We recommend that your first few franchisees be people who are already familiar with your brand. The best first franchisees are already in your circle, they are your network managers, former partners, friends, customers, and family. They are more likely to understand the culture of the brand and will be more forgiving if you make mistakes. They believe in you as an entrepreneur and professional leader and recognize that running a startup franchise is very difficult.

There are a wide range of places to find franchise leads, such as franchise sales websites, business websites and even customers. Your first couple of leads, if generated through franchise sales websites, are likely being chased by other concepts as well, so until you have a couple of existing, happy franchisees, you must be intentional about your growth strategy and lead generation.

We encourage you to think about what traits a good franchisee would have. Who do you think would thrive running this business? What characteristics would be unique to a franchisee versus a competitor? Then, where do you think those people are? Focus on quality versus quantity. Your lead generation strategy should be scalable. To get 50 units, you wouldn’t sell 10 franchises per year for five years, you would sell 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32, incrementally.

Most franchisors overestimate their initial growth, while the most successful franchisors underestimate their future growth. We’ve found that most franchise owners who have hit that apex are surprised at how big they get.