The franchising industry is growing at a steady pace, in both profitability and size, and with Australia closing in on 1200 franchise systems, the franchising industry has never been as competitive as it is now. So how are the best franchisors attracting new, quality franchisees to their system?
In 2016 it is no surprise that most franchisee recruitment activity is being done online. Whether it’s digital publications, industry websites, email marketing, or social media sites – it’s critical to have a comprehensive and integrated strategy for each medium.
However, as important as it is to be tech savvy with your recruitment, we cannot forget that it is just as crucial to build an actual relationship with each and every one of your prospective applicants. The best way to do that is to give them the information they are seeking from the get go.
If you only take one tip away from this article, it’s that content is king. It always has been, and always will be. No matter your advertising budget or target audience – if you only want to attract outstanding leads, your content has to support that agenda.
We all want to make our lives easier, and franchisors are doing this by automating their processes with services such as online forms, and email responders. But this automation can be the downfall of any recruiter. If a prospective franchisee sends through an enquiry, you only have a very limited time to connect with that person before they leave to search for another franchise. Some systems wait up to a week before responding to leads, and then wonder why the person is no longer interested. They forgot about you!
Make sure you have a process in place so that all leads are dealt with immediately, and if that’s not possible make sure it happens within the first 24 hours.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – have you defined yours?Whether you’re the largest retailer in your field, or an up and coming franchise system, all businesses have a unique selling proposition. Your USP is the message that must be conveyed in all of your marketing material. It’s the reason why potential franchisees will view your advertisement, why they will google you, contact you, and ultimately why they will join your franchise system.
A well-defined USP shows potential franchisees the core to your success - whether it’s buying power, franchisee support or a household brand name – you must highlight the USP in all content that you put out to the public.
No matter what stage the franchise is going through the unique selling proposition is always easy to find.
Bing Boy – Unique and exciting product
Salsa’s Fresh Mex – Fresh and great tasting food
XGolf – Industry leading product development for over 10 years
Australian Skin Clinics – Industry leading in safety and excellence
How are you selling your profitability?When you get down to it, a prospective franchisee is looking for financial security. That’s one of the reason why they are looking at a franchise in the first place. Franchise systems have a higher success rate than independent small businesses. Therefore, if a prospective franchisee is looking for some financial security or freedom as part of their decision making, you have to find a way of demonstrating that about your franchise model.
There are certain limitations around discussing profitability as a franchisor, particularly with the rules around prior representation, however, you need to make prospective franchisee feel at ease that your model fits their expectations.
There are several ways of doing this without breaching any laws. It is important to remember that you are allowed to present real facts, what you cannot do is represent predications.
Therefore, use real facts to present your financial modelling. Prospective franchisees really want to know this, and you can come across as evasive if you don’t have this crucial conversation. It is important to always explain in all of your communication that none of the information you provide should be taken as a predication or guarantee of earnings. You should also mention that, like any business, your business model provides them the basis of creating a great business, but it will be their hard work and dedication that will truly make the business a success.
TIP: Benchmarking against similar sized stores within your system can make prospective franchisees feel more comfortable with your system.
Price range for entry – does it matter?
The price range that you advertise your business for sale can determine both the type of person that will be applying, and the investment potential of the person.
Much like some other industries, underquoting is sometimes used to encourage enquires from those looking at a lower investment level, but let’s be honest – what’s that really doing?
Your franchise development team are just going to waste time sifting through unsuitable leads that are unlikely to amount to anything.
Be clear with your investment price range, if you can’t enter the business with less than $300,000 make sure that the intended audience are well aware of the number.
The investment cost should give potential franchisees a general idea of what purchasing a franchise with all the included features would cost. It’s not a detailed breakdown of all costs.
To stay on the side of safety it is better to overestimate than to underestimate.
Keep in mind that offering a lower entry cost into your system is always a choice the franchisor has. Poolwerx and many other franchise systems give franchisees the opportunity to enter at a lower cost by offering mobile locations, which can then progress into retail stores.
TIP: Make sure that your offer is most appealing to your target market. If that includes displaying an inclusive fee and a higher total price, so be it.
So where should all this content be going?
As previously mentioned – the majority of franchise recruitment advertising is now online and having multiple online advertising avenues is a must.
Email Marketing Campaigns
Email blasts are seeing increased popularity in the franchise recruitment scene, due to the quality of leads and relatively low costs.
