Franchise development is as simple as one little word, “leads.” It’s both that simple and complicated, all at once. Leads can come from any number of sources. This is why your franchise development team must figure out which are best. This includes determining which sources are the most effective, in terms of cost and actual conversions. The most important thing to remember is that franchise development is a long game. That’s why you need to build a comprehensive program that provides leads. This goes for both leads who are ready to convert now and those who may not be ready yet. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of franchise lead portals, brokers, consultants, and digital marketing.
How Do You Find Leads for a Franchise Development?
- Brokers and Consultants
- Internal Digital Marketing
Franchise Lead Portals for Lead Generation
Many businesses use portals for lead generation. Portals generate a lot of web traffic, which, in turn, generates a lot of form-fill leads. Many of those leads are not serious about buying a franchise – at least not any time soon. Though you may obtain desired numbers, we have found a low conversion rate. This means that your sales team may waste time pursuing non-viable leads. Chasing unqualified leads can be a big waste of time and money. Even with their drawbacks, however, portals can be a good option for emerging franchises with a more limited budget.
Brokers and Consultants
Brokers and consultants help prospective franchisees navigate the process of purchasing a franchise. Franchisors often rely on brokers and consultants to find candidates, as they only pay if a deal is closed. This is true, and brokers can be beneficial. However, you should avoid relying solely on them for lead generation efforts.
If you do, you are outsourcing one of the most critical aspects of franchise development. This can slow down your development team and lead them to rely on brokers for deals. If you’re using brokers, you want them to be one resource and not the only driver of lead generation. And remember, the allure of brokers is to pay only after those leads convert.
Make no mistake: You will pay.
While they can deliver viable candidates, this can be an expensive option. Brokers can drive the cost of franchise development way up – by 1.5 to 2 times as much as internal leads.
Benefits of Internal Digital Marketing
The most effective and cost-efficient way to generate high quality leads is through a strong internal digital marketing campaign. This approach is also more sustainable than other methods. Even though it does cost money, you are investing in the long game. Your goal is to build a database of strong candidates, some that will convert more quickly and others that you can continue to nurture.
How to Build Your Database of Candidates
First, identify your target audience/persona – the perfect entrepreneurial candidate or investor for your franchise. Then determine the platforms that will reach these individuals. Using these platforms, you can craft messaging, content and creative that connects with and engages your ideal prospects on a personal level. This will allow you to build a pool of viable leads.
Using data-driven metrics, you can narrow this large group of potential candidates as you push leads down the funnel toward conversion, the end goal. You also can continue to nurture the other leads – such as those who may not be quite ready to convert but who are still interested in your franchise – using strategic tactics that will keep them engaged until they are ready to make a decision. This streamlines your process and allows your internal development team to focus on those candidates who are ready and most likely to buy a franchise. It also gives them a chance to keep other warm leads in the bank for follow-up or nurturing at a later time.
As you can see, there are critical differences between franchise lead portals, brokers, consultants, and digital marketing. Portals and brokers have a place in franchise development, but you want to use them wisely and understand that they are simply tools in your arsenal. Your long-range goal should be to build your own lead funnel, and digital marketing is the most cost-effective way to do that. Investing in lead generation is worth it, as you will be able to build a more robust, comprehensive, and sustainable franchise development program that will serve you well now and in the future.