What if I told you the key to increasing franchise sales was simply to build relationships?
You might think I was oversimplifying a complex process of sales and marketing and lead generation and any number of other things.
But when you really get down to it, sales have always been about relationships. The more you build, the more others will come to see what your franchise has to offer, the more sales you will make.
So, how do you build those relationships and increase franchise sales? Here are five things you need to keep in mind ideas.
How Can a Franchise Increase Sales?
Establish a strong brand reputation
You know and I know that your brand reputation comes from customers. If they like what you provide, they encourage their friends and family to use your products or services. You build a great relationship with your customers by providing them unmatched customer service.
You can ensure that your franchisees are delivering exceptional customer service by setting a number of requirements that they must meet. These should be objective measures, for example, the total number of goods sold or services rendered in a certain period of time.
If a franchisee can’t reach the goal, he or she is not likely offering the best customer service. You as the franchisor, should have the right to take back the poor-performing office to protect the brand and its relationship with customers. Franchisees who offer poor customer service will damage bring down your company’s reputation.
If your goal is to be the best, setting high standards is crucial. By meeting high standards, you generate excitement about the brand and can build sales.
Build a successful business track record
Where do you want your franchise to be and when do you want to get there? You create the vision for your brand, then you set the goals to make the vision a reality. Again, relationship building is part of the process. This time the relationship needs to be with your franchisees and your corporate employees. They need to understand their role in helping the franchise meet its goals.
Publically celebrate those who embrace, reach, and surpass the objectives. Personally encourage those who struggle to reach expectations. This goal-setting can help your business establish a successful track record. When we set initial goals for our franchise, we did it so we could guarantee that we were not expanding unprofitable locations.
We were No. 3 in the business then, and we knew that we would need to average in the Top 2 in number of tax returns per office to assure profitability. Anything less and we might be expanding too rapidly, causing the growth to be too diluted. We knew we had to be No. 1 or 2 in each office so that our franchisees would have a solid foundation for growth.
Create excitement with your promotions
Wherever you go, you should be an evangelist, proclaiming the good news about your brand. But it can’t hurt to offer one-time promotions that create excitement and generate buzz about the brand. For promotions to be effective they need to be unique, outside the norm, or “fanatical,” as I like to say. When we were a young company, we wanted to start out very aggressively. At the time, one of our competitors was charging $25,000 per territory and, to get some traction, we offered FREE franchises. Who gives away free franchises? Someone who is thinking big and has even bigger goals. Our “no fee for the first year” offer was a success, and the strategy served as an expansion opportunity. People still are talking about it. At a recent sales seminar, one man told us that he heard about the company during the time when there was no franchise fee. Now, he was ready to pay to be a part of the brand.
Relationship-building social media and marketing strategies
Social media is all about relationship-building. The challenge here is that there are so many platforms to master and so many different ways to use the tools. I’ll just focus on the top three.
- LinkedIn – Authoritative. Make sure your LinkedIn page is claimed and updated with robust information about your business. Utilize their publishing platform to create an authoritative presence and join/participate/add value in groups that include or can influence your target audiences. Leverage advertising opportunities to zero in on your target prospects and use a lead magnet to get them to “enter” your marketing automation funnel. Develop persona specific content for nurture sequences.
- Facebook – Actively post 3-5 times per week minimum, 3-5 times per day maximum. Be social, engage with fans and other businesses. Leverage relationships to create cross-branded content. Use video when and where possible. Tell the story of your opportunity and those who have experienced it in a fun way.
- Twitter – Timely. Relevant. Informative. Influencer. Interaction. That about sums it up. Make sure you are following, commenting, retweeting, and engaging with influencers in a genuine way. Do not expect reciprocity initially, and drive towards developing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.
Measure your outcomes on each of these platforms to understand what drives awareness and results. Remember that every touch-point is an experience you create. How will you be remembered when it comes to decision time?
Woo current franchisees
Your successful franchisees are your greatest asset for growing the business. For one thing, they can act as town criers, sharing their stories with prospective owners as a way of encouraging them to open franchises of their own. But you knew that.
What you may not know is that along with asking your successful franchisees to woo others, you should be wooing them. That’s right, you should create financial and other incentives as a way of enticing your best franchisees to add locations and expand their business. Who better to grow the brand?
Your strong performers understand the business. They turn a profit, and they pay royalties. They already have a vested interest in the franchise’s health and well-being. Even better, when current franchisees add stores, they don’t increase the burden on corporate. They already have a relationship with you – a good one at that – so nurture it and watch it grow.
Despite all the advances we’ve seen in marketing and promotion, we’re still dealing with human beings, and building relationships with others remains your No. 1 tool to grow your franchise. Relationships matter.
John T. Hewitt is founder and CEO of Liberty Tax Service and SiempreTax+. Liberty Tax is one of the fastest growing tax preparation franchises in history, reaching more than 4,000 locations in 15 years. SiempreTax+ launched in the 2015 tax season and already has about 150 locations.