchisees. For the franchisor, it’s an opportunity to put their best foot forward and hook a qualified lead into their franchise system. For the potential franchisee, it’s a key opportunity to ask the corporate team critical questions and get a feel for the most important aspects of the business beyond the numbers. This might feel like a lot of pressure for one meeting, but don’t panic — we’ve gone beyond the basics and put together a list of questions you shouldn’t leave your Discovery Day without asking.
1. What differentiates you from your competitors, and how do you plan to maintain an edge in shared markets?
Most — if not all — franchise concepts exist within a segment that has some competition. Whether it be a particular segment within the restaurant industry, the home improvement category, or any of the other dozens of potential franchise markets, the franchise system you’re interested in joining is bound to have competitors. Before you sign on, you want to know exactly how they’re differentiating themselves in what may be a crowded market, and how they plan to continue to stand out going forward — especially if you know there are competitors in your desired market.
2. Where do you see the franchise five years from now? Do you have any major expected changes in the pipeline?
Ideally, investing in a franchise will be a long-lasting, successful commitment for you — but just because you love the way the franchise concept is operating now doesn’t mean you’ll love it in five years. This is why it’s key that you inquire about any expected changes to the brand or philosophy at your Discovery Day. If you’re listening to the anticipated direction of the company and not feeling in sync, you can explore other opportunities rather than get locked in with a concept that may not be a fit in the next few years. We’ve found that established concepts — having ten years or more in the industry — are most likely to stay true to their brand vision and values down the line.
3. How do you support your franchisees?
Asking this question will give you a clear idea of what your life will be like as a franchisee. Every brand has different levels of corporate support; some have robust training programs and assist with site selection, opening day, ongoing marketing, and more. Others might be much more hands off. Go into your Discovery Day meeting knowing what level of support you’re looking for, and make sure you ask for specifics if something seems vague or doesn’t feel right.
4. Are there any existing franchisees I can speak with about this opportunity?
This question might be simple, but we believe it’s one of the most important things you can ask a franchisor. Franchisors are always going to use Discovery Day as an opportunity to show off the very best aspects of their brand. Franchisees, on the other hand, can provide you a more realistic look into a day in the life of a franchisee. They’ll be able to share more about their schedule, flexibility (or lack thereof), corporate support and more from a less biased viewpoint.
If you have a Discovery Day on your calendar, make sure you’re armed with knowledge and as many questions as you need to create a complete picture of the brand. While numbers are important, these supplemental questions can help fill in some crucial gaps as you work toward making a decision.