Curious Jane team members participated in last week’s Franchise Leadership and Development Conference and enjoyed the coming together of those of us in the franchise industry. There was a great deal of valuable information shared among participants. Here are a few common themes we look forward to exploring with our franchise clients:

Securing the Perfect Franchise Candidate

When looking for ideal candidates to be your next franchisees, think of the big three: resources, acumen and culture. Of course, one of your main qualifiers is that candidates need the financial resources to qualify. There are creative strategies to help potential leads secure financing, but there is a minimum. (Those with other attributes that make them seem like they might be a good fit can be moved to a long-term funnel.)

Next, you need to consider their professional background. A love of baking does not necessarily make a great owner of a cupcake franchise. Candidates who have experience running other franchises or businesses bring a necessary strength to the mix. While you can train people in the intricacies of your business, it’s ideal to connect with candidates who bring a business and leadership skillset with them.

And of course, you also need a good cultural fit. Franchisees and franchisors are in a relationship with each other. Franchisees that believe in the brand and the structure of the company are the most successful. It’s important to clearly communicate the culture of the franchise during the vetting process so that both you and the potential franchisee can see whether the fit will be a good one. There are just as many types of franchise candidates as there are franchise environments. You’re going to be working together for a long time, and a cultural fit needs to be considered as strongly as a financial one.

Using a Mix of Lead Generation Strategies

PR, trade shows, brokers, PPC and portals can all have a place in your franchise development program. PR helps get your brand out there by providing invaluable exposure to a wide audience. Great press about a local store opening supports both local marketing and franchise development efforts by promoting your brand as a healthy and growing one. And opportunities where your owners or CEOs can be on television, radio, print, etc. help establish your brand and promote the thought leadership of those running the business. While PR is considered top of funnel, it’s an important part of the franchise development process.

Trade shows, brokers and portals still have their place in connecting with potential leads, although it’s important to evaluate the types of leads they are providing and the cost per lead. All three try to attract those already interested in franchising, so make sure that you have clearly differentiated yourself within your franchise sector, as you’ll be competing against other brands in the same space. Potential franchisees at trade shows and using brokers are at least expressing an interest in owning a franchisee, although the financial, culture and experience fit will also need to be considered.

PPC and digital advertising are great because they’re very targeted and data-driven. You can spend in markets with open territories instead of blanketing advertising across the nation, where some opportunities might be closed. Geofencing, demographic and behavioral targeting all help you zero in on ideal candidates in the right place. Digital advertising also allows for continual optimization. Content, design, targeting, budgets, etc. can all be adjusted as campaigns continue.

 Tracking Lead Generation

With consumers doing more of their own research, it’s increasingly challenging to determine where leads actually originate. They’ve visited your website and converted, but what happened before that step? Did they interact with the brand as consumers years ago? Did they see a spot on their local news? Did they conduct their own research on franchise brands in your vertical? You’ll be able to track digital conversions, and that’s very important. However, it’s equally important to note that a lot happens with the franchisee journey before they visit your website, download your lead magnet or click on your ad. Franchise development relies on brand awareness, which is harder to track, and targeted digital campaigns, which provide strong data and optimization opportunities.

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