Franchise Business Tips

3 things you MUST have before you franchise your business

Your business has really taken off and you’re considering expanding. Do you sell, open more locations or franchise? Each has its pros and cons. More locations can mean margins stay in your hands, selling your idea results in immediate income, and franchising allows you to share the workload while still benefitting from the revenue.  Before you go ahead and make any big decisions, we’d like to lay out 3 things you need to know before you franchise your business.

Concept

For any business to be successful, it has to be based on a sound idea. The best marketing efforts, research and development, advertising and management can’t make up for an idea or product that simply doesn’t resonate with consumers. While many business owners may be energetic about expanding their businesses to other locations, they may need to consider if their concept and idea is sound enough to expand into other markets where other consumers may have different preferences.

Experts say that the best concepts are those that offer products that the public is familiar with, but that have a unique and value-adding twist to them. Taking a basic product like noodles, burgers, oil changes, gasoline or ice cream, and adding a unique twist like faster speed, lower price, cooler packaging or better service is what will make a product valuable to the individual, while keeping it adaptable to the masses.

Papa Murphy’s concept does just that. They sell something everyone understands and can relate to: pizza. But, they differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering take-and-bake pizzas rather than ready-made ones. By not baking the pizzas in house, they don’t have to buy expensive ovens and kitchens, which saves them money, and in turn saves their consumers money. They can offer their product at a lower price point while retaining the high quality of their competitors. This fills a gap that a certain demographic is looking for, which has made them successful.

Capital

­Franchising your business doesn’t allows you to save money on real estate, but it still requires a high amount of capital, depending on the aggressiveness of your franchise sales plans. Before diving into franchising, consider slower growth, finding debt financing or taking on partners, which may be better alternatives, depending on your situation.

Starting the franchising process can easily cost the franchisor between $100,000 and $250,000. This is no small sum. Be sure that your company has the financial resources to start and can follow through all the way until you’ve sold enough franchises to pay back the costs.

Management

Even with a sound concept and ample capital, a business can fall flat if it’s not pushed along by those who believe in it and have the drive to get it to the next level.

Good managers can see the company’s vision for the future. They understand its goals, how it is positioned in the market and what the future holds for the industry. They can see its competitor’s weaknesses and know how to use them as strengths. They then can apply the vision, making sure everything they do is contributing to, rather than taking away from, the company’s future.

The management should be the pickiest of all employees, ensuring that everything done throughout the company is up to par with the vision. Ray Kroc, the man who started the franchising of McDonald’s, set very strict guidelines regarding portion sizes, preparation, packaging and cooking methods to ensure that the food at McDonald’s would look and taste the same across all its franchises. He grew the franchise from its start with a few restaurants in California to 7,500 locations in 31 countries. It was said that he went as far as picking up trash in his franchisee’s parking lots to show them the standard that they were expected to live up to. This is the kind of leadership it takes to make a successful franchise.

Lastly, management needs to do more than talk and inspire, they need to sell. They must have the drive and believe in the concept enough to close the deals that will lead to the company’s success.

If you’re looking to franchise your business and could use help with marketing, let us know.

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5 Tips to Market your Fitness Franchise

We’ve seen an increase in worldwide concern about healthy living and obesity, which means it’s a great time to consider opening a fitness franchise. Sure, fitness trends and fads may come and go, but the gym and fitness industry has experienced significant growth in the past few years.

So, why open a franchise instead of your own business? With a franchise, the corporate offices assist you in setting up the entire infrastructure of your business, and you gain the already existent brand strength and awareness.

However, franchising a fitness business doesn’t mean you won’t have to market your own location. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of things our fitness franchise clients do to make boost their marketing and create opportunities for growth.

1. Rely on brand strength

You should be thinking of creative ways to market on a local level, but don’t stray too far from the brand. Use collateral and materials that have been approved through corporate and match the brand style guidelines. After all, you paid for the brand, don’t destroy its power.

2. Use flyers and printed materials

You may think print is dead, but we’ve seen that flyers and other printed handouts have an extreme effect on a franchise’s success. Design a branded flyer that you can place at the front desk, hang in the gym, or hand out to each customer or client that comes through your gym. Fitness franchises have unique face-to-face and regular relationships with their customers and prospects, allowing you to leverage the power of print.

