3 tips on how to empower your franchisees to acquire local customers

3 tips on how to empower your franchisees to acquire local customers

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People buy franchises for two reasons. Firstly, they hope to be supported by experts in running a successful business. Second, they want to associate themselves with a strong brand that everyone has heard of. The industry standard for franchisors is to provide training, technology and resources to support their franchisees. They don’t let them go out on their own.

When a multi-unit owner opens another auto repair service, he does it because he cares about cars, not about SEO. Franchisees reasonably assume that head office will take care of it. Are they right? No – at least in most cases. Here’s why.

The broad franchise marketing framework works like this: At the national level, marketing is about value and brand awareness. It is not about driving customers to a particular store, but rather about raising the profile of all the stores across the network.

When it comes to local marketing, franchisees lack knowledge and support. So they often turn to agencies or get caught between search algorithms, incomplete listing profiles, negative reviews and falling star ratings. If your franchisees lose their local competition, your brand could lose yours – globally.

Franchisors need to understand that when it comes to local marketing, it takes two to tango. To win local customers, they must provide hands-on support and always keep an eye on franchisees’ business results. Support packaged as a local marketing program can even differentiate your entire franchise offering. Here are three drivers of local customer acquisition created from the company’s perspective:

Related: 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Local Franchise Marketing Right Now

1. Choose your local marketing approach: continuous training or in-house execution

Your local marketing program can be carried out in two ways. Success in local markets can be achieved by, first, implementing continuous learning opportunities for franchise owners. A training program that is designed and delivered well will give franchisees confidence as well as hard skills. If you don’t already offer a framework for employee learning, it’s worth considering how you can give your franchisees the tools to develop a competent workforce.

PromoRepublic’s clients, travel agency Expedia Cruises and healthcare franchise Medi-Weightloss, for example, provide review videos and webinars on local marketing while maintaining a central information hub to store best practices and frequently asked questions.

The other option is to do local marketing for the franchisees. After all, one of the benefits of franchising is business support to help grow a business faster than it could have otherwise.

To take things away from the franchise owners, a family of home service brands, Authority Brands, offers local marketing programs. Their corporate marketing team commits to building infrastructure on behalf of franchisees and sets up a dedicated team that can perform, rather than just train.

Head office then measures the success of individual locations. This involves dashboards and reporting, not only to share with franchise owners, but also to hold the marketing team executing these programs accountable. What gets measured gets improved.

Related: The 4 Essential Elements of a Franchise Marketing Plan

2. Make organic lead generation easier for franchisees

Brand discovery and the customer journey look much different today. People can now shop where it’s easiest for them, using a mix of channels. Last year, for example, 53% of US holiday shoppers checked online to see if a product was in stock before going to the store to buy it.

When you switch online/offline, customers expect continuity and the same experience. To meet these expectations and capture more potential customers organically, franchise brands are increasing their investments in digital marketing, aiming to build a unified omnichannel presence. Their efforts usually focus on:

  1. Driving traffic to local landing pages: Before spending money to drive traffic to your website, make sure customers land on a geo-specific landing page with relevant information. Many established franchises such as car care brand, Ziebart or educational Goldfish Swim School rely on traffic from social media, listings or review sites and have increased their digital marketing budgets by approximately 50%. As a result, the swimming school’s website has received approx. 55% more traffic in the last 4 years.

  2. Increase search and map findability: Shoppers often have an idea of ​​what they’re looking for, but they don’t necessarily know what product or brand they want. So they do window shopping online. The local SEO can be just what you need to help potential customers find your specific location and decide to buy from you. The basic points here are creating/managing GBP, automating entry and review and tracking performance across each site.

  3. Improve online reputation: People trust online reviews, search for recommendations on social media and rate businesses. This affects companies’ rankings and visibility on searches and maps. Being seen is good for brand awareness, but to sell more, local businesses need customer trust. Franchisees typically use online reputation management tools to improve and measure reputation metrics. What’s important here is to understand that your brand’s reputation online is a sum of the reputations of all your locations across the network.

Related: Keep it local: The importance of localizing your franchise approach

3. Facilitate localization of content, and praise individuality

In the industry, we often see franchisors providing all of the social content to a franchise’s local site. But this makes local businesses seem removed from the local community, inauthentic and inhumane.

Although franchisors have significant reach, corporate marketers typically cannot localize messages for different regions, let alone micro-segments of a city, such as neighborhoods or streets. This is the point where head office can give franchise owners a choice while still sitting behind the wheel.

However, franchisees are able to create content that resonates with the local community and addresses customer pain points. In doing so, they go beyond brand awareness to trust – an important next step before converting prospects into customers.

The best way to give franchise owners some freedom and allow them to add a local touch is to provide them with customizable content. This works great when HQ suggests templates and other content and allows editing. To avoid some franchisees going rogue, use design approval workflows and load your branding layouts to keep branding intact.

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