How to handle rejection as a franchisor

Entrepreneur and franchise consultant Rebecca Newenham talks about handling rejection and finding the positives in a difficult situation

How to handle rejection as a franchisor

There is no better feeling than when a new franchisee says yes and signs on the dotted line. As a franchisor, you’re excited about expanding your business and beginning a new partnership. But franchising isn’t all plain sailing. Being able to handle people saying no is vital to ensure the continued success of your franchise.

Rejection can happen throughout the franchisee lifecycle, from initial prospecting to existing franchisees resigning their territories after years of successful business. 

Sometimes, it can be a blessing in disguise. If a franchise prospect is already ringing alarm bells and you’re unsure if your franchise opportunity is right for them, you might be relieved when they turn around and say no. If an existing franchisee is failing, delivering little return or draining your time and resources, rejection might be the best thing for both of you.

Sometimes, rejection can be painful, and it’s hard not to take it personally.

If you built your business from scratch and then decided to franchise it, finding the right franchisees is crucial. It can feel like you’re giving a bit of your baby away—something you’ve worked so hard to develop. When someone says they don’t want to invest in your business, you might be left questioning yourself or feeling like your business isn’t good enough.

It’s essential to be objective and separate the facts of the situation from the emotions.

Over the years, I have learnt to trust my instincts. At the start of my franchising journey, I was keen to invest time in everyone who was interested in my franchise. Now, I am much clearer on the Get Ahead franchise proposition, and I trust my intuition. I recognise the type of person who thrives in my business, and I am confident to walk away if someone doesn’t feel right. 

If a prospective or existing franchisee wasn’t right for the business, then rejection is a good thing. Things run their course. You can’t please everyone all of the time. It’s okay to close a door and move on to the next chapter. 

Reflection can help you understand why your franchise has been rejected. 

This could be incredibly valuable for your business. The calmer and more understanding you can be, the more you might learn. Ask why the person has decided not to invest or resign from your franchise. Their reasons may be entirely personal – something you can’t do anything about. However, they may have useful feedback on your proposition, investment level, management style, or processes, which can help you be more successful in the future. 

Listen and respect their point of view, even if it’s tempting to jump in and address or reject some of their feedback. Try to end the relationship positively and wish them every success in the future. You never know when your paths may cross again or who might be in their network.

If an existing franchisee has resigned, manage the transition as positively as you can.

You need to protect your brand and the customers you already have. Depending on the size and scale of your franchise, I recommend contacting clients by phone or email to advise them of the upcoming changes and reassure them about how they can continue to benefit from your services. 

Consider your existing network and whether one of your other franchisees might be interested in taking over the territory. If not, put a plan in place to manage while you recruit a new partner for that area. While it might be a painful time, finding the right new person to lead the business can inject a renewed sense of excitement and purpose in the region and deliver long-term rewards.

It’s an age-old saying, but things happen for a reason. No one likes to be rejected, but remember, it’s not about you. Someone has chosen that your business opportunity isn’t right for them, and that’s okay. Pause, reflect and then refocus on finding the right people who believe in your business just as much as you do.

Rebecca Newenham
Rebecca Newenham