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Sell ice to the Eskimos

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Somehow, the saying ‘You could sell ice to the Eskimo’s’ is seen as a badge of honour for a salesperson.

How is it a good thing to oversell, or not talk the truth about what you’re selling?

No matter how much research you do buying into a franchise, when you take the step to sign on the dotted line, you’re going into it a little blind. It’s a leap of faith that you need to take and trust that the franchisor will deliver on their promises, to become part of the network.

That’s why it’s so important that the person representing the franchise business, has the moral obligation to talk to you openly and honestly about what’s on offer. You should have the opportunity to speak with them for as long as you want, asking as many questions as you want, and you should expect questions back about how you see your role in the partnership

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. False promises and a lack of transparency can be easily masked by a wall of clever marketing, designed to excite you, even if an opportunity isn’t right for you.  Follow that up with special offers with deadlines designed to put you under pressure. These ‘offers’ are only there to benefit the franchisor, by way of a few rushed and signed franchisees, who haven’t had adequate time to do their due diligence.

You may notice that we’ve never had a special offer. Not once have I offered an upgrade from our Holiday Designer to our Holiday Designer Plus Package to lure someone over the line, and we never will for these reasons:

  • If we’re happy to discount our Holiday Designer Plus Package by over £2,000, how much does it show we value the added benefits of that package? If we’re discounting them down to the price of the Holiday Designer package, I’d argue that we don’t value them at all, and therefore they’re worth nothing. So yes, you’d get them, but we think they’re worth nothing, so why should you see value in them?
  • It’s unethical. When we come together at conference, I want to be able to look every single person in the eye and know they’ve all had equal opportunity, for the same price. No side deals or special offers
  • It leads to franchisees who haven’t had time to research every possible opportunity to find the best one for them. We don’t want people to join us, who we’re not right for. We’d have hundreds of franchisees, which would look great for that marketing mask, but we’d have a huge failure rate, and obviously that’s something we wouldn’t advertise if we were to operate in that way.

Before we started The Holiday Franchise Company, I had a good friend who didn’t see through the marketing mask of a franchisor, who didn’t ask enough questions and ultimately lost every penny she ‘invested’. She’s a good person, supporting charities regularly and would drop everything to help someone. One of her flaws is that she’s too trusting and unfortunately some people will take advantage of that. She signed up during a ‘special offer’ and that was only on until the end of the month and boom, her money was gone.

That’s hard to see, and I wouldn’t want to see it happen to anyone else, and we’re seeing it on a more regular basis.

All we can do, as an ethical franchisor is:

  • Take the time to answer as many questions as a potential franchisee has
  • Ask questions back. How can this be a partnership if we’re not getting to know your vision and values?
  • Offer honest guidance about what the opportunity is going to take

On the last point, if I do speak with you, I’ll probably give you the same point to self-reflect on, that I give to everyone considering joining us:

“Starting any business will come with hard days, possibly hard weeks. This isn’t going to be a walk in the park, how will you deal with that? Do you have the drive to push through?

Only you can answer that, no one can influence you, tell you, or train you, because that drive is either something you’ve got or you haven’t

Not everyone is cut out for running their own business, some people need others to lead, and that is absolutely fine, there is no right or wrong. Take some time to do some self-reflection whilst thinking about everything that comes with running your own business.

If this excites you, and you know in your heart of hearts that when the going get’s tough, you’ll dig in and work even harder, then great you have a chance of making this a success.

If it fills you with dread, that’s fine too, but maybe think again about starting your own business.”

During conversations with potential franchisees, I have actively pointed them in the direction of our ‘competition’ because we’ve not been the model they’re looking for. I don’t expect recognition or praise for this, because it’s the right thing to do, and should be a normal thing to do.

But unfortunately, the playing field is skewed to unethical practice. I’d love to see a franchise market where everyone thinking of investing, can trust every person they speak with, so that they can make the best decision for them. But we’re not.

I’ll continue to operate the way I always have.

I’ll let others sell ice to the Eskimos, whilst I sell them a woolly hat.

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