This is one of the main elements that need to be planned out along with the main strategic bits when embarking on franchising your business. The actual franchisee model will dictate a little of how the proposition will be marketed and to whom. What do I mean by this? Well…your marketing plan will consist of two parts:
(a) Brand positioning
This is where you are clear about where your position is in relation to the competition, and what the target customer looks like for the physical service or product that is provided as part of the model (i.e. these are the franchisee’s prospective customers). Why do you have to focus on this? Because this is how the brand will be identified as a whole in the market place and is how you will initially attract any interested prospective franchisees.
As a start-up franchisor: your marketing plan should include the following:
- a pre-phase 1 step of brand pushing (i.e. before you even start to try and recruit franchisees, take a few months to do some real brand awareness about your service/product, the reputation of the brand..and educate your marketplace about your business. I would advise a minimum of 6 months in staggered proportions in various media.)
- a preliminary step in marketing to the people that already know about your business (so this may be your current business contacts, client base etc)..and let them know that you have created a fantastic business opportunity and are looking for interested parties
(b) Targetted franchisee recruitment
This is integrated into the above (even for an existing franchisor) although there needs to be more of a focus on what your message is in your recruitment campaign regarding the business opportunity. My biggest advice on this score is to have a staged plan of recruitment advertising and marketing, leading up to an opportunity for any interested enquirers to come and see you either at a Discovery Day or personally. Interviewing takes up a lot of time, and shouldn’t be rushed, so my advice here would be:
- Carefully profile your perfect franchisee (in terms of their identifiable skill set, character and ‘drivers’), so you can easily identify them when they are talking to you
- Create an enquiry process that makes it easy for prospects to get in touch, but also gives you the opportunity to reduce the time wasters and the mystery shoppers
- Have a fabulous, eye-catching and attention-grabbing prospectus
By perhaps using a few dates to hold Discovery Days, it will give your sales team some clear time goals to get the prospects in by a certain date and you can plan your recruitment enquiry influx better. Discovery Days are opportunities for people to come and hear a presentation from the franchisor about the franchise proposition and what it can offer them. Make the day interesting and perhaps build in a viable FREEBIE…that will be useful for them when they walk away, like a tool that can be used again, even if they don’t go with your opportunity. You will be remembered forever.
Marketing is such a touch and go scenario, because of its subjective nature, but if you are responsive and listen really well to the feedback you receive (or don’t receive), you are already a step ahead. Here are some of my top tips which may help you cope:
1. Don’t be too proud to outsource for help
It is easy enough to outsource the preliminary enquiry processes – but make sure they are professional providers and a great ‘face’ for your business. First contact is very important!
2. Only stick with the advertising routes that work
It is expensive to advertise, so make sure you weigh up the payoffs with the cost of the route you choose. Do not continue to advertise in top broadsheets (national papers) when you don’t actually, physically get any response from them! (When you are big enough and able to…then advertising in these papers are more for brand awareness than recruitment.)
3. Think outside the box to find your prospects
Consider the options of looking at Vetfran (ex-military), disability organisations (as long as the disability isn’t a hinderance to operating the franchise), minority group associations (women, ethnic groups etc) and other kinds of organisations that have a ‘listening’ of individuals who are actively looking for alternatives to employment and want to start their own businesses.
4. Plan how you are going to manage filtering people through your application process
Always plan for best case scenario – so plan that 10 franchisees are going to signup in one month and ensure that your resource framework can handle this. If there is one time in a franchisee’s life you don’t want to mess up – its in inducting and welcoming them into your network. Make sure you have the support and training in place, so that all you need to do is ‘flip a switch’ and your systems swing into play. Smooth running is what you MUST aim for. People who don’t ‘make the cut’ need to be handled expertly and professionally…so that they are left with a great impression of how you deal with people as a business. (You never know – they may refer someone to you!)
5. Enjoy the growth and sharing your business with others
Although recruitment can be hard work, enjoy this time of sharing your business model with others, but also make sure you protect yourself in terms of how much you share at each point in your marketing and recruitment. Your adverts and marketing message in terms of the franchise proposition aimed at prospective franchisees must be ethical and wholesome, but attractive and competitive at the same time. Your enthusiasm, passion, pilot evidence and prospectus will be your main selling tools in the beginning – so use them wisely and don’t over promise (a trap you may fall into).