Delivering the Dream

The Role of Emotional Motivation in Franchise Development


The Franchising Dream
In the Franchising Dream, we have a great story to tell. It’s the goal that brought us all into this industry:

  • For franchisees, it’s independence, a sense of control over their financial destiny, and perhaps creating a legacy to pass along to their families
  • For franchisors, it’s the desire to help people realize their dreams and to build a national or even international brand

That’s The Franchising Dream. And—as central as it is to Franchise Development—it often drifts off the radar screen. Perhaps we sometimes focus on the details of the deal to such an extent that the dream—that which brought us all here in the first place—is diminished. Of course, the details are essential to culminating a deal. But it is possible to maintain that emotional connection while you communicate the deal points to your prospects as prospects move through your sales pipeline. What’s more, it’s essential.

Why People Buy
Buying is one of the most-studied aspects of human behavior. Retailers, packaged goods manufacturers, advertising agencies, and marketers have commissioned landmark studies of why we buy in order to accrue competitive advantage for their stores, companies, products, or clients.

One of the most fundamental learnings from this body of work has been that people buy to gain emotional rewards and use logic to justify their purchase. Furthermore, there’s evidence that the stronger the emotional engagement, the quicker your prospects will buy. In short …

People rationalize buying decisions with the facts, but people make buying decisions with their feelings.

The University of Rochester School of Medicine recently published a study based on brain activity imaging that reveals emotions are inextricably a part of the decision process. This study even goes so far as to state; “if you eliminate the emotional guiding factors, it’s impossible [for people] to make decisions in daily life.” A 2004 study by Carnegie Mellon University ties the buyer’s moods to their attitudes on price And a new study from the University of Texas, reported in NewScientist (9/17/05, p. 13), indicates that emotion may even play a role in helping people remember factual information.

Put simply: It’s emotion that motivates what matters.

Of course marketers have known this for years. The mantra from ad icon David Ogilvy still rings true today: “sell the sizzle, not the steak”.

In his article, Sales Training: Understanding Why Customers Buy, Tom Egelhoff builds on Maslow’s seminal work by identifying the key emotional motives for buying decisions. He identifies six motives, which I’ve narrowed down to four for our purposes. They are:

  • Security: Monetary gain and freedom from financial worry, along with self-preservation—that is, safety  and health-for-self and family.
  • Convenience: Comfort,  more desirable use of time.
  • Self-Improvement: Spiritual  development, hunger for knowledge, and intellectual stimulation.
  • Recognition: Social status, respectability, and the wish to be admired.

Each prospect has their own reasons for seeking a new life through franchising, but—whatever the reason—they’re undoubtedly driven by one or more of these emotional triggers. There are a lot of excellent materials on this topic available in print and on the Internet, but frankly, my education on the topic came from my first career.

Making the Connection
In Franchise Development, we’re performing for an audience of one. An audience that’s paid admission (if only with their time), who comes in with high expectations, and won’t hesitate to walk out if they’re not engaged … but also an audience who secretly hopes the experience will fulfill their wildest dreams. To that end, I’ve translated my learnings into four action steps to achieve a stronger and deeper emotional connection with your prospects. They are:

  1. Evaluate Your Current Practices
  2. Address the Obvious Fixes First
  3. Develop Tools to Engage the Prospect
  4. Pay Special Attention to the Late-Stage Prospect

Evaluating Your Current Practices
It’s not only possible to measure the degree to which your prospects are emotionally engaged in your FranDev process … it’s essential.

Proven research models actually have their roots in academic and management literature. When building an evaluation tool, it’s important to use an established methodology that passes the critical tests of reliability and validity:

  • Reliability: Will I get the same answer if I repeat the research?
  • Validity: Am I actually measuring the effect I’m trying to measure?

Developed and refined through hundreds of studies, the scales we use measure both the direction and magnitude of the perceived ties between an organization and its people. The tools are built on the work of organizations such as Gallup (CE11), Integro Learning (the Strategic Alignment Survey), and the widely-employed Positive And Negative Affect Scale (PANAS-X).

Finally, use a third party to administer your instrument … because—and this is critical—they won’t tell you the truth. In our experience—even with clients who extensively survey their prospects—they don’t get answers that are completely honest … even from the prospects who do not go forward with franchise agreements.

