An Integrated Approach to Franchise Lead Generation
An integrated strategy utilizing technology and old-school tactics can help franchisors close more deals with promising, well-qualified leads eager to help grow their brand.
By John Erich
Technology has had a drastic effect on the franchise industry over the past few years, especially in the franchisee recruitment process. Years ago, a franchisor would generate interest by publishing a small brief about the franchise opportunity and then relying on salespeople to walk the prospect through the remaining process. Now, in our technology-driven world, the process has shifted to where prospects expect to have a substantial amount of information available in a matter of minutes via the internet. To succeed in the franchise sales process today, franchisors need to adopt a new integrated sales approach. Technology is best utilized to attract prospects and generate enough interest to drive qualified leads to franchise expos for face-to-face interactions to lock in the sale.
An outline to mastering this system can be organized into three general “buckets” detailed below. By following these guidelines, franchisors can ensure well-qualified leads will be making their way to their booths at expos in order to close deals.
Bucket 1: Technology for lead generation
The internet is one of the biggest and most effective tools a franchisor has at its disposal. While a great way to utilize the internet is to purchase ads on websites such as LinkedIn, franchise portals, Forbes.com, Entrepreneur.com, etc., embracing the internet extends well beyond advertisements. Content creation is another effective route, providing prospects with information in a much more authentic way than advertisements, which risk appearing as overly promotional and being ignored. The content created and shared must be strategically planned to align with your ideal franchise partner’s interests. Choose content that will resonate with target franchisees the most, such as spotlighting relatable entrepreneurs who have found success with your brand or featuring studies that highlight the demand for your services.
Once the content and ads are distributed, the next step is to ensure prospects are being driven to a first-class franchise recruiting website. Your recruiting landing page is undoubtedly one of the most important components of franchise sales efforts. The foundation in which prospects will perceive your organization, the website will present your franchise as a potential investment opportunity and differentiate it from competitors. Prospects do judge books by their covers, so if your website is poorly designed and difficult to navigate, you can expect them to be instantly deterred. It’s key to find a balance for a high-performing website. It should be clean, engaging, and informative, yet doesn’t overwhelm readers with information overload. Develop a website that evokes feelings of excitement and promise for candidates that this business opportunity could be the next step in changing their lives. Also, make sure it is accessible via both desktop and mobile devices.
Bucket 2: Email to cultivate leads
You now have heightened traffic and visitors to your franchise sales website. What’s next? The next step is to encourage the prospect to build a stronger relationship with your brand and investigate the opportunity. With a simple call to action on the website, such as requesting information, you’re able to capture names and email addresses which can eventually be used to create an email-nurture campaign. An extremely cost-effective tool, the benefits of email are undisputable. The emails you send should be used to enhance relationships by strategically delivering relevant, engaging content with intermittent messaging. They can also embody thought leadership, industry knowledge highlighting your franchise opportunity, information on the brand such as its mission and culture, and more. Further, content should be shared letting candidates know about upcoming expos in which they can attend to meet the leadership team face-to-face and fully dive into the brand.
Bucket 3: Closing the deal, old school
A place to put forth your best and brightest attributes, franchise expos have the potential to gather more than 20,000 attendees seeking an opportunity to invest their money and start a new chapter in their futures. Expos serve as the final step in the recruitment process where all your technology efforts are put to good use to close the loop on a sale. Taking the time to travel to an event alone demonstrates prospects’ serious interest in investing in a franchise.
Given prospects’ preliminary knowledge, your team must come adequately prepared and ready to engage in sincere, authentic conversations to develop relationships with aspiring entrepreneurs. Remember, a prospect could be potentially risking its entire life savings to open a franchise, so a personal connection and sense of trust is vital to eventually closing the deal.
While the franchise development landscape is changing, the franchisee recruiting process is still ultimately sales, and as with any sales industry, nothing beats face-to-face interaction. By implementing an integrated strategy utilizing new-school and old-school tactics, franchisors will be well on their way to closing deals with promising, well-qualified leads eager to help grow their franchise brand.
John Erich, MFV Director of Marketing, has 20 years of experience in the trade show industry, specifically in marketing, sales and show management with companies such as the Craft & Hobby Association and George Little Management.