Things have really changed for franchise salespeople (also known as franchise development managers) in the past decade. Technology is partly to blame for the some of the changes that have come down the pike.
Today’s franchise sales professionals have had to adapt to these changes in order to sell new franchises. Let’s see how and why.
The Franchise Sales Process Used To Be Simpler
It used to be that franchise salespeople would arrive at the corporate office of the franchisor they were working for, grab some coffee, go to their desk, open their daily planners and start dialing. In addition, there were only a few places in which to find prospective franchise owners to even call. Some of these places hardly account for any of the calls that franchise salespeople make these days. For example: Business magazines.
It used to be that all you had to do was fill in your name, address and telephone number (no line for an email address) on a contact form located on the bottom of a franchise opportunity print ad and mail it in. You would then get a phone call from the franchise salesperson who would verify your information-and your interest, and send out a print brochure. This brochure wasn’t just any old brochure. It was an all color, expensive print brochure. And, it wasn’t cheap to mail.
Fast-forward to now. How many people fill in contact forms found in print publications these days? Better yet, how many print publications even have contact forms available to fill out and mail?
But, prospective franchise owners still purchase print magazines that focus on the franchise and business opportunity niche. It’s just that once they find an opportunity that interests them in magazines like Entrepreneur magazine, Franchise Times, Small Business Opportunities magazine, The Franchise Handbook and the Business Opportunities Handbook, they jump online to learn more and request information directly from the company’s website.
Changes In Franchises Sales/New Franchisee Acquisition
Many things that have changed in franchise sales and new franchisee acquisition.
I reached out to a couple of franchise sales/development professionals to find out what some of the changes are that they’re seeing and experiencing first-hand.
Chip Baranowski, VP of Franchise Development for Honest-1 Auto Care, was kind enough to share the following information (including some helpful tips) with me:
With the advent of the Internet, serious franchise candidates want to be able to do a lot of their research on your franchise prior to engaging you in the sales process. Franchisors need to make sure that they have superb websites with more information for the potential prospects.
Franchisors need to fish in a lot of different ponds when it comes to lead generation. Franchise companies in the past would focus on one or two sources in order to get deals done. You can’t do that anymore; you need to be in a lot of different places. We use franchise web portals, social media, PR, franchise brokers, business brokers, networking events, grass roots marketing and job boards to generate interest in our franchise.
Franchisors need to have a solid sales process that educates and vets potential franchisees. Today’s franchise sales process needs to be focused, finding out if the franchise concept is a good fit for the prospect and if the prospect is a good fit for the franchise system… and not just on getting the sale. If the prospect is not a fit, the franchise company should be willing to walk away from the deal and not just do it for the franchise fee. A good sales process allows franchise salespeople to weed out candidates that are not serious, and give the franchise company the ability to focus on prospects that are serious.
It’s great to hear a franchise development executive talking about the benefit of having a good sales process in place. And, when I say “benefit,” I’m referring to the fact that good franchisors look at their businesses in a long-term way. They weed out candidates that aren’t a good fit for their concept. Doing that can slow the growth of the system short-term, but in the long run, the franchisor benefits as they’ll probably have higher-grossing franchisees in which to collect royalty payments from.
Average and below-average franchisors tend to take the short-term view when it comes to awarding franchises. They choose average candidates that may not be an ideal fit but have franchise fee checks in hand. That’s because no one wins if the franchise is not a good fit for both parties.
Mandi Brandon is the Director of Operations at Color Glo International and is heavily involved in new franchisee acquisition:
At Color Glo International we have experienced many changes in franchise sales. Our franchise selling methods have changed dramatically over the years. Today it is our top priority to attentively protect our brand and corporate culture by recruiting only candidates who are a fit from both our corporate perspective and the perspective of our franchisees’. We have found that this creates a greater demand for our franchise. Qualified leads that fit our franchise concept have proven to not only generate greater sales for the franchisee but also for the franchisor as well as lasting relationships.
Our top lead sources for new franchisees are most often referred to us from the Internet; not because of paid advertising as before. As time passes we have learned that referrals and organic searches are the lead sources to watch, genuine reviews and nurtured relationships both with your franchisees and their customers. Just as we rely on the Internet to show us reliable and trusted services and products, the same is true for franchise sales. Your referrals, franchisees and their customers are your sales team; their rave reviews and exceptional services create conversation on the Web and a greater presence for your brand.
Mandi’s take on referrals, franchisees, and customers being the sales team was interesting and true. The ability (because of the Internet) that all of us have to instantly let our feelings be known about our experience with a specific business is powerful.
Review sites like Yelp are quickly becoming high-traffic websites. Websites that have a lot of traffic (and good content) tend to rank high on Google and Bing. So, if you’re on the hunt (online) for that perfect franchise, chances are pretty good that you’ll see a consumer review website appear in your search. Visiting a review site allows you to see how the public feels about the service or product that the franchise you’re looking into sells. That’s a good thing.
The Information Economy
Franchisors have had to adapt to the rapid changes that have taken place during the past decade.
Instead of relying strictly on print advertising to attract potential franchisees, they’ve had to learn how to use several different marketing techniques in order to attract high-quality franchisees. In addition, they’ve had to learn how to provide the kind of information that today’s prospective franchise owners want and need in order to make informed decisions.
These days, there’s no substitute for great information.
Searching Online Opportunities Photo via Shutterstock