Franchise brands face the constant challenge of generating a consistent and sustained level of enquiry. We all know a healthy influx of interested and qualified prospects is vital for franchise growth and expansion. Without a consistent flow of leads, it can be difficult to grow your franchise network and realise your business goals. To achieve this, franchise brands must adopt proactive strategies that go beyond traditional marketing approaches.
Below, we explore actionable strategies to generate a sustained level of enquiry for your franchise brand.
1. Leverage Franchisee Advocacy
Leveraging franchisee advocacy is a powerful strategy to generate interest and enquiries for a franchise brand. Your existing franchisees are not just operators; they can also be powerful brand advocates. When franchisees actively promote and advocate for the brand, their personal experiences and success stories can resonate with potential franchisees, instilling confidence and trust in the franchise opportunity.
From interviews and research I’ve conducted, one of the best strategies for franchisee recruitment is referrals. In fact, many of the franchise systems that have had quick and consistent growth in their early days did so due to existing franchisees telling others about the great opportunity to join the network.
In high-performing franchises, much of the growth will come from existing franchisees or word of mouth from franchisees or customers. This means that much of your growth will come from within — current franchisees buying new locations, franchisees telling their friends and families, and customers loving the brand and wanting a piece of it!
Support and empower your franchisees to actively promote your franchise brand within their local communities and professional networks. Provide them with the necessary tools and resources to articulate the benefits of your franchise opportunity.
Testimonials and success stories from satisfied franchisees can significantly impact potential candidates’ interest and generate a consistent flow of enquiries. These can be featured on your website, in marketing materials, and on social media platforms.
Ensure that the testimonials highlight the key benefits and advantages of being a part of your franchise system. Case studies that demonstrate how franchisees have achieved their goals and overcome challenges can provide valuable insights for potential franchisees.
Encourage satisfied franchisees to share their positive experiences on platforms like Google My Business or industry-specific directories. These reviews and testimonials serve as powerful social proof, highlighting the franchise brand’s strengths and credibility. Prospective franchisees often rely on such reviews to gauge the satisfaction and success of existing franchisees, making them more likely to enquire about the opportunity.
In fact, in a recent presentation by the futurist Michael McQueen at the National Franchise Convention 2023, he stated one of the Mega Trends is the ‘’age of empowerment and information transparency’’. This means that 86% of people check reviews and 84% trust those reviews!
You can also establish a franchisee ambassador program that recognizes and rewards franchisees who actively promote the franchise brand. Select franchisees who demonstrate exceptional dedication, enthusiasm, and a willingness to advocate for the brand. These franchisee ambassadors can represent the franchise at industry events, conferences, and expos, sharing their experiences and encouraging others to join the system.
Designate a few franchisees as brand ambassadors and provide them with exclusive perks such as additional training opportunities, access to company resources, or special recognition. These ambassadors can participate in media interviews, contribute to franchise publications, or speak at industry events on behalf of the franchise brand.
Another way is to motivate franchisees to refer potential franchisees by providing referral incentives. These incentives can be monetary rewards, discounts on franchise fees, or additional support and resources. By aligning the interests of existing franchisees with the brand’s growth, you can create a win-win situation where franchisees actively promote the franchise opportunity.
2. Establish Strategic Partnerships
Collaborating with complementary businesses and organizations can be a powerful way to increase brand exposure and attract potential franchisees. Identify strategic partners whose values align with your franchise brand and explore mutually beneficial opportunities for cross-promotion.
You could partner with industry influencers, trade associations, or community organisations to expand your reach and tap into their networks. Strategic partnerships can enhance brand credibility, create valuable referral networks, and generate a sustained level of enquiry.
Collaborate with your strategic partners on co-marketing initiatives to increase brand visibility and generate franchise enquiries. This can include joint advertising campaigns, shared content creation, or cross-promotion through each other’s marketing channels. By leveraging the combined reach and influence of both brands, you can expand your audience and attract individuals who may not have been aware of your franchise previously.
For instance, if you own a fitness franchise, you might consider partnering with health and wellness centers, sports clubs, fitness influencers, or nutrition companies. These complementary businesses can provide access to individuals who may have a natural interest in your franchise opportunity.
Just remember to approach potential partners with a mindset of mutual benefit. Understand their needs and objectives, and identify how your franchise brand can add value to their business.
Be prepared to articulate the benefits of partnering with your franchise, such as increased foot traffic, enhanced customer loyalty, or shared marketing efforts. Look for win-win scenarios where both parties can achieve their respective goals through the partnership.
3. Build a Strong Online Presence
Cultivating a strong online presence is crucial for franchise brands in today’s digital age. It allows you to reach a wider audience, engage with potential franchisees, and establish your brand as a reputable and influential player in the industry.
Make sure to develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that includes search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, content marketing, social media engagement, and a user-friendly website. Leverage data analytics to identify and target relevant audiences, optimize conversion rates, and continuously refine your online marketing efforts.
Your franchise brand’s website serves as the online hub for information and interaction. Ensure your website is visually appealing, user-friendly, and optimized for search engines.
Provide comprehensive information about your franchise opportunity, including key benefits, investment requirements, and success stories. Incorporate compelling visuals, videos, and testimonials to engage visitors and showcase your brand’s unique selling points.
Optimize your website and online content to improve your visibility in search engine results. Conduct keyword research to identify relevant terms potential franchisees might use when searching for franchise opportunities and incorporate these keywords naturally throughout your website, including page titles, meta descriptions, headers, and content. Aim to create valuable and informative content that answers common questions and addresses the needs of potential franchisees.
Establish a strong presence on social media platforms that align with your target audience. Create engaging profiles, post regularly, and interact with your followers. Share relevant and informative content, such as franchise updates, success stories, industry news, and tips for potential franchisees.
Encourage user-generated content by featuring franchisee testimonials or hosting contests. Respond promptly to comments, messages, and inquiries to foster engagement and build relationships.
Supplement your organic efforts with paid advertising campaigns to target specific audiences and increase brand visibility. Platforms like Google Ads, social media advertising, and display networks allow you to target potential franchisees based on demographics, interests, and search behavior. Develop compelling ad copy, engaging visuals, and clear calls-to-action to drive clicks and enquiries.
Monitor and manage online reviews and ratings across various platforms. Encourage satisfied franchisees to share their positive experiences and reviews. Respond promptly and professionally to any negative reviews, addressing concerns and demonstrating your commitment to customer satisfaction. Actively managing your online reputation helps build trust with potential franchisees and showcases your brand’s dedication to excellence.
4. Franchise Brokers and Online Franchise Marketplaces
Another component of your marketing arsenal is leveraging franchise brokers. These professionals can be valuable allies, armed with a network of potential franchisees and industry-specific knowledge.
Competent franchise brokers can serve as a shortcut to attracting new franchisees, bridging the gap between your brand and potential investors. However, due to the personal and hands-on approach of brokers, be aware the costs of using their service can be considerable ($10,000 or more).
There are also a number of online franchise marketplaces where you can advertise your franchise. These have varying levels of success and cost but are worth considering to identify if they work for your specific franchise. Examples include Eden Exchange, Inside Franchise Business, and Franchise Direct to name a few.
Generating a sustained level of franchise enquiries requires a strategic and multifaceted approach. By integrating these strategies into a comprehensive franchise development plan, brands can generate a regular and sustained level of franchise enquiries, driving growth and success in the franchise industry. Remember, the journey to franchise success begins with a strong and consistent stream of interested and qualified candidates.