What happens when you’re a franchisee, and realize your sales system isn’t as dialed in as expected? This is something Violet Rainwater, sales strategist and founder of Rainmaker Way, hears all the time. In this week’s episode of the Franchise Rising Podcast, Violet shares the questions to ask before buying a franchise to ensure you’re comfortable with their sales processes, as well as steps you can take if you’re already a franchise owner without a strong sales system.
Questions to Ask Before Buying a Franchise
One of Violet’s clients was a franchisee who owned a very well known yoga studio. She was thrilled with the instant brand recognition her studio had from the moment it opened, as well as the excellent marketing materials she was provided with from the get go.
But, things weren’t going as well as she hoped despite these great supports. She needed to have at least 250 members at her studio to even break even financially, but membership had stagnated at 150. Potential clients would come in to take advantage of the free week of yoga classes offered, but then not return. Why weren’t they converting into clients? What was she doing wrong?
She hired Violet to help drive sales, and it didn’t take long for Violet to figure out what was wrong – she didn’t have a sales system. There was no process in place from the franchisor, so the franchisee had to figure it out on her own.
The franchisee was shocked. The brand’s marketing and branding was so dialed in, she figured everything else would be in place. She hadn’t even thought about asking about sales processes throughout the buying process, and realized she’d missed a major opportunity to learn about the business.
Violet says it’s essential to have an idea of the sales process before you buy a franchise. You can do this by asking questions throughout the sales process, especially during validation.
Here are some questions she recommends asking the franchisor or whoever is handling your sales process:
- What is your overarching sales strategy?
- Do you run any seasonal sales campaigns, like a summer special?
- Are there sales strategies aligned with all of your marketing campaigns?
- Does the franchisor provide sales scripts?
- Does the franchisor role play sales scenarios with you?
- What CRM do franchisees use?
- How much training do you give franchisees on how to use the CRM, including running reports?
- Who is part of the sales process? Is it just the owner? Is there a sales team?
- What is the conversion process? How can we streamline it so it doesn’t take too much time?
Here are some questions she recommends asking other franchisees during validation:
- How quickly were you able to make sales?
- How often are you trained on how to upsell?
- From when you started to today, how have your sales changed? How about after 6 months? After a year?
What if the Franchise Doesn’t Have a Strong Sales System?
If you’ve asked the questions Violet outlined above, you’ll hopefully get answers that show how dialed in the franchise’s sales processes are. But, what if you find the sales system isn’t as sophisticated as you hoped it would be?
This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but is something to take under serious consideration.
If you’re somebody with an extensive sales background who’s an expert at driving business, this likely won’t be a problem for you. You just need to realize that you’ll need to spend some time on developing a system that works for your location.
On the other hand, if you’ve never sold anything, don’t know about sales, or just don’t have the interest in learning about sales, you have a lot to think about. Is this really something you’re going to want to expand the resources required to figure it out?
“The important thing,” Violet says, “is to walk in eyes open and understand where you’re going to need to spend time, resources, and money.”
Plan B: Hiring a Sales Person or Team
If sales isn’t for you and your franchise doesn’t have a really strong sales system or process in place, you may want to consider hiring sales out. If this is the route you take, hiring the right person or people is key. You may have a great product and great marketing, but if people don’t connect with your sales person, you’re missing an opportunity to convert.
How do you ensure you hire the best sales person for the job?
Start by thinking about who the person is going to be who’s talking and interacting with customers. Is this someone at the front desk? Someone going out in to the community?
Look for someone with a great attitude and mindset, which Violet believes is 90% of sales. Connection is key. Can they connect with others easily?
You can also ask your franchisor what type of person is best for a sales position within your brand. Maybe they’ll have a suggestion you haven’t considered.
Once you’ve found some candidates, the interview process begins. The most important thing to consider, Violet says, is how each makes you feel in the interview process. What’s their energy? What’s the vibe you’re getting? Chances are, whatever you’re feeling is what your customers will feel as well.
In the end, you need to trust your intuition. It’s like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. So trust yourself, see what works, and your hires will get better and better.
Creating a Sales System for Your Franchise
What if you find yourself in the same position as the yoga studio owner we mentioned earlier, who lacked a sales system and the members to make it financially? Violet helped her create a sales system that not only helped her reach her goal of 300 members, but is helping her continue to grow.
First, they created various lists of prospects.
Then, they started with the lowest hanging fruit – people who had been into the studio to try the free week, who didn’t sign up, and who were never followed up with.
They invited these people to come back, and changed up the experience. They soon realized that prospects were coming in and trying classes, but there was really no connection or engagement that made them want to continue with a full membership.
The solution? “Spending the time, strategizing, and coming up with ways to drive connection,” Violet says, “I really believe the more you can connect with your prospects, the more likely they’re going to convert and become customers.”
So, they created a new prospect experience. It was essential prospects fell in love with the studio during that week so hard that the franchisee wouldn’t need to sell at all. Instead, people would come back asking them how to become members.
Then, they started developing systems for other groups, like current members who weren’t engaged with the brand and had the potential for dropping their memberships, and brand new prospects they could bring in through various marketing campaigns.
No matter the audience, it’s essential you develop a system so you’re not trying to recreate the wheel with every single prospect.
“Sales systems and processes are there to enable sales professionals to make it rain, to tap into new income streams and revenue streams, and to really maximize the brand’s sales efforts,” Violet says. Whether you’re considering buying a franchise or already own one, she recommends you try to, “Fall in love with the sales process. Get super excited about sales. The more positive energy you can put on that aspect of your business, the more it’s going to pay off for you.”
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