Occasionally, I take a look at some of my posts from a few years back just to compare my thoughts and perspective from then to now. I always ask myself if I’m consistent so as not to confuse anyone. But more importantly, am I focused for the long-term or for just the here-and-now. Well, below is a post from June 2009. I’m sure you’ll agree that I have been consistent and have not jumped on any flavor-of-the-day bandwagon… It really is about fundamentals and best-practices!
Franchise Sales During the Recession
Recently, in one of the franchise groups on LinkedIn, there was some discussion about the Wall Street Journal article, “Franchise Sales Pull Back During the Recession.” Several franchise professionals posted their comments and, of course, I added my “two cents” as well. Okay, I was definitely long-winded compared to the others, but as most of you who read my articles are well aware, I have a passion for franchising and franchise success and tend to go on and on to share the same with all who will “listen.”
“I too, believe there are many well-qualified candidates exploring franchising. Some as a career alternative, and also, in the case of already being a small business owner, as a business expansion strategy and/or an income diversification plan.
No doubt, the number of overall franchise leads has diminished quite a bit. But I believe many of the “tire kickers” have gone by the wayside while the more qualified candidates continue to search, inquire and ultimately decide franchising is right for them to achieve their goals and objectives. However, in order to fully realize this trend, one must realize that the candidates’ approach has evolved.
Today’s qualified franchise candidate is more sophisticated, educated and technologically advanced than we have ever seen before. Add to the mix, a sense of extreme caution, and their process in exploring franchising and specific franchise opportunities has become more of a detailed, well-thought out strategy.
Always understanding that there is risk in any entrepreneurial endeavor, today’s candidates explore franchising because it may provide even the slightest edge against failure. Their mantra has become, “failure is not an option” and they now live it by doing everything humanly possible to dot every “i” and cross every “t” and then rechecking only to do it over and over again until they have full, complete confidence in their decision.
To that end, the overall process from initial inquiry to franchise award is much longer than in years’ past and that is something franchisors must be prepared to effectively handle. It’s a primary reason I believe social media works so well in the new era of franchise sales as it creates an environment for today’s candidates to research organizations, share information, communicate with individuals at all levels of the franchise organization from franchisees to corporate executives, view photos, audio and video, etc. And, they can do so at their own pace and to their full understanding. That is the key.
Understanding and adapting to today’s qualified franchise candidate will help franchisors ride out this current economic downturn. Putting their heads in the sand and just complaining about the poor economy and the franchise candidate pool drying up will only incorrectly prove true that their negative thoughts are correct.
All that being said, certainly there are challenges in securing financing and other variables that must be contended with and addressed accordingly. But as the franchise candidate pool diminishes and many of the tire kickers aren’t around to waste our time, we should now have more time to explore all options, use our creativity and innovation, network beyond our comfort zones and seek out alternative solutions. I believe those solutions are out there and many are capitalizing on them as we speak. They will not only survive, they will thrive as others have done in other recessionary periods.”
On the surface, it doesn’t appear to be too difficult to determine whether or not one is a franchise seller. Yet, I hear time and time again the same rationalization and justification as to why a person feels they are not a franchise seller. I hear about trading off the candidate prior to the sale, only qualifying the candidate until the franchise salesperson actually talks turkey with the candidate, and just recently, I was told, about presenting the candidate with three options but the candidate is not sold anything. Does anyone REALLY believe this crap?
So, to eliminate the confusion as to what being a franchise seller entails, I refer back to The Franchise Seller’s Handbook by Warren Lee Lewis. Here’s what Warren has written in this fine publication, right in the first section, Introduction: Making Legal Franchise Sales
A Franchise Seller
If you are an officer, employee, representative or broker involved in the offer or sales of franchises, you are a “franchise seller.” As a franchise seller, you can use [the handbook] to help you make legal sales.
Your involvement in the offer or sale of franchises may be obvious, such as if you are a salesperson actively pursuing franchise prospects for a franchisor, are signing agreements with new franchisees, or are accepting payments from new franchisees. Or, your involvement may be less obvious, such as if you are participating as a finder or consultant in discussions with prospects about their business interests, pre-screening prospects through questionnaires, recommending franchise options, or assisting prospects in completing franchise application forms. In either case, you are involved in the offer and sale of franchises, making you a franchise seller.
Still confused? Well, I highly recommend you print a copy of The Franchise Seller’s Handbook by clicking HERE. And, be sure to read it sooner, rather than later. If you’d like a hard copy, just let me know and I’ll be sure to get you one. Of course, as supplies last!
