The Diagnostic Franchisee Questionnaire
The following diagnostic questionnaire was developed by Professor
John Stanworth of the University of Westminster's International
Franchise Research Centre. It can be used in exactly the form outline
below or, alternatively, can be modified to fit any franchise company's
When Should It Be Used?
The timing of the franchisor's use of the Diagnostic Questionnaire
can be organised to suit the needs of individual companies but the
possibilities are numerous:
- It can be sent out with the company's initial information pack
as part of a first response to enquiries. This can have the advantage
of making prospects think through their own position whilst spelling
out some of the issues involved in being a franchisee. This initial
educational function can be useful in 'cooling down' some of the
'dreamers'. Franchisors might even suggest that potential franchisees
not only complete the exercise for themselves but also get other
people who know them to complete it for them as an aid to checking
out the image others have of them. Both versions should then be
returned to the franchisor for discussion at the interview stage.
- Its use can be delayed until, say, the first interview stage
when the franchisor has the choice of allowing the prospective
franchisee to complete it in private unprompted, or with the franchisor
administering it as part of a face-to-face interview.
- It can be used when discussions are well advanced and then used
to the advantages of both parties as an additional check of their
understanding of one another.
Which of the above alternatives is preferable depends on the franchisor's
other selection/recruitment techniques but, on balance, the first
probably has most to offer since it makes the prospective franchisee
think through his/her situation as well as providing the franchisor
with valuable information later on.
Twenty questions are listed below and these are designed to get
the potential franchisee to analyse his/her ability to:
- Cope with the isolation of self-employment (Q1)
- Exercise self-discipline (Q2)
- Work long hours under pressure (Q3)
- Learn from failures (Q4)
- Compete with self-imposed standards (Q5)
- Take unpopular decisions (Q6)
- Resist impetuous or emotional behaviour (Q7)
- Take a balanced view of events (Q8)
- Tolerate uncertainty (Q9)
- Accept advice (Q10)
- Demonstrate financial viability (Q11)
- Demonstrate support of spouse (Q12)
- Demonstrate enterprise background (Q13)
- Demonstrate profit motivation (Q14)
- Demonstrate sales orientation (Q15)
- Demonstrate receptiveness towards franchisor's training (Q16)
- Demonstrate growth orientation (Q17)
- Demonstrate a favourable attitude towards task delegation (Q18)
- Take the long-term view (Q19)
- Demonstrate belief that individuals can 'make things happen'
The marking scheme, contained in the body of the questionnaire and
presented in square brackets [ ], should, in practice, be separated
out if the franchisor does not wish the prospective franchisee to
be able to conduct his/her own marking. A good score for the exercise
in its present form would be 25+ of a possible maximum score of
40 marks. It is worth remembering that no exercise like this can
ever be totally efficient in predicting success. It is essential
that it is used in association with other personnel management techniques.
With that proviso, it should pay good dividends.
The twenty questions, along with marks in brackets [ ] are presented
on the following page. These are 'forced choice' questions where
the respondents is asked to opt for one of a choice of 3 possibilities:
(a), (b) and (c) on each of 20 questions. This 'forced choice' format
is designed to stop people sitting on the fence. It is quick and
easy to administer, whilst giving the franchisor leads on issues
that can be followed up in greater detail later.
If you the franchisor wish to use this exercise essentially to
inform a prospective franchisee of whether or not they are likely
to be suitable material, you may provide them with the marking scheme
to facilitate self-assessment and, in the process, allow
them to see which statements are regarded favourably by your in
terms of relevance to your franchise.
On the other hand, if the main reason for running the exercise
is to get information from the prospective franchisee in as accurate
a form as possible, you the franchisor should mark the completed
questionnaire. If the prospect does not know which statements carry
most marks, he/she is less likely to be tempted to deliberately
select the statements attracting most marks. It is worth, in any
case, stressing the point that giving dishonest answers in order
merely to accumulate points is a fruitless exercise from all points
The Points Behind the Questions
To add more 'meat to the bone', what follows here is a more detailed
background on the issue being investigated in the questions above:
Q1 Franchisees need to be able to survive feelings of
isolation. In contrast to being an employee, they have no immediate
boss, or peers, who can give help, advice or moral support.
Q2 Franchisees need to be able to exercise self-discipline.
In running their own business they will be responsible for a wide
range of tasks. Some of these will almost certainly prove satisfying
whilst others will prove highly frustrating. The franchisee will
be responsible for allocating his/her own time and can, at their
peril, neglect tasks such as paperwork, financial control, invoicing
and chasing payment. Although these tasks are sometimes viewed by
franchisees as stopping them from getting on with the 'real job'
of producing and selling, no business can survive without them.
Q3 Franchisees will usually need to work harder than
they have even worked before. This requires both mental and physical
stamina. In the early days of building up a franchise, there will
be little time for leisure activities, holidays or illness. Some
advisers go as far as recommending that anyone considering setting
up in business should consult their doctor first.
