So you’ve bought a franchise – you’ve invested in a business with a recognised brand name, some built in support and a proven business model. All you need to do now is open the door and the customers will come right?
If only it was that simple.
The relationship between Franchisors and Franchisees often becomes fractious when it comes to who takes responsibility for getting those customers in the door.
Franchisees think the upfront fee they paid to use the brand and their contribution to a marketing fund should cover all the marketing efforts, so it’s the Franchisors responsibility to then make sure that customers are walking in the door.
Franchisors see their role is to offer Marketing support not an entire marketing solution. They invest in overall brand awareness and tools to help Franchisees with marketing but rely on Franchisees to actively market their product in their local area.
When you buy into a Franchise you are buying a business but you need to remember that you are also buying into being part of a TEAM. I once heard a great acronym for TEAM which could introduce a helpful philosophy into the debate about marketing.
Successful retail franchise businesses recognise that getting customers in the door and driving the growth of the business is a shared responsibility.
Tips for Franchisors (that franchise owners should hear)
Assuming that Franchisors have only chosen to sell or open franchises based on sound market research, and are committed to national brand building activity and innovation of their offering they then need to support Franchisees with good communication when it comes to marketing.
Key aspects of that communication should be:
What they are doing when it comes to Marketing
Information on what the overall Marketing strategy is? How contributions to the marketing fund or budget are going to be spent and how Franchisees can increase marketing effectiveness in their own area.
For example, a key strategy might be to increase repeat purchase from customers, therefore the Franchisor might introduce a loyalty campaign or new product lines designed to increase total spend. Franchisees can then choose to heavily promote the loyalty scheme in store, to their own database and ensure that all their staff are trained to promote it at point of sale.
Reports on Marketing Effectiveness
Some centralised reporting on marketing effectiveness. Good data drives good decisions. Giving franchisees updates to marketing intelligence such as data on responses to national marketing campaigns and any relevant sales data that could be used at a local level will support Franchisees to make sound marketing decisions.
Distribution of relevant research to Franchisees on retail trends, changes in consumer behaviour that might impact the brand and sales in a positive or negative way.
Education of retailers about Marketing tactics, new marketing methods (e.g. online marketing) , what works, what doesn’t work, how to increase marketing effectiveness including case studies of successful campaigns by individual Franchisees.
Franchisors commonly develop templates for creative materials, but skip developing a template or guide for developing a Marketing Plan.
A set format for development of a marketing plan with some coaching from the Franchisor can help a Franchisee develop a marketing plan to guide them in the marketing process and ensure they set aside appropriate resources.
Support that further with the creative and other templates to help implement any planned tactics (e.g a standard Press Release format) will help get the plan into action.
Tips for Franchisees
Develop a Marketing Plan.
Develop a Marketing Plan aligned to the business plan, setting individual strategic Marketing goals for their business and allocating resources accordingly. Depending on the area, years of operation and competitors, you would expect to have differing and more specific goals to the Franchisor.
Do some research about the demographic make-up of your local area and what’s influencing people in that area and who you compete with for their retail dollar. Then define the most appropriate marketing messages and offers that are likely to have the biggest impact in your patch.
Develop Local Relationships
Develop relationships with local media, other local businesses who may be a source of referral and community groups such as schools, churches, senior citizens centres, hospitals etc.
This will help raise your local profile and position yourself as a stakeholder and contributor to the local community.
Do some networking. Join the local chamber of commerce and any other relevant business groups. Many of the local chambers also have a specific committee set up for retailers etc which you might want to be part of or contribute to.
You might also want to investigate online social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter or Myspace to build an online community around your business – driving foot traffic into your store and letting people know any events or specials that you have coming up or are promoting.
Networking and communication with some of your fellow franchisees will also help you generate ideas and learn from each other’s marketing experiences.
Share your knowledge and experiences with the Franchisor. Anything they learn from you which can be implemented at a national level is an opportunity to build the brand further, which should have a positive effect on your business at a Franchisee level.
Many Franchisees only get active in marketing to their local area when business drops off. A consistent approach to marketing in your own area will provide you with consistent customers in the door.
Don’t leave all the thinking up to the Franchisor. Educate yourself about marketing, it’s a critical part of your business. Buy some books, talk to a marketing coach or mentor, attend a workshop or seminar. It’s a critical part of running a successful business and will help you work on the business vs in the business. As they say, it’s hard to read the label if you are always inside the bottle!
In today’s economic climate retail franchise businesses that work together at a local and national level effectively will gain a real competitive edge against those that don’t.
Michelle Gamble is the founder of marketing consultancy firm, Marketing Angels. She has been a Marketing Manager, a specialist in online and direct marketing, an Interactive Communications Manager, a Business Development and Channel Manager. Having managed all aspects of customer relationships and marketing both online and offline, Michelle sets strategic direction and develops tactical plans for implementation that achieve results and drive sales. In total, she has 14 years experience across multiple industries.