Opening your first franchise outlet can be a very exciting and nerve-wracking time for franchisee.
If you’ve never run a business or worked in the marketing industry before it can be a big step into the unknown.
There are many options available to you:
- launch with a bang and spend a lot of money to make your presence known;
- launch slowly with minimal promotion until you have your systems and processes running smoothly;
- a private VIP launch party; or
- anything in between.
Gloria Jean’s Coffees franchisee Brett Roveda owns two franchise outlets and decided with the first to opt for a soft opening.
“We decided at the outset when we started to fit out our first store that we were going to do a soft opening so the marketing we did was minimal and that was very deliberate,” Brett says.
“We wanted to make sure we had the systems set up correctly before we started really pushing and promoting the store.”
At the time Brett opened his first store, as a franchise partner in the Gloria Jean’s franchise, part of the set-up fees included $5,000 to be put aside for marketing and the franchise would match it dollar for dollar.
Brett says there were no restrictions on how the marketing budget could be spent to promote the store opening, such as newspaper ads or radio broadcasts for example.
However they waited until the store had been open for 12 months before they decided how to spend the budget.
“We were able to use the marketing funds to put up a big, lighted sign in the most high profile area of the centre,” he says.
“It can actually be seen from about a kilometre in every approach direction to the Centre which is very good for us because there’s a lot of traffic that goes by.”
Simple and effective franchise marketing
Rather than making a big ‘splash’ at the time of opening one of the simple and effective marketing techniques Brett employed was sampling.
“When we first opened up we had team members out sampling with guests or people walking by, with drinks and food, so very quickly people in the local community got to know that we were around,” Brett says.
“We also found engaging with the local community works very well, so we would support, sponsor and donate prizes to schools, local churches, community groups, cubs, scouts – you name it. And we still do today.
“What we find is by engaging with the community in that way the community repays us in turn by returning to the store and participating in what we do, so that works very well.”
In both stores upwards of 85 per cent of guests are return customers.
Franchise marketing variables
While there are many ways you can celebrate your opening as well as on-going promotion of your franchise outlet there isn’t necessarily a definite right or wrong way.
It really depends on the type of franchise, your location, budget and what suits you as a franchisee as to what will work best.
And while Brett has moved beyond just sampling and community engagement in the on-going promotion of his stores to include tactics like letter box drops, billboards and more, he stands by the decision for a soft opening.
“In hindsight having a soft opening was the right way for us to go,” he says.
More franchise marketing tips for franchisees
More tips on opening promotions and marketing for franchisees can be found in the Franchise Business Management Essentials eClasses, along with a range of other essential business management skills required for franchisee success.