Getting the most from Discovery Days

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Expect franchisors to invite you to their Discovery Days, and don't be afraid to accept their invitations. But before you go, here's what you need to know to help you get the most from participating in a Discovery Day.

What is Discovery Day?

Discovery Days are show 'n tell days for franchisors, and they're just as important for franchisors as they are for prospective franchisees. While franchisors use this time to demonstrate what their brands deliver and how they support franchisees, they're also observing the prospects to determine who has the requisite qualities to become a franchisee.

Large franchisors may conduct daily Discovery Days for one or two prospects, while other franchisors prefer to reserve a day a month for this experience and host multiple prospects. Whatever the case, the Discovery Day is an important milestone in the selection of both a brand and a franchisee.

How do you get invited?

A franchisor is likely to invite you to Discovery Day as soon as it's apparent to the franchisor that you're a qualified prospect. In other words, you not only have the desire to acquire a franchise, but you can meet the financial requirements, too. You can also ask a franchisor to invite you to a Discovery Day, as that's an indication of your interest and knowledge about how the franchise buying process works.

Franchisors use Discovery Days for different purposes. For example, some think of the Discovery Day as "decision day," and once it's over they want you to decide if you'll buy their franchise. They may tell you in advance to be prepared to make your decision and sign the franchise agreement. However, you can't sign an agreement unless you've been properly disclosed by the franchisor. Therefore, the franchisor will make certain to provide you with the legally required disclosure document well in advance of Discovery Day.

There's no obligation to buy

But don't worry: You do not have to sign any legal documents until you're ready to do so, and you are not obligated to buy a franchise just because you attended a Discovery Day. You can always say "no" or take additional time to make your decision. It's not unusual for franchise prospects to attend multiple Discovery Days. However, there's always the chance that someone else will say "yes" and to the one franchise available in your area, and if that happens you will lose your buying opportunity.

Here's how it works

You can ask the franchisor to provide you with the Discovery Day agenda in advance of attendance. Generally, franchisors use the Discovery Day to introduce prospects to their business: "Here's what we do, how we do it, and here are the people who make it happen." During Discovery Day, you'll meet the franchisor's key personnel as you tour the home office, or as they present to you in a conference room. Most of the time will be spent explaining how the franchisor trains and supports franchisees, and why the company's products and/or services are marketable and competitive.

Be prepared to ask questions

Do not expect the franchisor to reveal trade secrets at a Discovery Day, but don't shy away from asking important questions. Some franchisors include presentations by local franchisees in their Discovery Days, and give the prospects time to question the franchisees.

You'll get more out of a Discovery Day if you go with a list of questions. You'll find many pertinent questions in 101 Questions To Ask Before You Invest In A Franchise , by Dr. John Hayes who teaches the A to Zs of Buying a Franchise at the International Franchise Expo.

What will it cost?

Discovery Days are free and there's usually no limit to the number of people who can attend with you. In fact, franchisors will encourage spouses, partners and key employees to attend. Of course, you'll be responsible for travel arrangements, meals and accommodations.

Attending a Discovery Day may cost you several hundred dollars and a day or two of your time, but attending a Discovery Day is worth it because it prepares you to make the ultimate decision to buy or not buy the franchise.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Investing Ideas

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