Be on the lookout for databases with a high quality and up to date subscription base. Many lists are full of consultants and members who are not really your target audience, so do your research before committing to these e-blasts.
TIP: The cheapest option may not always be the best option here. Ask whoever you are using how big their databases is and who is their average subscriber.
Business for sale websites – Seek Commercial, BusinessView, etc.
External websites can be a great place to advertise business opportunities for sale, however it is easy to get caught up in the hype of the larger market players.
There are a number of online directories that will work.
TIP: Seek Commercial is not your only option. Many other directories have similar monthly page views as Seek Commercial at a lower cost per month.
Traditional media – magazines and newspapers
With the rise of the internet traditional magazines and newspapers have been struggling to keep their market influence. However, many industry magazines are still the go to place for articles, and relevant information. Does your industry have a dominant magazine?
There is still value in these mediums, however, you shouldn’t expect that you place an ad and watch the leads come in. You need to interact more with these mediums. Most magazines have an online arm, so when using them, ensure you are also connecting with their online audience.
TIP: If you’re paying for an advertisement, ask to be featured for an editorial once in a while. These can often add more weight than a stand-alone advertisement.
Is your website highlighting that franchise opportunities exist?
You have a captive consumer who is likely already a fan of your product or service – make sure that they know that they could be your next franchisee.
As mentioned earlier, content is king! And the medium that you will have the most control over will be your website. Therefore, all of the previously mentioned forms of advertising should all be directly linking back to your website in one way or another.
Hairhouse Warehouse has recently launched their own Hairhouse Franchising website that includes a vast amount of information about franchising with Hairhouse Warehouse as well as franchisee testimonials and the contact details of the Franchise Development Team. www.hairhousefranchising.com.au
TIP: If your website only focuses on consumers and not on you franchise offer, it may be time to rethink the page design.
Have you thought about your customers? By far your best lead source should be your customers. The brand that does this best is Subway. Every Subway has napkins and apart from their logo, franchise opportunities are the thing they put on their napkins. Think about it in your business, what’s your napkin? Think through your business model and think about what is the equivalent in your business model. Quest Apartment Hotels for example have ads and franchise stories in their in house guest magazine. So think about what your customers are looking at.
TIP: If you are a retail brand, and use catalogues in your brand, why not have a franchise splash in your catalogue.
Budgeting and marketing
Some franchise systems still do not have a dedicated franchisee recruitment budget, and this can cause stress on the development team.
You need to think about franchise development separately from your everyday marketing. Most brands focus their marketing on the consumer, which may be a different audience to your potential franchisee. Therefore you need to make sure that you are clearly marketing your franchise offer to the correct target audience.
It doesn’t matter how much the budget, what matters is how you use it. Over 12 months a $20,000 budget can get a decent amount of quality leads without too much effort. Having a dedicated budget also allows the development team to trial, and existing campaigns throughout the year, but it also allows you to track your spend far better and more importantly, track it’s effectiveness.
TIP: Don’t throw out an idea because it didn’t work. A/B test your marketing initiatives to figure out why things are and are not working.
CRM and database
Finally, a subject close to this writers heart, invest in a decent CRM database system. There is nothing worse than having your sales people bogged down in having to work off spreadsheets or an antiquated database; keeping them updated and spending a lot of time doing this rather than being out there talking to prospective franchisees and selling.
There are several cost effective CRM systems out there that will make your processes more streamlined. More importantly, they will helps your sales people track their progress in a much better way and not let any leads fall through the cracks. Converting 1 to 2 extra leads as a result of having a good CRM virtually pays for your CRM.
TIP: Look for a CRM that can link to your emails so that it is also a repository for all of your communication and documents so you have a clear paper trail with every candidate.
There are many different methods and strategies when it comes to franchisee recruitment. At the end of the day what works really well for one brand, may not be as effective for another. There are several factors that will make something work well in one brand versus another.
What might work one month, may see no results the following month. It’s important to have a wide variety of marketing initiatives that are evenly spread out throughout the year.
About the authors:
Peter Fiasco: Peter is the National Franchise Development Manager for Hairhouse Warhouse and currently sits of the Franchise Council of Australia, Victoria Commitee Boarc. Peter has more than 20 years of experience working with small and large retail brands.
Jeremy Szelag: Jeremy is the Digital Media Specialist at FC Business Solutions and has operated an online store which provided with valuable marketing, advertising, social media and public relations experience.
This article was originally published in the March/April editor of Business Franchise Australia.