By Morgan Wood | 1851 Franchise
The decision to purchase a franchise is a big one, often requiring one’s life savings for an initial investment, a long-term time commitment and an understanding that the business will likely impact the lives of those beyond just the franchisee themselves.
So, the business opportunities need to stand out. Franchise positioning is one of the primary places a brand can do this, communicating to prospective franchisees about the brand’s history, mission, support systems and anything else that makes them stand out.
To grab the prospect’s attention and provide them with a great reason to invest, a franchise positioning piece should answer two questions: “Why you?” and “Why now?”
“The things that we really try to message and use to differentiate ourselves are growth opportunities, sales to investment ratio (which is something that franchise prospects look at), a feel for the level of support that they’re going to receive as franchisees and what it’s like to be part of the brand,” explained Chad Corrigan, vice president of sales and development at Black Bear Diner.
There are larger culture fit issues to address in franchise positioning, whether that is a published piece on a franchise development site or something as simple as a telephone conversation with a prospect.
“There’s a culture piece of that,” Corrigan said. “We want to ensure they understand the culture they’re stepping into. We want to make sure that they’re a fit for us, as well.”
One great way to do this is to include established franchisees’ experiences in positioning efforts. There are often attributes foundational to the business that contribute to franchisees’ experiences with the brand.
Being upfront about things like a brand growing from a family-owned business, being backed by a multi-brand franchisor with a broad network of franchisees, or being focused on slow, intentional growth rather than unbelievable sales volumes will attract franchisees with personalities and business goals that truly align with the brand.
Beyond just written communications, it is crucial to facilitate interactions between prospects and existing business owners. While informational material is great, there is nothing quite like spending a day with someone. Allowing prospects to get an inside look from someone not on the corporate team or holding a development title not only provides an inside perspective but also allows the candidate to evaluate whether they will enjoy working in that culture.
“We’re also introducing them to all the department heads,” he added. “The marketing, supply chain, IT and all those support functions that they’ll interact with day-to-day. We want to make sure that they meet those folks before signing any franchise agreement or joining the brand.”
Generally, a franchise’s recent successes, growth goals and incentives are great information to include in positioning pieces. This supplements any support and cultural messages with the practical facts surrounding chances for success, return on investment and other financial aspects of the business.
Including data like recent signings, year-over-year sales growth at the unit and franchise level, company-wide innovation that will support franchisees’ ability to streamline processes and secure a greater return on investment, and any time-constrained offers like a franchise fee discount will communicate to the prospect why now is the time to invest.
Many prospects consider franchising and keep an eye on a specific brand for many years, waiting for that final push to take the leap. Providing impressive, trustworthy statistics to speak to the potential success of those who take action now is a great way to give that encouragement and facilitate immediate action.