Sean Fitzgerald breaks down 5 common misconceptions held by franchise development teams.
The world of franchise development has changed dramatically over the past five years, but some franchisors don’t know it yet. Too many development teams are stuck in the old ways of thinking and don’t even see the opportunities they are missing. We talked to Sean Fitzgerald, Chief Development Strategist for franchise PR firm No Limit Agency, to learn which rules of thumb in franchise development need to be updated or throw out altogether. Here’s what he had to say.
Myth #1: Any validation is good validation.
Fitzgerald: Just because your candidates aren’t hearing anything explicitly negative from the franchisees they are speaking to doesn't mean your validation is good. If a candidate calls up a franchisee and asks, “how are you doing?” and the franchise replies, “We’re doing alright,” that’s not a ringing endorsement, and it’s going to be a red flag to the candidate.
Making sure your franchisees are enthusiastically promoting the brand to candidates is crucial. Validation is one of the most important aspects of the discovery process, and development teams need to be paying much more attention to it.
Myth #2: Your development site is a lead generator.
Fitzgerald: One of the biggest myths in franchise development is the idea that franchisors know where all of their leads come from. It’s the last-touch fallacy; they think that wherever the inquiry comes from is where the candidate discovered the brand, but that’s not how prospects research brands anymore. If you are getting lots of leads from your development site, that’s not because candidates are finding it on their own and then sending in an inquiry; it’s because they’ve done some research and decided to visit your page specifically to fill out an inquiry. It’s not a source, it’s a conduit. Development teams need to better understand the triggers that inspire prospects to start researching their brands in the first place.
Myth #3: More leads = more deals.
Fitzgerald: There’s a generally accepted statistic in the industry that one percent of all leads end up signing, so most franchisors think if that if they grow the number of leads, that one percent will grow in step, but that’s not exactly right. The problem is that the methods development teams use to boost their number of leads tend to attract poorer quality leads. They spend more money on portals and pay-per-click ads to drive up numbers, but they wind up with a bunch of bum leads.
What they should be doing instead is focusing on quality, rather than quantity, of leads. This goes back to awareness. If you establish a wide footprint with a consistent message, then when qualifies candidates are ready to take on a new business, they know to go to your development website. Development teams should always keep an eye on their Google Analytics to make sure they are not just getting a lot of traffic, but getting the right traffic.
Myth #4: Development strategy should focus on one marketing source.
Fitzgerald: You’ve got to have multiple touch points. This is a key component that too many franchisors ignore. Historically, most brands are spending all their money on portals or brokers. Those efforts may put your brand in front of candidates, along with a pile of other brands, but it won’t do much for your overall presence. You’ve got to stay focused on increasing impressions, and to do that, you need to have a diverse and expansive digital footprint.
Myth #5: Candidates will read your website.
Fitzgerald: Most franchisors will load up their development site with everything they want a prospective franchisee to know about their brand. That’s an understandable instinct, but it’s misguided. Candidates are simply not going to read everything on your website, and if they can’t find the information they are looking for, they may become frustrated and look elsewhere. Most candidates are going to your development site for a few specific pieces of information: how much does it cost? Where is it available? How do I apply? If that information is buried in hundreds of pages of content, you are going to lose qualified leads. Keep it short and sweet, and trust that candidates will get all the information you want them to have as the discovery process unfolds