We are in very difficult and unusual times with the pandemic and the franchise industry, but we cannot let up on franchise development efforts.
Many of the brands we work with were shut down completely for months and are beginning to reopen; other brands we work with are essential businesses and actually continued to perform extremely well. Regardless of your situation, franchise development has to stay top of mind for your leadership team. Your tactics, strategies and budgets may be different by brand, but it must be a priority. What you do today will greatly affect your franchise development program 24 months from now.
Here are three questions to help franchise leadership teams have honest and open conversations about their franchise development programs. These may sound like simple questions, but, in our experience, one or two of these is likely to spur some serious discussions among your team.
- What is a realistic growth goal for your brand or brands? Because of the pandemic, there are currently a lot of unknowns, but many brands are going to be doubling down in the next 24 months to really grow their brands. Even with all that’s going on, you and your team need to decide on your growth goals for the next 12 to 24 months. You’ve got to agree on those numbers. You may have to adjust and change them later, but knowing those goals will help you build a comprehensive plan.
- What specific markets do you want to grow in? Decide on where you really want to grow and build your program based on those top areas. Don’t dilute your efforts by trying to do too much everywhere. Focus on your top areas of growth opportunity. According to the FranConnect 2020 Franchise Sales Index, with 597 franchise brands in their sample, the leads by top states were in Florida, California, Texas, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Colorado. So competition is bigger in those markets. Keep that in mind when you’re planning your budget.
- How strong is your brand recognition in the areas you want to grow? If you’re trying to go into new territories, and your brand recognition is low or non-existent in those areas, more than ever you’ll need to tell the story of your brand and the opportunity. If your brand recognition is strong, it will be much easier for you to create your own funnel system so leads come to you quicker.
Franchise development has to stay top of mind for your leadership team. Your tactics and strategies may be different by brand, but it must be a priority from the top down.