Archive for the 'Franchising' Category


Top 10 Things We Learned at the IFA Conference (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our Top 10 list, we shared franchise industry insights Tracy and I learned at the International Franchise Association (IFA) 2013 conference in Las Vegas. Today, we are rounding out our list with the marketing takeaways.

Kate Upton says that Carl's Jr. sandwich is spicyOne of the strategic marketing concepts that we thought was astute came from Andrew Pudzer, CEO of CKE Restaurants, describing the Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s ‘Young Hungry Guys’ target market. Andrew discussed at great length the Aspirational target market vs. Direct target market. This has manifested itself into a regular SuperBowl ad with some of the ‘it’ girls of the day. Last year’s ad was one of the most talked about after the big game and featured Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl Kate Upton. You might think we mentioned this to give us a reason to feature Kate Upton in our blog, you might be right.

Here are the five marketing takeaways from IFA 2013:

1. 25 – 29% of ALL Internet traffic comes from a mobile device. The percentage is continually increasing. Businesses that choose to ignore creating a mobile optimized site or developing a mobile app are going to be in trouble. Consider this: if you gave a bad experience to 1 out of 4 prospects, would you fix the problem?

2.  SEO Killer: less than 1% of franchise business listings are accurate in the top three search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo). It may be as simple as inconsistencies across business locations. I searched “UPS Store” and found these four results on the first page:

        •                       –>  Thornton, CO
        •      –>   Denver, CO (7th & Broadway)
        •                –>  Georgetown, TX
        •                                  –>  Tallahassee, FL

3.  The overwhelming majority of franchisors we’ve met do not have the patience for social media. They keep talking about wanting some old school reactions instead of engagement, sharing or interactions. This attitude must change or Millennials will focus on brands that understand.A lack of consistency with the URLs means a more generic search like “package shipping” won’t include UPS Store locations. In fact, the search returned a US Post Office, 2 FedEX office locations and 1 DHL location.

Equally important point, do not hire interns or entry level newbies to “do” your social media. Being a digital native does not make someone a social media expert or marketer.

4. Google is working with the IFA to make Google more franchise-friendly. This is a important development for concepts that are not brick and mortar.

5. We’ve heard of success across different franchise systems using a retargeting program. Retargeting keeps track of people who visit your site and displays your retargeting ads to them as they visit other sites online. Every time your prospect sees your ad as it follow them, your brand gains traction and more recognition. This Kate Upton Carl's Jr.has resulted in higher click-through rates and increased conversions.

All interesting stuff you say, but we know you want more Kate Upton. OK, we get it.

Let us know if you think we missed something. Share your thoughts about IFA with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.


Top 10 Things We Learned at the IFA Conference (Part 1)

Seven inches of snow greeted the Weise Communications team upon landing in Denver from the International Franchise Association (IFA) 2013 conference in Las Vegas. Paris Hilton AdThe conference was full of highlights, including:

CEO of CKE Restaurants, Andrew Puzder explaining how Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s bucked the trend of targeting mom’s with children for a fast food restaurant and changing to a ‘Young Hungry Guys’ target which led to the infamous Paris Hilton commercial and unprecedented revenue increases.

A lasting, and to many frustating experience, was the image is the ½ mile long line of people queuing up to attend the speech given by former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Her speech and the following Q&A were fantastic. She received multiple standing ovations from this friendly audience.

The four-day conference didn’t disappoint. After panels, concurrent sessions, roundtables and a host of meetings, we are going to break-up the top ten takeaways Tracy and I collected at the conference. Today, the first 5 takeaways deal with macro trends and issues that are franchise business specific. In part 2, we will reveal our marketing takeaways.

1. In 2012, there was optimism that economy is turning and that financing for franchisors and potential franchisees was beginning to loosen. That optimism has continued despite the November election eliminating the chance of a lower corporate tax rate.

