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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.
Franchise Marketing Strategies to Bring in Clients During the Slow Season
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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Is Your Franchise Marketing System Turning Profits Or Running You Out of Business?
There are many benefits to starting a franchise as opposed to your own independent business. Some of those benefits include the proven business model, name recognition, and training and support that you will get from the franchiser. Another big benefit is that the franchiser will likely handle most of the marketing efforts on your behalf, though they usually require their franchisees to pay a fee for those marketing campaigns.
Since a good, well-funded marketing campaign is a benefit you should enjoy when choosing a franchise over an independent small business, you should consider what kind of marketing plan the franchiser has if you are thinking about buying a franchise, in addition to all of the other important costs and benefits specific to the individual franchise, like training, profits, and management. If you are strongly considering a specific franchise, and they either do not have a marketing plan or you don't like or agree with their marketing plan, you may want to look elsewhere - lack of good marketing could be a deal breaker, since it can be vital to your success as a franchisee.
When you are examining the franchiser's marketing plan, pay attention to what it offers and how much it will cost you in fees to the franchiser. A good marketing plan should cover things like print advertisements, TV advertisements, and direct mail to current and possible customers. Look for marketing in areas that you think will reach your target customers, and as many of them as possible, not just a few people. Make sure that you feel comfortable that the marketing plan the franchiser offers will be effective in helping you draw in customers, because it can strongly affect your chances of success as a franchisee, and, if you are paying fees to support this marketing plan, you want to make sure that it is better than you could do if you were paying for and managing your own marketing outreach.
Finally, you should find out if the franchiser is proactive and open to new ideas from franchisees in terms of marketing efforts. If you are completely happy with the plan the franchiser has set forth for marketing, this may not seem necessary, but a good franchiser should always be open to new ideas for future marketing, when things may change and there may be better ways to reach customers in the future, rather than recycling stale marketing plans 10 years from now.
The marketing plan of a franchiser is not always the most obvious place to look for problems when you are picking a franchise. However, you should place as much importance on examining a franchisor's marketing plan, and attitude towards marketing in general, as on things like profits and costs. Good or bad marketing can make or break you as a franchisee, and a franchiser who is responsive to your needs and suggestions with regards to marketing will be much more pleasant to work with and will be more likely to create more success for both of you.
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