There is a gap that exists between Franchisor and Franchisee marketing. This gap is created when the franchisor claims that all 'marketing' is included, without defining the marketing roles of the franchisee, the business owner. While signage, branding, point-of-purchase, collateral and a website are often provided by the franchisor, there are marketing elements that are best controlled at the local level.
Optimally, marketing roles and responsibilities should be well defined between the home office and the local units, so that the franchisee understands their responsibility in promoting their business. While every franchise business model differs, here are the most common marketing areas that are best managed at a local level.
Have you 'Googled' your business? When I work with clients this is the first thing I do, and I can't tell you how many businesses have inaccurate listings when a simple search is conducted. The home office may help you set-up your online profile, but ultimately it is yours to manage.
There is a process that you go through to get a business listing on Google. Submit your request and a few days later you get an authorization code from Google. Whether your business is brick and mortar or home based you will need to have an address you provide Google. However, if you conduct services off-site, and you office from home, Google will not publish your home address publically.
By setting up your Google profile you can display photos, maps, hours and ratings. The ratings are what your customers say about your business. For some businesses who operate in a commodity market, the ratings can make or break your business.
Reviews are not something your home office can or should control. However, poor reviews can impact the system as a whole, especially when multiple owners are present in close proximity.
The impact of reviews are so great on sites such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie's List, Trip Advisor and so on that there are companies that have been formed to help you manage reviews. If reviews are key to your business, and your home office doesn't have a process in place to manage reviews, you may consider hiring a firm who can help you with this. Typically the fee of the service pays for itself.
Even if your home office has a policy on community outreach and partnerships, it is still up to the franchisee to initiate the activities. If a policy doesn't exist consider joining the local chamber, partnering with other businesses who target the same demographic, or identifying events and local sponsorships to promote your business.
Since every community is different and has a different personality, it is best for the franchisee to identify ways to connect their business with the area in which they operate.
Modern marketing is all about the customer experience. Some franchises have the customer experience documented down to every detail including the customer greeting. Others have no documentation and therefore the customer experience varies by location.
Whether the customer experience is clearly defined, or not, it is still the responsibility of the owners, the franchisees, to create a customer experience that brings customers coming back.
Websites are a must-have for all businesses, and having a single website for all units is not only confusing to customers, it's limiting to the owners.
What works best is if there is a standardized website for every franchisee. Consistency is key when delivering the message, but adding a local flair is also important. Products and services often vary by city and state, as do local events. The better you are able to connect with your local audience (see customer experience above), the better your business will perform.
Having a designated website for every owner also helps with the franchisee's ability to track analytics from Google Analytics and Facebook Pixels. It also allows local owners to direct customers to the local social media sites or to subscribe to a local newsletter.
Franchises typically have a digital marketing presence through social media, email marketing, content and pay per click advertising. However, many encourage franchisees to have their own digital marketing presence to better connect with their local territory. Yes, this goes back to the user experience.
The digital marketing space is a necessity, but it is also crowed. Most marketers will tell you that connecting with your audience and developing a tribe will help you grow your online following. If all of your messages have a corporate feel, it will be difficult to connect with your local audience.
This is where marketing can get hard, especially it this is out of your comfort zone. Don't over-think what you post, but do stay in brand. Be authentic in your posts. Consider running contests, show behind the scenes of the day, and include local testimonials.
If you have your own website, consider developing a landing page with an offer. You can create a call-to-action in your social media posts or in your email newsletter. This is a great way to build your list, engage with your customer and discover what offers interest them the most.
Owning a franchise can be a great way to ramp up your business more quickly since you are working with a proven process, brand, and product or service. The support that the franchise home office delivers along with the other franchisees can be a real benefit over going it solo.
With all these benefits, owning a franchise is more than managing a territory. It takes a full commitment, including marketing your own business. While the franchise may provide guidance, ultimately the growth of your business is up to you.
Tracy has experience in franchising both as a marketer for a beauty franchisee, and as a territory owner of a children's enrichment program. As a top producing franchise owner in North America, Tracy won several awards for her leadership in the franchise system, spoke annually at the national conference, and mentored other franchisees.
She now uses her knowledge of marketing to help franchises translate their brand from global to local and bridge the marketing gap between the franchisor and franchsiees.