Through our work at Coconut Creatives, we have been able to help franchise companies identify and streamline the best marketing solutions for their franchise recruitment needs. This type of experience is something we are keen to share, as we believe that the art of franchise network growth and enrichment is something that any franchisor can adapt to suit their business and individual industry.

Franchisees are all individuals. They are governed by their own unique needs, desires and business objectives and therefore their interpretations of your marketing support and how it relates to their individual territory, will vary. You therefore need a well-defined blend of options that will give you a clear scope of coverage in accordance with your franchise network team.

An organised, well-guided plan is essential

At Rosemary Bookkeeping, we have implemented a professional marketing structure that has been underpinned by Chartered Marketer principles. This means each plan is SMART: specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely.

Every plan is then explained and delivered to new franchisees through the initial training process with ongoing ‘check points’ to ensure they are undertaking key activities. This is a structure and system that Coconut Creatives has put in place for a wide range of franchisors across industry and sector both very large established brands and small start-ups.

Who does which bit?

As most franchisors take a royalty from franchisees, it is important to show them value for money!

Communicate all the brilliant activity you are doing in a number of ways:

  • Newsletters
  • Intranet
  • Forums
  • Webinars

Also consider circulating the core marketing plan so franchisees can arrange complementary activities in their area. By demonstrating to your franchisees that their hard-earned cash is being spent on promoting the brand nationally, it helps to benefit them as more people will be aware of their business and what it offers.

Don’t forget that communication is a two-way thing. Involve them in the process, take onboard their ideas and suggestions, yet ensure you stick to your overall plan on the best way forward. Some fantastic ideas have come from the Rosemary Bookkeeping network in the past and many of these are now implemented across the network, alongside the activities that were already planned.

Regular contact

Regular contact with the franchise network is essential – via telephone and email communication as well as regularly scheduled face-to-face meetings, ideally with these being held in groups and on a one-to-one basis.

Building and maintaining a relationship with the franchise network adds value to their investment but also ensures that the franchisees feel supported and appreciated both as individuals and as part of the team. Whilst being part of a franchise can provide franchisees with the freedom and flexibility that is not always associated with more traditional roles, they still need to know that they have a point of contact should they require – this of course being a major benefit and attraction to prospects when considering franchising from the outset.

Showcasing case studies

Once you have built a strong relationship with your franchise network and assisted them to win business, you can help them further expand on this.

This task should be quite straight forward as franchisees are often keen to promote their territory and the good work they are doing. Case studies and testimonials are one of the best tools for new franchisees to use when looking to win business in their territory. It says to prospective clients of the new franchisee “I’m new to this business, but the business isn’t new”.

The other bonus to this is that franchisees are often keen to talk about their experiences and successes, in a tone that is relatable by the prospective franchisee audience. Give them the best opportunity to do this by holding an interview with them in their work environment, and if you can video at the same time you have a useful tool for social media too. You never know what you might gain from the material that you collect as well as receiving first-hand feedback about your franchise. This material is great for inspiring other people to take the plunge into franchising, as well as winning more business for the network as a whole.

Public relations

PR is also very important when creating a strong national strategy, especially during the launch of a new franchise territory. Yet PR doesn’t work alone. It is a proven fact that people need to see or hear a product or service at least 7 times before they will engage with it. You can help your franchisees build up their communication touch points by providing them with templates and structures that support key messages and their fundamental activities. For example: if your business is highly dependent on business networking, then providing them with e-shot copy and templates to use on a monthly basis to keep people they meet at networking warm, is another touch point ticked off the list.

Press releases, keep warm activity and well-scheduled newsletters are great to encourage and maintain interest. You may also find that national press releases can be incorporated within your POS and marketing collateral designs. Again, franchise case studies can be used as PR but, if so, we recommend for there to be a clear message or story that resonates with the target audience.

Social Media

Social networking as a promotional tool is gaining pace like the proverbial juggernaut. On Facebook there were 901 million monthly and 526 million daily active users recorded on average at the end of March 2012. Also at the end of March, Twitter is said to have had more than 140 million active users posting 340 million tweets a day.

Originally designed for friends, family and businesses to communicate and stay connected through text and photographs, the coverage of social media is something that can be tapped into quite readily. Twitter has already proved useful to the emergency services for sending out vital information like emergency phone numbers or locations of hospitals requiring blood donations. Users have even beaten traditional media in reporting news such as when the US Airways Flight 1549 experienced multiple bird strikes in January 2009 and crash landed in the Hudson River in New York. A passing ferry passenger took a picture of the plane as passengers were evacuating and tweeted it via TwitPic before traditional media arrived at the scene to report the news. Just think what this tool could do for a business!

As the internet is being used more frequently for business, utilising the possibilities for sharing your product information with different target audiences is becoming easier and cheaper. As well as Facebook and Twitter, you can also use LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, blogs and many more.

Unfortunately, many people can become so focused on utilising the different social networks that they attack it in a rather hap-hazard way; posting updates and messages that haven’t been thought through. We say integrate it into your marketing. This way, you will know what you are going to say and when, therefore you’ll also have a better handle on whether it is working for you.

You can encourage your franchisees to utilise social network sites for themselves. They may then be able to generate additional local interest and build relationships with their customers. It is worthwhile to consider some guidelines however, to ensure the brand message is conveyed accurately and that external comments are managed in the most appropriate way. Having a dedicated ‘Social Media Keeper’ at head office is a good option.

In Summary…

Talking to your existing franchisees, building and maintaining trust is the best way to ensure your company continues to flourish. It’s very much a case of keeping an ear to the ground and being conscious of the fact that the best feedback to use within your marketing may well come from those outside the head office who have day-to-day direct contact with the end-customer and portray the brand in the public domain.

If franchisees understand the importance of the marketing you deliver for them, you should find that they are willing to return support as it protects their individual investment, return and territory reputation as much as it does for the overall franchise.

If you wish to discuss your franchise in more detail, or have any queries about the content of this article, please contact me at coconutcreatives.co.uk or call 01725 511673.