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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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If you are an internal or external small business consultant for a franchise organization, you are constantly looking for ways to help your clients improve their marketing efforts in order to increase revenues.
The value of marketing efforts for franchises should be measured by both their cost-effectiveness and their results in terms of increased sales for the organization. Improved cost-effectiveness can be achieved by implementing better marketing systems. Such systems need to be designed to minimize the time required by the corporate office to oversee the management of local franchisee marketing campaigns, while at the same time they need to contribute towards an increase in the corporate office's visibility into the campaigns and towards increased brand consistency across the organization.
Here are 5 tips for small business consulting franchise marketing made easy:
Tip #1: Unify your brand image across all franchise locations by using consistent collateral: Fast-growing franchise organizations often find themselves quickly outgoing their own marketing systems that worked so well during the early stages of growth. The modus operandi for marketing within a franchise organization must necessarily change when the organization goes from 10 locations to 50 or more, but unfortunately many organizations fail to keep pace with their own growth. One of the riskiest consequences of this type of rapid growth is the loss of control over the organization's brand image due to individual franchisees taking on the task of managing their own campaigns using inconsistent marketing collateral. Therefore, it is important to advise your client to find ways to unify the company's brand image across the entire organization.
Tip #2: Put the power of ordering direct mail and promotional goods directly into the hands of franchisees: By letting individual franchisees control their own, independent direct mail campaigns, you give them the power to mail to whom they want, when they want. However, at the same time by doing so you may be giving up the economies of scale associated with centralizing your direct mail and promotional goods sourcing. The best bet for your client's growing business, then, is for them to continue to empower their franchisees to remain in control of their own direct campaigns, but at the same time you need to help your client find to streamline the fulfillment of direct mail through a single source.
Tip #3: Contract directly with vendors at the corporate level in order to leverage volume buying opportunities: By advising your client to contract directly with vendors who will fulfill promotional goods and print-related orders, you are helping your client to lower operational costs by giving them the ability to leverage volume buying opportunities.
Tip #4: Centralize mailing list generation for maximum quality control: Many individual franchisees have very specific ideas about how and to whom they want to mail coupons and other offers. And, by all rights, they should retain control of this process. At the same time, franchisees tend to have varying degrees of aptitude for list management. And, often mailing list data that is locally sourced is of poor quality, full of errors and outdated. By centralizing the generation of mailing lists but at the same time allowing franchisees to choose their list quantities and demographic selects, your client's organization will enjoy better ease of list generation and higher response rates.
Tip #5: Automate the entire ordering process to minimize the delays and errors associated with human interaction: Finally, your client will also benefit from setting up an Internet-mediated, automated system that enables franchisees to execute customized direct mail and promotional goods campaigns the features only corporate-approved collateral. Such a centralized system gives your client's corporate office full control and visibility into the ordering habits of individual franchisees, but it also safely leaves the decision-making authority about the specifics of each local campaign in the hands of franchisees.
When conducting small business consulting for franchise organizations in the area of marketing, it is important to advise your clients on how to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of organization-wide marketing. At the same time, your recommendations should find ways to empower franchisees at the local level to run their marketing campaigns on their own terms.
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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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