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How Franchise Central/Franchise Navigator Leverages Behavioral Sciences

Craig Slavin, the founder and president of Franchise Central, has long argued that franchising is full of B.S. No, not that B.S.—behavioral sciences.

Consider this:  When brands are looking for prospective franchisees, there are a lot of traditional factors that determine whether or not they’ll be successful. From financial indicators to connections with the local community, these are criteria qualifications that candidates need to enter a franchise system.

However, there are characteristics that go beyond the traditional tangibles most often associated with the franchising business model—overall success is the result of the general behavioral characteristics that make up each individual. That’s where the importance of behavioral sciences comes in.

In the February issue of the International Franchise Association’s Franchising World, Slavin outlines five key ways in which behavioral sciences has the potential to positively influence franchising. He highlights why in order for brands to be successful and recruit top tier candidates, they need to have a strong understanding of behavioral sciences.

A Good Fit

In order for a franchise concept to successfully grow, franchisees need to be a good fit for a brand’s specific system and business model. Without a positive relationship between franchisors and franchisees, low performing owners become the norm. That’s where selective franchisee recruitment comes in—brands should only award franchise agreements to the best possible candidates. But without behavioral sciences, it’s hard to determine who will be successful down the line.

Slavin writes, “Traditionally, it has been difficult to know if a franchisee is going to be a high performer, mid performer or low performer until about 18 -24 months after the franchise agreement is signed, the franchise relationship forms and sales and customer service begins.”

That’s why behavioral science plays such a crucial role in the franchise development process. By utilizing the Franchise Navigator and having an established profile of what an ideal candidate looks like, franchisors are able to award agreements with a higher degree of confidence that the candidate will succeed. If the candidate has the right stuff, the right profile, has sufficient capital and is in the right geographic area, the odds for success are enhanced tremendously.

Science Has Been Around a Long Time

Behavioral science analyzes and explains why people do what they do along with their natural tendencies, comfort zones, hot buttons and motivators. Those factors all play a role in determining why some people are leaders and overachievers while others are not.

Businesses have a long history of relying on behavioral science to build employee relationships—just look at DISC, Myers-Briggs and Caliper surveys. The process is not new, but the methodology and the type of assessment construction has changed.

That’s why the Franchise Navigator continues to be a leading resource for franchisors. Brands want to attract owners that resemble their high performers.

“Knowing the inherent characteristics of your franchise candidates provides franchisors with insights for determining whether they match your ideal owner profile,” explains Slavin in Franchising World.

Flaws in Franchising

When franchisees are struggling to be successful, it often starts a cycle of training and re-training local owners. While owners place the blame for their shortcomings on the brand and its systems, development teams often claim that franchisees simply need more training and “policing.”  If the franchisee isn’t doing well it must because they are not following the systems! However, the problem truly lies in the fact that all franchisees are taught the same way, even though people all learn in different ways.  Yet, a company still ends up with high, mid and poor performing franchisees. Why does this happen?

“Franchising is a cookie cutter industry; build the model that works then replicate it again and again until there is one on every corner. The flaw with that model is the people factor,” writes Slavin. Different profiles learn differently yet the franchisor presents the material the same way for every franchisee.

Another flaw plaguing the franchising industry is the assumption that anyone can be properly trained to run a franchise. While training is essential for a brand’s success, there are some people who simply aren’t cut out to run their own business or they are not in the right type of business model.  Slavin says, “The reality is that a business model has a specific role for the franchisee in the business.  It’s important to the franchise company to determine whether a franchise candidate is wired to fill that role or not.”

To prevent unqualified franchisees from joining a system, development teams are relying more and more on resources like the Franchise Navigator. By comparing a candidate’s results to an ideal franchisee profile, franchisors are able to spot any red flags before a franchise agreement is ever signed.  Therefore, it is important that a franchisor use the right type of tested assessment.  Many assessments are less than four years old and are not tested.

Avoiding Costly Mistakes

There’s no denying that a failed franchisee is a costly error for a brand to make. By tapping into behavioral sciences, franchisors can gain effective insights into the natural characteristics of the best franchise candidates.

In Franchising World, Slavin explains, “By using behavior assessments, a franchisor has a better insight into the candidate and is not surprised by candidates who are masters of the interview, only to pay the consequences as they struggle after being awarded a franchise.”

By incorporating proven behavioral sciences into its development process right off the bat, brands have the ability to make the most of the industry’s mutual selection process. There will never be an exact formula to ensure that every franchise candidate is going to be the next all-star. But having a strong understanding of behavioral sciences helps prevent bad choices from being made, which saves brands money in the end.  Franchisees that are a good fit validate the business model and encourage new franchisees to consider their brand.


Nearly 25 years ago, Franchise Central determined that there are four distinct behavior profiles. Every person has all four profiles at all times.  One is a Dominant and the rest are subordinate, sort of like the supporting cast in a play.  All four are equally important. By having prospective franchisees complete the Franchise Navigator’s survey, brands are able to understand and interpret who that individual is and how they’re likely to perform in their franchise system. The Navigator becomes customized to each brand based on the profiles that represent the highest performing franchisees.

“Based on over 25-plus years of research, this process, to a high degree of certainty, provides guidance and insight on the best way to interact with your candidates that match the profiles of your high performing franchisees,” writes Slavin in Franchising World. “The ultimate goal in this cookie cutter industry is high performing franchisees that are dedicated to growing your franchise brand and are capable of executing your business model the way in which it was designed.”

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About Franchise Central and Navigator

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Public Profile

Over 40 years of solid experience creating, marketing; franchising or growing worldwide organizations (Franchise Architects).

Assisted hundreds of companies improve their competitive position by:

Repositioning their concepts; learning how to better respond to changes more effectively, streamlining operations, developing new operating concepts, products and services, implementing automation and educating franchisors how to find more high performing franchise operators. (Franchise Navigator)

Strengths are divided into five broad categories: 

1.    Concept Development,

2.    Human Behavioral and Coaching Aspects of Business Ownership,

3.    Operations and Management,

4,    Franchise Sales and Recruitment Strategies

5.    Franchise Development and Refinement, and

6.    Legal and Litigation Support.