3. Offer Referral Rewards

Often corporate offices will set up referral rewards programs, but if they don’t, try setting up a program of your own on a smaller scale. Offer them a free t-shirt, or 15% of their yearly membership for the remainder of the year. Whatever it is, use some creative and consider what it is that would motivate your customers to bring their friends in to your fitness center or gym.

4. Offer a Free Fitness Course

A great way to get new members into your gym or fitness center is to offer periodic free courses. You may be surprised at how effective a monthly yoga class that members can bring their friends to will be in exposing new people to your gym and your programs. So whether it’s beginner’s weight lifting, or cycling courses, consider dedicating an hour each week to prospecting and advertising your gym classes.

5. Social Media

Your corporate franchise brand may be leveraging social media, but your customers want to see the personal face behind the business. You should be engaging and responding online, as well as prospecting. Having an online presence is a crucial element in the world of marketing and technology, so sit down with your team and discuss the type of content you want to include in your social media strategy.

No matter what type of fitness franchise you’re opening or working with, think creatively about marketing for your specific location. Utilize the strength of the brand, but don’t rely on it entirely.

If you could use some help with franchise branding or printing marketing collateral, let us know. We can help.

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Blogging for Franchises

The best way to tell people about your business or franchise is in your own words. Blogging gives your location or business a voice and a personality that will engage your customers and boost your digital marketing efforts. If you’re a franchise, you want to rely on the strength of your franchise brand, but you also want to be sure you share a personal side of your individual location—a blog is the perfect place to do that.

Engaging your customers and followers in an online dialogue also converts prospects into loyal customers. If you aren’t blogging you are missing out on an opportunity to connect with your customers on a profound level that will benefit your business.

The facts speak for themselves. Study this infographic, courtesy of The Hub, to learn how to improve your blog and better your business.

Blogging for Franchises

 

For more suggestions about blogging for businesses please contact us. We’d love to help you seize the opportunity to engage your customers.

 

Franchise Owners: Pay Close Attention to Your Google Maps Listing

We recently read of a rare foods restaurant, Serbian Crown, that experienced a 75 percent drop-off in weekend customers. The restaurant, which served up lion, horse and kangaroo, said it was because someone else edited its Google Maps listing and incorrectly stated they were closed on weekends. The restaurant closed in 2013.

The same article includes the unscrupulous practices of a Buffalo, New York jewelry store owner who posted unfavorable Google reviews on competitor’s listings and even managed to mark one of them as ‘permanently closed’ while posting five-star reviews for his own jewelry store.

You can read the complete article, How Google Map Hackers Can Destroy a Business at Will, on Wired.com.

This provides a valuable lesson for franchise business owners. Google Maps is a crowdsourcing project. There are several ways others could tamper with your business listing without your knowledge.

We’re sure Google’s working to make its Maps and local search service more secure, but until it is, we recommend being vigilant about your own business listing on Google Maps. Search for your business on your mobile device and desktop computer at least monthly to see how the listing appears.

If you haven’t created a Google My Business page yet, you should. And then share photos and video of your business through your page (these appear on the local search results for your business).

At least make sure your contact information and hours of business are correct because Google has the lion’s share of online search traffic (about 80 percent) and you want to make sure you don’t end up out of business like Serbian Crown did.

Franchise Marketing Automation: Definitely Worth It

Too often people steer clear of automated marketing because they think it’s expensive. Automated software platforms and technologies aren’t usually cheap, and like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Before you settle for inexpensive franchise marketing vendors or service providers, be sure to evaluate the features and benefits of the product or service. Often business owners (us included) get in the habit of shopping around, seeing a steep price tag, and running away before considering that the price might not be a rip-off because the solution will deliver much needed added value. With so many providers out there, you’ll want to do some research to find the right fit.

Franchise marketing automation add value to your business in many ways. Here’s a list of 5 things you should look for in an automated marketing program or service:

1. Easy-to-Use

If the automation works the way it should, implementing and using the product or service will be easy. But beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. A lot of vendors will claim that their product is simple, then never put you in the driver’s seat to find out if that’s really the case, or worse, you end up with a very complicated solution you can’t figure out how to use.

We suggest requesting a demo before you make any commitments so you’re sure you understand how the product works. That way you’ll know whether or not you and your team can really utilize the technology.

