How Franchisors Can Successfully Host Discovery Days Online For Franchisees

Closer upshot of Starbucks cup on outdoor patio, zoomed into beauty shot of the logo a proprietary cup designIn the not so distant past, franchisor discovery days were commonly held in person, especially in the service and hospitality industries. Facility tours, meet and greets and more were all done face-to-face and sealed with a handshake.

Nowadays, franchisors have had to become more creative and franchisees, more flexible. By way of video conferencing, both parties can get what they want with a safe and informative virtual discovery day that creates connections.

The purpose of a discovery day can be further broken down into 4 key points:

  1. Candidates are given the opportunity to see and learn firsthand about the franchise.
  2. Franchisors can get a better sense of the candidate’s level of commitment (showing up) and by getting to know them personally.
  3. Franchisors can receive instant feedback from upper levels about their initial thoughts regarding prospects.
  4. Franchisors can create a great impression by hosting and leading a well-planned and organized event.

With open doors and minds, prospects are invited to visit the head office or headquarters, meet the CEO or other key figures, chat with support staff, learn about technology and processes and meet other hopeful franchisees looking to buy in.

This is a critical step for franchisors as these franchisee prospects have proven so far they want to make the leap by demonstrating their financial, emotional, and business acumen. They wouldn’t be at the discovery day unless they were dead serious!

Leading the discovery day with purpose, a desire to make an impact, and shine a light on potential income for both sides of the coin will stand everyone in good stead.

Implementing a video chat platform to facilitate a virtual discovery day is the way of the future especially amidst a global pandemic. Virtual tools make the transition online easy and increasingly more common. Integrating the virtual process affords a more streamlined approach to discovery days.

Here are a few benefits of making the transition online:

  • Smaller, More Intimate Groups
    Before going virtual, typical discovery days for larger franchises could cater to multiple groups of 20+ people. With video conferencing tools, now franchisees and management can get down to brass tacks with smaller, more intimate groups that invite in-depth, one-on-one conversations.

Furthermore, with the advent of going online, the reach is far broader, meaning the audience comprises a larger more diverse set of people. This makes it easier to appeal to more serious prospects while potentially expanding your network.

  • Less Financial Commitment
    If franchisors are connecting well with prospects, they will usually feel the need to woo them. The whole point of a discovery day is to provide value outside of just answering questions in an email or by phone. Meeting in person and putting in that something extra costs money.Enter video conferencing tools that allow you to put your best face forward in a way that still allows you to present and pitch, but removes some of the additional expenses like wining and dining, accommodation, franchisee travel, etc.Conversely, if a franchisor feels it’s important to meet in person, virtual discovery days done with video conferencing help create a shortlist, drilling down to the most promising prospects. This is where a “hybrid discovery day” could be a viable solution towards the end of the consumer journey to close the deal.
  • Franchisees Can Be Made Aware Of All Their Options
    Video conferencing tools for virtual discovery days provide franchisees more flexibility and better accessibility. If a prospect overseas has a full workload or family, a virtual discovery day can be designed to function around their schedule. Flexibility, especially in the consideration phase, is appealing for potential candidates, providing them the advantage of comparing multiple brands and weeding out the not-so-serious candidates.
  • Better Handle On Digital Process
    By fully embracing video conferencing, the digital tools that come with it plus additional features that work to provide a fully-fledged experience online, both franchisors and prospects will gain confidence and acuity navigating in an online environment. You’ll be able to see how the role of digital practices play out in the “new normal.”
  • Immediate Feedback
    By way of a virtual discovery day, and with smaller groups, candidates have direct access to decision-makers and upper-level management. They can open up discussions and get answers to complex questions on the spot. Business plans, finances, and other important items can be up for discussion and picked apart in real-time.Conversely, middle management, too, now has a direct line of communication to their superiors who can weigh in on prospects. Both can share and discuss details with video conferencing for faster results instead of solely relying on emails.

Young woman in art studio in front of open laptop holding and engaging with her mobile device in her hand and close to her faceA virtual discovery day presents a multitude of logistical advantages previously unavailable in real-world situations. By bringing this in-person practice into a digital space, franchisors can expect to reach a broader audience, cut down costs, and drill down to more serious prospects.

Franchisees can be made aware of the inner workings of the business, still go on tours, and connect with C-level executives.

8 Ways To Make The Most Out Of Your Virtual Discovery Day

Set up your virtual discovery day for success by implementing the following tips and tricks to pull off a memorable event that turns prospects into reliable connections.

  • Serious Inquiries Only
    Save everyone’s time by conducting an in-depth pre-check on the basic qualifications to successfully own a franchise. A detailed application that questions a candidate’s potential in various spheres will save you money and time in the long run. A good rule of thumb is to conduct the discovery day within 10 days of a prospect making their final decision.