2. Speaking of the elections, instead of focusing on electing business-friendly government officials, the election has provided certainty how the country will be governed. We are already seeing the impact of higher taxes, burdensome regulations and costly entitlement programs. The franchising industry response needs to be: adapt, figure out how to work the rules and grow business.

3. In a panel discussion featuring Shelly Sun of BrightStar Tariq Farid, CEO Edible Arrangements and Steve Greenbaum, CEO PostNet there was an exchange about indicators of when to make changes to the franchise business model. Tariq said all franchise systems will eventually have to change. Steve provided us with key indicators on when to consider making changes. They included:

  • When your customers’ needs have changed
  • When technology has evolved past your business
  • When there is over-saturation in the marketplace
  • When there is an absence of differentiation with your business and the marketplace
  • When year over year sales are flat or declining

4. There was a lot of discussion about paying referrals to franchisees to gain new franchise sales leads. There are two legal concerns that need to be considered:

  • If a franchisor pays too much for a referral, they are exposing themselves to a potential liability. The franchisee could be considered a broker and be exposed to licensing issues
  • The franchisee could be held to the same financial disclosure requirements as the FDD

5. Operation Enduring Freedom and the VetFran Program has been a raving success. The stated goals were to recruit and hire 75,000 veterans to careers in franchising by the end of 2014. IFA President Steve Caldeira gave an update during his State of Franchising address: 64,880 veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors have started careers in franchising.

Let us know if you think we missed something. Share your thoughts about IFA with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

Be on the lookout for our top five marketing takeaways from 2013 International Franchise Association Conference.



Health Care and Franchising – A Growing Business Model

ImageHealth care in the United States continues to evolve. With changes forthcoming, and past obstacles still being overcome, health providers are looking for ways to provide better patient outcomes and manage a sustainable business model. However, these are irrelevant if there is no access to care. Coupled with one of the largest issues to come out of the 2011 Healthcare Franchising Conference is the fact that more doctors are retiring than ever before, leading to increased opportunities to deliver a number of health care services through the franchised business model.

In my opinion, franchising give us the access to care, provides quality assurance and creates a sustainable business model for the business owners and providers.

Franchising is at the cross roads of health care and business.

Franchising has successfully evolved thousands of from thriving local businesses into iconic household names. Think: McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts. The food industry possessed the beginning of the franchise era however, over the years franchising has branched out to include product distribution and services:  The UPS Store, Fantastic Sam’s, Curves. Today we are continuing this evolution. Everything we know about quality assurance, billing, marketing, and program development for franchising is being transferred into health care. It is time to put a greater focus on this transference of knowledge.

When we follow best practices in franchising, we can deliver quality assurance to patients. We can provide practitioners – physicians, nurses, medical assistants and licensed practitioners in many fields, with the ability to focus on service delivery rather than business operations. We decrease costs for service delivery and expand access.

The senior care industry jumped into franchising with great force, and the opportunity can be traced to the aging population. According to A Profile of Older Americans: 2011 developed by the Administration on Aging (AoA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; By the year 2030, one in five Americans will be a “senior citizen.” From 2010 to 2030, the number of baby boomers age 65-84 will grow by an estimated 80 percent while the population age 85 and older will grow by 48 percent. In addition, between 1994 and 2020 the nation’s population of 85 years and older is projected to double to 7 million, and then is projected to increase to 19 – 27 million by 2050. With the number of prospective clients growing exponentially, the franchise home health care/senior care industry is booming and will likely continue to grow.

Other health industries such as emergency care, dental services, chiropractic care, primary care, mental health companies, drug testing business and surgical centers are all growing in prominence in franchising. In essence, any effective healthcare business can replicate its model and begin franchising.

I do not believe we can or should solely rely on the federal government to provide us access to affordable health care. We are a country full of the entrepreneurial spirit and we house some of the best health care providers in the world. When you combine these traits, we have the opportunity to develop great health care franchises that will solve many of our cost and access issues. These solutions are right at our fingertips.

