Three things a franchisor looks for in a potential franchisee

Nicky Tatley asks three franchisors from different business sectors how they choose their franchisees

So you’re thinking about investing in a franchise and you’ve found one you like the look of – but how are you going to convince the franchisor that you are the right person for the job?

The franchise industry is growing rapidly and there are many sectors to choose from. Whereas many years ago franchising was mainly the territory of fast food joints, aspiring franchisees can now take on a franchise in anything from alloy wheel refurbishment to dog-walking.

It’s an attractive business model, with considerably less risk than a regular start-up, so there will be competition for franchises in a successful network.

Franchisors will be looking for certain things when you make your initial application or enquiry – so how can you make yourself stand out from the crowd?

We spoke to some successful franchisors and asked them what criteria they have on their checklists:

Finance in place

First things first: this is a business after all. Any franchise applicant who stands a chance will have to demonstrate that they have the funds in place to a) invest in the franchise and b) maintain it in its infancy. Stuart White, Director of Sanondaf UK says,

‘Applicants must be financially qualified as they need to pay a franchise fee and have working capital to allow the new business to launch and successfully market itself. They should also have an understanding of the market they are looking to get in to and demonstrate they have researched this and have realistic expectations for their new business.’

A franchisor will need evidence to show that an applicant has sufficient funds and that they will not be putting themselves, or the wider business under any pressure.


Whilst the financial attributes of a candidate are fairly easy to decipher, it’s much harder to work out if that individual will really work well within a franchised business.

Mark Witter, Partner at one of the UK’s most unique franchises, Window to the Womb, agrees:

‘The financial criteria are very easy to assess and check so the key element of a franchisee selection process is the empathy and connection to the business model. Without this the individual is very likely not to enjoy delivering the actual business on a day to day basis and this will undoubtedly reflect in the overall satisfaction level and also the commitment to making the business a success.’

If the franchise in question, such as Progressive Sports, requires certain ‘people skills’ and a desire to promote fitness, then it makes sense that couch potatoes might not do well in the job,

‘Franchisees need to have a passion for sport and a gift to inspire children, engage schools and communities we serve. They also need to understand how business works to run a franchise successful but don't necessarily require direct experience of our market,’ says Shaun Rashid, Franchise Manager at Progressive Sports.

Witter claims that whilst some degree of business experience is preferable, a franchise, with its support mechanisms and training, should be able to accommodate someone who has never run a business before. A far more important factor, he says, is a real passion for the business sector and an understanding of the franchise model: its benefits – but also the compromises involved,

‘What stands out when we receive an application and even more so when we have the initial meeting is the empathy, interest and genuine enthusiasm in not only our particular business but also the wider sector. There is no one single profile for the ‘perfect franchisee’ however there are very clearly individuals who would simply not thrive within a franchise. Often, these are individuals that could not handle the ‘limitations’ in terms of territories, branding or business model.’

Whatever the franchise is selling – be that 4D scans and photos for expectant families, after-school football classes or in Stuart White’s case, touch-less disinfection, a prospective franchisee must be prepared to follow the company line as well as actively promote it,

‘Franchising has always been about following a system that exists already and works in a certain way, the biggest mistake I see new franchisees making is becoming distracted and believing they can go out and create a whole new market or do it completely differently. Some new franchisees also believe that once they have bought a franchise then that is it, everything will come automatically and customers will simply queue up to use that new business without any input or marketing from the new franchisee,’ says White.

Applicants must demonstrate, above all, that they are inspired by the product as well as being fully prepared to join a franchise family. Those place more value own their own freedom in terms of business practices, aesthetics and customer reach, need not apply!

A ‘connection’

A little more subtle, but nonetheless important, is the promise of a mutually amicable relationship. If a franchisor has a sense that this is likely, from initial contact, then they are far more likely to offer an opportunity.

The franchisor/franchisee relationship is a sensitive one – each ‘partner’ is in it for the long-haul and must be responsive to the other’s needs at all times.

If there is no ‘rapport’ or shared vision then the union is unlikely to work.

As Window to the Womb is such an unusual and attractive business concept with a wealth of un-tapped territories, Mark Witter has a lot of enquiries but is scrupulous in his hiring,

‘We have turned down many, many more applications than we have progressed and any franchisor should be very prepared to say ‘no’; franchising is a marriage of sorts; all concerned should ensure that they have made a very informed decision about their future partner or unhappy times and divorce are inevitable.’

Stuart White also advocates spending a little time with existing franchise members in order to see if a ‘fit’ can be made,

‘You should take the time to meet the franchise team and establish that you are joining a system that you will enjoy working in with like-minded people.’

Shaun at Progressive Sports agrees that personality is very important,

‘Our business requires friendly, personable characters who can make a real difference and raise standards in what we do.’

He also suggests that attending ‘Discovery Days’ – whole day events where potential franchisees can really get to know a franchise network – are a great way to kick off the application process,

‘They are a really good opportunity for applicants to sell themselves and meet those working hard behind the scenes in finding the perfect partner. It's two-way process, we have to be happy with them and likewise, they have to be absolutely happy with the brand and everything else contained within.’

And Witter sums it up, when he says that meeting a potential franchisee involves far more than a standard job application,

‘The initial meeting should not be compared to a job interview in any way. Jobs can be changed; a franchise relationship is one for the medium/long term and decisions should be made accordingly.’

It seems that franchise applications require serious thought and analysis from both the franchisor as well as the prospective franchise owner – and both should be well prepared if a happy match is to be made.


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Nicky Tatley

About the author

Nicky contributes articles to all titles in the Dynamis stable, primarily, and and is a regular contributor to other business publications including Talk Business, and NuWire Investor.