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Top Franchise Development Websites: Number 5 — Cousins Subs

A panel of nine franchise industry experts judged over 200 franchise development websites and ranked Cousins Subs’ site at No. 5.

This month, the annual 1851 Franchise’s Franchise Development Website Awards have returned to announce the most effective and engaging development sites in franchising. A panel of nine expert judges evaluated each franchise development site according to three criteria: first impressions, quality of content and ease of use. Sites were scored on a five-point scale in accordance with these three criteria, with the overall website rankings based on a composite average of the judges’ scores. 

Ranked at No. 5 is Cousins Subs franchise development website, receiving an overall score of 4.00. The sandwich franchise scored a 3.86 in the first impressions category, a 3.86 in overall website content and 4.29 for ease of use. 

To determine first impression metrics for each of the franchise development sites, five subfactors are taken into consideration: usability, UI/UX design, site performance, SEO and mobile accessibility. Cousins Subs’ score in this category indicates that its user-friendliness and navigable design hit all of the judges marks.

“We wanted to showcase the brand and really provide as much info as we could without being overwhelming initially,” said J.J. Palmert, director of franchise sales at Cousins Subs. “We didn’t want the experience to be so much that it muddied up the info presented in the pages. The first page really hits on those key facts and the second page delves into culture, feature products and leadership. We felt that was the best way to lay out that information.”

Content metrics were determined by the presence of three important subfactors: motivating content, calls to action and reasons to buy now. Sites that excelled in this category use a storytelling telling element designed to compel a prospective franchisee, not consumers. According to Dianna Bailer, vice president of operations at Franchise Performance Group and one of this year’s judges, websites often fall short when they use consumer-facing, product imagery rather than imagery that sells the franchising experience.

“Where brands get hung up is in their use of imagery that sells the product and not the franchisee experience, which is what you’re actually selling,'' said Bailer. “One of the key differences between successful franchise development sites and sites that are failing is knowing that difference — knowing what you’re selling and who you’re selling to. In my judgement, I focused on those who nailed that buyer archetype. That’s the key distinction that needs to be made on franchise websites.”

Cousins Subs’ website features an informative Top 10 Reasons to Franchise, strong testimonials from franchisees, an introductory video into the brand’s culture and directly addresses prospective buyers’ burning questions, “How much does it cost?” and “How much can I make?” The site also quickly points out the leadership team, allowing for buyers to easily get to know the corporate staff they hope to work with. 

“To further offer insight into the motivation behind the design, really, we wanted to provide a snapshot of the brand and have prospective franchisees inquire and request additional information,” said Palmert. “We want them to take that first step to learn more and then try and bring them into the sales process to eventually educate them further on [Cousins].” 

And speaking of inquiry, it’s important to share that the ease-of-use metrics were determined by the location, depth and ease of the initial inquiry forms within the website.

For Cousins Subs, that initial inquiry form is the first thing prospective franchisees see when exploring the website, explaining the reasoning behind such a high score. From there, it’s made available on nearly every page of the website, offering buyers the opportunity to “request info” at any point in the browsing experience. 

The three metrics of first impressions, content and ease of use offer a streamlined way to analyze the effectiveness of Cousins’ franchise development website. As the rankings show, when these three factors come together, Cousins’ website becomes the starting point of the franchise development process and serves as the primary entry point into the brand.