Kay Ainsley, managing director at franchise consultancy MSA Worldwide, offers suggestions for getting the biggest bang for your discovery day buck:

  • Group discovery days help create energy around the concept, particularly for smaller companies just starting out. Just make sure the group is not too large to be able to give everyone one-on-one time.

  • Pre-qualify. You don't want a very well-qualified candidate sitting next to someone who isn't. You also don't want to waste time and resources on candidates who'd never make it through.
  • Once a prospect agrees to come, send an e-mail with basic information, such as "We're going to start at 9 a.m. so if you're flying in you need to land by 7 a.m. to get to our office in time. We'll cover the following subjects and wrap up around 4 p.m." Include information on nearby hotels, suggested dress code, and so on. It helps them prepare and makes you look organized and professional.
  • Make it interactive so you can get to know each candidate. Someone who pipes up with ideas about how to improve your menu or do things differently maybe isn't going to follow the system. If you're just presenting all day, you won't see that.
  • Have candidates, especially those lacking restaurant experience, spend part of the day working or observing in one of the restaurants. They might quickly realize that dealing with hourly employees isn't their thing.
  • Know your audience and their hot buttons. Area developers require a different discovery day approach than owner-operators.
  • If you publish an agenda, stick to it. And proofread everything.
  • Presentations can be fun and upbeat, but make sure they're informative and factual.
  • This is not the time for smoke and mirrors.
  • Don't cover costs. If a candidate isn't willing to take a day and spend $500, they're probably not serious prospects.
  • Don't get haughty about "awarding" franchises. Set a tone that says, "Not everyone's cut out for franchising, so we're going to take today and see if we have a good fit, because if it doesn't work for both of us, it's not going to work for either of us in the long run."