bannerFranchise News

Raintree Teaches Franchisors How They Can Triple Their Franchise Sales in 12 Months

To support brands reemerging after COVID-19, Raintree has released a playbook that offers a rare glimpse into how franchisors can drastically increase their franchise sales.

Franchise sales organization Raintree was founded in 2013 as a way to help brands find viable franchise candidates and scale their businesses. Raintree has come a long way since then — the consultant firm works with 18 brands, including Hounds Town USA and Nekter Juice Bar, and has helped each of them meet and even surpass their franchise growth goals.  

Now, Raintree has shared a playbook that outlines the five most effective strategies in franchise development that can lead to franchise hypergrowth. Although sharing these kinds of secrets for free is unheard of in the franchising industry, Raintree felt it was important to help brands get back on track with franchise development after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Define and Target the Right Buyer

Before franchisors start thinking about advertising on Facebook, Google Ads, portals or working with franchise consultants, the playbook notes that the first step is understanding the profile of their ideal franchise candidate. When it comes to attracting the right franchise owners to their system, the first step should always be taking the time to understand who they are targeting.

Many franchisors fail here, in that they acquire rudimentary data such as gender, age and perhaps a common occupation. This level of understanding or targeting will simply not cut it in today’s marketing climate.

If a brand isn’t sure why they can’t hit their dream goal, it is because they haven’t put in the time to understand who their ideal candidate is,” said Brett Dowling, CEO and co-founder of Raintree. “When franchisors understand who their ideal candidates are, what content they consume and what their skill sets are, they get valuable clues on where to spend money.” 

When Raintree partners with a new brand, they run through a variety of exercises over a period of about a month to create a dream owner avatar. Brands can accomplish this in a limited way by surveying their current group of franchise owners.

Once franchisors take the time to define the target franchise owner properly, they’ll create a domino effect of success in all other realms of the development program, from collateral creation to marketing campaigns and sales processes.

Create the Perfect Bait for Your Dream Franchise Owner

When Raintree partners with a new brand, they create a “franchise marketing content war-chest” of over 80 pieces, all playing their role in the various stages of lead generation and the franchise sales buyer journey. The reason Raintree invests so much time in building out these materials is because the ROI on these efforts in the sales process pays off for years to come.

According to the report, the most important materials to focus on in today’s landscape are the franchise development website, high value content and, perhaps most essential, video content.

“Based on the results we’ve seen at Raintree, video content is a main driver of turning leads into conversions,” said Dowling. “Great video content is able to showcase the community, support infrastructure and core values of a franchise brand in a way that no other material can. We find video content to be a primary driver in increasing the conversion rate of people who land on the site to those that fill out a lead form. We’ve even had selfie videos taken by franchisees become great sales tools.”  

Identify the Right Channels 

After completing steps one and two, the playbook continues to say that brands are now in a position to put an arsenal of content in front of the brand’s dream franchise owner. Now it’s time to choose the most appropriate lead generation channels and craft the most irresistible, click-worthy ads to pull prospects into the pipeline.

While every brand is different, and should be influenced by survey results about where target franchise owners consume content, the playbook notes that the typical starting lineup for lead generation channels often includes the following: SEO, Google/Bing PPC Ads, Franchise Portals, LinkedIn Ads, PR, Facebook Ads, YouTube Video Pre-roll Ads and Consultant Networks.

It is important to manage digital brand awareness — how many impressions and click-throughs the brand is seeing every day according to Google Analytics,” said Dowling. “The biggest lead generation channel is the franchise development website. In fact, any other channels that brands utilize, whether it is Instagram, Facebook, PR or portals, should really be used as vehicles to simply drive traffic to the website. The development website should be the place where candidates can find all relevant information and materials for moving forward.”

In addition, Raintree recommends that brands start with lead generation channels that focus on active franchise buyers — that is, leads who are actively searching for franchise opportunities. These leads represent the 17% of potential buyers who are in the active information gathering mode.

Automate the Lead Conversion Process

According to the playbook, this is where almost 99% of franchise brands get it wrong. When brands are trying to award 20, 50 or even 100 franchise deals a year, they’re likely generating a ton of leads. Unfortunately, since most brands haven’t properly executed steps one through three, the leads are weak. With so many candidates, it would be difficult for even the most tenacious sales professionals, without the proper technology in place, to excite and educate them all. 

Therefore, brands need to spend enough time and money capitalizing on some of the amazing sales technologies available to companies now. When brands invest in the proper CRM and automation technologies, they can build a process that allows the sales team to likely outwork the competition by at least 10 times, the playbook notes. Still, no matter which product a brand chooses, they are going to have to play a director role and oversee the build process carefully.

“Understanding and optimizing lead conversion data is essential,” said Dowling. “The development website is a very easy place for brands to start. Brands need to have a deep understanding of how many people are coming to the site versus how many are filling out lead forms. Before we work with a brand, we typically see their site operating at around 1% or 2% in terms of the number of unique visitors that end up becoming leads. After Raintree starts working with a brand, we’ve seen that number increase to 8% or 9%.”

Of course, this increase doesn’t happen overnight. For every brand Raintree partners with, the playbook points out that there are about 250 hours of build-work that goes into each CRM. That’s a lot of energy, and a lot of capital investment. 

Modernize the Approach to Selling

Once a brand has properly invested the financial capital for the first four steps, and the franchise development team has carefully executed them, they will likely have a deep and robust pipeline of qualified prospects. Now, brands have to ensure that they have a strong sales mechanism in place that can convert a high percentage of these prospects into new franchise owners.

“After driving leads from the development website, Raintree tries to ensure that anywhere between 10% to 12% of those leads continue through the process and agree that this could be the right opportunity for them,” said Dowling. “From there, our goal is to turn 5% to 15% of those qualified and interested candidates into actual franchisees that sign on to the brand.”

As the playbook mentions, franchisors need to hire an experienced team that has the curiosity and motivation to evaluate their sales processes and strategies on a regular basis, as well as test and implement new ways of working with prospects to maximize conversion rates. 

Leveraging technology has been a key part of this for Raintree, and they’ve quickly seen the ROI on it. In addition, Dowling notes that franchisee validation, communication and strong unit level economics need to be in place if the brand hopes to create a winning sales process.

With these five steps, Raintree is proud to provide a solid strategy for brands to see dramatic increases in sales results, so long as they have a strong team to execute it. While strategy is important, Dowling concludes by noting how important it is that brands remember why they are in franchising.

Dowling writes in the playbook, “Freeing folks up from the corporate grind to be able to own businesses they are truly passionate about is a gift for the franchise owner, and a privilege for franchise professionals.”

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.