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Aligning Your Brand Story to Attract New Franchisees

In order to grow, a franchise’s brand story must be aligned with its unique selling proposition, its mission and its leadership team.

Every brand needs to develop, tell and own their story. Brands fail when they don’t have a compelling story. This is the story of the brand — a story that is told consistently and genuinely about the transformative effects that products and services have on customers and the effectiveness of the brand's leadership in supporting franchisees.

“A big part of storytelling is understanding why you are telling that story in the first place,” said Mike McFall, co-CEO and co-founder of Biggby Coffee®. “Brands need to be true to themselves from day one in order to ensure that the right franchisee candidates find the opportunity and that customers are satisfied. The purpose of a brand needs to be shared and understood across the network. This organization was started with the key goals of making sure customers leave our stores in a better mood than when they arrived and allowing franchisees to build the life that they love — that is our story.”

A brand’s story isn’t just something that is fabricated — rather, it is something that the entire team lives every day. In many ways, when a franchisee invests in the brand, they are really investing in the story of the founders and the leadership team. 

“If people want to win, they need to go the extra mile,” said Josh York, founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ. “Since day one, I’ve become known for living this attitude, and I instill that attitude story into all of our franchisees. If you want to be a successful business owner, you need to be a good storyteller in order to be able to get candidates excited about the opportunity.”

The leadership team needs to be able to connect with candidates who respond positively to their brand story in order to create the strongest network possible. “I only want to surround myself with the best people, because we are all in the people business,” said York. “It is important to do business with the heart in order to find the right people for the brand and service customers the right way. I don’t bring anyone into my system or team unless I feel like our core values are aligned.” 

McFall notes one franchisee journey that represents the kind of story that his brand is trying to tell. “We have a franchisee who signed with us in 1999, our first year of franchising,” said McFall. “She wanted to open in one specific location, but we recommended a different spot. When she opened the first store, it started with a thud. Still, she worked as hard as she could and even slept in her car to make that business succeed so she could expand with the brand. Then, when she was able to open a second store in her dream location, she turned it into a massive success. Now, twenty years later, her two daughters have joined the brand and are going to take over the business. That is the kind of perseverance and passion that we want to showcase.”

In order to maximize a brand’s reach and to further support the discovery process of franchise prospects, brands will also want to make sure they have content (written, PR, video, social) that shares their story.

“In the digital age, it is sometimes just about breaking through the clutter,” said Amy Przywara, Sylvan Learning* CMO. “Still, it is essential that brands stay true to who they are. It is about trying to balance the cost-per-lead, strategic development sales process and the emotional content marketing. For example, Sylvan has access to hundreds of great teachers across the country, and we were able to leverage their stories during this crisis to appeal to those who may be looking to help their communities.”

When it comes to the franchise development team, understanding the value system of the type of franchisee candidates that a brand is targeting will help them align the storytelling so that qualified prospects will be able to find the brand.

 “If your candidates are most likely trying to find a better work/life balance, it is important that the sales team puts that story at the forefront so that those prospects can find the brand,” said Brenda Febbo, chief marketing officer at Lightbridge Academy*. “It is all about attaching the brand story to the problem that the brand is solving for the consumer and utilizing that to find the right people to help accomplish that mission.”

Brands also need to leverage the stories of winning franchisees in order to spread the word about the opportunity. “Using storytelling as a franchise development tool is about finding the passionate franchisees who have bought into the system and are performing well, and then telling their story,” said Paul Pickett, chief development officer of Wild Birds Unlimited*. “That is the story that candidates want to hear. Especially during COVID-19, candidates want to know how franchisees are being supported and how they are succeeding. It is also important to connect established franchisees with prospects to make sure that the story is being told.” 

By aligning a brand’s story across all teams, whether it be leadership, franchise development or marketing, a franchisor will be better positioned to grow in a way that stays true to the mission and spirit of the brand.

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