Franchise FastLane co-founder and CEO Ryan Zink offers invaluable advice for established franchisors and first-time franchisees alike.
Ryan Zink has been a part of the franchise industry since 2003, first as a manager of 15 franchised General Nutrition Center stores. After a successful endeavor as on the franchisee side of the industry, Zink co-founded Complete Nutrition, a network of high-quality nutritional supplement retail stores, in 2005. Today, Zink is the co-founder and CEO of franchise sales and lead generation company Franchise FastLane.
1851: What's working for your clients in 2019 that you recommend spending on in 2020?
Zink: Strategy and spend are way different for an emerging brand than they are for an established brand. Emerging brands must de-risk their process as much as possible. Instead of spending half a million dollars to attract candidates, find the consultant networks that fit your brand’s specific needs and outsource your development. While a small-but-proven franchise development team can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, outsourcing fees are often success-based, meaning franchisors only pay once a franchisee signs on.
Established brands should focus on garnering referrals from existing customers and franchisees. Social media makes it easy to leverage your brand because people already know who you are, which allows brands to target specific developmental areas like certain regions or demographics.
1851: What's the biggest trend you're seeing when it comes to franchise development budgets and spending?
Zink: Lately, I have seen a trend of franchise brands covering the candidate’s Discovery Day costs. The development process has become so competitive that franchisors are willing to pay for the hotel and travel costs of potential franchisee candidates.
1851: What's an area in which franchisors commonly overlook or spend too little?
Zink: There is a heavy percentage of franchisors that are running a process in which the materials don’t match the high quality of the brand. Signing a franchise agreement is a huge decision and franchisors need to prioritize an in-depth Discovery Day process, not just a Skype call or a two-hour meeting. Franchisors need to consider the franchise development process as important as any other sales process—spend appropriately and have an accountability system to assure it is being executed the right way.
1851: Where do you advise franchisees to spend their marketing budgets on the local level?
Zink: Marketing does not begin the day the operation opens. On a local franchisee level, franchisors don’t spend enough money leading up to an opening of their business. Find methods to acquire customers and sign them on for memberships before the business even opens, whether it is a pre-sale or an early bird discount. For example, pre-sales for fitness concepts often begin 90 days before the gym even opens. Franchisors all across the board should follow suit.