Q4 Franchisees need to be able to learn from failure.
Disappointments are inevitable in business and can lead to demoralisation.
A good businessman/ woman, however, must possess the resilience
to survive setbacks and learn from them.
Q5 Franchisees need to be able to compete with self-imposed
standards. When working on your own, targets and standards need
to be set which act as goals reinforcing motivation. If these goals
are set too low they will have little motivating value. If they
are set unrealistically high, they will not be achieved and a sense
of failure and demoralisation will result. Thus, modestly ambitious,
though not unrealistic, goals need to be set and used as markers
Q6 Franchisees need to be able to take unpopular decisions.
It is impossible to remain popular at all times and any attempt
to do so it likely to have costly consequences for your business.
Q7 Franchisees must be able to resist impetuous or emotional
behaviour. It is tempting, especially when you are your 'own boss',
to exercise the associated independence by reacting to frustration
in what might later be seen as a whimsical manner that is not in
the longer-term interests of the business. This may be emotionally
satisfying in the short term but should be resisted at all costs.
Q8 Franchisees should be able to take a balanced view
of events. In business it is easy to yield to the temptation of
feelings of euphoria or depression in response to good or bad news.
This can prove extremely stressful and wearing. A successful businessman/women
needs to be able at all times to take a a balanced view of events
and to set an attitude of 'taking the rough with the smooth'.
Q9 Franchisees, running their own outlets, need to have
a facility for surviving uncertainly. The setting up of a new business
entity is a creative venture and requires a facility for coping
with ambiguity. People with a low stress tolerance may find difficulty
in running their franchise.
Q10 Franchisee must have a facility for taking advice.
Having gone into business with 'independence' one of their main
goals, franchisees need to avoid maximising that independence by
resisting advice whether it be from the franchisor or some other
Q11 Franchisees must demonstrate financial ability. Though
the clearing banks tend to lend to would-be franchisees more readily
than to would-be conventional small business start-ups, it needs
to be remembered that all loans have to be repaid, with interest.
A large financial repayment overhead in the early days of trading
can impose additional pressures.
Q12 Franchisees should, ideally, be able to demonstrate
support from their spouse. Most franchise outlets work long hours
involving domestic disruption. Anything less than positive spouse
support here can have very negative consequences.
Q13 Franchisees should, ideally, be able to demonstrate
an enterprise background. Despite the desire for self-employment
being quite common, only a minority make the jump from aspiration
to reality. Those who have previous direct experience of self-employment
or, alternatively, have a close relative self-employed (usually
a father) appear to find the transition easier. Some evidence exists
to suggest that they may also be more successful in terms of business
Recent analysis suggests that newer franchisors are keen on
franchisees having prior experience of self-employment, but franchisors
with a longer track-record are less inclined to do so.
Q14 Franchisees should demonstrate profit motivation.
Amongst small business people generally, profit motivation is of
a relatively lower order than other goals such as independence and
autonomy. Profit motivation tends to promote greater growth.
Q15 Franchisees should demonstrate sales orientation.
Despite national advertising and promotion of brand awareness by
the franchisor, sales skills on the part of the franchisee can still
make a substantial difference to levels of local market penetration.
Local advertising and good interpersonal skills and service at the
customer interface can be crucial.
Q16 Franchisees should demonstrate receptiveness towards
the franchisor's training. Franchisors tend towards the view that
'starting with a clean sheet' is the best basis for initial training
rather than competing with previous training that a potential franchisee
may already have previously received in the field of operation.
Q17 Franchisees should demonstrate growth orientation.
The income of the franchisor is directly related to the growth of
franchisees. Thus, franchisees easily satisfied with low levels
of growth may require considerable motivating.
Q18 Franchisees should demonstrate an ability to delegate
rather than attempt to undertake all jobs themselves. Failure to
delegate will limit business growth and lead to the franchisee spending
time on tasks that could be performed by less key staff.
Q19 Franchisees must be capable of taking the long-term
view. In an economy suffering endemic 'short-termism', long term
planning and goal setting is likely to pay dividends by giving an
edge over the competition.
Q20 Franchisees should have an ability to 'make things
happen'. People with an 'internal locus of control' tend to believe
they personally can influence their environment. This belief can
become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Changes to Suit Your Company
Obviously, any company using this technique can add additional questions,
drop others and even reallocate the points on certain questions
in line with their own specific requirements.
By way of example here, Q1 refers to the ability of an individual
to cope with feelings of isolation. Depending upon the precise nature
of your franchise, and also the stage of its development, this factor
may be upgraded or reduced in its importance. Also, many franchisors
express a preference for potential franchisees coming from outside
the line of business in question. Others, however, may see advantages
in recruiting people from similar lines of business (Q16). Further,
some companies look for franchisees who are very ambitious and wish
to grow (Q17). Others, selling what may be called 'job franchises'
better suited to a one-person operation, may feel that such ambition
could be stifled or counter productive.
Changing the points scheme to accommodate such in-house preferences
is a relatively simple matter.