How to attract potential franchisees?
For many Franchisors the most difficult task is recruiting franchisees to grow their business. Often a lot of effort is put into the franchise documentation such as franchise agreements, franchise operations manuals & other documentation but the recruitment of franchisees & strategy to achieve this is left until last or there is not a coherent strategy, so how to recruit franchisees?
Sell your franchise, the first mistake
So you have a successful business & have now put together the franchise operation, you now need to sell the franchises right? Wrong! This is a very common mistake ( one I made my first time as a Franchisor as well! ). You need to understand you are not recruiting a new employee or selling a product or service, you are seeking a business partner. Most franchise agreements are a minimum of 5 years & often rolling agreements. Although many marriages don’t last 5 years you need to consider this as a business marriage, it’s a very long-term mutual commitment between the Franchisor & Franchisee.
Hopefully, most people wouldn’t marry someone after the first time they meet & you need to be just as cautious as a Franchisor whom you are going to recruit as a Franchisee. Whoever they are you will be entering a long-term agreement & you will have many obligations you will be required by law to deliver.
Consider this, if you were going to pay them a salary & benefits would you recruit them? Also with an employee there is a probationary period if things don’t work out, there is NO probationary period for a franchise agreement.
Understand what prospective Franchisees are looking for
Why does someone consider investing in a franchise to become self-employed? I have spoken to thousands of franchise seekers over the last 20 years and some of the popular motivations are;
- Change of career direction – They may have been in a certain industry or role for a long time & have tried to change direction through employment but not been successful because of their career history to date.
- Less risk – Many franchise seekers have not been self-employed before & are seeking to work with a business that is already proven that can navigate & support them to avoid the many potential pitfalls of a start-up business.
- Support, support, support – Many new Franchisors look at the initial fee, compare to competitors & undercut without considering what a Franchisee actually wants. If the fee is low & so is the support a Franchisee will often opt for a higher fee if the brand is more proven & the support included more comprehensive. Remember to emphasize your proven track record & the support to assist Franchisees to be successful, this is what a Franchisee is looking for.
How to attract potential franchisees?
So now we have established you are not selling your franchise but recruiting the right Franchisees to grow your business how to attract potential franchisees?
Firstly, who are you seeking to recruit?
Do you know who your ideal franchisee is? Most Franchisors don’t in my experience, particularly newly launched franchises. So what do I mean, demographics like age, sex or even career background? No, anyone can apply for a franchise & if you have the correct training & support regardless of the demographic many could be suitable, so what do I mean? I have spoken to hundreds of Franchisors over the years & asked: “so what is your ideal franchisee candidate then, what’s the pattern if you existing network?” Many will answer that there is no pattern, all are different ages, sex, have different career backgrounds. There is no pattern, but there is if you look for it!
It’s not peoples age, sex or career background that counts, it’s the beliefs & character traits that will either make them suitable or not for your franchise, so do you know what makes your franchisee’s tick?
I have been working with a number of clients recently profiling people that are already successful in the role of a new Franchisee, sometimes this is an existing Franchisee, sometimes the business owner or employee of the company, the results are VERY interesting. If you do not know who you are trying to reach on a personal level how can you successfully market your franchise?
Franchise lead generation strategies
There are many franchise recruitment lead generation strategies that have been proven to be successful including;
- Franchise portals – I know I am biased but we do generate a huge number of leads & make it very easy for people to browse a lot of franchises 24/7!
- Social media – Franchise UK has invested a lot into this to build a 26,000 strong audience. We have found Facebook best, then Twitter for lead generation but building a niche following is expensive
- Paid search – Google Ads is great, we generate thousands of leads from it but I have lost a lot of hair trying to advise Franchisors to be careful but many make the same old mistakes, throwing lots of money to agencies & spending 10-15 times per click we do. I spoke to one Franchisor last week that said it was costing him £200+ per lead ( our average Cost Per Lead is under £6 as a comparison! )
- Local marketing – If you have just launched a franchise look at local publications, printed & digital, you only need one Franchisee per area & costs will be low.
You many note I have not included franchise exhibitions. In my opinion, these are a complete waste of time & have been for many years. I have heard phrases like ” great for getting your brand out there “, what does that mean? Franchisors need targeted, quality leads, people search online for what they want so to spend £5k-£50k for an exhibition stand that potentially could deliver zero makes no commercial sense to me.
Franchise recruitment process
So you have great marketing material, targeted for your profiled candidates & leads are starting to flow, what do you do next? Franchisee recruitment has changed over the years. You need to be realistic in that many of the leads you get you will not be able to speak to over the phone & lead conversion can be very low, under 5% although it varies wildly dependant on the franchise offer & leads.
People buy from people so you need that personal interaction but how are you going to get that if you can’t reach people by phone? Here are some suggested steps;
- Send out the initial email & franchise prospectus & then a series of emails. Your ultimate goal should be to obtain a phone call.
- By all means attempt a phone call but be realistic, you won’t reach all of them & if you call you should do this pretty much immediately so they remember your brand & take your call.
- Use video – A great way to build a personal rapport with someone automatically, delivering the same message targeting your profiled candidate as explained above
- Ongoing contact strategy – Sometimes a prospective Franchisee will take 6 months – 2 years to decide to invest in a franchise. I recruited a Franchisee once 3 years after the initial enquiry! You need to ensure that all leads get something from you on a regular basis, maybe a newsletter about the business. Don’t try to sell the franchise in these, just let them know how the business is growing, achievements etc
Good luck with your Franchisee recruitment, we are a friendly bunch at Franchise UK & if you need any support or advice call us on 01323 332838.