Weise Communications, along with Faegre Baker Daniels and Management 2000 will sponsor the second annual Franchising in Health Care Conference, October 24 – 25, 2012, in Denver Colorado. At this conference, we will cover challenges unique to this industry, including compliance and regulatory issues when across state lines. If you are interested in attending this conference visit our conference site for more information. Hurry, the Early Bird pricing ends September 15, 2012.

For more information about how Weise Communications can help your health care company franchise, contact me at


How franchisors capitalize on social media – help your baby prosper

Its free, its accessible, and it reaches billions of people.  Social media is providing three key factors that should be putting dollar signs in the eyes of franchisors.

Being active in your marketing efforts while maintaining control over how your brand is portrayed is a key for franchise success. Creating awareness, engaging customers, building customer loyalty, and boosting sales are all goals for franchisors, and social media doesn’t just accomplish these things; it does it with a smile.

Smashburger, a fast-casual, gourmet burger franchise is a prime example of how a small business can catapult into the big leagues via social media. Birthing from three Denver locations, this restaurant became a smash hit with its expansion to 150 locations nationwide. With more than 77,000 followers on Facebook, reaching out to bloggers and their tweeting prowess, they have solidified the social media tools for expanding a franchise.

Just how did they do it?  Here are a few suggestions they have for your franchise success:

  • Get on the same page as your customers

People like to talk about themselves and what they want and like.  Give your customers the chance to feel like they are a part of how your product or service is expanding. Use queries relating to feedback on a new product or answer their questions and complaints. If your franchisee is going to prosper, they have to listen to the desires of their target market. Take these examples from Smashburger’s Facebook and Twitter:


  • Make your interaction enticing

Posting information about a new product or service can be effective, but allowing the customer to be a part of the decision is even better.  Trivia contests, voting pools and giveaways allow the customer to feel like their opinions are creating your brand.  Interactive coupons also keep customers engaged and coming back to your page to check out what is being offered today; keeping your business in the forefront of their mind.  Smashburger called out for votes and shared a link where they could vote to help their burger make it to the final round of the Dallas Morning News Burger Madness bracket:


  • Keep it interesting

Consistency in updating your social media profile will keep people interested.  That said, humor and playfulness should not be overlooked. Simply creating a chuckle from your customer will improve their retention of the message you are conveying.  Check out how Smashburger used humor to reach their customers:


Moral of the story, if you aren’t using social media you aren’t gaining the best exposure for your businesses. It is an opportunity to engage customers and that engagement can lead to loyal customers. Be sure to allocate enough resources to effectively manage your social media presence. Your franchisee will thank you. And even more importantly, they won’t go rogue.

A big thank you to Bre Wolta for her research and help uncovering Smashburger’s social media success.


Top 5 Things Learned At IFA Conference 2012

The Weise Communications team is back from the International Franchise Association (IFA) conference in Orlando. The conference was full of highlights, including newest Hall of Fame inductee Jim Amos  and his moving prayer breakfast speech; Bonny LeVine award-winner, SuperWash COO, Susan Black-Beth; the two keynote speeches – one was from host of the O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly and the other was New York Times best seller, Guy Kawasaki. There was even an appearance by Shaquille O’Neal, performing a random act of Shaqness on behalf of the Original Soupman. The four-day conference didn’t disappoint. After sessions, roundtables and a host of meetings, here are the top five things Tracy and I learned at the conference.

1. In 2011, there was a lot of discussion about access to financing as the biggest hurdle to overcome for franchise systems to grow. In 2012, financing wasn’t nearly as significant of a topic. There appears to be much more optimism that economy is turning and that the rumored lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35% – 28% will keep the U.S. competitive in the global economy.

2. Millennials, those born between 1980 – 2000, currently make up 25 percent of US population and account for $200 billion in direct spending. This generation is going to be very important for marketers; here are four considerations when marketing to millennials:

  • They consider themselves health fanatics and live a lifestyle to back it up.
  • They actively support causes and prefer to spend with companies that support causes as well.
  • They are early adopters of technology and avid social media participants – more connections and greater frequency.
  • They create and consume more “word of mouth, mouse and thumb.”

