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Running a successful franchise in multiple locations and optimizing each one for maximum engagement and recognition in their local markets is definitely one of the most difficult tasks for a business leaders. Yes, you should trust your franchisees to do a stellar job and manage their branches in an efficient and effective way, but only if you have done your part of the job beforehand.
So, what is your job? As a franchisor, your job is to create a strong overarching marketing strategy that will help every branch maximize its marketing potential while ensuring brand consistency every step of the way. To that end, here are the most effective ways you can create a winning franchise marketing strategy.
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You have a successful business. That is step one. The business has enough time in operation to clearly understand the business model, the nuances of running and operating the business and the company has somewhat of a leadership position in the marketplace they work in. Now how do you expand beyond the first successful location? Franchising and Licensing your business model of course, but how? There are clear steps that need to be taken in order to make this transition from one successful operation to a system that replicates this success through other owner operators who buy your franchise.
It is called a Franchise Marketing System. The key is that you develop a system that creates brand awareness, interest and an overall "buzz" for what you are doing in business and around the offering for others to get into business with you doing the same thing for themselves. Some businesses and industries can create this naturally by way of being new, unique or having wonderful branding while others take a bit more "pushing". The key is that the business is successful that you are replicating and that you are selling a truly successful business model, the Franchise Marketing System is just about packaging that concept in a way that can be marketed and sold.
Building a Package. The first step in designing this system is to clearly identify what the franchise offering will be and what the overall "package" will deliver to the buyer. This should be very clear and succinct. Always remember that franchise buyers do not come to you for vague answers and ballpark figures, they want a defined and clearly outlined model so that they don't have to worry if they are "doing it right". Build the business plan for them so that they have a road map when they sign the franchise agreement, put together great operations manuals and make sure that you have a wonderful training program for them to fully understand the business and be independent.
Buzz. As a franchise organization, the best franchise marketing systems create the most "Buzz". It is no secret that most of the great franchisors in history were great "Showmen". Create the message in people's heads that you have it figured out... you have a wonderful life and a really great deal with the business that you are offering in a franchise... anyone could have this just like you do if they too joined this franchise company. Of course you have to back this up, but that is the message that fuels the phone calls and emails from interested buyers. Put together a great web presence, in today's market your website IS your store front, if you aren't looking the part online people won't take you seriously. Do PR work, try to get in print - it brings a certain level of credibility that online marketing cannot match. Once you have this market electricity, you need to funnel that interest into your lead generation system.
Lead Machine. It is critical to keep in mind that as a new franchise organization, you are running a new business. When you first opened the doors to your business, did you advertise? Did you run an ad in the paper? Did you work hard to create a marketplace for what you were doing? Of course you did, the same process needs to be in place for your new franchise model. Without advertising and lead generation it is very difficult to sell and volume of franchise locations. There are countless options to generate good leads. Pay Per Click Marketing, franchise lead generation sites, print, trade shows, PR work, SEO marketing and many more, the key is to build a great plan that incorporates enough avenues to consistently generate a solid lead flow so that you have qualified franchise candidates to talk to each and every day.
Have a great Pitch. Once you have people on the phone, it is important to have a great presentation. Why should they consider buying into your franchise? What makes you so special that someone should pay you $35,000 up front and a percentage of sales forever? The answer should flow very naturally. "We are... we provide training... support... This means to YOU that... and YOU will receive... and YOU will benefit from... " This includes having the collateral materials, PowerPoint presentations, fliers, printed materials and other items that go hand in hand with your selling anything... look and act the part and always remember that perception is reality to most people.
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When making your decision as to which franchise will work best for you, it is vital that you explore the trends impacting the investments you are considering. Shifts in consumerism both nationally and regionally can have a heavy impact on the market in general and on your franchisor specifically. No matter how solid you feel your plan for you business may be, if your intended product is falling out of public favor you have little chance of success. If you don't have a clear concept of what trends will impact your business, then you may want to begin your research there.
Once you have developed an overall perspective of the market aspects that most impact your franchise, take a look at the big picture. Investigate how your business, and those similar, have fared in the recent political and economic climate (and in the past). Review back issues of national business journals for articles related to both your specific franchisor and your potential competitors to develop a clear perspective of how the market has fluctuated and why. Dig deep. Consult statistics from census data and the Bureau of Labor Statistics and try to determine which demographic groups have most impacted the market for your product.
Brining it Home
Now that you have at least a general concept of what factors have made the greatest difference in your market, it is time to examine what factors are impacting the local market in your area. It is necessary to determine how those factors that have played a role nationally are represented in the area you intend to do business. If at all possible enlist the aid of a private research firm. This will ensure that the data you base your decision on is factual and up to date. Your franchisor may also be able to assist you in your search, as can your network of franchising peers.
Compare the Competition
Once you have a firm concept of the market and how it will most likely impact your new business, it is time to see if your franchisor has what it takes to overcome the competition in your area. Even if you are the only franchise representing your brand in the area, chances are good that you've got competing brands offering similar products or services in your intended sphere of influence. Compare your franchising organizations growth with that of these competitors and try to gauge whether or not your franchisor's growth plans are sufficient to give you an edge against competitors who already have established presences in your area.
Taking the time to research the viability of your intended franchise in the area you wish to do business is a critical step in the development of your business. Overestimating the marketability of your product of the growth potential of your franchise in your specific location could have disastrous consequences. An ill-informed decision could prevent you from seeing the returns you anticipate on your investment and severely cripple your business goals. It pays to take the time to make a smart and fact-based decision that will allow you to make the wisest financial decision in selecting a winning franchise.
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