Top 10 American Franchises

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Proof Positive! Engagement Sells Franchises


What is the one activity that every potential buyer of your franchise is absolutely certain to do before making the decision to buy? 


They will contact your current owners to ask how satisfied and successful they have been with owning your franchise.


What is the one activity that every potential buyer of your franchise is absolutely certain to do before making the decision to buy? 


They will contact your current owners to ask how satisfied and successful they have been with owning your franchise.


But what will your current franchise owners say? Will they say, “Buy this franchise, it is the smartest decision I have ever made” or, “Don’t buy this franchise, it was a terrible mistake.” If your current owners praise your franchise and explain how successful they have been, that positive feedback (referred to as “validation”) is something you absolutely need if you are going to sell more of your franchises. But how are you going to get it? 


Research shows that the average potential franchise buyer will call between four and seven current owners before deciding to buy a franchise. And if you have a broad-swath situation where 20% or 30% of your franchisees wouldn’t recommend you, the likelihood is high that a potential buyer will contact one of those dissatisfied owners. And if they do, the odds of selling your franchise will fall dramatically. 


Engagement Is the Key to Getting Positive Validation


In a massive project conducted with Franchise Business Review, we surveyed more than 30,000 franchisees about the role that engagement plays in determining how likely they are to give positive validation to potential buyers of their franchise. 


We built questions into the survey to determine how engaged the respondents were. We then took a close look at the top quartile of the most engaged owners and compared them to the bottom quartile (the least engaged). And the results were stunning. 


We found that 97% of owners in the top quartile (the most engaged franchisees), would strongly recommend the franchise to another person. Conversely, only 8% of people in the bottom quartile would recommend the franchise. 


The survey also found that 81.5% of franchise owners in the top quartile described themselves as achieving a strong financial benefit from ownership, as compared to only 4.1% in the bottom quartile. I think we all know that profitability is one of the things that people generally use as a barometer of whether they are successful or not. So it follows that if you have franchisees who are making more money, you are going to have a better Item 19. And we know that the stronger the Item 19 on your Franchise Disclosure Document, the more likely it is that potential owners of your franchise will want to buy. 


Five Proven Ways to Build Engagement in Your Current Franchise Owners


Here are five proven, powerful practices that will increase the levels of engagement among your franchisees.


Engagement Strategy One: Create regional networking groups where all your franchisees are active. Regional networking groups are quite simple. You simply break your franchise system into regions. Owners from those regions can meet monthly or quarterly to network, connect and discuss business issues. These groups offer a surprisingly effective way to build engagement. 


Engagement Strategy Two: Establish advisory councils. This can be a council of leading franchise owners who meet and make recommendations to the franchise leadership. If you’re a bigger franchise with a lot of owners, you can add more advisory councils. You can have a training council, a marketing council, a communications council, a technology council, and others. The more actively you get franchisees involved, the more people will become deeply engaged in the franchise.


Engagement Strategy Three: Make sure a large number of owners attend your annual convention or conference, whether it is online or in person. This is one of the most important activities of all. If people attend, they will be much more engaged and much more connected to your franchise – and it’s going to be a personal connection.


Engagement Strategy Four: Survey your franchisees frequently. Ask about how well your training, marketing and technology are working. Ask about everything! And surveying owners only once a year is not enough. If you have an upcoming conference for your franchise, for example, ask your owners to suggest what should happen at it. What are the key topics you should talk about? Get them involved and watch engagement soar.


Engagement Strategy Five: Have a great mindset. If you truly believe that your franchise has something important to contribute to the world, that attitude will show, and it will engage people. You can’t fake this. When you really have that mindset, it is a difference-maker.


In Summary . . . 


Why make it hard to sell your franchises? If you have great validation from current owners, a better Item 19 and other strong indicators, people are going to want to buy. 


To encourage that to happen, simply engage your franchisees by involving them, listening to them and using some of the proven strategies I have described in this article. What’s very good for business is also good for selling more franchises. The two goals go hand in hand!

Evan Hackel is a 35-year franchising veteran as both a franchisor and franchisee. He is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company, and principal of Ingage Consulting. He is a speaker, hosts “Training Unleashed,” a podcast covering training for business, and author of Ingaging Leadership. To hire Evan as a speaker, visit Follow @ehackel or call 781-820-7609. Why not have Evan Hackel address your group about franchising success?