2. Integrates With Your Business Model and Strategy

An IT solution may require extra research and work on your part, but you want to be sure that the program you select doesn’t drastically alter your company’s processes or operations. Even if you’re willing and able to make small changes in the way you run things, remember that if this marketing service isn’t guaranteed to revolutionize your business, you certainly don’t want to interrupt the effective business model you already have in place.

3. Customer Support

We’ve worked with our fair share of software vendors over the years. We’ve found that the best ones provide top-notch customer support. They’re always accessible and quick to help resolve issues. Even with automated marketing solutions, problems arise, so be sure you have access to live customer support.

4. Analytics

In today’s world, marketing is all about big data. You should be able to track everything you do with automated marketing. Whether it’s finding out how many hits you’ve had on a landing page, or the number of opens from your email newsletter, the platform or software you choose should include data about actions and behavior. Without this data, you’re really marketing in the dark.

5. Reporting

While this may overlap with analytics, reporting should be digestible and easy to understand. After all, what good is data if you don’t know what it means? Before you make a purchase, ask for example reports to make sure the reporting tools meet your needs.

If you’re interested in automating the print and fulfillment of your marketing collateral, or social media content creation and publication, as part of your business strategy, please contact us for your free Divvy demo.

We’ll give you all the information you need to determine if Divvy’s right for you and your franchise or multi-location business.

Divvy’s in the details.

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5 Pinterest Marketing Tips for Franchises

Even amidst rapid growth of social media marketing, many businesses and franchises haven’t figured out how to harness the power of social media. The way we see it, social media is an essential part of doing business since it gives your organization a personality that consumers can connect with and helps you improve your online marketing. Though sites like Facebook and Twitter as great tools to help you connect with millions of online users, Pinterest offers its own unique marketing power.

The third-largest social network, Pinterest is a social bookmarking site that allows users to collect and share photos pertaining to their hobbies and interests. Whether your Pinterest page serves as a visual storefront or a hub for information and visuals pertaining to your franchise organization, we want to help you maximize your marketing with these 5 Pinterest marketing tips:

1. Images and links

Since Pinterest is an image based site, be sure that you are using high quality images when you pin. Also be sure that if you upload an image from your computer, you attach the proper link to the image. Ideally, you’re pin will be re-pinned and shared by other Pinterest users, and each time a person clicks on your image, they’ll be lead back to that initial link. You want to be sure that your links clearly communicate your brand and work as part of a larger strategy and call to action.

2. Build relationships with influential users

Competition is fierce online, and the audience you are trying to reach might already have their attention on someone else’s Pinterest page. You can use this to your advantage by connecting with influential users and exposing your brand to their followers. Reach out to influencers by liking their content and repining their pins on your page. Interaction is key to social media success.

3. Follow other businesses

This strategy is similar to building relationships with influential users, but it is much more targeted. Following businesses that are similar to yours gives you the opportunity to connect with people who are interested in your industry. This is useful for generating new fans and receiving inspiration from your competitors.

4. Pin regularly

As with most social media content, posting (or in this case pinning) regularly will help increase your visibility on follower’s feeds. In other words, the more you post, the more your pins and brand name will show up when your followers log in to Pinterest. However, always make sure that the content you pin is relevant to your brand.

5. Use “rich pins”

Take advantage of Pinterest’s rich pins tool. There are five types of rich pins: product, recipe, movie, article or place, all of which all users to add helpful information to their pinks like real-time product pricing, product availability, or where users can purchase an item. In order to utilize the rich pins tool, users must apply here.

Now is the time to start leveraging the power of Pinterest for your product and services. If you and your franchise could use social media marketing help, contact us. We’d love to help.

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5.5 Steps for a Consistent Franchise Brand

At two in the morning, in any given place, a franchisor wakes from a nightmare involving his or her franchisees straying from the franchise’s brand image. They’re printing their own business cards on the wrong kind of paper, they’ve created their own Facebook pages, they’re distorting the logo and signage, and—gasp—they’ve created their own brand taglines!

When the franchisor comes to, he or she recognizes anew the importance of a consistent franchise brand, and understands the importance of these five-and-a-half steps for consistent branding.

1. Educate Your Franchiseesfranchise branding consistency

Some mistakes happen when people genuinely don’t understand what the rules are about what they can and can’t do when representing the brand. Help them understand what you expect of them in all facets: merchandising, customer experience, behavior and marketing collateral. Many issues that conflict with brand policy can easily be avoided with proactive education.

