The theme for June on 1851 is marketing, and my focus is on overcoming franchise marketing challenges. To dig into this topic, I tapped some of our clients (from a range of industries) to spill the beans on what obstacles they’ve faced and how others can learn from their experiences.
Liane Caruso, president of Crush Agency, works with lots of franchise brands and sees one common obstacle across the board: creating a solid comprehensive strategy and ensuring franchisees help execute the plan in the manner it was intended.
“Oftentimes, franchisees tend to stray from the plan, which leads to message or design inconsistency and dilution of the brand,” she said. “Our solution is to better educate our franchisees on the whys behind why we do what we do so that they can support the overall effort for a stronger brand and more powerful franchise system.”
For a brand that is just starting to franchise, the challenges are different. Josh York, founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ, an in-home mobile personal training and fitness franchise, started the company in his parents’ dining room with a bootstrap budget. One challenge he highlighted was deciding where to put his funds. Each investment – no matter how small – was a risk for a growing company. Ultimately, it came down to doing research and accepting that he had to try a bunch of different marketing strategies to see what stuck.
Budget was a topic that was mentioned by many of the folks I surveyed. Nick Powills, chief brand strategist of No Limit Agency, thinks one of the biggest obstacles in franchise marketing is not the amount in a budget, but rather, knowing where to spend marketing dollars.
“For many in franchise development — it’s not that they don’t have money to spend, it’s that they are at a loss for where to spend it,” he said. “Leads are not easy to find, and it’s not as simple as placing an ad and getting sales. The combination of efforts is something many in development struggle to understand.”
There’s no silver bullet, Powills always says. It’s a matter of finding the right mix of strategies to get quality leads.
Bridget Keeler, director of marketing and PR for Toppers Pizza, one of the fastest-growing better-pizza chains in the United States, echoed Nick’s sentiments.
“Our challenge is where to allocate dollars to get the biggest return on leads,” she said. “There are spaces where we know we absolutely need to be. The struggle tends to be in determining which trade shows to attend, which publications to advertise with, other advertising options and how we can directly relate those dollars back to cost per lead. At Toppers, we are constantly evaluating our spend versus lead return and make adjustments as needed – sometimes on the fly.”
Most of the folks I spoke to mentioned challenges that exist inside the system, but obstacles aren’t limited to there. Right at Home, an in-home senior care franchise, is most concerned about standing out in a crowded market.
“Right at Home is working to overcome this challenge by letting consumers know that we provide the ‘Right Care,’ which is our focus on the right people doing the right things the right way for the right reason,” said Rita Ude, corporate communications specialist for Right at Home.
The folks I spoke to work for brands ranging from pizza to senior care – but one common thread stands out. Whether you’re working to overcome the competition or create a budget that puts the dollars in the right places, franchises need to remain nimble and fluid to stay ahead of the game.