I remember the time I got a call from a hot prospect in a market we were targeting.

We'll call him Charlie since that happens to be his first name.

Charlie really sounded like he knew what he was doing.

But, I'd only been selling franchises for about 14 months. I was greener than green.

As a potential franchise buyer Charlie asked great questions like:

How much does it cost to develop this franchise?

What are the real estate and site requirements?

How long did it take to build the franchise?

I answered all his questions respectfully and carefully.

And then I took the opportunity to ask him some qualifying questions.

I wanted to know if he met or exceeded out financial requirements.

Charlie surprisingly answered that his net worth was about $5 million with 80% in real estate and he had cash or cash equivalents of about $1 million.

Now Charlie already had me excited with his questions at the outset! And now he had told me his financial profile which exceeded our requirements.

Charlie was my kind of guy and we were having such a great call.

It was now time to get Charlie approved. Send him a NextDay UPS franchise information packet with an application and instructions on how to fill it out (back in early 1990s that's how you did it).

Charlie said that would be terrific!

At this point Charlie and I were like family. 

And then Charlie said to me -

"You know Joe I've got this piece of land that I think will make a great QSR restaurant site and I'd like to build one of yours on it. Do you think you could have one of your real estate guys come take a look at it before we go any further? I'd really appreciate that, Joe. You'd be doing me a big favor and we'd both be moving this process along faster."

Now I had a dilemma we didn't pre-approve sites before a franchise candidate had been approved to be a franchisee.

But Charlie was perfect and so easy to talk to. I told Charlie I'd have to check and get back with him the next day.

Then I looked at the Director of Real Estate's schedule and saw that he could be in that market next week if he stayed out in the field another day. My real estate guy said he'd do it if I thought that Charlie was that good of a candidate.

I called Charlie back the next day with the good news. And he thought it was fantastic that we would break with our franchise sales process for him.

Well the week goes by and the Director of Real Estate is back in the office with good news that from a preliminary look at the market, demographics and competition the site was acceptable.

I was delighted!

So, I phoned Charlie back with the good news about his location --and now it was time to get his application in to us and get him approved. Charlie said would get right on it and that I'd have it faxed in within 3- 5 days.

After to waiting the 5 days and one more day for good measure I called up Charlie to check on the status of his application. No answer so I left a voice message. I thought for sure that I'd get a returned call straightaway from Charlie.

But I didn't.

I dutifully called Charlie for the next 4 weeks until one evening late in the office I gave Charlie a call and he picked up. Charlie apologized for not getting back to me sooner but assured me that he'd like to see one of our restaurants on his piece of land.

I said okay when do you think you could get you franchise application in?

And then Charlie said -

"About the application, I've been talking to my real estate guy here in town and he says that some of your big competitors have been sniffing around at sites around town including mine. I was thinking Joe that I might be better off as a landlord on this location and I'm wondering if you've got any franchisees who like to be in our town or maybe you'd want to put one of your company units in here".

I asked Charlie just to be clear you no longer want to be a franchisee? His answer as you would expect at this point in the  in the story was a resounding No.

I'd been duped. As you might suspect Charlie was never interested in being our franchisee. He was selling a real estate deal. And I was providing the validation and possibly the tenant.

We never did a deal with Charlie.

And my very experienced Director of Real Estate would in a nice way ask me from time to time how I was doing with my Uncle Charlie.

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