3. Social media in a vacuum is not going to sell you a franchise. Any franchisor that doesn’t believe in the value of social media most likely has the wrong mindset. Social media is not a vehicle to pitch products and services; it is one of the tactics a franchisor should use to develop a relationship with a prospect. According to Jeff Hayzlett, your social media goal should be to engage, educate, excite and evangelize.  Thanks Jeff, your session was awesome!

4. There was a lot of interest in franchise sales lead generation. Despite franchisors overwhelming their business development system with poor quality leads, they kept asking the question: “How do I get more leads?” Weise Communications believes that franchisors should be more interested in the quality of lead they generate rather than the volume of leads. There are plenty of methods to generate volumes of poor leads. If the franchisors were more interested in conversion percentage, they wouldn’t stand for the tactics that waste time. Instead, they would ask, “How do I close the sale?”

5. Veterans are going to be a target and a trend for franchise sales and franchisors should strongly consider participating in Operation Enduring Freedom through the VetFran Program.  For the uninitiated, VetFran is a voluntary effort of IFA members that offers financial incentives to encourage franchise ownership to honorably discharged veterans.

We have a sixth thing we learned, you must be very careful at the passenger drop-off at the Orlando Airport. Cars, taxis and shuttle vans are constantly moving in and out of very tight spaces. It is possible for a person removing luggage out of the trunk of a car to get their legs crushed between their car and a run-away shuttle van. The results of Tracy’s MRI will be in later this week.

Let us know if you think we missed something. Share your thoughts about IFA with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

See you in Las Vegas in 2013.


Franchise Marketing: Blogs For Franchisors

The contributors of The Side Note read, a lot. As employees of an agency that values continued education and is constantly seeking better ideas and solutions, we have managed to find many blogs we value. We want to share some of our favorites. This posting will focus on our favorite blogs for Franchisors.

There are countless blogs that provide franchisees and perspective franchisees all the nitty gritty details about franchising. We chose to ignore most of those. We read blogs that help franchisors and their corporate staff who support the franchise system. The following blogs fall within that framework.

Our Favorite Blogs For Franchisors

1. The New York Times: You’re The Boss Blog

This blog is fantastic for all sorts of great information on running a business. They also throw in franchise-specific blogs. Many of the postings are real-life examples, not just theoretical, which makes this our favorite business blog.

2. The Entrepreneur Blog

We love it because you can search for blogs on marketing, franchising, technology, money, etc. Well written and a great publication to boot.

3. Inc’s Franchise Section

Stories in the Inc franchise section are about franchising success, franchise growth and business ideas. It is a great news source and case study section for franchise executives. (Cheers to our friends Ron Lynch of the Tilted Kilt and Shelly Sun of BrightStar for making Inc’s 2012 top Franchises!)

4. Open Forum: American Express

All business executives should keep an eye on this blog. The contributors of Open Forum stay on the pulse of business trends and national news that impacts business.

5.  Duct Tape Marketing

This blog provides great insight into small business marketing. Good for the franchisor leadership and marketing teams for helping their franchisees keep on top of marketing themselves within their communities.

6. The Business Owner Blog

A Franchise system dedicated to growing businesses, The Alternative Board publishes a blog focused on just that – business growth. Franchisors in all areas care about growth and can learn tips from The Business Owner Blog.

7. The Franchise King

Against our original specifications, this next blog is NOT oriented to franchisors, The Franchise King is written for potential franchisees. He provides insight to people looking to own a franchise as well as helping them determine if they are cut out for franchising. Many of his tips can be helpful to franchisors in determining how your franchise system looks to potential buyers. He also points out some grave mistakes made by franchisees – issues that franchisors can use as teachable moments for their system. Because of his significantly high readership, franchisors need to know what he is saying because their prospects franchisees will know.

