Finding and weeding out suitable franchisees will always be a crucial issue in franchising – but smart franchisors are using new tools and techniques to make the process less fallible.
Not surprisingly, many of these new tools and techniques centre around the “logies” – technologies and psychologies. Here’s our pick of the 7 trends that could make a real difference to your franchise development in 2015:
1. The emergence of a new kind of Franchise Recruitment Website
‘Franchise Opportunities’ used to be the second-to-last tab at the top of the typical franchise’s consumer website (to the left of ‘Contact Us’). Clicking on the tab brought you to a short piece containing some bulletpointed franchise benefits, a terse message from the franchisor, and a testimonial from an ecstatic franchisee if you were lucky. Today, the tab has grown up – now it links to a whole wonderful world of articles, stories, videos and helpful graphics. As I’ve mentioned before, 15 years ago McDonald’s franchise costs, fees and requirements were a closely-held secret, divulged only to those with the temerity to sign a 12-page confidentiality undertaking. Today, you can find all that and more on McDonald’s own franchise recruitment website.
2. Franchisors have finally realised that prospects are also customers
Franchisees are people who have identified a need and market for their franchise, often because they started as customers of that franchise. Franchisors who’ve twigged to this now use an extension of the same branding that their customers have come to love in their franchise recruitment marketing.
3. Goodbye high-pressure salesperson, hello helpful advisor
Because franchisee prospects do their research before they even think about contacting a franchisor, there’s no need for those pushy sales ‘consultants’ that proliferated in the 90s and noughties. Today’s consultants really are consultants, there to clarify and assist franchisees to make up their own minds.
4. Transparency is key
Because of rigorous disclosure requirements in countries such as Australia and the United States, franchisors are having to take a “warts and all” approach to selling franchises. The best of them see transparency as a badge of honour. They carefully explain the facts behind franchisee failures and terminations while balancing them against stories told by successful franchisees. In this way, the franchisor’s integrity and openness can actually become a selling tool.
5. Social media replaces organic and paid SEO as a marketing tool
The use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and the host of other social media channels out there is replacing ‘traditional’ organic search and pay-per-click online advertising (Google Adwords and the like) as the most effective way to reach franchisee prospects – although the increasing commercialisation of Facebook and Twitter could change this.
6. The rise of prospect prescreening and testing
It used to be that any prospect with the necessary capital was accepted with open arms into franchising, but the realisation that the cost of business failure and damage to the brand was far greater than the benefits of unbridled franchise growth has dampened most franchisors’ enthusiasm for this practice. As well as providing prospects with everything they need to know about the franchise, more and more franchisee recruitment websites give prospects the opportunity to assess their own suitability as a franchisee. Those prospects who qualify and make their way into the sales funnel may then be subjected to any of the dazzling array of suitability tests and tools available to franchisors.
7. Putting new franchisees on trial
Despite its growing sophistication, prospect screening can never be 100% reliable. On-the-job performance can be a more dependable indicator. That’s why many franchise agreements give franchisors the opportunity to trial their franchisees during their initial training programme. Franchisees who don’t come up to scratch may find their agreements terminated and the fees they’ve paid – less the franchisors’ costs – returned.
If you’re looking for a better way to market and grow your franchise, we can provide up-to-the-minute guidance and a range of services designed to make your sales process more effective.
Article by Robin La Pere, No Ordinary Business and Franchise Consultants
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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