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Not many people have the gall to turn down a $40,000 check. But, that’s a reality for America’s franchisors. More often than not, franchise brands are forced to close the door on a prospective sale that’s just not the right fit. It’s a battle like no other, especially for an emerging brand that’s spent anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 launching their franchise program – $40,000 goes a long way recouping those costs. However, admitting that you took a check from the wrong person, a reality that may not reveal itself until well into the 10-year franchise commitment, is an even tougher battle to fight.
Those in the industry, like the nation’s leading franchise consultant Mark Siebert, CEO of iFranchise Group, know that one ill-advised franchise sale can jeopardize an entire program. In fact, he says, “the single most important aspect of quality control is the people you pick as your franchisees.” Make one mistake and accept that check from someone who doesn’t fit your standards, and it could end up costing you much more in the long run.
There’s plenty to say about setting and enforcing those standards for franchise ownership and how they factor into the decision to award the franchise. But, let’s talk about developing a high-impact franchise lead funnel that ensures that the prospects reaching the sales stage are the “right fit.”
Before any sort of outbound messaging begins, it’s essential to create a detailed mosaic of what your “ideal franchisees” look like. We’re not talking height and hair color, by the way. Needs, goals, pain points and behaviors is what we’re really after when it comes to targeting potential franchise buyers.
If you already have a few franchisees, you have the benefit of examining top performers in the system to try and replicate. If not, in order to shape the profile, it’s important for a franchisor to ask themselves some specific questions, while doing a bit of their own self-reflection.
What personality traits are right for this business? What motivates our ideal franchisee prospect? What drives an individual to succeed in this type of business? Where does my passion derive from?
These questions, among others, work in conjunction to develop a specified target for your marketing efforts and allow you to create strategic campaigns to reach them. When a franchisor can confidently answer these questions, they’ll have a better understanding of how and why the prospect has sought out the opportunity.
Franchisors hope that incoming leads will have deeply analyzed their opportunity. Unfortunately, that’s not often the reality. Sure, franchise prospects do spend time researching their options, but truth be told, the typical franchise buyer is making the decision very emotionally.
Sometimes it’s because they’re unhappy with their current career or they want a more flexible schedule. Often, franchise buyers want something to leave behind for their children or a way to provide their family a lifestyle they never had. Whatever the reason, the key to reaching them emotionally is by appealing to them with an emotional message, obviously.
In all seriousness, franchisors oft-forget the resources they have to send those messages. Utilize success stories and testimonials from existing franchisees to help prospects understand that those who came before them. If you’ve targeted properly, it’s reasonable to believe that potential buyers may share qualities with those franchisees and have some of the same drivers. With this approach, you’re helping potential franchisees see themselves in your franchise system via real-life examples.
Eliminating the muck
Recruiting unqualified leads is a waste of valuable marketing dollars and can threaten to derail an otherwise effective strategy for franchisors. Granted, you’ll never completely eliminate unqualified, unmotivated candidates, but the more targeted you can be in your franchise messaging and tactics, the better.
One quick way – an ad campaign on Facebook. The social giant isn’t just for cat pictures anymore (although, there’s plenty of that still). Facebook advertising is one of the most popular and effective forms of advertising today, and for good reason. Between the huge variety of ad types and formats, and the world’s largest audience to target, it’s tough to argue why.
In franchise marketing, Facebook delivers some of the highest lead numbers across digital marketing initiatives, when properly targeted, of course. By refining the audience on Facebook based on age, location, income behaviors and a number of other parameters, your lead funnel may shrink, but will contain a highly targeted audience ready to take the next steps in your franchise program.
Matthew Jonas is the president of TopFire Media, an award-winning integrated public relations and digital marketing agency specializing in franchise marketing and consumer branding. Together with the leaders of iFranchise Group, Jonas established TopFire Media to fill the void of an integrated digital marketing approach in the franchise industry. As a digital marketing strategist with more than a decade of in-depth experience in SEO and PPC, social media publishing, conversion based marketing, inbound marketing, sales management, and online lead generation, Jonas has built a career dedicated to delivering an integrated marketing approach that achieves client success and long-term relationships.