Every executive connected to franchise development, whether a franchise development director, officer, CEO or founder, wants to know the secret to franchise development. Clearly, whether stated by me or by the thousands of others who have said it too, there is no magic tool. One thing will not solve.....
When it comes to marketing, a well-rounded communications plan will get you there. However, there is another starting point often missed – data.
Data comes in many forms. Whether that be Google Analytics, link tracking on your advertisements, or inquires – digital data can give you incredible insight. Before that, you must have a robust website that gives you a fighting chance at earning inquires. And before that (as long as you have at least one franchisee) comes real, tangible data from your current franchisees.
There are great brands, like Popeyes, that have created advisory boards built with existing franchisees. These boards are designed to ask questions around advertising, marketing and communications plans. These boards are designed to give the development team inside information into what messages they should use to properly communicate to a new potential audience.
There is also all of the content that Aziz Hashim has put out on how to attract multi-unit operators (go read his current cover story in Franchise Times). Whether with Aziz or with another strong franchisee, intelligence is sitting there for the taking, you just have to be willing to ask the right questions and network with the right people.
When it comes to franchise development, money is rarely the true issue – it’s where to spend it. Can you get a return from the franchise trades? What about newspapers? What about PPC? The answer is, well, I don’t know.
When it comes to development, impressions are really what count. And you want a countless amount of them, as each franchise prospects requires a different amount and a different type of impression in order to go from interested to inquiring. The challenge is that timing is everything and no one can predict when and where the timing is perfect. This is why brands with giant development budgets typically win the early rat race – because they spend, spend and spend and eventually hit the right prospect with the right message.
With timing being unpredictable, a robust strategy is your only chance at winning. A little bit of shows, a little bit of print, a little bit of digital, strong four-wall marketing, and solid word-of-mouth need to all be working well – and all be working to support the message you deliver on your website.
No matter who the advisor is, the final outcome will be the same (99 percent of the time, as I am sure someone has called in someplace), online. Online is where they will read about you. Online is where they will inquire about you. Therefore, with your people playing online, perhaps that’s where you will want to spend the bulk of your money.
But, don’t take my word for it.
The fact is, I am not a franchisee (yet). Therefore, I have never truly walked in the shoes of a franchise prospect. Aziz has. So have your franchisees. Find people you admire or trust and ask them what they think about your messaging. Ask them what they read and how they absorb information. Lean on them to help you navigate the complicated development landscape.
Data is sitting right in front of you – it’s up to you to grab it, analyze it and do something with it.