Utilizing Social Media for Franchise Success

I believe anything a franchisor does should be done to benefit the franchise relationship, and social media plays perfectly into this philosophy as it affords interactivity at all stages of the franchise relationship. From prospecting for qualified franchise candidates to supporting current franchisees, the utilization of social media tools and technology creates environments that strengthen relationships, shares information, provides two-way communications, and provides points of reference for follow up. It creates a multi-tiered platform of information that benefits both franchise development and customer generation efforts alike. Often, simultaneously.

For franchise startups, the founder’s vision of the concept is paramount to future success. They are perceived as the concept. They are essentially the brand. At least until a significant number of franchises are awarded and brand awareness is established across multiple markets, they are the inspiration for franchise candidates. The benefit to spreading this message through social media outlets such as social networking, video sharing, blogs, etc. is that these tools and associated strategies will generate direct excitement about the business model while generating subliminal, subtle interest in the franchise concept. This establishes a perfect foundation for growth. It also defines a very worthwhile, visible support mechanism for franchisees. Of course, it’s imperative to have a well-defined support system in place for training and assisting franchisees.

For established franchise brands, it’s a matter of improving brand awareness in current markets while creating brand awareness in new markets, and markets that are on the horizon for expansion. Again, as with startup franchise concepts, the interactivity created by social media makes it a viable option in driving customers to franchise locations and generating interest in the franchise concept. But, what’s important in a mature system, and a complement to its franchise development efforts, is the improvement of communications throughout the franchise system that is created by social media activity and ultimately lends itself to validation of the franchise concept by the franchisees. For once, franchisees are feeling part of the franchise development process as it’s visible in the organization’s social media efforts. Something that many franchisees have not been a part of in the past.


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Opinions, Insight and Perspectives on Franchising

I recently posted a question on Linkedin that addressed the primary reasons to explore franchising. Below please find several of the responses from a cross-section of industry and non-industry professionals . As I have done in the past, the names of the responding individuals will be kept confidential. Instead, they will only identified by their Linkedin statement or profile.

doors-optionsWhat is your opinion of franchising as a business model, business expansion strategy and as a career alternative?
as posted in the Q & A section on LinkedIn under Franchising

An SAP Consultant with some franchising experience obviously has done his homework and offered valuable advice as well as sharing some real life experiences.

“I have studied business and many individual businesses personally. I read many business cases and books and have a deep interest in business models and how they work in the current market.

First of all, check out the book ‘The E-myth Revisited?’ It is a very interesting way of viewing a business model. It describes the benefits of the franchise way of doing business.

I also have been involved in a few franchise opportunities, most recently, I was looking to purchase a tanning franchise. The business model was highly tuned, the computer system was revolutionary and perfectly adapted to the business through many years of iterations. The computer system alone would allow you to manage multiple stores with very little hands on control. The power of the franchise itself brought purchasing power and brand recognition which would have been difficult to built independently. The small percentage of revenues to fund regional advertising brought in enough business that I could have been almost completely hands off while still turning a sizable profit.

In short, most entrepreneurs work IN their business, but at a point you need to delegate so you can work ON your business. And franchising is a marvelous way (for most businesses) to grow exponentially.”

This next response if from a business coach that specializes in guerilla marketing strategies. Before I even read her response i knew I would agree with her perspective of franchisees needing to be prepared to work hard despite buying into a system. How true, indeed.

“I think that Franchises represent an great opportunity for some people. They can provide an excellent template for success, as well as resources and support as you are growing your business. That said, opening a franchise is just like starting any other business from the standpoint that you must have a clear idea as to how you will drive customers to your product/service. A franchisor will provide you with the tools and a blueprint, but you are going to have to do a lot of the heavy-lifting yourself. Make sure you are prepared!

Before committing to any franchise, talk to some of their current (and former!) franchisees. Don’t just call the people the franchisor tells you to call; reach deeper into their list of franchisees. Develop a list of questions that you can ask that help you to understand whether this particular franchise is going to be a good fit for you.

Lastly, if you are someone who doesn’t really like “rules”, you may want to think twice about franchising. What makes franchises work is that things are delivered consistently. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on how well you follow rules!”

An entrepreneur who previously founded a small franchise company offered his view which it appears may have been formed by some entrepreneurial types that entered into a franchise agreement with his franchise company. Personally, I do not believe true entrepreneurs make very good franchisees. On the flip-side, is he referring to true entrepreneurs or franchisees that just had buyer’s remorse and had to blame someone for their poor performance and/or failure?