Here are a few questions franchisors should be asking:

  • What are your financial and personal goals and how do they align with the company?
  • Do you have previous experience with a franchise?
  • Why are you choosing this business/industry/sector? Do you have experience and what is the draw for you?
  • What are your expectations when it comes to the first 5 years of running the business? Working hours? Skillsets? Finances? Building a customer base?
  • What is your support system like? How do they feel about this?
  • In what ways are you planning to finance your franchise in the startup years
  • How much of an ROI do you plan to make in the first year of operation?
  • Why did you choose our brand?
  • Why do you think we will work well together? What values and core beliefs do we share?
  • Do you have an exit strategy? And what is it?

These questions will help shape the virtual discovery day. You’ll gain better insight into the level of candidates you’re attracting and you can help shape the event’s activities, topics of discussion, lectures, key speakers, etc.

  • Carve Out The Time
    Depending on the size of your organization and the interest of franchisees, a virtual discovery day requires blocked out time. It could be a couple of hours or occupy the majority of the day. Variations will depend on the franchisor but depending on where you are on the consumer journey, determining the structure and size (one-on-one or groups) will affect the scheduled time needed to convene, plus the time needed from key individuals.
  • Bring in Key Leaders
    With video conferencing technology, important individuals can show up and weigh in on the process. Their availability is paramount to the success of the discovery day so getting them on board in advance with FAQs, interviews, lectures and any other important operations will build authority and trust. Try to keep each meeting around the half-hour mark.
  • Be Discerning Of Prospects
    Just as much as prospects are judging you and your brand, you will be doing the same in return. Shortlisted candidates have a brief window to make a good impression. With video conferencing technology, body language and nuances are captured to help gain a more accurate “snapshot” as to how these candidates are able to present themselves and carry a conversation. Consider the way your questions are received and answered. How present are they? What are their gesticulations, posture and projection like? All of this and more comes through a video chat and helps to create a profile of the prospect up for consideration.
  • Approach It Like An Interaction
    Keep franchisee prospects engaged by using video conferencing features that promote collaboration and two-way dialogue. A presentation has its benefits but adding in elements of gamification, education, and interaction will foster a more dynamic experience. Include some icebreakers, getting-to-know-you activities, and storytelling for better engagement.
  • Leave Some Stones Left Unturned Prior To The Event
    Answering everything in an email or on the phone might make your virtual discovery day a little dry and redundant. Be sure to add value, just like an in-person event would. A few surprises, interactions, and extra content can go a long way to creating a positive experience.
  • Design A Hybrid Virtual Discovery Day
    With video conferencing doing a good portion of the communication heavy lifting, consider at which point you might want to incorporate an in-person element – if at all. Closer to the end, you might want to “wine and dine.” At some point, prior to signing, it’s important to have that in-person interaction as a way to establish trust, camaraderie, and ultimately, forge sustainable growth.
  • Drill Home Your Story
    Lay a strong foundation by really building up and instilling the integrity of the company by presenting its entire story. Every brand has a story, from concept to creation, and by digging deep to bring it to your prospects, you’re passing on the torch. Include anecdotes, history, creation, and inspiration. Most importantly, impart the brand’s values and core beliefs in a way that is emotional and relatable.

Is A Virtual Discovery Day As Good As Being In-Person?

View of 5 people in midconversation, engaged in an online meeting with open laptop in front of them at officeJust because the method of delivering a discovery day has shifted, it doesn’t mean it can’t be as effective as a real-life event. As long as you’re engaging prospects, you can still connect virtually in a meaningful way.

Think in terms of strategy, content and logistics.

When it comes to strategizing a virtual discovery day, it will likely take on many of the same aspects like expediting the sales process, meeting and greeting opportunities, etc. One key difference is the lack of organic moments that spring up. Virtual events have to be a little more deliberate in nature which is why buffers and time blocks for extra online meetings and opportunities to connect should be a part of the strategy.

Content that resonates in-person will have to be adapted to suit an online audience. While key speakers are important and required, keep in mind that it’s a little more challenging to tolerate when the speaker isn’t in the same physical vicinity as the audience. This might mean shorter lectures, abbreviated messaging and more breaks in between exchanges.

Selecting video conferencing software that’s easy and effective is part of the logistical maneuvering required to enhance the event. Ahead of the virtual discovery day, it’s worth checking through the features and testing out the technology.

A platform that comes loaded with collaboration-centric features such as video, recording, an online whiteboard, and screen sharing, will add to the engagement levels and give you a better idea of how to structure the core content of your event. Determine how many participants will be involved; what are the moderator controls like; what features are must-haves, etc, before jumping in.

With Callbridge’s sophisticated two-way video conferencing platform, you can give franchisees a broader picture of what your brand stands for. Let the zero-download, browser-based,
easy-to-use, and intuitive technology be the solid connection between you and the growth of your franchise. Use the wide range of features to spike engagement and elicit collaboration in a virtual setting that is the next best thing to meeting in person.