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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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In order to go anywhere as a franchisee, the franchisor needs to have a sturdy and effective marketing plan in place. Here are some guidelines when it comes to researching a franchisor's marketing plan:
1) Know the Basics: You should take the time to learn the basics about how franchise marketing plans work. In general, a marketing plan is a map laid out by the franchisor that dictates how business will be brought in. As a franchisee, you will contribute a set amount of money / a percentage from sales into a collective marketing plan pool controlled by the franchisor (note that other franchisees will contribute to the pool as well). Depending on your needs as a franchisee, the franchisor will dole out money from the pool that will cover such expenses as TV commercials, direct mailings to potential and existing customers, print advertisements, in-house marketing expenses and fees paid to advertising agencies for their services.
2) Know the Right Questions to Ask: To get a good idea about the durability and success of a franchise's marketing plan, ask these simple questions: Do you understand the needs and tastes of your customers? Do you know the strengths of your competitors? (If you're an active customer of the franchise you're considering buying into, these questions can be answered pretty easily).
3) Get More Information: If you are one of those potential franchisees who doesn't know much about the franchise you're thinking of buying into, you should contact the franchise and request all available public information about the marketing plan. Franchises will usually comply with this request, if only
because they see you as a prospective source of income.
4) See the TOC: You should definitely try to get a peek at the marketing support guide that existing franchisees use. Whereas a lot of this content might be too sensitive to hand out to prospective franchisees, the franchisor should be able to give you at least the table of contents, which will give you a solid overview of the blueprint used to market the brand and product.
5) Seek Out Other Franchisees: Be sure to ask other franchisees specific questions about sales, the best avenues of advertising, and what the franchisor might change about the marketing plan (if any). As you've undoubtedly deduced, you can determine a lot about your franchising potential by gauging current franchisees' levels of satisfaction with the marketing strategies dictated by the franchisor.
6) Learn whether the Franchise is Receptive to Franchisee Input: For the most part, franchisors grant their franchisees some leverage in the creation of their marketing plans. Find out how much say franchisees generally have regarding marketing plan improvements. Also, find out whether or not strategies and/or ideas they've suggested have been recognized and utilized by the franchisor - this will give you a good idea about the amount of creative breathing room you'd have in marketing plan development.
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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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