Franchising and the pitfalls of a “one size fits all” approach to marketing.
Franchising can provide an excellent way to move your business forward and quickly establish your brand in the market place. Much has been said, and written, about the selection process for prospective franchisees, and in an ideal world, stringent vetting and due diligence perform admirably in helping to source the right franchisee to invest in your brand and build their own successful business.
In the often less than ideal world of the SME, moving to a franchise business model, there are many factors affecting the process of franchisee recruitment. The desire not to turn down investment, the need to build a critical mass of franchise outlets and the simple desire for your business to succeed are natural responses for any entrepreneur.
Invariably, this can lead to the signing up of franchisees who have the required investment, look great on paper and show enthusiasm but still lack some of the knowledge and experience to understand some of the challenges which may lie ahead.
One of the biggest recurring issues in my experience of developing franchise businesses, from a marketing perspective, is a franchisees view of marketing and promotion. I have lost count of the number of franchisees I have met who have invested every penny they have available in their new business, leaving no contingency for marketing the business from day one.
There are many excellent franchisors, providing a plethora of support, information and advice to the franchisee, but many of their fledgling business owners see marketing as an unnecessary inconvenience. Indeed, some view the franchisor’s “marketing percentage” as a hidden cost there to make the franchisor money.
We all know the importance of brand and how effective great marketing can be for quickly establishing a trading style in business. It is important that the franchisee buys into this from day one.
I have regularly worked with many franchisors who provide some great centralised marketing. Promoting nationally, they typically provide the franchisor with a set of generic promotions and marketing which generally works, but there is also a flaw in this approach.
Where the “one size fits all” approach often begins to unravel is when the franchise outlet has local factors feeding into the customer demographic. When a local factor neutralises some or all of the generic marketing provided, quickly the franchisee loses confidence in the marketing, withdraws from it and the effort invested in establishing “buy in” from the franchisee is lost. This in turn affects the franchisee’s view of the franchisor and all parties profits.
One solution is to establish a further tier of marketing, providing a franchisee a personalised level of intervention which reviews the specifics of the franchise and the area it serves. Allocating marketing budget or enabling the franchisee to spend with tailored marketing, within a controlled environment, can work wonders. It re-establishes the franchisees confidence, gives them a say in their own marketing and can provide a flexible, responsive marketing strategy to maximise the area-specific market within which each franchisee trades.
If a business is overlooking the two thousand students walking past it’s door everyday because it’s generic marketing doesn’t quite hit the mark… it’s easily solved, market to audience, market locally!
We all hate “micro managers” but success comes to franchisors who embrace “micro marketing”.
Steve Sadler, is the Managing Director of Intimation Creative whose specialties include supported marketing in the franchise sector.