How to get the first 5 franchisees.

Let’s face it, growing a franchise company is not easy in the best of economic times, especially for newer franchise companies.  Getting the first five to ten franchises sold calls for a lot of time and effort. Remember when you started your business, the one you have now franchised? Remember all your hard work and effort to get it going ? Did it pay off? Of course it did, otherwise you wouldn’t have decided to expand. Well, your franchise company is a new business and as such it requires the same level of intense effort and focus of your original business. The good news is that in today’s world of technology, marketing your concept and reaching potential franchisees has never been easier.

Eventhough you are granting franchises, there is no question that selling  principles apply to developing your franchise company. When there is selling involved, we need leads, period. Growing a franchise is indeed a numbers game. We have to attract the right people in enough numbers to make the difference; and, the key to more leads is to have a multi-prong strategy to marketing. Here are some of the potential prongs:

Traditional lead sources

  • Traditional Advertising (print media: newspapers, magazines, trade publications)– this is an expensive option and unless you have a very targeted market with an equally targeted publication, this is probably not the best way to go.
  • Promoting franchise opportunities in your own locations — Obvious? Yes, but it is amazing how often this is overlooked. Do you have signs that say “franchises available”? Do you promote your franchise on EVERY printed collateral in your locations? If you have franchise locations, are you also using them to promote the franchise opportunity?
  • Franchise coaches/brokers (The Entrepreneur’s Source, FranNet, FranChoice) — using broker networks is a great way to supplement your own efforts. However, you must spend time developing relationships with these people if you want to get results. Don’t think that just listing your opportunity with them is sufficient. They have hundreds of options they can choose to offer their clients and yours will only come to the top, if and only if, you spend the time building relationships with the members. (More on a future post).
  • Trade Shows (Franchise/business opportunities shows and your own industry trade shows) — these lead sources can also be expensive and time consuming.  Do your research and only make the commitment if they have a proven track record of success.
  • Seminars — This is an inexpensive way of building awareness about your franchise opportunity locally. It requires time and effort but they traditionally pay off, especially at a local level where your brand is known and respected.
  • Networking — Have you told EVERYONE you know that you are now franchising? Have you sent them an email? Have you called them? Have you asked your friends to tell others they know about your franchise?

 

Newer Marketing Approaches

  • Internet Referral Sources — Just do a search for “franchise opportunities” or “franchise leads” and you’ll be amazed at the number of these lead source portals.  Some of these portals offer monthly agreements while others have pay-per-lead programs. Make sure that the leads you’re getting from these sources have specifically requested information about your opportunity. If they are going to send you general leads you’ll be doing a lot of chasing around and, at this stage, you can probably spend your money and time more wisely.
  • Google Ads— This is a better option than most of the lead generation portals for a small budget, especially if you combine this strategy with Facebook instead of a general ad in search results.
  • Other websites Ads— Search for websites that are complementary services or products to your offering and consider advertising in them.
  • Your WEBSITE — another obvious place; but, are you taking full advantage of your website? Is it optimized for your franchise offering or is it still just directed to your main business? Are you just talking with customers or are you also trying to engage franchise prospects? Will it come up in a search for franchise opportunities in your industry? (See Previous Post of Website Optimization and future post on Using your Website to Generate Franchise Leads: Points to Consider).
  • Social Media— (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many, many more). First decide the best medium suited for your business and then get active! See future posts on using social media.
  • Press Releases — This media is nothing new BUT what’s revolutionary is how technology has made press releases so effective in creating brand awareness. Go to http://www.prweb.com, in my opinion, they have a wonderful service for small business owners. There are also a number of ways you can contribute to the effectiveness of your press release.  (More in a future post).
  • Blogs — Adding a blog can be a great way of building credibility to your offering. However, their effectiveness depends on your type of business. They take time and commitment.
  • Newsletters — Today’s newsletters are generaly electronic reducing the cost of producing and distributing them. They can effectively drive traffic to your website and create awareness of your offerings.  You’ll need to start building a database, if you do not have one. If you do, have you send an announcement about your new franchise opportunity to your list? Have you asked your customers and others in your database to re-direct the newsletter to people who they believe might be interested in the franchise offer?
  • Promoting your business — Remember all you did and hopefully still do to promote your current business? Well, now it’s time to do more. Use media relations wisely. For example, can you send media leaders in your neighboring communities invitations to come visit your location and then introduce them to the franchise offering? As new locations open, are you using this important event to cultivate media relations further?  Have you considered hiring a PR/Media Relations expert? They can get you in larger, better publications than you possibly can. The better your business is promoted, the more leads you’ll generate for your franchise offering.

Watch for future posts on similar subjects. Be creative and diligent and see new leads flowing.

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