Address the Obvious Fixes First
Often, research will reveal a few issues which can be fixed quickly and without great expense. These issues usually fall into one of three categories; conflicting information, administrative issues or people problems.

When prospects get conflicting information during the franchise process it not only creates confusion, it undermines trust. Conflicting information can result when FranDev staffers are not on the same page or when collateral materials fall out of date.

Administrative issues may seem innocuous, but can still shape the way the prospect perceives your organization. Examples of administrative issues might be a glitchy website or e-mail, a voicemail system that’s not user-friendly, slow response to requests for information, or failure to return calls or e-mails promptly.

Finally, unidentified people issues can be especially damaging. And while it may be too much to expect that all your FranDev staff have good chemistry with each and every prospect, we have direct experience where research has revealed that it was an overly-confrontational employee that drove them away from the opportunity. And—in another case—I had a client who gave his receptionist the title “Director of First Impressions.” It worked

Develop Tools to Engage the Prospect
To advance your cause with the prospect, every communication medium you use must pass the following four tests:

  1. It must communicate a clear, compelling vision.
  2. It must be credible and professional.
  3. It must reflect positively on your brand.
  4. And it must bring out what makes you unique.

For start-up franchisors, the pressure to control costs is palpable. So, when an opportunity arises to have someone’s son or daughter design the company brochure or create a video, it’s understandable that many go this route, but nothing could be more damaging to your cause. What the franchisor really needs is a brochure, video, or website that communicates on every level that your organization is credible and professional.

In my experience, companies of all kinds are better off waiting to produce materials rather than do a half-baked effort that doesn’t pass the test. And the irony is, quality communication tools don’t have to be expensive. They just need to be well-written, smartly designed, and professionally produced. I’ll take a well-designed simple tri-fold brochure over a disorganized, unwieldy or amateurish sales kit any day. And so will your prospects.

The Late-Stage Prospect
Why should we focus on the late-stage prospect? Two reasons:

1. You have an investment in them

2. They have an investment in you

And that creates a beautiful state of emotional equilibrium when it comes to making a deal.

These are the folks that make everything else you do in FranDev pay off. So what are the emotional drivers that help convert more Discovery Days into Opening Days?

Focus on the prospect’s emotional state at four key points in the selling process:

  1. When they make their decision to attend your Discovery Day: This is the first time they really have financial skin in the game. They’ve gotten past your initial qualification hurdles—both from the financial standpoint and from their level of interest in the opportunity—and are willing to admit that they have serious interest in the opportunity.
  2. When they arrive at Discovery Day: They arrive with high hopes and lots of questions. What we do to channel their expectations and get them to envision themselves being successful with your business format is key to advancing the prospect to an agreement.
  3. As they leave Discovery Day to return home … particularly in those moments after you drop them off at the airport. This is where you find out if your Discovery Day experience advanced them towards making a deal … or if it caused them to have second thoughts.
  4. And the 14 days following Discovery Day … after they get home and return to their normal routine. Does their current job grate more than ever, creating a sense of urgency to make a change … or does it suddenly feel comforting and familiar in the face of a major lifestyle change? Are family and friends supportive and excited or do they have a lot of probing questions about the opportunity? All these things and more can either bolster the prospect’s confidence in his or her decision … or undermine it.

Making Dreams Come True
There are many ways to elicit and maintain that emotional connection with the prospect … connecting them with the franchising dream. When it’s done right, it can be the most rewarding part of this business: Delivering Dreams for people by helping them become successful with your business format is what franchising is all about.

I can’t believe there are any heights that can’t be scaled by someone who knows the secret of making dreams come true. —Walt Disney


Rick Cornish creates communications that inform, influence and inspire… helping organizations increase sales, promote unity and persuade their people to embrace change. Working in video, corporate meetings, event marketing and more; Rick delivers purposeful creative that drives business results and builds stronger brands.


By Rick Cornish

© 2006 Flying Colors Incorporated
© 2013 Rick Cornish LLC
All Right Reserved
May be quoted in publications with attribution.
May not be reproduced, sold, or distributed without the expressed, written consent of Rick Cornish LLC.

Speak Your Mind