These are the three essential elements for effective franchisee recruitment
Over the last 19 years and across two continents, I’ve focused on helping good franchisors find the right profile of franchisees for their model.
In that time, I’ve assessed hundreds of franchisors, handled over 50,000 specific franchise enquiries for many different brands and helped get over 450 franchise agreements signed.
Along the way, I’ve learnt and experienced what it takes in order to create a successful franchisee recruitment process - and what doesn’t.
In this article, I wanted to share the three essential parts of the franchisee recruitment process that must be in place to create the most efficient and successful procedure.
If franchisors don’t get all these areas of their franchisee recruitment business sorted out, it won’t stop them finding franchisees, but it may only create growth on weak foundations, which could ultimately lead to them failing as a franchise business in future.
1: Telling a great brand story everywhere
Most franchise brands tell a good story to their customers or clients, but often neglect putting this in the context of someone who may be interested in becoming a franchisee.
Storytelling used to be the domain of a good franchise recruiter, who would be very effective at doing this while on the phone with a candidate.
These days, with the chance of ever speaking to any franchise enquiry moving nearer to 20 per cent and with everyone seemingly short on time, telling the story orally is hard to do in the modern world.
More and more people interested in investing in a franchise are now actively seeking out franchise brand websites before they complete any kind of online form. Franchisors that don’t have a great franchise website are missing opportunities they may never know about.
Most franchisors understand they should have a dedicated franchise website (or comprehensive subdomain) where they can control the content, layout and navigation and continue to add to this content frequently.
Franchise sites need to have a significant amount of information on them, not only to help people self educate but also to self qualify.
This brand of storytelling needs to also extend to social media, email marketing, franchise prospectuses, videos and audio and all of this needs to be closely controlled, consistent and continually updated.
Without great storytelling and without a clear strategy on how to ensure the right content gets to the right people at the right time and in the right way, franchisors risk wasting a lot of time and money on advertising to find franchisees.
I would always advise new franchisors to spend time and money on the storytelling stage before committing any budget to attracting the right kind of people.
2. Closely managed marketing to attract potential franchisees
Most franchisors that have been in business for a few years understand they need to spend money consistently on advertising to generate franchise enquiries.
But many franchisors don’t understand enough about this marketplace in order to spend their budget effectively and hit their targets.
Often, the only clear indicator of whether advertising is working is to look at what’s been spent against how many enquiries were generated. This gives franchisors a ‘cost per lead’, which is a simple but misleading metric to assess whether the marketing strategy is working or not.
Ultimately, the only clear indication of whether a franchisor has spent wisely is when they find a franchisee who could be proven to come from an organisation they were spending money with.
However, there’s more and more evidence that people are not immediately willing to fill out an initial enquiry form based on seeing a simple franchise profile. Instead - and only if what they see interests them enough - they will do a Google search for the franchise brand and try and find its website directly.
If they find the franchise website, they will hope to be able to find a lot more information than they initially found and then, only if they’re still interested, may they consider filling out a request form directly.
Franchisors with great franchise websites are seeing an increase in lead enquiries direct from these sites, but are mistakenly giving all the credit to their own site.
The truth is that while there may be a slight decline in enquiries from franchise advertising sites, there are more people seeing the franchise opportunity on those sites first and then finding the franchise website and making contact with the franchisor directly. It’s almost impossible to track these movements with any degree of certainty.
Franchisors have therefore got to be very careful of making quick and uneducated decisions about stopping advertising on certain sites because they don’t believe they’re getting enough enquiries from that site. Many of the enquiries that come from their own franchise websites could well have been driven there because they’re visible somewhere else.
This marketing mix is a very delicate balance to manage and, in the context of finding franchisees, something most franchisors are simply not good at doing - and for good reason. They know how to attract customers or clients, but attracting franchisees is a totally different kind of niche marketing that takes years to appreciate and understand.
3. Intelligent management of franchise enquiries
Franchisors now need to have dedicated people, processes and systems in place to effectively handle these enquiries and create reporting to continually assess and make changes when necessary.
Many new franchisors take on the role of generating and handling franchise enquiries themselves. This is a great learning curve, but not something many of them will have had experience doing before, so there’s a big risk that too many mistakes are made initially while managing this new type of business, which could prove terminal.
For those franchisors that successfully navigate the first year or so managing franchisee recruitment and as they start to build and support a growing network, there will become a need to pass on the job of finding franchisees to someone else.
One of the most important pieces in this franchising puzzle is having the right person, or people, taking a lead role when it comes to managing franchise enquiries.
Franchisors that are serious about growth through franchising - the reason they franchised their business in the first place - must invest in the right people or give the right people the necessary processes and systems to focus on finding franchisees.
The efficiency of the best franchise recruiters can be increased by over 50 per cent with dedicated franchisee recruitment processes and systems in place to assist them.
The combined costs of employing the right franchise recruiter and also investing in technology to support the franchisee recruitment process make it prohibitive for most emerging franchisors.
This is why more and more franchisors are considering outsourcing much of the franchisee recruitment processes to allow them to focus on managing and supporting their growing network.
Dugan Aylen is head of franchisee recruitment and co-owner and director at The Franchising Centre.