Finally – don’t forget to subscribe to The Side Note Blog to get your ongoing updates for integrated marketing, advertising and PR for franchise systems.

Did we miss one of your favorite blogs for the franchising industry? Be sure to tell us about it here!


Franchise Healthy: Mascot Out, Guacamole In

Burger King Retires their King Mascot in Favor of a Fresher Menu

In the past several years, Quick Serve Restaurants (QSR) have starting implementing healthier menus to reach a larger demographic of customers.  This new craze has helped many restaurants increase sales and use new marketing and advertising campaigns to draw in a previously untapped audience of healthier consumers.

The Burger King franchise recently (finally) decided to jump on the healthy trend.  Burger King, the home of the Whooper, is attempting to re-brand the system by adding a fresher approach in their fast-food menu which began with the success of the new Whopper Bars.  The Whopper Bar is a concept designed to create a more “gourmet” atmosphere for “Whopper Connoisseurs.”  With an open kitchen concept and the “create your own Whopper” menu, Burger King was aiming to reach new markets and satisfy new types of customers.  Due to the success of the Whopper bars, Burger Kings is dethroning the King mascot in favor of a fresher approach to advertising that reflects the new menu.

Freshness and healthy meals are some of the most important categories that are increasingly emphasized in the fast food world.  Competitors of Burger King began this new approach a while ago. McDonalds’s started the trend with healthy alternatives such as oatmeal, sliced apples, and salads. Subway also launched its new avocado topping and even the Cheesecake Factory has their new skinnyliciouse menu (can you use the words skinny and cheesecake in the same sentence???). Guacamole, oatmeal, and other healthy foods have proven to be very appealing to mothers and health-enthusiasts, which could be an untapped for Burger King.

Below is Burger King’s new TV spot. Its refreshing in so many ways, most notably because its not a Peeping Tom wearing a crown.

Burger King might be a little late catching up with the new changing food trends, however this new strategy will most likely prove to bring a wider consumer market into the historically  successful Burger King franchise system. According to an AdAge article, a survey by YouGov’s BrandIndex among people who had visited fast-food restaurants in the hamburger category in the last month — the same time that Burger King launched the campaign for the California Whopper — their perception of Burger King had gone from a 24.2 before the ad aired to a 34.3 just two days after the launch of the spot. (YouGov BrandIndex’s scores range from -100 to 100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive.)

Have you seen other industry trends that companies should jump in to increase market share & revenue? Tell us about it here or visit our Facebook page.


7-Eleven to Celebrate CofFREE Day

On September 29, 7-Eleven will celebrate their caffeinated version of National Coffee Day, CofFREE Day, by offering all Americans a FREE medium-size cup of hot coffee (or cappuccino…or latte) from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

With more than 65% of Americans drinking coffee during the week (at nearly two cups per day), 7-Eleven found it only fitting to celebrate the beloved caffeinated beverage on its special day.

The celebration kicks off on September 28, with an interactive Facebook game called Dip-A-Drip. Drips are total pains; they are those obnoxious, over-the-top people who get on your last nerve. Dip-A-Drip (get it now?) is your chance to launch a ball that dips a Drip into a giant 7-Eleven coffee cup. Here’s the twist: that giant coffee cup will be setup live at Union Station in Washington D.C., so while you control the movement online, your Drip is being dipped in real-time.

We here at Weise Communications love our coffee, so we will be excited to see how this interactive promotion pays off for the franchise system. What do you think about the 7-Eleven campaign? Will you get your free coffee on CofFREE day? Share with us here on The Side Note Blog.


Franchise Sales: Tips to Help Reach Potential Franchisees

For many, the chance to own a franchise business represents entrepreneurism, financial freedom and opportunities for success. With a purchase, franchisees gain a proven business model, loyal customers, operational support, training programs and an established brand identity. As a franchisor, properly branding and marketing the success of the system to potential owners is essential to ongoing unit sales.

There are three basic concepts to consider when reaching out to potential franchisees.