2. Make it Easy

Make everything your franchisees need available at their fingertips so that they won’t try to get things done their own way. Consider your marketing collateral or signage. If it takes too long for them to receive it, they might put together their own interpretation of it. Eek! Create a way for them to order everything they need at the click of a button using web-to-print software like Divvy by Alexander’s. It allows you to approve marketing collateral for them to use, and they can customize and order it when they need it. Remember, if you don’t provide franchisees with what they need, when they need it, they’ll get it elsewhere.

3. Emotionally Engage Franchiseesfranchise brand consistency

Your franchise team members are the living, breathing representation of your brand. They’re on the front line of customer interaction. Like it or not, what they say and do will determine what kind of brand you are, because a customer’s perception of you is your brand. Help them not only understand the vision, but feel it. If they feel aligned with the values and culture of your brand, they’ll stand up for it and be champions for the franchise. Create experiences that allow for this, such as valuable benefits, training, promotion, awards, travel, etc. If your employees love your brand and vision, they’ll stick to it, not out of necessity, but by choice.

4. Social Branding and Voice

Having a franchise start publishing to their own social media can be frightening. Provide them with a way to share their localized content in a way that is consistent with the rest of the company. At Divvy we can set-up channels for all of your franchisees and start publishing to each of them with corporate approved messaging as often as you’d like. The same content can go to each location, giving them a social solid foundation from which to work. From there they can add their own localized images, events and information. But the profile pictures, cover photos, taglines and information will stay the same, keeping yo
u sane and the brand consistent. See our Re-Bath case study [link] as an example of what we can do to help you here.

5. Maintain Your Overall Perception (PR)

Keeping your publics’ perception of the brand consistent can be challenging. It takes understanding what people are saying, what they’re feeling and how they’re acting when they interact with the brand. Social media makes this process easier with listening and publishing tools like Sprout Social and NUVI that can help monitor the public’s sentiment shared on social platforms about your brand. Understanding opinion about your brand in real time allows you to act quickly when crisis hits.

5.5 Stick with Itcoca cola bottle history franchise brand consistency

This is a half-point only because it’s not really a new point, but something inferred in each of the previous points. Come up with a solid and robust strategy for your brand to begin with, and then stick with it. Stay committed to each of the five steps above to avoid a breach in the image and reputation of your brand. Adapt and make adjusts as necessary, but be committed to preserving your franchise brand.

Collaboration is The Secret to Successful Franchise Marketing

Could you or your franchisees use a little marketing help? The logistics of running a business keep most franchise owners too busy to dedicate enough time to marketing, and lots of corporate franchise offices aren’t sure how to provide materials that work for multiple locations and marketplaces.

We believe there are steps you can take to create easily-accessible marketing packages for franchise owners, allowing them to run the business and focus on marketing, which means more sales and growth for the franchisee and the franchisor.

The best marketing strategies begin with collaboration. When franchisors leave marketing totally up to the franchisees, problems can arise. Whether you’re the franchisor or franchisee, push to have a meeting that includes both corporate representatives and franchise owners, and then spend some time discussing and developing compelling marketing ideas and tools that franchisees need to improve their marketing.

Once you’ve compiled these ideas, you’ll need a way to distribute marketing tools to your franchisees. With a few franchise locations, this may not be too difficult, but for larger franchise organizations, providing a way for franchisees to easily access materials is crucial.

There are lots of platforms and franchise marketing software systems out there that can help you distribute a piece of the marketing pie. Here at Divvy, we create a corporate approved website where corporate representatives can upload approved marketing materials. Franchisees can then log in to the website, customize and order any materials they need—whether it’s social media, signs and banners, printed items or uniforms.

When marketing a franchise or a multi-location business, it’s crucial that the franchisees use corporate-approved, branded materials. After all, the power of a franchise lies in the security of its brand, so communication between franchisor and franchisees should facilitate the creation of properly-branded and effective marketing materials and tactics.

If you’re looking to streamline your marketing, fill out our contact form below and you’ll receive a free demo of Divvy’s platform.

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3 Things to Know About Google’s New Business Pages

If you’ve worked with Google+ page listings in the past you know they’re a great asset for businesses and online marketers. However, adding listings, managing locations, maps, and linking all of the individual Google features together can prove difficult.

