Overloading a prospective franchise owner with details can stall the recruitment process, says Sally Butters, Director of Media at Coconut Creatives. Here she explains how to keep the flow of communication going, to best support the franchise recruitment process
Today prospective franchise owners can find information about any franchise with the simple click of a mouse. In 2011, researchers found that each person in the UK was exposed to over 5,000 daily media messages; so how will you stand out from the crowd?
What is the right level of information and when should you provide it? – Find out what your audience prefers!
People like to be communicated with in different ways and their preferences will depend on socio-economic factors and the level of urgency or interest involved. Therefore, research needs to be at the start of each successful recruitment process. Understanding which media channel your target audience prefers to receive information through or in which social activities they engage in, will ensure that you allocate your resources most effectively. Ideally research should not be a one-off but a continuous process forming a guiding line in your communications plan. We recommend that your initial research is carried out amongst your best performing franchise owners, as they own the characteristics that your ideal franchise owners should possess.
However, even if you can’t rely on existing franchise owners to carry out your research, you can still compile an accurate profile of your perfect franchise owner that highlights their behaviour during their purchase journey.
In a successful recruitment process you will continuously receive feedback from your generated leads across the different stages of engagement. By feeding this information back into your process, you can build a comprehensive set of data with up-to-date information. This is essential as in a world of constantly evolving communication methods, you cannot afford to be left standing at the fax machine while your competitor runs past in a flurry of tweets. This will also inform you about what kind of information your prospective franchise owners seek at respective stages in your recruitment process.
A successful recruitment process consists of lead generation, lead management and conversion. Different types of information through different channels are required for each of these stages. Yet, the messages you send throughout need to be consistent to provide a clear understanding of your franchise opportunity, which will naturally draw prospects to you.
Lead generation is the process of generating enquiries from prospective franchise owners and is the first step in building a long-term relationship. In order to achieve successful lead generation you need to be proactive and present your company as an attractive opportunity. You can’t just sit back and hope that the right person will hear about your franchise eventually.
Therefore, a lot of franchises invest a significant amount of their resources in this first stage. Individuals that consider franchising often wish to move away from a negative career experience, which is why it is essential to listen in this stage. This way you will receive information that you can then specifically address by providing information about your unique selling points (USP) and how these can help your prospect improve their current situation.
The research you have carried out to profile your ideal franchise owners can provide themes, as people often choose a franchise for similar reasons. It can also provide you with insight on how you can generate leads within your target audience. There are a multitude of different tactics that can be successful in lead generation, we have listed a few for you here:
- Tailored discovery days – if you have lots of franchise owners who play golf then host a Discovery Day at a golf club in a region where you wish to recruit;
- Integrate case studies – prepare a bank of case studies of current franchise owners so you have at least one that each of your perfect franchise owner prospects can relate to;
- Exhibitions – identify an exhibition that attracts your prospective franchise owner and take an existing franchise owner along to increase trust through sharing experiences.
You need to keep hold of your leads to take them through to the next stage of lead management. So to capture their data we recommend asking them to sign up to a newsletter, fill in brief contact forms or provide a strong call to action, like giving away a free book, as a reason to make contact again.
Lead management is the process of following up your leads. For prospects this is the stage where they consider if your franchise is an interesting opportunity or not. Yet, many franchisors are so focused on lead generation that they forget lead management.
We say it is not enough to just send one letter or email to your generated leads!
Some prospects might prefer to be in the driver’s seat of procuring more information about your franchise and others might want you to provide the information directly. This often strongly depends on the prospect’s sense of urgency. So you need to establish the channels that permit both. In this stage, it is important to allow prospects the possibility to reassure themselves by speaking to someone in your organisation. Prospects are only interested for a short period of time and offering an online-only communication channel is often slow with long response times and little consistency.
You need to bear in mind that your prospects will undoubtedly be considering other avenues and communicating with other franchisors if they can’t get the information they need from you in due time. It is also necessary to show genuine interest at this stage and to provide them with all the necessary information of what joining your franchise entails. Successful leads management will effectively result in higher lead conversion.
Lead conversion is the process of transforming a lead into a franchise owner. To achieve this you need to provide information about anticipated time scales and support to effectively outline the course of action. This will ensure that your prospects view you as a franchisor that is professional and well-organised. Through executing this you can make sure that you keep great prospects on track and eliminate those that will not suit your organisation, allowing for an effective allocation
So, in order to provide the right information at the right time you not only need to research characteristics of your perfect franchise owner but also their behaviour. No prospect is exactly like another but you can identify common themes that will resonate across your target audience. It is important to bear in mind that prospects have different information needs in each respective stage of the recruitment process. We recommend that you create a bespoke plan outlining which information needs are to be addressed via which channels, as well as when they are to be addressed in your recruitment process