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Conducting research to identify your target franchisee demographic is extremely important. Much like people, each franchise business is unique and benefits from being lead by certain types of individuals. For example, if the franchise business is a bait and tackle shop, the ideal demographic will not be married women with infant children living in metropolitan areas. Researching age, gender, location, and even religious affiliation will help to maximize advertising and public relations efforts to reach the appropriate target demographic. There are plenty of free or low cost online tools to help you research your target audience.

2.  Identify the Competition.

From an outsider’s prospective, Subway and Quiznos may seem to be the similar in the sense that they provide made to order deli style sandwiches. However, the franchisors know these two brands are incredibly different and the franchisees also see the differences. As a franchisor, identifying the competition, knowing your distinguishing factors and building on what makes your business unique is crucial to selling franchises. Clearly understanding what your business does well and what makes it special or different will insure that potential franchisees understand why your franchise model is (or is not) a fit for them and their personal goals.

3.  Build a Positive Brand Identity

When selling a franchise, you are selling a name, a brand reputation and a system for success. How potential owners view the franchise brand and reputations will make or break a deal. With this in mind, creating a positive brand identity connection will help your franchise system stand out amongst competitors. Working to build and maintain a brand identity that is professional and trustworthy will attract a higher number of potential investors. Every detail of the brand matters and protecting the brand at all levels is critical.

As individuals research business opportunities they will select a franchise that fits their needs, is in an industry with future growth potential, has a proven business model and a brand they can trust.

If you need assistance on learning more about how to best reach your target market, share with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.


Franchise Health Care Companies: Top 10 Reasons

The following blog was originally posted at Weise Communications is proud to be a sponsor of the Franchising in Health Care Conference, July 27 & 28, in Minneapolis. For more information about the conference, or to register, click here.

According to an article originally posted in the Denver Business Journal entitled “Urgent care franchises gaining acceptance,” companies such as Maryland-based Doctors Express, have seen great growth based on a productive business model for both the franchisees and the patients. In the article Chris Prior, medical director at Doctors Express in Centennial Colorado states, “declining number of primary care physicians has made it harder for a parent to get their child in to see their family doctor when illness arises, making new urgent-care locations more accessible.”

A health care franchise has the ability to positively impact the community it serves by reducing the cost of health care expenses and improving overall community wellness. Franchising within the health arena is advantageous because it allows for increased buying power of equipment, supplies and technology solutions. For example, when a new treatment becomes available, the franchisor can a directly share information with the medical professionals (within the franchise system) to detail implementation. This buying power will also mean franchisees in a system can purchase new technology at a bulk rate – something stand-alone practitioners will not be able to do. The knowledge-share and buying power will effectively and quickly spread a high standard of treatment options across a system and throughout communities.

The following are our top 10 reasons to franchise great health care concepts:

  1. Multiple locations with cost-effective services improve/increase patient access to care.
  2. Replicating systems throughout the franchise such as advertising programs, patient acquisition plans and technology infrastructure, reduces costs.
  3. Franchisees have access to buying power for costly medical equipment and supplies.
  4. The franchise system provides more sophisticated business management and allows medical professionals to focus on practicing medicine.
  5. The ability to purchase and implementation of technology speeds up, increases and improves the business.
  6. Services can better coordinate for an individual patient.
  7. The larger system can monitor best practices, which allows for better patient outcomes and more positive customer experiences.
  8. Franchising allows for faster scalability of a great concept.
  9. A franchise system is better for raising capital when overall system improvements are needed.
  10. Effective franchising may bend the cost curve of health care within communities, thereby improving the overall health and wellness of a community.

Have an additional top reason to franchise in the health care space? Please feel free to post your ideas in the comments; we would appreciate hearing from you. Be sure to follow us online @Weise_Ideas orFacebook: Weise Communications

I would like to express great thanks to Kevin Hein for helping with this post. Kevin Hein is a partner at Faegre & Benson. He is a corporate lawyer with a special emphasis on representing companies using franchising as a method of distributing their products or services.

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