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15 Tips for Winning at Franchise Sales

1851 Franchise gathered franchise sales tips from a range of brands and compiled the best nuggets of information.

Franchisors have a range of concerns and priorities, from operations optimization to marketing to legal counsel, but regardless of the segment, there’s one item that remains a crucial concern for every franchisor: franchise sales.

1851 asked franchise executives from a number of different segments about every aspect of franchise sales, from the best ways to utilize marketing campaigns to the value of finding multi-unit franchisees and more. Here are the top 15 pieces of information we garnered from franchise brands when we asked them about the best ways to sell a franchise. 

Get to know your target audience and ideal franchise candidate 

Franchisors need to know everything about their target audience before a marketing campaign can produce results. If they don’t do this, marketing dollars will simply go to waste. Workout Anytime is one brand acutely aware of the types of franchise leads it usually attracts. 

“There are three different segments that consistently pop up for us when it comes to strong leads,” director of franchise development Terri Harof said. “First, there are people who are going to retire but they’re not ready to stop working. Second, we get a lot of interest from people who are already in the fitness industry working for another franchisee, but they’re now ready to make the jump to become a club owner themselves. Third, we’re hearing from franchisees who are with other brands but are looking to diversify their portfolios.”

Content is king 

Content can have a major impact during marketing campaigns, and it goes way beyond sponsored articles, bylines and blog posts. 

“Whether you’re selling products or franchises, I’m a believer in content,” Penn Station East Coast Subs director of development and franchising Greg Goddard said. “Lead generation is interesting because everybody is concerned with a big number when it comes to the number of leads that you have. But to me, the objectives have to align with your goal. Most leads are relationship-driven — operators will research stories that explain what a franchise opportunity is really about. That’s why research and content matter.”

Prioritize building and maintaining a strong franchise development website 

Lawn Doctor* vice president of franchise development Eric Martin noted that prospective franchisees will often look to a franchise’s development website first to learn more about the brand, which is why brands need to make sure their development websites are up to date and filled with relevant information. 

“Have a development website that has information that’s useful to buyers,” Martin said. “We all know that people are researching brands for months, so whether it’s through stories on franchisees, videos or links, give candidates the opportunity to really learn about your brand through your site. You need to put a lot of information on it.”

Do not neglect leads once they have inquired about your brand 

Franchise brands need to make sure they do not neglect their franchise leads, even if everything is going in the right direction and franchisee candidates are moving forward in the discovery process. After all, they still haven’t signed on the dotted line. 

“It doesn’t matter how good your leads are if you don’t follow up with them and attend to them. You have to provide them with an amazing experience regardless of how many good leads you have,” Wild Birds Unlimited* chief development officer Paul Pickett said. “Franchisors need to up their game on their processes, communication and consistency on dealing with the leads they have.”

Do not put all of your eggs into one basket

Brands should not rely on just one or even two methods to find franchise candidates. There are many different techniques to employ, from portals to franchise brokers and more. Having numerous marketing campaigns running at the same time means franchisors have a greater chance of reaching candidates at every stage in the discovery process. 

“You have to be in a lot of places at the same time and know that it’s going to be more and more difficult to track where leads are coming from,” Pickett said. “People need to see your brand and be inspired by it on multiple levels in multiple ways before they engage. In franchise development marketing, there’s no silver bullet.”

When doing drip campaigns, create purpose to get prospective franchisees to open your emails

Each email in your drip campaign should have a purpose, whether that’s to highlight your brand being featured in the newspaper or a successful franchise owner who has a similar background in a similar market. 

Be prepared to address objections

Prospective franchisees can probably think of many reasons as to why they should not franchise with your brand, including financing, lacking relevant industry experience, competition, franchisee validation and more. Brands should always make sure to address such topics on their franchise development websites. 

Measure marketing campaigns (including drip campaigns) with data

Data is always a brand’s best friend, especially during marketing campaigns and drip campaigns. Brands should watch for open rates, responses and email opt-outs. Each trigger will give brands an idea of where the prospect is at in the buying process. Google Analytics will yield additional insight, such as time spent on a website and new leads. And if a prospective franchisee shows interest in a particular topic, brands should be prepared to provide more content related to that topic. 

