Developing a marketing plan for obtaining customers is very different than the composition of a marketing plan to obtain franchise buyers. The successful companies are those who learn the difference.
What Franchisees Need To Look For When Selecting A Franchise
Today’s franchise marketing and sales efforts require an all out blitz of combined and coordinated elements including a formalized franchise marketing plan and a budget. This budget must then be broken down into all the various categories: print ads, radio and TV commercials, social media, trade shows, website enhancement, direct mail, Internet campaigns, PR, publicity, and in-store promotional. But these are marketing initiatives aimed at selling franchises. For the prospective buyer of a franchise, the question is: “What is the franchisor doing to help me get customers? What marketing plans are in place for me to utilize?”
Some companies make the mistake of running franchise sales and marketing campaigns that feature the products. Their brochures and franchise sale materials show big graphics of the products or are an ego trip presentation of the founder. Franchisors need to remember that they are selling a franchise! A business opportunity! Not a pizza! The company needs to show a restaurant or a place of business full of people, customers, not just a photograph of a beautiful restaurant with no one in it. They need to talk about the program they are offering a franchisee and how they plan on assisting with initial training, site selection, build-out, demographic analysis, marketing, advertising, ongoing support, and so on. They often do a great job of showing the product as part of the business opportunity available to a franchisee, but a prospective franchise buyer needs to ask to see the marketing materials and programs in place to assist a new franchise getting started, particularly in a new market where the brand may be unknown.
While a franchisors needs to carefully screen franchise applicants to qualify them in terms of their potential to effectively operate the business, a prospective franchisee should also carefully screen the franchisor and ask the hard and specific questions of exactly what unit level marketing and advertising materials and support are available.
Now You’re A Franchisee, What’s Next?
Let’s start at the beginning. An individual has come across a newly franchised restaurant with interest of becoming a franchisee. The franchisor has been in business for several years. The owners don’t even have to advertise anymore because guests are lined up. Marketing? What marketing? All the franchisor needs to do is keep doing a great job and customers will come back again and again and tell their friends who will do the same. But now it’s time to open the new franchisee’s restaurant in another city where no one knows the concept. In today’s economy and highly competitive marketplace, a new franchisee can’t survive for years while they build up their business the way the franchisor did when they first started. What do you do as the franchisee to bring in new customers? As a prospective franchisee it is important to be aware of what the franchisor will provide in marketing efforts to jumpstart the heartbeat of your new franchisee’s unit.
Back to Basics
Most of today’s successful businesses started at a time when there was no iPad, iPhone, social media, Twitter, Google or Facebook. In fact, it’s more likely that a young franchise buyer will know more about these areas of marketing than the franchisor. As a franchisee, you need to evaluate how the franchisor is willing to, or plans to, cross the communications gap into the New Basics; the world of the social media and the utilization of more contemporary tools. Not only is it imperative for a franchisor to know and utilize these tools to help a new franchisee get their business booming in a new market, but a prospective franchisee needs to view the importance of this arsenal of weaponry as a great selling tool that communicates a cutting edge contemporary company in touch with the times when buying a franchise.
Today’s franchisors must have three basic marketing plans their franchisees can implement:
1. A Grand Opening Marketing Plan
Typically, after a soft opening, and once the business is ready to handle a full scale barrage of customers, a major campaign is engaged in to introduce the new business into the community.
2. A Marketing Plan For a Single Unit in a New Market
When there is only one unit in a market and that unit must bear the entire cost of marketing, low cost and creative means need to be provided for the franchisee’s implementation.
3. A Marketing Plan For a Market With Multiple Units
This is the level at which ad agencies and professionals are employed to place advertising in the media, as well as direct the ongoing social media, pay per click, and multimedia vehicles. At this point, Cooperative Advertising budgets incorporating contributions from franchisees are developed. Issues such as “market share” become measuring sticks for the efficacy of the marketing and advertising initiatives.
The Bottom Line
Prospective franchisees should ask what a franchisor has in the way of marketing for a grand opening, a single unit, and markets with multiple units. Franchisees must also be comfortable and have confidence that they will be well equipped to implement these programs effectively to build the sales and profits for which they bargained.
Scott Hausmann is the Director of Marketing of Francorp, which for 36 years has been the world’s leading franchise consulting and development firm, specializing in assisting businesses of all levels in integrating franchise growth models into their current business systems.
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