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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.
Social Media Can Be a Powerful Tool for Local Franchise Marketing
ou know there are "right" customers and "wrong" customers and while you may not (yet) know how to tell them apart before they become your customer, you know that the "wrong" customers deliver the least value and create the majority of problems in your business.
Who is a customer?
Customers (or clients), by the way, are not just the people who buy your products and services. They also include your employees, and if you're a franchisor, they include your franchisees.
Be careful of expert advice!
So I read a passage on a blog that provided "some helpful hints on how you can spot a great franchise marketing system" and the first hint was this:
Customers are brought in the doors. This is what every business boils down to in the end, whether or not the marketing system brings in the customers. After all, that is where you make your profits.
Taking the express train to bankruptcy
And I thought to myself: Or that is where you lose your profits, your money and ultimately your business!
It's not enough to drive customers through the doors of a franchise, or any business. You've got to drive the "right" customers through the doors! Most businesses, and most marketing systems, do not fulfill that objective. And that's one reason why franchises struggle and fail.
So don't be fooled into thinking that a good franchise is one where "the marketing system" drives customers to the door!
Happy franchisees make the most money
To wit: Some years ago the new CEO of a major retail franchisor asked me to help his franchisees attract more customers and ultimately generate higher revenues so that (a) the franchisees would earn (and keep) more money, and (b) the franchisees would pay higher royalties. Since the beginning of franchising, franchisors have known that franchisees who make and keep the most money are the happiest franchisees!
So I spent several weeks working with a few franchisees to find out more about their customers. Here's what we discovered:
- It cost the "average" franchisee $100 to get a new customer to come through the door (that included marketing costs and the required fee for the franchise advertising fund).
- The "average" customer spent about $10.
- No one knew if the customer would return - ever.
- If the customer did return - no one could predict when or how often.
- The "average" franchisee did little to nothing to bring the customer back again repeatedly (and you may be surprised to find out why).
Busy, busy, busy going out of business!
So while it appeared "the marketing system" was doing its job, e.g. the franchisees were busy serving customers throughout the day, in reality "the marketing system" was slowly running the franchisees out of business (and perhaps into an early grave)!
That and the fact that the franchisees were so busy, busy, busy taking care of all the customers "the marketing system" provided that they had no time to do the things that would have insured getting the maximum benefit out of their customers, i.e. increasing sales, increasing frequency, building rapport with key customers, gathering referrals, etc.
Who caused that fire?
As one franchisee told me, "From the time I open the door in the morning until I close it at the end of a long day, I don't have time to do anything but put out fires."
Upon examination, most of the "fires" were caused by customers and employees. Occasionally, even though they didn't know it, the franchisee caused some of the fires!
Blame it on the franchisor, of course
You can be sure the franchisor got blamed for the majority of the challenges the franchisees faced. Frankly, I would take the side of the franchisees on that issue (though it does no good to blame anyone, but rather to accept responsibility). The franchisor could have done a better job sooner! In other words, the CEO that hired me had only recently arrived at the company. To his credit, he quickly assessed "the marketing system" and knew that it was broken. However, this company had been operating for many years prior to hiring this CEO. Where were the marketing folks all those years? Where was the company's leadership?
Why doesn't this system work?
So what was wrong with "the marketing system" at this company?
Simply, it was producing the "wrong" customers for the franchisees!
Even among customers there are stars
Through our continued research we further discovered that not all customers were created equal! Some spent more money than others and never, ever complained or started a "fire"! Of course, those were "the right" customers.
Problem was, "the marketing system" produced too few "right" customers.
Revealing more about "right" customers
Without giving away too much information (and revealing the company), here's more of what we discovered about the "right" retail customers for this franchise business. They:
- spent about twice as much as the average customer
- returned 3 to 4 times a week
- owned a business, which existed within 3.5 miles of the franchise location
- were males (64%) and females (36%)
- had partners in their business (46%); most often, a spouse
- were between the ages of 32 and 62
How to Franchise - Marketing
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.
How to Franchise - Marketing a Franchise Successfully
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