The turn of the year is a crucial time for lead generation. Here’s what franchisors are doing right now to spark development.
With January comes resolutions, and with resolutions come renewed and sometimes long-overdue pursuits of entrepreneurial ventures. Capturing these members of the workforce looking for a career change that brings more autonomy though still provides a model to follow is integral to any franchise’s growth strategy, yet many brands are still engaging in outdated practices that can lower their chances of retaining quality leads through the discovery process.
As prospective franchisees partake in more preemptive research and careful consideration than ever before due to the wealth of information available online, traditional methods of lead generation won’t cut it in today’s digital age.
“From a lead generation standpoint, everything is digital,” said Ryan Rao, principal at full-service franchise and business development consultancy Apex Franchise Development Group. Rao’s experience with the industry extends back to his college years working for his father at his franchise location, which in turn led to his pursuit of a career in franchise sales. He soon discovered the industry’s need for an all-encompassing resource to build business beyond the capabilities of a franchise broker, which eventually led to the inception of Apex.
Put simply, Rao said, “If I have $10,000 to spend on lead generation, targeted ads on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that I’m placing myself are going get me much more bang for my buck than would traditional messaging and lead generation practices.”
Oftentimes, established brands with competitive franchise offerings can bypass investing in lead generation due to their extensive franchisee network that promotes organic growth. Such is the case for European Wax Center, which has opened more than 550 locations and sold more than 800 total franchise licenses since beginning to franchise in 2008.
“To date, European Wax Center’s flow of interested franchisees has come through word of mouth,” chief financial officer David Willis noted. “Essentially, prospective franchisees have come to the brand.”
Brands looking to expand on word-of-mouth lead generation can best do so through strong multi-channel storytelling, Rao said. As audiences become more informed, engagement and content will be the driving forces in the franchise sales process.
“Franchisors who acknowledge content is king and tell great stories about their brand are best positioned to convert leads,” Rao said. “If I’m a prospective franchise owner and I’m reading about someone with a similar background who was seeking more freedom in their career, made the jump into franchising and is happy and successful on the other side, that story has a connection point and has the chance to move me. Compelling, qualitative content makes all the difference.”
While acknowledging traditional means of lead generation like portals, brokers and trade shows still play a role in franchise development, Rao emphasized the importance of digital storytelling to draw prospective franchisees through a brand’s development pipeline.
“There are nuggets of gold in the old way of doing things, but there has to be more,” Rao said. “The new way to generate leads and drive development is storytelling through videos, PR and strategically placed branded digital campaigns with agency partners,” he added.
Franchisors need to be more calculated in their approach to set themselves up for success. Despite an abundance of interested entrepreneurs, European Wax Center evaluates leads with a critical eye, Willis noted.
“As we continue to evolve, so too does our franchisee recruitment and selection process, which is now more deliberate and targeted because we have a greater understanding of the kind of franchisee experience and approach that best suits our brand,” he said.
Strategically identifying and targeting prospective franchisees with compelling content across multiple channels is the most effective way for franchisors to acquire and advance viable leads. Investing the proper resources into understanding who you are looking for and what they are looking at will make the biggest impact in executing these campaigns to ultimately convert leads into sales.