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3 Silver Bullets to Growing Your Franchise
What key aspects contribute to successful franchise sales according to industry leaders and vets

What’s the most expensive purchase or investment most people make during their lifetime? Stop a random person on the street and he or she will probably tell you it was their home. Ask an entrepreneur this question and more often than not the answer will be their business.

The average restaurant franchisor spends somewhere between $100,000 and $500,000 just to get started, and full-service operators will spend upwards of $1 million. No matter what way you look at it, that’s a lot of money—so imagine the job of the person trying to persuade candidates to invest the majority of their life savings into a franchising concepts. It’s not an easy task.

1851 Franchise recently connected with Vice President of Franchise and Strategic Development of Christian Brothers Automotive, Josh Wall, and Chief Strategist at No Limit Agency, Sean Fitzgerald, to get some insight into the complex world of franchise sales and what key factors contribute to its success.

Build a Solid Website

Elaborate franchise recruitment websites are a fundamental requirement to successfully attract new marketing and franchise opportunities. It’s often the first place a potential franchisee will go when vetting out their options, so franchisors need to ensure that the site is consistently updated, visually appealing and includes key insight into the brand.

“It’s the most important thing we do from a marketing perspective,” said Wall. “We can work to manage the content, track success to see if it’s sticky enough to keep the right people in the conversation, and measure the conversion rate. If our conversion rate improves, we know we’ve made the proper adjustments to our site, which is the most vital metric we can calculate.”

Metrics aside, the site needs to offer content that provides answers to the most commonly asked questions in a way that’s easy to navigate.

“Provide information in multiple formats,” said Fitzgerald. “While some readers want digital content, others want tangible, hard copies. Offering as much information as you can on the franchise opportunity in a way that caters to different candidates often creates a higher return on investment.”

Know Your Target Franchisee

Lead generation and cost per deal are often the key criteria that franchise development teams are measured on, meaning the success of outreach is measured by quality, not quantity. This is especially true of Christian Brothers Automotive, which seeks very specific owners to join its franchise family.

“We’re looking to recruit men and women who are coachable because they’re going to be the healthiest asset to the bottom line,” said Wall. “We want to make sure we’re saying ‘no’ to the right people and ‘yes’ to the right people because we rest our entire program on the integrity of our franchisees. We have to ensure that we’re recruiting the best for our organization.”

With average yearly revenue on the rise and expansive growth of their franchise system in 2016, Christian Brothers continues to boost volume by getting in front of the right people.

“We’re a shop that’s not necessarily going to generate the highest volume of leads because we want high quality leads and candidates,” said Wall. “Outreach isn’t just an activity for our team. We are seeking passionate entrepreneurs who offer exceptional customer service and hope to become pillars of the community. Keeping this in mind when seeking out new franchisees is the main reason we haven’t closed a single location since we started franchising in 1996.”

Educate and Be Educated

It’s not enough to know what it takes to sell a franchise; the key to good franchise sales is to understand the industry and the investment involved. One way to do this is to consider getting certified by becoming a Certified Franchise Executive (CFE).

“Knowing the ins and outs of operating a franchise and understanding what it takes to be a great franchisee can help you quickly identify good from bad candidates and ultimately simplify your sales process,” said Fitzgerald.

Another key to the education process is getting to know the top producers of the company – their backgrounds, keys to success and advice they can offer to future franchisees. Doing this not only contributes to the knowledge of the franchise sales team by aiding in identifying qualified individuals, but can boost franchise sales by providing an example of professional and financial satisfaction for potential candidates.

“Don’t sell, educate,” said Fitzgerald. “People don’t want to be sold anything, but this is especially true when it comes to a large investment. Educate candidates on why this industry is lucrative, why they should join now, and why this is the best decision that they can make for themselves. A hard press traditionally turns people off from the opportunity.”

Finally, provide as much information as possible on your franchise recruitment website so those interested know the right questions to ask on Discovery Day.

“We put our item seven on our franchise recruitment website about three years ago,” said Wall. “This has been really helpful to candidates when trying to understand the investment range. Once reading through, they have specific questions to ask about insurance, capital, and build-out costs rather than asking for the breakdown. It makes Discovery Day that much more important because we know whether or not the candidate did his or her homework prior to visiting us in Houston.”

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