Buying a franchise can be a life-changing decision. So, it’s not surprising that prospective franchisees look at a variety of criteria when evaluating their potential investment in a franchise business. As franchise marketing leader and Social Geek podcast host Jack Monson explains, “They are not just buying a job – they are buying their future.”
If you want to help a prospective franchisee envision a future that involves your brand, it’s important to understand their underlying motivations. Empower Brands Chief Development Officer R. Scott Sutton says the decision process for prospective franchisees “comes down to the franchise buyer’s motivational priority. For some, maximizing their return on investment via annual earnings or exit valuation – or both – may be the key motivation. For others, the purchase of a franchise may align with lifestyle expectations and focus on community. These differences have impacts on which brands appeal to which buyers.”
For Franchise Development, this means not only understanding the motivations of prospective franchisees, but also figuring out how your brand aligns with their goals, and then communicating how your brand will help achieve them. A recent Forbes article explained, “Prospective franchisees will do their due diligence to ensure they’re making a smart investment, so franchises should be highlighting their unique, dependable factors.”
This is where your marketing operations and systems can play an important role.
National Branding to Local Marketing Support
Franchisees want to know a franchisor is committed to their success. One of the ways they measure this commitment is in the quality of your marketing systems and support. For this reason, it’s important for corporate Marketing to work closely with Franchise Development to effectively communicate all of the brand’s efforts to ensure franchisee success, from building the brand to local market support.
Monson sees local support as an important differentiator to highlight in franchise development. He explains, “It is a great conversation to have with a candidate. ‘Oh, by the way we offer this level of marketing support.’ I think franchisees would love to hear that the franchisor is going to help them with local marketing programs. Local customization is key for the local franchise owner.”
Pull Back the Curtain on Your Marketing Systems
Marketing has a hand in nearly every phase of the franchisee relationship lifecycle – from brand building, prospecting, discovery days and the closing process, to orientation and training, grand openings and ongoing local marketing support. Here are some of the ways Franchise Development can give prospects a view of this inherent commitment to franchisee success:
- Brand development. Touch on the organization’s commitment to its brand and the processes and systems that are in place to ensure the strength of the brand through consistent use – from national campaigns to locally customizable marketing materials and promotions. Demonstrate how the organization’s marketing portal supports this effort.
- New franchisee development. Demonstrate the power of your marketing portal to prospective franchisees during discovery days. Highlight the orientation and training that new franchisees receive, not only for business operations, but for marketing systems and support.
- Local market support. Organizations with marketing resource management systems equipped with location profile capabilities, can demonstrate how easy the marketing team has made it for franchisees to execute locally relevant marketing. This type of system enables the franchisee to order marketing materials tailored to the franchisee’s location, including corporate-approved marketing materials that can be customized for the franchisee’s local market.
We’ve heard from Vya franchise industry clients that demonstrating their marketing portal to prospective franchisees has been a tangible way of demonstrating the brand’s investment in state-of-the-art systems and technology and the depth of their support for franchisee success.
If your Franchise Development team is not touting your marketing systems and support, then your organization may be missing opportunities to persuade and convert prospective franchisees. What’s more, if your Fran Dev team is intentionally choosing not to highlight your marketing capabilities during franchisee recruitment, this could be a red flag that there are deficiencies in your marketing systems that need improvement, like the user experience. Have a frank conversation with Franchise Development managers to determine if there are any improvements that should be made.
The Value of Cross-Departmental Support & Collaboration
Franchising.com’s 2021 Annual Franchise Development Report suggested that “Franchise Development is a team sport.” Breaking down silos and involving Marketing in Franchise Development helps drive consistency across brand messaging and customer experience, resulting in franchisee success.
Monson agrees and says he’s seeing more and more franchise marketing executives with responsibility for both local marketing and franchise development. “When these two disciplines are separate, there is a risk of not being aligned and missing out on efficiencies.”
Indeed, there are efficiencies to be gained across the organization by leveraging Marketing’s investment in talent, technology, practices and processes. Franchise Development can be well-served by tapping into these resources and sharing in the investment responsibility.
What’s more, you can maximize the value of your marketing portal by allowing franchise development managers to use the system for their own marketing programs. Enable Fran Dev to order and customize their own marketing materials within the system. This not only will improve the efficiency of Fran Dev marketing operations, it will also give fran dev managers first-hand knowledge of the marketing system’s benefits, which will make them powerful advocates when describing the system to prospective franchisees.
Franchise Development is marketing. However, as Empower Brands’ Sutton told us, “In most cases, the franchisee prospect persona or ideal customer profile (ICP) differs substantially compared to the consumer ICP for a given product or service. Thus, a more focused approach is needed to market to, communicate and engage with a franchisee prospect.”
This focused approach involves understanding franchisee motivations and demonstrating how your organization is committed to their success. By working collaboratively with corporate Marketing, Fran Dev can be well-positioned to understand and promote the value of your organization’s marketing systems and support. Armed with greater knowledge about how your brand delivers on the promise of supporting franchisees, prospects will gain the confidence to buy into your system and their future.