Buying a franchise is an intense decision-making process so it is important that as a franchisor you understand this process to help you convert as many leads as possible says Sarah Carlile, Founder of Coconut Creatives.

It takes an individual, on average, around three to six months to decide whether or not to buy a particular franchise. The decision-making process is long and is not based on prospects having read just one magazine article, attended one exhibition or visited your website for a quick browse.

Prospective franchisees embark on a journey that will probably involve a combination of all those things and more so it is important to understand their journey so that you can provide the right communication at the right time. This way, you can ensure that you stay ahead of the competition by successfully converting some of your leads into franchisees.

What is involved in the decision-making process?

It is often useful to regard your prospects as consumers who are looking to buy a product, in this case they are looking to buy your franchise. Doing this will make it easier to analyse your prospects’ decision-making process.

According to the Business Directory, the consumer decision-making process can be defined as the process by which consumers:

  1. Identify their needs
  2. Collect information
  3. Evaluate alternatives
  4. Make the purchase decision.

Each of these sections of the process will be different depending on your target audience. The decision-making process can be influenced by psychological, economic and environmental factors, such as culture, group and social values as well as how the individual feels at the time. To understand the factors affecting your target audience, I recommend that you research your existing franchisees and their decision-making processes, allowing you to find out which communications affected their decisions.

A franchise is at the high-involvement end of the consumer decision-making process because a large amount of money is being invested and the individual commits to a minimum five year relationship with the franchisor so it is important to them to make sure they’re making the right decision. Investing in a franchise involves taking a leap of faith and trusting that what they have seen and what they have been told by the franchisor will actually work for them.

In many cases it is not just the decision of the individual but it also involves the opinions of their support network which usually consists of their close friends and family.

There is a lot for your potential franchisee to consider and so the stage they are at in the process when you receive their initial enquiry will determine how long they take to make a decision to join your network, what type of questions they ask you and, indeed if, they decide to rule you out and move on. Throughout this process the individual will be seeking counsel with their family and friends and taking on board other people’s opinions. Buying a franchise is a more emotional decision than taking a job as an employee as the individual is investing a large amount of money. They need to trust you to help them build their business, so building rapport from day one is vital in helping them towards making their final decision. It is also important to set the ground rules of operating your franchise at the outset, so that you and your franchisees know what is expected of the other in order to achieve success.

Want to out more about understanding the journey of prospective franchisees? Contact us, we’re happy to share our expertise!