There’s a lot going on in the business world. After a grueling year, most franchises have opened back up and seem relieved that a new normal is here – or at least is on the way.
And yet, it’s unlikely that even one CEO will accept excuses in the next 18 months when it comes to sales and progress: “Don’t blame the economy. Don’t blame the virus. Don’t blame the weather. Don’t blame a lack of employees. I want innovation and solutions.”
Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Focus on your current franchisees.
Whether you have 50 or 500 franchisees across the country, knowing what is truly going on inside your franchise and how your franchisees are feeling about the brand will be critical to growth. Even if you aren’t on the hit television show, “Undercover Boss,” get outside the four walls of your corporate office and talk to franchisees. If it’s been a while since you’ve done a survey to find out what your franchisees are saying about your organization, consider using a company like Franchise Business Review to anonymously survey franchisees to learn not only their satisfaction levels but also where you can improve and where you’re especially strong.
2. Read the comments on your corporate social media.
Social listening is a key component to making progress and improvements. It also helps you elevate what makes your brand great. How is the customer experience? What are customers saying about your brand on social media? How does your team respond to comments? Having happy franchisees and customers in your locations will help you attract new prospects. So, make it a habit to read the comments on your social media pages often, and listen to what they have to say.
3. Your franchise development website must be right.
Your franchise development website is the front door to direct leads. If someone is searching for your brand, your website must provide the key information they want before they invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in your brand. The website also gives prospects a chance to peel back who the brand really is. Make sure that you have a strong SEO program in place so that your franchise website ranks high on search engines.
4. If you want to attract prospects, be authentic.
Defining your core values is important, but it’s more important for prospects to see that your corporate office, franchisees and customer experience reflect those values. Prospects want to invest in a brand whose values align with their own.
5. Define two to three personas that you want to target, and build marketing campaigns around those personas.
This means you’ll need to produce well-written creative assets, blogs, landing pages and nurturing emails tailored to those specific personas. If you think your persona is everyone, think again. It’s critical to focus on a few very specific personas in your marketing and media buying to reach your ideal prospects.
6. Allow your marketing teams and agencies to test campaigns with a budget significant enough to move the needle.
You may say, “Why would I pay for advertising to get leads when I’m already getting organic leads and broker leads?” Advertising is the third leg to your sales stool. It takes all three legs on a stool to bring stability. Even when you’re getting organic leads and broker leads, you need to invest in pursuing leads through paid advertising that targets the right personas. Bringing in your own leads will save you money and help your brand for years to come.
7. Make sure your sales team is utilizing a CRM.
A customer relationship management system will help your sales team keep track of new leads and allow you to nurture the leads you already have collected. We often hear, “I tried to reach someone three or four times, and I didn’t get a response.” Keep reaching out to them! Use the CRM to score them so you know how serious they are and to help them along your sales funnel. Often, when the sales cycle is longer, like it is right now, it will take many more touch points. This includes emails, calls, invitations to webinars and discovery days, and even direct mail to nudge prospects down the sales funnel.
With so much of franchise budgets going to the consumer side, it’s often easier to rely on broker sales and portals than to build your own internal franchise development marketing programs. You’re working with smaller teams and smaller resources. But if you want to get ahead, and you don’t want excuses, it’s critical to also take the time and resources to build a strong internal franchise development marketing program. It’s not easy, nor is it fast, but it will make a huge difference in your short-term and long-term growth.