“I could wax on for hours on the subject and don’t have the finger skills to type it all, but…

First, my qualifications: I founded/own a successful retail business for over 15 years. I have created multiple businesses, some successful, some not, but all independent. I also created a retail concept that I franchised. So I have the unique view of being an independent and a franchisor.

Here are some quotes:
-A franchise is like a bicycle with training wheels. Once you learn how to ride, you won’t want training wheels anymore.
-Franchising is for those who want you to help them…but, then to leave them alone. In other words they want to be indies, but in a community.
-A franchise is only as good as it’s support.
-If a franchise operation doesn’t give back in value more than royalties paid in, the franchisee will eventually resent writing a check to “the mother ship”.
-A franchise is a business model that people expect to have it all figured out – no one has it all figured out.”

A very well-respected and experienced franchise consultant offered his perspective from having worked with individuals explore franchising as a career alternative. I agree that many explore business ownership options because they cannot find a career position that will compensate them as they have grown accustomed to in the past. the choice between franchise and startup often comes down to risk.

“As a business model I think that franchising is or has taken the place of corporate expansion in a lot of cases. Especially in the startup sector. I don’t know how many times recently I have been contacted from a startup that wants to expand via franchising.

I am talking to a lot of people that are looking at franchising as an alternative career path. Most of them are coming to me because they can’t find a job, it isn’t that they don’t want one, but they can’t find one making the money they were making before.

So they turn to owning a business and a logical choice for some of them is a franchise. For others it is starting their own business.

I think it comes down to personal preference and ability to cope with risk factors. I think most of the people that buy a franchise do so to help reduce their risk, so if they were really looking for a job and then had to buy a business, a franchise is probably a one choice.

About 1/3 of my clients are people in this situation that were looking for a new career, due to recent economic conditions, and they couldn’t find what they were looking for.”

An upstart franchise founder offers her views from the perspective of being new to franchising but quite experienced in running her own business. She appears to be spot on about ideal franchise relationships but I look forward to discussing her thoughts after she awards her first four or five franchises.

“As a career alternative, franchises are not for entrepreneurs, whose M.O. is ‘anything you can do, I can do better’. As an expansion strategy, it depends on the industry, product, service and system. For those that rely heavily on outside sales, for instance, hiring salespeople is more risky and time consuming than offering the opportunity for ownership.

I agree that franchising is a great way to grow by working on your business instead of in it.

Franchises offer franchisees:
– Self direction (while some do, many don’t have too-stringent rules)
– Higher income potential than a fixed salary or most sales positions, and often even more than business ownership because growth may be better supported
– Proven solutions to problems that exist in the market, the basis for any startup
– Elimination or reduction of what can often be years or decades of research, development, relationship building and trial and error and financial investment
– SUPPORT”

Are Relationships With Your Franchisees Strengthening Your Franchise?

The following is an article submitted by Guest Author, Katryn Harris. Katryn is the CEO of Open Box, a company focused on helping franchisors use technology to build their franchises. She brings her background in management, business strategy and communication as well as her team of technical experts to work with franchisors, ensuring that their technology fits their business strategy and moves their franchises forward. Be sure to check out Katryn’s blog at www.growfromhere.com.

Are Relationships With Your Franchisees Strengthening Your Franchise?
as submitted by Katryn Harris

business-relationshipsAs a franchisor, you are in the business of building relationships; relationships with your franchisees, with your potential franchisees and with your end customers. Relationships build sales, build your brand and build your franchise.

The franchisor /franchisee relationship has interesting challenges that may not be seen elsewhere in the business relationship world. It’s not employer/employee, it’s not quite a partnership, and there are elements of both financial dependence, and inter-relatedness. The franchisor & franchisee depend on one another, and are both accountable to one another, and the success of each depends strongly on the success of the other.

One of the key success factors for good relationships (with both potential & existing franchisees) is to set your boundaries and expectations clearly. Some franchisors are more or less consultative, some are more or less friendly with their franchisees, some are more or less clear from the outset on expectations and accountability (and whole books have been written on which of these is right and which is wrong). I highly recommend
a) Knowing the pros and cons of leaning towards either side of the spectrum (do your homework)
b) Being clear about where you sit along the spectrum, and
c) Communicating where you sit to your franchisees and, particularly to potential franchisees.

Whether you are more or less consultative in your relationships is actually less important than knowing why you have chosen that position, being clear about where you stand, and then finding franchisees who are looking for that particular degree of consultative relationship. If you can attain these three, the franchisor/franchisee relationship will be strong and rewarding for both of you & lead to strong franchise growth.

One great resource for building your franchise through strong relationships is Greg Nathan and his books about the franchisor/franchise relationship, such as The Franchise E-Factor.