Posts Tagged ‘Franchising

03
Sep
14

Social Media and Franchises

Social media use has exploded in the past 10 years. For business, it has especially changed how we reach consumers. As social media constantly evolves, the world of franchising is still grappling with how best to utilize “the new word of mouth.”

From the perspective of franchisees, there are several options for social media. Managing a “fan page” for their local business is a great way to connect with customers. This is ideal for local information and offers targeted directly to their business community. Several companies (such as Buffalo Wild Wings – http://on.mash.to/1Cngwx8) utilize the “local location” social media strategy, but one size does not fit all. Some questions to consider before adopting a social media strategy:

  • What is the nature of your business? – The nature of your business will go a long way towards determining the nature of your social media presence. A restaurant franchise’s social media platform will look much different than an urgent care franchise. Where a restaurant might be pushing a deal on a specific product, an urgent care might be posting when they will start offering flu shots, or current wait times for a doctor.
  • Will the franchisee be able to manage a page on their own? With all of the responsibilities of getting a franchise up and running and then operating, it’s possible that managing a social media page might be too much for the franchisee. There should be a plan in place to address whether or not a location page is a good fit.
  • If they can manage, how much control will franchisees have? – This is something the franchisor needs to have planned out early. The franchisor will have the best idea of the desired image for the franchise, but the franchisee may have the best idea about what reaches their local audience.

From the perspective of the franchisor there is much unknown about social media’s effectiveness for franchise sales. It is true more franchisors are using social media as a sales tool, but its primary function is still about engagement. As a result, it is difficult to say how many franchise sales can be directly attributed to social media. The question everybody is trying to figure out is “How can I make social media work for franchise sales?”

To answer this question, there are several other questions to consider as well.

  • Which social networks yield the best results? – Each social network has its own target audience, which means some won’t be your best bet for recruitment. Networks like Twitter or Pinterest use casual language, and are focused around interaction and sharing experiences or photos. LinkedIn, however, is formal and business oriented. Facebook’s sheer volume of active users (1.11 billion active users each month – http://yhoo.it/1i02tpS) is reason enough to utilize Facebook as a tool.
  • How do I connect with users? LinkedIn and Facebook both have solutions to connect with your target audience. LinkedIn has many different groups with people who share similar interest; a quick search for “groups about franchises” yields more than 200 results. Facebook not only allows you to start a page promoting your franchise, you can purchase Facebook ads to target a specific audience.
  • How do I stand out? One method to consider is the use of video. YouTube is already one of the largest search engines in the world, and video results can improve SEO. Plus, videos provide a much deeper sense of engagement than plain text. A video explaining your franchise and how to become a part of it can have powerful results. Facebook ads are also a good tool. They are inexpensive and allow you to target the type of person you want.

Social media and its use within franchises has a wealth of untapped potential. Tell us your thoughts on social media and its uses in franchising in the comments below, or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WeiseCommunications?ref=br_tf

17
Mar
14

Friend or Foe? Techie Insights from IFA

Living up to host city New Orleans’s reputation for revelry and rapture, this year’s annual IFA Convention was nothing less than mardi gras worthy. Having spent the last couple weeks recovering and catching up after franchising’s annual hoorah, the Weise team has sorted through the swag to find our most memorable takeaways. Among these, franchisors’ lingering hesitation towards technology stands out. 

In February 2014, Facebook celebrated its 10th anniversary, hardly qualifying it as groundbreaking. Social media’s rapid expansion and continuing evolution of the digital sector leaves few hard and firm rules. Although social media is the go-to reference for digital marketing, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Buzz words including SEO, PPC, and CRMs are all a part of the marketing and sales mix. With so much going on in today’s race to ‘be found,’ it’s little wonder the technological world is a maze of anxiety for many.

Yet, the key many franchisor’s have yet to discover is the positive impact adopting these trends can have from both a marketing and operational standpoint, ultimately increasing their bottom line. According to David Mihm, Director of Local Search Strategy at Moz, “Brands are how you sort out the cess pool of the Internet.”

With that in mind, here are some nuggets of know-how, common confusion and other common threads we gleaned from the conference:

Google + Still one of the lesser used and understood social media platforms, Google + directly impacts your brand’s SEO. Major areas to make sure are updated and complete include business info, link to your website and location information. This info will appear higher in search results because of the link to SEO, content should be largely business focused.

Location Pages Another tidbit we kept hearing repeated was the importance of location pages. This is the easiest way for search engines to validate a company’s authenticity so make sure your info is on several different ones (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp). Also, make sure it’s accurate! This is an easy first step for promoting online presence.

Facebook- Franchise sales vs. Consumer Sales Whether Facebook should be used for both consumer and franchise sales—and whether these should be separate pages—was a hotly debated topic. Although a “one size fits all” answer may never exist, it is important to remember any potential franchisee will interact with your brand several times before revealing themselves as a prospect, making high quality content more important than ever.

Content Development Discussions revealed many brands are struggling with content development. Whether intended for social media, blogs, newsletters or websites, this directly impacts SEO. In today’s world of content overload, quality and variety is key to moving up in search results. Another important nugget to mull over: hiring an outside agency to manage content development is often more effective than relying solely on in house talent. This is, after all, what these agencies do best.

A fitting sequel to IFA, FranTech—a conference exclusively devoted to the technological sector of franchising—is coming to Denver next month. These two days offer another chance for marketing managers to learn best practices, confer with other franchisors and find vendors. I guess we’ll see many of you in Denver.

 

04
Mar
13

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:

        • theupsstore.com                       –>  Thornton, CO
        • theupsstorelocal.com/2579      –>   Denver, CO (7th & Broadway)
        • shipgeorgetown.com                –>  Georgetown, TX
        • fsups.net                                  –>  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.

25
Feb
13

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.

 

13
Sep
12

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. http://www.franchisinghealthcare.com/ 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 tracy@weiseideas.com.

18
Apr
12

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.

29
Feb
12

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.




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