Selling franchises is a lot harder than getting a consumer to come to one of your locations. The buying cycle is a lot longer. The price tag is a lot bigger. And in an environment where everyone is getting kudos for making the cash register ring, it’s tempting to focus on the immediate sale versus the BIG sale. There’s a danger of treating franchise development like the red-headed stepchild.
Franchise development often gets the short end of the budget stick because the consumer side of the franchise is supported by ad fund dollars. You may think, “It’s good enough. We’ll make up the numbers later.” Or, “Everyone else is getting fewer leads, too.” Or maybe your leads are great, but you aren’t getting the actual sales and success from those leads that you desire.
Another common situation is the CEO announces that you need more franchise development sales, and you’re off to the races trying to develop a quick digital lead generation plan with the budget you’ve been given to meet those metrics. Whatever your case may be, there’s a better way to make your franchise development marketing program better.
A franchise development program is just that: a comprehensive program. It’s not just Facebook ads or LinkedIn ads or relying on brokers and portals or public relations. It’s a complete program developed by you, as the franchisor, with multiple platforms and strategies that you control and monitor.
Here are six areas for you to concentrate on for the long game:
- Product satisfaction and execution build brands more than marketing dollars do. The most important thing is to build a brand people love. When you do that, it’s much easier to sell the franchise concept to others. If you’re trying to sell franchises in an area where brand recognition is low, remind your team that those markets will need more nurturing and marketing than in markets where people already love and trust the brand.
- Your franchise has to offer a solid business opportunity. Why would someone want to be a franchisee with your brand? And why now? What is the actual opportunity? And more than anything else, it will help your franchise development program to understand why someone did not want to be a part of your brand. If they said no — or chose a different path partly through your sales process — why? Talk about that to develop strategies to overcome those challenges.
- Your website is the single most important piece of your franchise development program. If the website isn’t right, you will not get the conversions and interest you desire. Your website is your first hello, your elevator pitch, your chance in a just a few seconds to convince prospects that they want to or need to learn more about your franchise opportunity. Most people who visit your website who are serious come back 15 times or more before they convert, so your website must be better than good – it must be great. In the case of one franchise we work with, we started with a short-term ad strategy, but hundreds clicked through to the website but didn’t convert. The development director had to convince the leadership team that the website they had wasn’t good enough to perform. It needed a complete overhaul, so now we’ve taken on that challenge. My point: It all matters. You can have the greatest campaign and brand in the world, but if your website is slow and doesn’t tell your story, your conversions will suffer.
- It takes more than a few ads and a PR firm to begin to create your own internal funnel system. You need a long-game marketing and sales strategy that consists of more than a couple of sales people and a leftover budget for franchise development. You need a comprehensive program, a specific plan and budget earmarked for franchise development to really move the needle.
- Know your numbers. The best way to convince your leadership team to invest in franchise development is to know and share the numbers. There’s a tendency to fixate on the number of leads, but equally important is the quality of leads and whether those leads turn into a sale. Or maybe you’re getting a lot of leads, but most of them are “junk leads” that waste your development team’s time. You need to understand the leads and traffic you’re getting and where they are coming from, and that data is available to you. You should be looking at Google Analytics or have your agency provide a platform where you can see all of the numbers in one place. This will help your marketing team tweak and optimize your campaigns better.
- Sales and marketing must work together. Don’t complain about leads if your sales and marketing teams aren’t working together. A couple of weeks ago, a Facebook ad popped up for a franchise opportunity in our area and we clicked on it. Admittedly, we were doing research to see what this franchise’s process was, so we filled out the form. Boom! A conversion! Over the next two weeks, we received four emails in a drip campaign but did not get a call. Not one. No personal hello. No personal call asking anything. So here’s a franchise spending money on digital ads, with a great email drip campaign, but no one from the franchise actually called to talk to me.
Investing in the long game for franchise development takes work and time, and sometimes it can feel mundane and boring. But when you invest and create standards and strategies with the long game in mind, those techniques and strategies will compound. The longer and more strategic you play, the bigger the reward.