With a new year comes new opportunities. As we head into 2023, many restaurant brands are taking a look at their expansion plans. Of course, the first rule of franchising is that it’s not just about your profits; it’s about your people.

The discovery process is for both the restaurant franchisee and franchisor. Its main objective is not only to educate but to ensure the partnership is a good fit for both parties.

The first step to ensure a smooth, effective discovery process is to train your franchise sales team to ensure they make due on initial interviews with franchise prospects. Each member should be aligned with your brand’s vision and values.

While some aspects, such as your company history and overview, will remain the same, others should be tailored to each unique franchisee and their experience level.

High Net Worth Franchisees

High-net-worth franchisees are going to look at two main components: profitability and overall reliability.

Often, these franchisees are looking for absentee ownership, and your sales team should be able to answer all their questions and have a clear plan for how that process would work. The discussion should also center around your financials – from breaking down your EBITDA to Unit Level Economics.

Meanwhile, one of the best ways to demonstrate the reliability of your business is by taking a look back at the pandemic and other volatile economic times. If your brand grew throughout this period and had strong financials, it will set the stage for what’s to come during the probably 2023 recession.

If your franchise growth slowed or took a big hit during the pandemic, there are other factors you can highlight to show that you are a trustworthy, resilient restaurant franchisor. Intellectual capital is one of your biggest assets. Your leadership team’s expertise is a great way to show a potential franchisee that your team is full of industry veterans with a strong track record of growing brands and supporting their people.

You can also provide insights into the proactive steps you’ve taken in anticipation of another economic turndown. For instance, how you’re cutting costs and offering additional revenue streams.

Franchisees Without Industry Experience

For those without franchising or restaurant experience, putting them in touch with your current franchisees is an excellent way to build rapport and excitement around the opportunity. Since they’ll need extra guidance when it comes to things like operations, marketing and recruiting, you should also highlight your areas of support.

Flexibility is often key for new franchisees, especially when you have such a diverse array of leads. Some may have more capital and qualifications than others. If your franchise offers smaller-footprint, lower-investment and nontraditional locations, walk them through their options so they know they have a way to “get their feet wet” in franchising before diving in completely.

Experienced Multi-Unit, Multi-Concept Franchisees

Experienced franchisees with impressive portfolios are key prospects for restaurant franchisors, but keep in mind that they’ll especially be zeroing in on what sets you apart from others. This is where your franchise can really shine, specifically in terms of how you plan on helping franchisees navigate the upcoming recession.

For instance, they’ll be seeking a franchisor with strong vendor relationships to avoid supply chain disruptions and lock in stable pricing to combat inflation, as well as opportunities that require fewer employees to operate to avoid the grueling effects of the labor shortage.

Meanwhile, your sales team should be able to point out how your opportunity can help them further diversify their portfolio and any strong sales or other financial metrics that exceed others in your category.

Preparing to Grow Your Restaurant Franchise in 2023

Overall, there are a few key themes all prospective franchisees will be looking for in the next year: financial success, market demand, resiliency, all-inclusive support and a strong leadership team to guide the way.

Put these factors at the forefront of your sales process and you’re set up for a trailblazing 2023 full of growth, prosperity and multi-unit deals.

Mark Lyso, the chief development officer at East Coast Wings + Grill, is an International Franchise Association Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) and brings with him three decades of franchising experience. Mark identifies “gaps” in business models and provides experience in building systems, process, and procedures for franchise growth and scalability. Mark has worked with several brands in the casual dining, fast casual and family dining spaces, starting his career as an hourly employee and evolving to developing strategies for franchise development, unit-level operations, training, and marketing. He has experience in startup companies where he has been a part of opening over 80 restaurants and assisted in taking a franchise model public, re-engineering companies by growing underperforming units and selling and acquiring restaurants. Mark has the proven ability to identify and implement strategies to elevate franchise management systems and guide the process of scaling and growing brands.

Business Advice, Customer Experience, Fast Casual, Fast Food, Franchising, Outside Insights, Restaurant Operations, Story, East Coast Wings & Grill