Here’s a leading statement you’ve probably never heard before – I love boring franchise industries.
That’s right – I love boring, “unsexy,” under-the-radar franchise industries. I love them because in a boring industry, an exciting franchise company, like OpenWorks, can be successful if they possess three pivotal characteristics:
1) A recession proof or resistant business model.
2) Products and services customers and/or business owners truly need.
3) A strong presence in an industry poised for growth.
And when it comes to selling franchise opportunities, I’ll take those three characteristics any day over a brand with an iconic name or a franchise concept within a “sexy” and “trending” industry.
People frequently try to call my bluff on this topic, but it’s true. As the Executive VP for OpenWorks, the nation’s leading integrated facility services and commercial cleaning franchise, I have the opportunity to award opportunities to passionate entrepreneurs who are buying into the brand because they believe in the business model, trust the company’s leaders, and possess the skills required to thrive as an OpenWorks franchise owner. We rarely face the same debilitating prospect-qualifying issue “sexier” brands, like restaurants, gyms and massage clinics, do, because quite simply, there aren’t many prospects who come to us saying “I love cleaning, so I want to launch an OpenWorks location.”
So, yes, I’m writing this article to encourage other franchise development professionals who work for “unsexy” brands that are led by a visionary founder, like OpenWorks’ Eric Roudi, and an excellent executive team to adopt a different perspective – “unsexy” is the new sexy!
Here are the five tips I’d like to share that can help you make your “unsexy” franchise brand a “sexy” investment
opportunity for qualified franchise prospects:
1) Showcase your Franchisees as Local Experts
You’ll notice a trend with each of these tips – “humanizing” your brand on all levels is key. This starts with your franchisees. At the end of the day, people really do buy from people so it’s important to help your franchisees promote themselves in the local markets they serve.
Think about the storylines and topics on which your franchisees would qualify as experts. What’s trending in the news? How could they respond and offer their expertise?
Here’s an example for OpenWorks. Earlier this year, we thought of a creative and timely way to showcase our local franchisees as experts – positioning them as the local experts on blocking the flu at the office to keep homes and children safe over the winter. We created a press release and a list of tips to protect offices and their employees from the flu and helped our franchisees contact media members to generate local stories on the topic.
Work with your team to develop campaigns and storylines like the flu idea that fit your company’s culture and value proposition – the third party endorsements and exposure you receive from the media will truly help your franchisees move the needle.
2) Create a Powerfully Emotional Brand Identity
Just because your company operates within a “boring” industry doesn’t mean your company has to be “boring,” too. That’s the power of branding – you CAN help your company stand out from the crowd even if the products and services you offer aren’t “sexy.”
We’ve recently harnessed the power of branding over here at OpenWorks and it’s paid big dividends. In the last year, we have worked with 919 Marketing to execute a full-scale re-branding project and overhaul our brand’s messaging, marketing, and online presence. They helped us conduct consumer research that provided us with a powerful tagline that perfectly describes our unique value proposition as the first commercial cleaning franchise to offer integrated facility services solutions – “Improving Facilities and Pleasing People.”
Additionally, 919 Marketing has helped us execute a monthly PR and content marketing program that allows us to promote key company announcements highlight major media coverage, and share important tips and insights with our customers and franchise prospects. Branding is key to “humanizing” your company and attracting customers and prospects – take it seriously!
3) Do What Your Competitors Won’t
I love this particular point because it allows me to speak about something our franchisees love – we sell for them. Most prospective franchisees don’t believe me when I tell them they will never have to go out and secure business for themselves, but it’s true. We have dedicated sales team members who hit the phones each and every day to ensure each of our franchise owners has a full roster of clients to serve in their market. It’s the perfect combination, actually, as both parties stick to their strengths – our sales team closes new business and our franchisees manage clients relationships.
What can you do for your franchisees and your customers that your competitors can’t or won’t? Figure that out and you’ll give your company a distinct advantage.
4) Create a Niche that Fills a Void
At OpenWorks, we have recently introduced a full-scale service offering, Integrated Facility Services, that allows our franchisees to better serve the business owners and office managers with whom they work. We created the Integrated Facility Services program because we noticed a trend toward consolidation in the facility services industry we serve.
Business owners and office managers want one point of contact through which they can handle all aspects of facility maintenance, including commercial cleaning, landscaping, plumbing, landscaping, etc. Therefore, we have created relationships with highly reputable specialists in each market we serve to allow our franchise owners to fulfill any facility maintenance request from their clients. It’s a win-win-win for our clients, our franchisees, and our business partners.
What’s missing in your industry? Is there a new trend on which you can capitalize? Always work hard to adapt and adjust to improve your business!
5) Share your Story with the World
And lastly, don’t be afraid to share your company’s story. Today’s franchise prospects conduct much of their due diligence process online before they pick up the phone and speak with a company representative. Therefore, we work hard each and every day to contribute to the conversation via media outreach, social media engagement, blog posts, press releases, and LinkedIn updates.
Additionally, we have worked tirelessly to share our founder Eric Roudi’s inspirational story of triumph as an Iranian-American and have been fortunate enough to receive coverage from FOX Business News, In Business Magazine, and immpreneur.com. Each of these stories highlights Eric’s improbable path to business ownership after being a teenage Iranian-immigrant stranded in America with no connection to his family during the Iranian revolution. His story of passion and persistence resonates well with other aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly “immpreneurs,” looking to realize their own entrepreneurial dreams.
So – what’s your company’s story? What can you share about your founder or your business model that makes buying a franchise a powerful investment opportunity for your prospective franchisees? Figure that out and you just might be able to make the “unsexy” sexy!
OpenWorks’ Executive VP David Bosley joined the OpenWorks team in June 2013 as the Division Vice President for the Midwest Region. Since then he has been promoted to Executive Vice President. He is responsible for the business development sales, operations and franchise maturity for OpenWorks. His expertise includes corporate strategy and leadership, business development, strategic selling and operations. Prior to joining OpenWorks David spent 10 years in executive leadership roles with Fortune 200 companies that include Enterprise Leasing, AT&T and ADP. David is a member with BOMA and IFMA. David is a graduate of the University of Denver where he accomplished his Bachelors and Masters in Business Administration from the Daniels School of Business.