Examining Icebergs: Discovery Day At The Professional Services Franchise

A Discovery Day is an activity whereby the franchise company gives a potential franchisee an opportunity to meet face to face at the franchisor’s main headquarters. It can serve as a final assessment by the franchisor to determine if the potential candidate is “worthy” of being a franchisee. It is also a chance for the franchise candidate to visit the franchise headquarters and meet the people who will be supporting them should they franchise.

In addition, Discovery Day gives the prospective franchisee an opportunity to see the franchise operation in action, often at a corporate-owned operation. For most franchises, this allows the potential candidate to gain an understanding of the inner workings of the business, interact with customers and maybe make a sandwich (or a sign or whatever). In short, they will get a first hand view of what it is like to operate the franchise.

The site visit aspect of Discovery Day at professional services franchise, however, is an entirely different thing. These franchise opportunities include sales consultants, business coaching, and contract CFO’s (just to name a few).

Whether the opportunity is part-time or full-time, low cost or on the high end, it is difficult to fully appreciate what it is like to operate one these white collar business opportunities. In a sense, these business services franchises are much like icebergs.

Icebergs are those massive floating structures of ice that have splintered off from glaciers. The interesting thing about these massive, floating structures of ice is that 90% lies unseen below the water.

These white collar franchises are much the same. It is very difficult to get a complete view of the opportunity by simply attending a Discovery Day site visit. This is so because much of what makes these businesses successful goes unnoticed.

There is time spent networking through contacts and at the business “after hours.” Then, there is the follow-up with hand written notes and volleys of e-mails. Not to mention the countless hours spend trolling social media for just one more opportunity.

All of these activities are vital to success in the professional service franchise business. None of this, however, is easy (or terribly interesting) to observe. But that is reality. So much of surrounding these white collar opportunities involves marketing, networking and sales. The actual, technical nuts-n-bolts of the business, like the exposed portion of an iceberg, is very small in comparison.

None of this is meant to suggest that if you have an interest in professional services franchise you should pass on the site visit portion of Discovery Day. Include it on the schedule. When you do, however, come prepared with lots of questions intended to give you an understanding as to how the entire business work (and not just the sexy training, consulting or coaching portion).

To this end, there is a litany of potential questions (which will certainly vary depending on the opportunity).

  • Ask how much time does the average franchisee spend on social media?
  • Which of these platforms does the franchisor recommend you use and how?
  •  Could the franchisor share examples of social media campaigns?
  • What are networking events that franchisees find most useful?
  • Who are key centers of influences for franchisee?
  • What organizations do you recommend franchisees get involved with?

Understand that there is no guarantee that a franchisor will answer all of these questions. Some of them the franchisor may deem as treading too close to what they consider proprietary or part of the franchise value. Do not let this deter you. Politely ask for what you believe is important and graciously accept the answers you get (even if it is not something they are willing to address).

Remember, Discovery Day is about getting a better idea as to what being a franchisee is like and the site visit is generally an important aspect of that. If the franchise is one involving professional services, you have an added challenge. Nevertheless, prepare yourself and do all you can to catch a glimpse of that “ice below the surface.”