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Understanding the Franchise Buyer Journey

Franchise Performance Group discusses how franchise recruiters can be more effective in attracting and engaging qualified franchise candidates.

By Sarah Baumann1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 11:11AM 10/13/20

Franchisors of all sizes and industries prioritize franchisee recruitment, which is why it is so important for brands to have an effective content strategy. According to Forrester, 67% of the franchise buying decision is made digitally — though many would think this means that a point of sales cannot occur in the discovery process, think again. Franchisors can deliver a strong but subtle sales pitch early on in the buyer process through creative, strategic multi-channel messaging that drives potential franchisees to their most critical piece of content: their development website.

Buyers do a considerable amount of research before reaching out to a sales or development representative for additional details. On average, potential franchisees visit a website up to 16 times and spend 172 minutes total on a website to thoroughly investigate the opportunity. Joe Mathews, CEO of Franchise Performance Group, says franchise recruiters need to develop skills to pull off a successful strategy that drives potential buyers to their website.

“Lead generation is key,” said Mathews. “With a multi-tiered marketing and communications program, franchisors can almost naturally draw new franchisees that would be perfect for the brand. It takes defining a strong brand and providing a clear pathway that allows buyers to see themselves as a part of the brand.”

Having a “full-funnel” recruitment process from the bottom up is key to attracting franchisees, and that process should imitate the buyer process as closely as possible. Mathews says that Franchise Performance Groups clients are continuously counseled on buyer behavior. The consulting firm — which has helped over 120 brands achieve more than 4,000 deals — defines the buyer process in four phases:

Top of the Research Funnel: Anyone researching franchising as a career option.

Mid-Research Funnel: Anyone researching a specific brand as a career option.

Early Recruitment Process: When a potential buyer leaves their contact information and is pre-qualified.

Backend Recruitment Process: Any qualified buyer who fills out a franchise application.

Mathews says that a mistake many franchisors make in ushering buyers through that process is failing to reach potential franchisees early on in the buying process: “Engaging a potential buyer early on puts you into the conversation and can affect their decision making process. The more frequently they register a company as an option, the more they will consider the brand as a viable career move.”

According to Mathews, the heart of a brand’s content strategy should be their franchise information website. Any marketing and sales tactics a brand develops should drive potential buyers to that site. Half the buyer journey happens before the candidate even reaches a website, so implementing a multi-tiered strategy is key. That strategy should take into account SEO, PPC, social media, retargeting the consumer site, referral links, PR portals, email, influencers, and sponsored content.

“Your goal should be twofold: to provide helpful information and drive traffic to your site,” said Mathews. “All content, but especially that on the brand’s website should do five things for the buyer: educate, equip, empower, engage and eliminate obstacles. Brands need to make things as easy as possible for buyers to see themselves as a part of the brand because, frankly, it doesn’t take much to distract a buyer. It’s a big decision to buy a franchise, and you want to provide them with every reason possible to be a participant in the brand.”

A brand’s website should have a clear call to action, says Mathews. That call to action is essentially to buy into the brand. Keeping in mind that buyers can easily swayed from buying into a brand at any stage in the process, the website should be the beginning of a conversation that leads to a sales team. If any gaps exist in that initial conversation, the brand should create a piece of content to fill that need. Buyers should be as informed as possible by the time they reach a salesperson and, according to Mathews, the more educated they already are, the more engaged they will be throughout that final conversation.

“Never underestimate the power of rich content,” says Mathews. “It's important for the buyer to feel like they also know what they are talking about throughout the conversation. That’s why the discovery process is so important — the more educated they are prior to speaking with sales, the more they will feel like they’ve already made their decision to buy. Anything sales can provide should confirm what they already know.”

For more information on Franchise Performance Group, visit