This post was originally published on this site July 2010, but still relevant today with minor revisions made to the original post.
The following is from the Localization and Social Media section of the recently released Retail Franchise Industry Report 2012 as shared by Franchise Direct. We’re excited to see franchisEssentials President & CEO, Paul Segreto, quoted in this section of the report…
Localization and Social Media
“People want to do business with people. They buy from people. Sure, the brand may get them in the door, but it’s the person representing the brand that they want to do business with,” says franchising expert Paul Segreto. “So, as consumers technologically advance it’s not uncommon for them to check out the local franchisee’s Facebook page or LinkedIn profile, perform a Google search of the franchisee, etc.”
In fact, findings from the 2012 Customer Insights Survey showed roughly three of every four consumers use Facebook to make retail (or restaurant) decisions. With more choices in the marketplace than ever before, it’s important for franchises to go beyond the price and quality of the products being sold and reach out to consumers where they are. Because of this, franchises are well served by letting franchisees foster relationships within their local communities that could lead to brand loyalty. Increasingly, this is being done through social media.
Whether is with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Yelp or any other site, engaging customers and informing them about the choices they have in their backyard is always a good move. Relating the flow of money to the human body, David Boyle, researcher at The New Economics Foundation said in a Time Magazine interview, “Money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going. [When spent in non-locally owned entities] it flows out, like a wound.”7
A franchise with a good advertising and marketing strategy that includes attention to local initiatives is very valuable to franchisees because no two markets are alike. As such, the advertising and marketing for different markets should be similar for brand continuity, but not exactly the same. Furthermore, many consumers find products and services by performing local searches, not searching out the corporate website first. Cultivating local media with tailored messages for specific areas is important to make a franchisee’s services relevant to that area’s consumers.
According to Segreto, “franchisors should not take a rigid approach with respect to messaging and social involvement. New media is all about interaction and engagement, and as such, requires a ‘personal’ touch at the local level.” One franchise system that has adopted the personal, localized social media and website concept is Apricot Lane Boutique. Each Apricot Lane franchisee is provided social networking set-up programs (including support and content for a Facebook page for their store, as well as Twitter and Pinterest). Franchisees also have their own customized website for their store.
Localized social media efforts can translate from friend to friend resulting in the word-of-mouth recommendations businesses of all types crave. One emerging way of rewarding local patrons through social media is offered by Foursquare. Foursquare recently launched a “local updates” tool geared towards letting businesses send messages about specials and events to customers wherever they happen to be at the time. The specials and events aim to capitalize on word-of-mouth advertising from those who buy from their store and take actions that advertise that store to their circle of contacts.
This morning I had the distinct pleasure of being interviewed on Tweet Chat by Jennifer MacDonald, Director of Community and Client Engagement at Engage121. The topic of discussion was Franchising and Social Media, a topic very close and dear to my heart.
Starting off the discussion, Jennifer asked me, “Why should I let my franchisees use Social Media?” to which I responded, “Today’s consumer is more sophisticated and technologically advanced than ever before, and expect brands to be online!” and followed up with, “Franchisees need to be on social media to provide the “local” experience for consumers.” The discussion may be viewed on Twitter by searching the hashtag #IFA2012.
But if you really want (need) a more comprehensive answer to the question, I suggest reading Jennifer’s post, Why should I let my franchisees use Social Media, posted today on Engage121 blog. Here’s an excerpt of the post…
Why wouldn’t you? I’m going to guess that your first thought is brand management. That is understandable. But, you let your franchisees market their business now and you have brand guidelines for them to follow. You provide training when they first join your franchise network, and maybe you show them how to use your email marketing system. Why not add a little training about using Facebook for business as well?
If you don’t have the manpower for training, then make sure to add some guidelines to your brand policy. Point your franchisees in the right direction for support, such as Facebook’s Help Center or Twitter’s support center. List a few good blogs for them to follow in order to learn Best Practices, such as Spin Sucks, SmartBrief on Social Media, and Mashable.
For more than 10 years, Engage121, Inc has provided communications software and services to hundreds of national franchisors, dealerships and direct sellers. We sell software applications on a subscription basis to marketing and customer service leaders who need to manage their communities. Simply put, Engage121 is an established social CRM software company. Engage121 drives demand and incremental revenues for customers by providing access to millions of engaged consumers. We have a client-driven development approach to adapt our platform to your business and customer relationships today and tomorrow. Customer satisfaction is our top priority.
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