For any new concept getting off the ground, finding customers is a challenge. For a new franchise concept, finding the right franchisee is the next challenge. In SoBol’s case, the customer was almost immediate. Jason Mazzarone created SoBol in 2014 when he noticed the demand for affordable and health-focused meals was in high demand. The acai bowls became a fan-favorite from locals right after he opened the first location in Sayville, New York. When the customer base continued to grow, Mazzarone decided to franchise the concept, which has since grown to 28 locations in four years.
What has been the key to finding those perfect franchise partners? Mazzarone and Pesko went into detail about their secrets to a successful franchise marketing plan.
Maximize Your Budget
As a brand is in its initial stages, managing the budget is key as finances start small and growth is dictated by how much development is taking place. Instead of running ads in costly publications, SoBol has opted to utilize the presence of corporate team members as its marketing tool.
“Get yourself out there as much as you can with trade shows and meeting prospects,” said Pesko. “We do a bit of digital, but most of our leads come from getting in front of our customers and turning them into leads.”
Build on an Existing Niche
Everyone knows food and food service, but it’s important to find that perfect niche within a sector that people already love.
“People are looking for something that’s healthy and affordable and can be produced quick,” said Mazzarone. “Once you find that perfect niche and build the product, it will become the base of your market technique. Get prospects into the stores and in front of the franchisees. This allows them to see the passion behind the brand and that the franchisees truly believe in the product. It also doesn’t hurt when the prospects love the food.”
Provide the Ultimate Support
A large part of marketing the brand to a new franchisee is allowing them to see what life would be like once they take that jump and sign on for a location. One of the big draws to the franchise model is the support that the corporate team is able to provide through a proven model. Highlighting this support is crucial to marketing your brand to the best prospects.
“Marketing has shifted from the notion that a successful marketing plan means that a company is featured in a print ad in every magazine,” said Mazzarone. “Instead, we walk people through the process and paint a picture of what it is like to be a part of our team. Corporate has to show prospects that they are going to hold their end up of the bargain in order to attract the right people to the brand. There are so many horror stories about no support when it comes to franchising, and a good marketing strategy means showing that the franchisee is able to see that this is not the case. We have always been committed to our standards and product consistency, and we expect the same from our franchisees.”