The good news is that Google just launched Google+ business pages or Google My Business, a platform for businesses that integrates Google+ pages, reviews, YouTube channels and other Google features into one convenient platform.
Google My Business

The new function simplifies all the business-related functions for online marketers and business owners. Before you get started launching your business into online success, we’ve created a list of 3 things to know about Google’s new business pages to help you navigate, set-up and understand how to utilize the updated platform.

1. Simplicity

Google My Business now puts everything in the same place—maps, listings, reviews, analytics, Google+ sharing and even YouTube stats. The page layout is clean and intuitive, with a row at the top for the listing info, and subsequent rows beneath for each of the page’s functions. Users can share Google+ statuses from their dashboard, check their page views and interactions, respond to reviews, and monitor their analytics.

2. Now for brands and franchises

In the past, Google business pages required a physical location for each listing, making it difficult for some brands and companies to utilize the Google offerings. As a remedy, Google My Business now allows companies or brands three options when setting up a page:

  1. Storefront
  2. Service Area
  3. Brand

If your business has a storefront or a listed address, you can attach your listing to Google maps. If you service an antire area (i.e. pizza delivery, taxi service, etc.), you can set-up your page based on a larger area. Brands without a set location (bands, sports teams, causes, etc.) can also have a page independent of any geographical listing.

Google also allows businesses to manage multiple locations at once. Those that have 10+ locations can input each location  into the Google My Business feature and change listing info (hours, websites and phone numbers) for each location.

3. Existing users need not worry

If a Google business listing has already been made, transferring over to the new business platform will not require much effort. When our team at Divvy and Alexander’s transferred their page, they simply signed into their existing Google+ pages and the switch was seamless.

If you want more information about how to leverage social media for your business, please contact us.

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5 Facebook advertising tips for franchises

Facebook adsSocial media has had a tremendous impact on the way businesses communicate. Direct communication between companies and customers, multichannel marketing and stronger brand loyalty are just a few of the benefits of social media.

Did you know that nearly all new businesses create a Facebook page? Still, there remains a line between just being on social media and engaging online in a way that actually profits your business.

Of the millions of businesses on Facebook, most of them need help generating business from it. Working with an agency that understands the ins-and-outs of like-gating, promoted posts and Facebook ads can be a great solution for growing your business through Facebook, providing you’ve got the cash.

Here are 5 Facebook advertising tips for getting better results for your franchise business from Facebook.

1. Budget

Social media marketing is an essential part of business, and it needs to be sustained by a monthly budget in order to be successful. Businesses should not hesitate to pay for Facebook campaigns, or offer discounts on their social media channels, because these small expenditures regularly deliver positive ROI.

The helpful advertising tools offered on Facebook, combined with creative marketing services from an agency, will guarantee the best results.

2. Go Mobile

Facebook reported last month that over a billion of its users access the site from their smartphone. That statistic should encourage businesses to make their promotions more mobile friendly.

There’s a Facebook plugin for Google Chrome called Power Editor that allows businesses to send promotions exclusively to mobile users. Studies show that mobile ads earn up to 2.5 times more than desktop ads, but results may vary depending on your audience. Learn more about Facebook’s Power Editor here.

3. Create Offers

One of the most successful ways to increase your online following is by posting giveaways or special offers that entice your followers to interact with you. Facebook has a great tool for creating and distributing offers that can help generate leads and expand your reach.

The advantage to using the Facebook tool over simply posting an offer on your company page is that the tool will guarantee greater distribution, and your fans can redeem the offer with the click of a button, which will then automatically advertize your offer on the person’s news feed. Before you know it, your business is everywhere!

When creating your offer, keep in mind that free giveaways go a long way with most audiences. Learn how to use this tool here.

4. Customize Your Audience

When you create ads on Facebook you get the option to select who you want to see your ad. This works particularly well if you already have an email list of customers. You can upload that email list to your Facebook page and then send them updates whenever you want.

This tactic has proven successful in generating more sales. Some companies have reported a 25-time return on their ads. To learn how to customize your audience, click here.

5. Follow the 20-Percent Rule

A picture is worth a thousand words, so let your images speak for you. The 20-percent rule means that when you post about a product, an offer, or an event, only allow 20 percent of the space for words, and let the remaining 80 percent of the post show your audience what you’re talking about.

This is a proven method for getting people to pay attention to your company. If your images are engaging, it will entice your audience to share them with others, which will help build your presence online.


If you’d like to point your business in the right direction on Facebook, we can help. Please contact us using the form below.

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