Discovery Day 2020 – Live or Remote

By Mark Laughlin, Senior Consultant with The You Network

I knew the franchisors would latch on to this once it got fully rolled it out.  Franchisors were backed into a corner this past March so remote became the ONLY option.  Some companies have converted a great deal of their training material into “how to videos.”  Both options will save the franchisor & staff a great deal of time & money.

Let us look at how things were back in January!

Most franchisors have at least one physical Discover Day per month (The exception might be December).

Some are just for you-no other visitors and others could have 5 or 6 other potential franchisees (I always preferred the later.  More interaction with a variety of folks).

I always hated it when folks came to a Discovery Day too early in the process. I experienced this as a potential franchisee & on the franchisors side of the table. They asked a lot of foolish & rhetorical questions because of lack of knowledge.  It was an egregious waste of everyone’s time.

So, before you go heading out to a Discovery Day, before you are ready get the following items done:

  • Have read through the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) & have most of your questions answered.
  • You have made ALL your validation calls & through that exercise you were able to put together your pro forma.
  • You are in the final stages on negotiating territory if that is an option.
  • You know how you are going to fund the project & perhaps you went through a pre-approval process.
  • Have a real good idea how this business is going to be marketed, by who & using what venues.

If you have all that done & can figure out “who” is going to watch the kids, grandma, or the pets it is time to go.

If you are married or have a significant other that lives with you, they also need to come. Even if they are not going to be involved in the day-to-day running of the business, they are going to be incredibly involved just by living with you.  I see many significant others get involved in the Quick Books part of the business. You need to have their blessing to move forward. Firsthand news better than secondhand news.

People will always ask me what is the dress attire for the day?  In 95% of the cases it would be business casual. A suit too much. Shorts & Sandals too little.

I always liked coming to a Discovery Day, the afternoon before and having dinner with the franchisors staff & other prospects.  This “icebreaker” of a meeting & socialization is just that an “icebreaker.” If you have several “burning questions” left, get them out on the table now.

This is also a good time for you to evaluate the other prospective franchisees.  I would ask my myself the question, “Do I think any of these folks have any special qualities that I don’t have? Are their demographics better than mine? The answer was usually no & no.

Next morning off to breakfast & then a day of business meetings. The franchisors usually time them to end between 3 and 5 so folks can fly home that night.

All through that day I got to see most of the key staff face-to -face.  I was evaluating how they handled objections & did they answer the tough questions.  I am looking for sighs, eye shifts, general body language. Did I trust these folks?

I always knew when my plane landed back home if I was moving forward with that franchise.  I did not need to make more phone calls or convince my inner circle of family & friends this was the brand for me.

Look at all that you would be missing if Discovery Day was a Zoom meeting. Now look at how easy we make everyone’s job at the franchisors home office:

  • No one must be picked up or dropped off at the airport.
  • No hotel reservations to make.
  • No dinner the night before.
  • No breakfast or lunch the day of.
  • No presentations to do live.
  • Three less meals & a lot more time for franchisor employees. A lot less money.
  • Lack of bonding & trust established.

Because of the time and expense, my guess is a lot of these franchise companies will try and stay virtual.  Before Covid-19 less than 5% of the Discovery Days were done virtual.

Some have now started offering both options.

That Zoom Call is efficient for YOU time wise.  5-6 hours with you & your significant other in front of the screen and you are done.  No airports or driving or flying out 3 time zones away. No child or pet sitting.

I think many of the young sales executives will be herding people to Virtual Discovery Days before their ready. Why?  Because it will be easy to do. I am seeing it already & have been for several years.   

I still like the value the face-to-face sessions have to offer.  At least they did for me. I would always find interesting things out from the other attendees just like me. Perhaps a great question I WOULD NOT HAVE ASKED. We would also find folks that worked for the franchise corporate that were very user-friendly. Their warmth & personality would come out at that “live” meeting. These were folks I felt comfortable interacting with.

Many franchise companies will want you to give the a yes or no answer in 2 weeks. Others will not. Make sure those 5 bullet points (we listed earlier) are all checked off before you commit.  Better day for you & for them. Higher level questions. Make sure this is your last stop on your “due diligence” journey.

Since the first of the year there have been multiple Discovery Days with folks, I was working with not scheduled because of Covid-19, uncertainty & the assumption you are ready to decide in 2 weeks. I have heard on 3 occasions that “other parties” from around the same area are coming to these virtual Discovery Day. As of today, all those territories are still open.

Alternate Path-If your schedule is not going to allow you to fly out for a Discovery Day, how about spending a day shadowing a successful franchisee (someone close).  We have one brand that does this in lieu of a fly in day.

Nothing better than what a day in the life looks like.  Why not if it can be set up?

Live or Virtual?