When’s the last time you took a cold, hard look at your franchise development strategy? It’s easy to fall into a rut when you focus on your monthly lead generation quotas. But you can’t only focus on the numbers—just as important is the quality of the leads. This is something that successful franchise sales executives have learned, and they’ve taken steps to understand franchisee engagement from a holistic perspective.
Avoid Unwise Investments
Without question, it’s expensive and can be exhausting to recruit franchisees. Data from Franchise Update Magazine found that the average cost to recruit a single franchisee ran upwards of $13,000. You don’t want to waste your time and money on bringing a franchisee into your system if they’re not going to add to the commercial success of your brand.
Franchisees are an investment for your corporate brand, and you need to make sure you’re positioning your franchise opportunity in the right way to attract and bring on board the best candidates. Here are five steps that successful franchise sales executives take to ensure they meet this goal:
1. Google the Brand and Franchise Opportunity
With increasing frequency, search engines like Google and Yahoo are the first places that franchisees go to find information about your investment opportunity. Franchise Update found 4 out of every 10 franchise sales is attributed to the Internet, and 65 percent of Internet users believe online search is the most trustworthy source of information about companies. Top franchise sales executives know the importance of online reputation management, consistent and impactful brand messaging, as well as high-quality and in-depth content. By looking at your brand’s online presence, you know exactly what prospective franchisees are seeing—the good, the bad and the ugly.
2. Think Like a Prospect
How well do you know your franchisees? If you don’t have a firm understanding of the business owners that make up your system, you will likely have a hard time knowing what your prospects are thinking when they research your brand. That’s why surveys of current franchisees—as well as candidates who decided not to invest—are such great resources for your brand. These groups can provide insight into what attracted them to your brand, what objections prevented them from pursuing the opportunity and other key variables that go into the franchisee decision-making process. From this point, you can create prospect personas that allow you to target specific groups of individuals with the right messaging at the right time.
3. Create a Cohesive Franchise Sales Marketing Strategy
Successful franchise development strategies often involve multiple moving parts. Everything from pay-per-click ads to blogging to media placements are critical components of an effective marketing campaign. With so many pieces in motion, it’s easy for your branding and messaging to lack consistency. Make sure paid, earned and owned media are working together towards the same goal. Otherwise, you’ll be working doubly hard to convince prospects of what your brand stands for and what they can expect as a franchisee.
4. Nurture Leads
Although it can often feel this way, leads and prospects aren’t all divided into neat hot or cold categories. There is a growing number of prospective franchisees conducting self-directed research, seeking in-depth information about the franchise opportunity but aren’t in a position to start the application process. In other words, don’t have the franchise application be the only form on your website. There’s a lot you can do with soft leads. You can develop industry reports that validate the franchise sector and craft franchisee profiles that highlight the benefits and features of becoming a franchisee. An email nurture campaign deliberately—but powerfully—plants the seed in prospects’ minds that the opportunity is the right one for them.
5. Leverage Media Coverage
Franchise sales executives understand that the media can be a fickle friend. After all, bad press can cause major issues for your brand when it’s trying to attract new franchisees. But media coverage is also an indispensable tool to generate awareness while also motivating prospects to take the next steps. For instance, expert guest articles are a great way to establish your brand as an industry thought leader and inspire confidence among potential franchisees. Bylined articles in third-party publications validate your company. Additionally, broadcast segments can help increase both consumer and lead traffic because of the high-impact exposure.
Be Proactive and Take Charge
A hallmark of success in the franchise development world is anticipation—and taking the necessary steps to meet your objectives. The franchise sales cycle has evolved and your approach has to change as well. You don’t just need more information, you need better insight into your processes and prospects to be successful.
Get started learning about content marketing and public relations—the franchise development power couple…