To remain competitive in today’s dynamic franchise landscape and maintain the integrity of your brand, you need to attract top-tier franchisees.
The problem is that the way franchise prospects find your brand and decide to buy are rapidly changing. The tried-and-true franchise sales and marketing techniques are quickly falling out of favor. What used to generate results just may not cut it anymore
Take trade shows, for example. With so many popping up over the years, audiences are diluted. Not only is overall attendance down, but most participants are unqualified “tire kickers.” The same goes for franchise conferences. Networking with other franchise execs over drinks is fine and good, but when was the last time it produced an actual deal?
Most franchise brokers aren’t any better. Investors often don’t trust a middleman pitching multiple brands that disappears after the deal is signed. In fact, some franchise brokers can actually damage your brand long-term by making you look “too available.” Likewise with franchise lead generation portals. They attract lower quality prospects, so many of them exist that none appear credible – while also having a notoriously high post-click fallout rate.
Then there is mass advertising. As the name implies, this buckshot approach to broadly disseminating your message is geared to the masses. With so much clutter in the market, some say it now takes more than 15 brand impressions to capture attention. How deep are your pockets?
It’s time to let go of the past and embrace your future possibilities. Here are four franchise recruitment strategies that are working – today.
- Maintaining a positive brand reputation online. Anything tied to your brand online – including brand reviews, ex-employees rants, social media, and customer review sites like Yelp – all matter. In fact, more than 90 percent of franchise buyers are Google searching your brand before inquiring, so it’s very important to emphasize accolades and manage negative comments.
- Direct Targeting of Existing Multi-Brand Franchisees. You may have realized by now that some of the best franchisees are part of a bigger franchise umbrella. By targeting these prospects, you’re dipping into a pool that is already trained, business savvy, and have the capital and infrastructure to quickly become a multi-unit franchisee of yours. How to find them? Check out this source for comprehensive lists and prospecting tools.
- Referrals from your current franchisees. Knowing who will validate your brand (and keeping them close and happy) is a wise strategy. Sure, a pat on the back is nice when they hook you up with a recommendation, but putting a formal incentive program in place and reminding them about it regularly is much more lucrative. It’s like having a big team of field salespeople, rather than a limited headquarters development department.
- Brand Website Improvements. Your site needs to be professional, clean and easy to navigate, with content and keywords that are optimized for best SEO ranking in category. Most brands have found it effective to have a separate website for franchising that is linked to their main brand website for processing applications. The applications should be as brief as possible to collect only necessary information; if you make them cumbersome or request sensitive information upfront, you may lose viable candidates.