When relevant, secure the right real estate 

Some brands choose real estate for their franchisees after careful research to prove that the market is viable for a franchise. This strategy has worked well for brands such as The Goddard School

“As our relationships with large real estate developers have grown, we decided to pivot our strategy to secure the best locations before selecting the ideal franchisee,” CEO Dennis Maple said in an email. “We chose this strategy to ensure new franchisees could feel confident in opening a Goddard School where there is a confirmed need for early childhood education. Another pillar growth strategy for us last year was centered around developing ‘live, work, play’ locations. We have a large pool of millennial parents that we serve, many of whom are choosing to reside in urban areas with housing, employment and entertainment all in one place.”

Remain selective when awarding franchises

Every brand wants franchise leads, but no brand should become desperate. Brands should always remain selective when awarding franchises, no matter how slow growth has been. Curry Up Now CEO Akash Kapoor would know. He noted that he is “super emotional” about the brand he founded and that three generations of his family are involved in the enterprise. 

“We’ve been very selective with our partners and we’re going to continue to be selective,” Kapoor said. “We like to say a lot of ‘nos’ before we say the yes, and I think that’s fine because this is a long marriage. We want to make sure we find people with a very similar vision and passion for the business.”

Capitalize on brand differentiators

Brands should make sure they capitalize on their uniqueness. In 2020, The Halal Guys will focus on leveraging the brand’s unique story to build a connection with audiences, according to CEO Ahmed Abouelenein. 

“Halal food is a flavor profile unlike any other cuisine format,” Abouelenein said in an email. “Much like the United States, American halal food is an impressive melting pot of inspired flavors that are a true culinary experience. The U.S. halal market makes up $20 billion of all food products purchased around the globe, up from $15 billion just a few short years ago. Franchising with The Halal Guys is one way prospects can capitalize on this rapidly growing segment.”

Don’t forget about multi-unit franchisees!

Brands should make sure they do what they can to attract multi-unit owners, including adding multi-unit ownership information to franchise development websites, according to Pure Barre president Sarah Luna. 

“Franchising is a very popular business opportunity and the landscape is competitive,” Luna said. “It’s important to provide details online so that prospective franchise buyers can learn enough about the investment opportunity and the business to be intrigued to inquire and enter into the due diligence process.”

Franchisors should put themselves in a prospective franchisee’s shoes

Franchise Performance Group founder and CEO Joe Mathews advises franchisors to look at their value proposition as an investment, with the same level of detail that they look at it on the consumer side. 

“The average franchisor should really reassess what they’re providing,” said Mathews. “We’re in a market now where the franchisors have to be lower risk than the job market and the stock market and yet produce higher returns. That’s not going to happen unless they take the time to look at their opportunity through the eyes of an investor.”

Grow at a pace that makes sense for your brand

Some brands want to scale as quickly as possible, while others do not. Hounds Town USA has taken a slower approach, having only established 11 franchise units since its founding in 2001. 

“I believe that it is imperative for franchises to grow slowly,” Hounds Town, Inc. president Jackie Bodanza said. “It can take years for a system to truly understand and optimize its own inner workings, to get the model right so that it can be adopted seamlessly and successfully by franchisees.”

Self-serve restaurant concept The Salad Station is also focused on the long game, according to franchise development director John Mike Heroman. 

“You don’t want to outpace what you are able to support,” Heroman said. “In the first two or three years, you have to be growing because your revenue stream depends on having franchisees, but you need to be focused on building the foundation for something larger.”

Focus on the health of existing franchises

Franchise brands should never neglect to take care of their existing franchisees. In paying attention to the health of existing locations, franchise brands, especially emerging ones, are doing themselves a huge favor in the long run when they help their initial franchisees and franchise locations. 

“Being an early franchisee has some benefits and challenges,” Pool Scouts* president Michael Wagner said. “Usually the cost to get in is significantly lower, but there’s more risk, and there’s always some growing pains. If the model is tight and you help those early franchisees find success, then fast growth becomes a much more viable option.”

Franchise brands interested in expanding their footprint have a variety of tools at their disposal. By taking advantage of technological tools and never, ever neglecting their existing locations, franchise brands of any size can scale their business.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.