Multi-brand franchising is on the rise. Experts estimate more than half of all franchise units in the U.S. are owned by either multi-unit or multi-brand franchisees. Franchisors are strategically developing new complementary brands and acquiring brands in adjacent industries to build brand families that diversify and synergize their franchise businesses.
The home services sector is one that was particularly active in 2021 for multi-brand franchise development. The industry saw a flurry of acquisitions by parent companies like Home Franchise Concepts, Threshold Brands, Stellar Brands, Premium Service Brands and Authority Brands.
Kathleen Kuhn, former CEO of HouseMaster, which sold to Neighborly in 2020, recently told Franchise Times, “I’ve never seen in the last three years so much interest in the space, and it’s exciting.”
The growing popularity of multi-brand franchising is not surprising when you consider the benefits, which appeal to franchisors and franchisees alike, such as the ability to:
• reduce risk through investment diversification
• grow business beyond the limits of a single brand’s geographic capacity
• operate offsetting seasonal businesses to create year-round revenue opportunities
• cross-sell and co-brand for greater marketing impact
• leverage infrastructure, systems, training and support for greater efficiencies
The multi-brand family structure allows franchisors to connect customer bases and facilitate referrals among brands, deepening the connections they have with each customer. At the same time, this gives franchisees the opportunity to build an even stronger presence in their local markets.
As one Premium Service Brands franchisee recently explained, “I have one customer who just bought a new house, and we refinished their floors through Handyman Pro, painted the inside with 360º Painting, and when it was all done, we did a move-in clean with Maid Right. That is really how the franchise opportunity is supposed to work.”
Capitalizing on marketing efficiencies of a franchise brand family
Managing marketing programs for hundreds or even thousands of franchise locations across multiple brands is a monumental responsibility. For multi-brand franchise marketers, the right technology, tools and processes are essential for capitalizing on the improved efficiency the brand family structure promises.
Among the most vital tools for multi-brand franchise marketers is a marketing resource management portal. This system helps brand family marketers connect with local franchisees, empowers local sales teams and streamlines marketing operations by enabling marketers to:
• Manage marketing assets for all brands in one online system: templates, logos, copy, designs and other assets
• Provide variable templates that give franchisees the ability to easily update and customize brand-specific and compliant materials
• Engage local franchisees in one central location, with easy-to-access cross-selling campaigns, marketing calendars, training and other resources
• Streamline local marketing workflows by automating redundant tasks, like approvals
• Track and monitor campaign engagement and results across brands for improved customer targeting and cross-selling
With one user login for all brands, multi-brand franchisees enjoy a better, more efficient marketing experience. Portal controls can be set up to ensure franchisees only see or have access to assets for the brands they represent.
Empowering cross-selling across multiple brands
A primary aim of most multi-brand franchise families is to raise the bar on the overall customer experience. Rather than having to visit multiple locations or contact multiple businesses, consumers can more easily access a range of related services.
At the heart of this model is the ability to effectively cross-sell multiple brands. Let’s say you have two or more brands that are appropriate for the same segment of consumer – like maid service, window cleaning, and carpet cleaning, all of which, according to our recent research study, appeal to the “young techs” segment. How do you identify these “like” consumers and deliver co-branded marketing assets so your franchisees can market to them?
To effectively sell across multiple brands you need to start with a CRM system that tracks all brand family customers. The CRM system should be integrated with your marketing resource management portal so franchisees can access lists for selling multiple brands to “like” customers. List access can be managed through a variety of processes and controls to ensure customers are not inundated with too many communications or pestered with irrelevant campaigns. With the CRM tied in with your marketing portal, franchisees can access lists tagged by brand or customer profile, which can then be used with co-branded marketing materials for cross-selling complementary brands to the appropriate targets.
Based on our experience with single and multi-brand franchisors, we expect the multi-brand franchise family trend to continue gaining momentum. Branding and marketing success for multi-brand franchise families relies on how effectively they leverage technology, tools and processes. Marketing resource management systems streamline complex marketing operations and enable multi-brand marketers to capitalize on cross-selling and co-branding opportunities. These efforts can help brand families realize their vision of delivering the one-stop experience customers will embrace.