by Nick Powills
Franchise development is not easy. That’s why having a defined approach and knowing that no single activity will win every time enables you to start looking at your efforts differently.
Portals were a big tease – when they worked. Veteran sales people remember, and cherish, the good ‘ol days, when you placed your opportunity on all of the franchise portals, put your feet up on your desk, poured a nice bourbon and fielded calls from qualified prospects all day.
Your real selling was directed at portals, begging for better ad placement. You knew that A + B equaled C. Those were the good days.
Two truths: That was pre-2008; that was a decade ago.
“But, that’s the way we have always done it.” And, that’s the reason it doesn’t work today. But, we all wish it did.
As technology has gotten bigger, social media has created accessibility, anything is franchisable and demand for more deals has increased. That’s why those old tactics stopped working. It’s not just about someone who has enough pennies stacked high; it’s now about the depth that a prospect can add to the system.
So, now what? What is the silver bullet of today?
There isn’t one. And, that’s the silver bullet.
Yes, the silver bullet is that there isn’t one. It’s not PR, it’s not portals, it’s not airline magazine ads – it’s everything. The challenge is that budgets are not changing with time, and “innovation” within franchise marketing is limited. Positioning is unclear. Messaging is left undesirable.
<I pause from writing this, go pick-up a franchise industry rag and now present you with the ads inside>
The brands are irrelevant, the messages are important.
Ad 1: Ready to add more flavor to your portfolio? Image of food.
Ad 2: Be the helpful place. Image of six people who look like workers.
Ad 3: Shattering expectations. Image of a store count, many more “committed than opened.”
Ad 4: $10k bonus for new franchises. Image of a store.
Ad 5: Own your own sandwich shop. Image of a store.
Ad 6: #1, #1, #1. Image of #1 on fire.
Ad 7: Are you looking for a new growth concept with great costs? Image of a store and food.
Ad 8: Hot breakfast = hot opportunity. Image of a store and food.
Ad 9: It’s not just our food that makes us successful. Image of food, BUT, an image and quote from a franchisee.
Ad 10: Success never tasted so good. Image of food.
The good news is that these brands are putting their messages out there – or trying to, at least. The bad news is that none tell a story. None deliver the why. None have defined their story, their positioning, their messaging and their execution.
All of them want the same franchisee – qualified and ready to buy. But, put yourself in the shoes of the prospect. How in the world do they pick a brand out of the above when they are all virtually selling the same thing? I would imagine, though, that their “why” will still be in them being a customer or not. Great product, leadership, territory, growth, and sales are just green fees.
How can you win the war of lead generation if you don’t try to stand out?
Worst Case Scenario
So, you don’t know your why – how do you standout in a crowded marketplace? Well, the first step is taking all of your eggs out of the basket and spreading them out on the table. Each egg will represent a certain dollar amount. $50,000 budget, 12 eggs, roughly $4,166 per egg. What’s the goal? Two franchisees? Three? How can we move the eggs around so that we are investing in the best three or four options?
Now that you’re spending money in several different categories, you can start to define your why (unless you have the gumption to do it before spending money – pause, strategize, re-execute). Ask your franchisees what they believe your why is. Challenge them with a task that if we are going to find you again, how would we do it? What would we say? The bigger question is, do you involve your 84 percent in the conversation around growing the brand?
The worst-case scenario is you need a restart. The best case scenario is you need some adjustment. A great case is that your brand is blowing up and none of the above truths meant anything more than validation.
Franchise development is not easy. There are zero tricks to winning the war. Even with a budget five times that of the competition, you still own only .002 percent of total spend on franchise development. This is why having a defined approach and knowing that no single activity will win every time enables you to start looking at your efforts differently.
We are all afraid of change, but sometimes change in franchise development focus—like a little listening, a little creativity and good data watching—can help boost your development efforts.