Powills: Recruit operators, not marketers
Powills: Recruit operators, not marketers

When recruiting ideal franchisees, most franchisors — and by most, I mean the brands that don’t just fish for franchise fees — search for qualified operators. Operators are important, as they will understand the various business structures and adaptations required to be successful. Yet, there is a h.....

When recruiting ideal franchisees, most franchisors — and by most, I mean the brands that don’t just fish for franchise fees — search for qualified operators. Operators are important, as they will understand the various business structures and adaptations required to be successful. Yet, there is a hard difference, in many cases, between great operators and great marketers.

This would be fine if franchisors handled the majority of the marketing executions for these operators. However, franchisors rely on the operators to market locally, especially in markets far away from the corporate footprint.

According to FranConnect, a leading franchise technology solutions company, 67 percent of franchisors say marketing is important, yet 47 percent say they don’t spend enough time on it. Clearly, there is a difference between knowing something is important and then doing something about it.

Franchisors require franchisees to spend locally. This is a good policy. However, the practice of local-store marketing is lost because many franchisees are lost in the shuffle of operations. As a local operator, they are in charge of maintenance, employees, hiring, firing, HR, the operations of the unit, superior customer service — the list goes on. With all of that in their 12-hour schedule, they now have to navigate the complicated marketing world and become experts.

What are the odds of that happening?

Before a franchisor can worry about marketing, operations do need to be sound. Without sound operations, products won’t be strong, service will be defensive, and marketing for more consumers will be terrifying. Therefore, operators are more important to the foundation than marketers. Marketers will build upon the sound foundation operators create, though. How can you train the operators how to market? You can’t.

As franchisors look into the crystal ball, many will point toward more automation, which could allow operators to do what they are great at all while automating what they are simply good at. Automation of marketing and communications and then fine-tuning systems operationally will continue to advance. The fine-tuning of franchisor expectations will continue to evolve, too, as expectations will be supported by measurement and data.

If you are looking for great operators, get great operators. Let the other pieces fall into place by relying on automation, technology and realigning the expectations you have for your franchisees. The argument that it has always been this way will not survive bumpy climates. However, understanding the fundamentals of the ideal franchisee may help you structure your marketing plan to rely less on your franchisees to become the ultimate marketer and more so to be the ultimate money maker.

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