The period of time between when you launch your franchise business and when that business finally begins to gain momentum can be the most stressful time in an entrepreneur’s burgeoning career. That stress can be compounded by the added challenges inherent to a mobile franchise business, as a franchisee works to grow a highly streamlined concept and infrastructure without the security of a home base.
Once you solidify your systems and customer base, you’ll begin to see your company start to function more effectively and hopefully independently, leaving you open to spend less time doing the everyday grunt work and more time thinking up new ways to make business more fun for you and your employees.
In order to reach that level, however, your marketing strategy needs to be airtight. In my experience, there are a few steps to marketing success that will help effectively launch your mobile franchise.
Great vehicle branding is essential.
As a mobile franchise without a brick-and-mortar home office, you need to be highly visible and extremely memorable. One easy, underutilized billboard is the very vehicle you drive to distribute your services. Whether it’s a bumper sticker or a wrap on the car, use your vehicle to create buzz around your business. You will most likely be driving up and down the same roads your customers commute on every day. So why pay for a roadside advertisement when you will be driving a literal billboard next to hundreds of potential customers every day?
When I first started out, our marketing equation involved painting our moving trucks bold colors and highlighting our name, which happens to be very catchy, on both sides of the vehicle. Customers frequently walked up to us at gas stations to ask about the trucks when we were fueling up, generating job leads as well as great word of mouth. Anything you can use to start a conversation can create a potential job opportunity, and your vehicle is an obvious starting place for a mobile business.
Make it easy for customers to reach you when you’re out of the “office”.
When your business is mobile, your “office” can be anywhere. But regardless of where you set up shop, you need to be easily accessible to your customers. At the same time, there’s a fine line between growing new client relationships by being easily reachable to individuals looking to hire you, while still giving each existing customer your full care and attention. Basically, widely distributing your contact information can help customers can in touch, but you never want to be answering the phone in the middle of job and risk jeopardizing clients you already have.
While keeping your schedule full and your job pipeline consistent is the key to running a healthy business, you need to systematize the process. To achieve that balance, a best practice is to use a dedicated “call center,” a number that connects potential customers directly to a specified contact or sales person. It also helps to filter calls through online scheduling tools in order to effectively field customer inquiries.
Guerrilla marketing is your best friend.
As a mobile business, you can be anywhere, and while that can sometimes be intimidating, learning to embrace the challenge of marketing at the drop of a hat will set you apart from your competition. A good first step can be to make sure your business is taking full advantage of all available chances to network in your market, including community events, chamber of commerce get togethers and networking opportunities with other local business leaders. And if your biggest billboard is your truck, it might even mean taking advantage of heavier traffic patterns to make sure you’re being as visible as possible in the neighborhood.
Get the community talking about you – whether it’s from your vibrant vehicle branding, your visibility and attendance at the local business after hours events or simply from word of mouth as friends and family in the area talk you up wherever they go – get people talking.
When it comes to starting out as a new mobile franchisee, there are endless ways to take advantage of creative marketing opportunities. Over time, you’ll learn the combination that works best for you. Your personal marketing strategy will be what ultimately helps you grow your brand, earn your customers’ trust and meet your goals as an entrepreneur.
Nick Friedman is best known as CEO and co-founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving, the national junk-removal, labor services and moving company, with more than 100 locations. Nick also co-authored a how-to book for aspiring entrepreneurs titled “Effortless Entrepreneur: Work Smart, Play Hard, Make Millions.”