Posts Tagged ‘Franchisor


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.



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.


Building Social Media Campaigns that Work

Credit Unions tap into Young & Free Franchise

Whether you refer to them as Gen Y or Millennials, it is clear that this generation relies on social networking to engage, communicate and learn. One industry that is achieving tangible results with Gen Y through a robust and effective social networking campaign is Credit Unions.

Spokesperson Larissa's YouTube Video

Yes, Credit Unions.

Even though credit union’s cooperative values are in line with Gen Y values, this demographic (younger than 30) was simply not signing up for membership.  Until the franchise, Young & Free, was launched.  Based on the principle that we all learn from the knowledge and experiences of those who have previously traveled the path, Young & Free was challenged to provide free checking accounts for the younger than 25 year old consumers.  There is only one Young & Free franchise per state, so the Credit Union that buys into the franchise gets the exclusive rights to the entire program in that state.

Tim McAlpine, owner of Currency Marketing in British Columbia, launched the Young & Free franchise. In a 2009 interview, McAlpine said, “Young people want access to products that are relevant to them.” He continued, “The focus of Young & Free is what the credit union is giving away, what useful information it is offering and how the credit union is providing a head start for young people.”

A large part of the success of the Young & Free franchise concept is that the social networking program is real and authentic. The cornerstone of the program is a spokesperson competition.  A contest is held to select Young & Free spokespeople in each state. They win a one-year paid position with the sponsor credit union. Young & Free spokesperson writes daily blogs, produces weekly YouTube videos and connects on Twitter, Facebook.  The first spokesperson was Larissa Walkiw, click on her picture above to go to one of her YouTube videos.

Credit Unions have developed financial services tailored to Gen Y, the Free 2B packag  the e includes: Free checking, free debit card, free direct deposit and an ‘Oops refund’ (once per quarter a customer can waive overdraft charges – all they have to do is ask for the waiver).

In less than two years, there are now more than 40,000 credit union customers with products and services associated with Young & Free.  Additionally, Forrester Research gave Young & Free a Groundswell Award

What do you think? Have you seen social networking campaigns that are reaching their target market and getting results like Young & Free? Please write a comment and let us know. You can find Weise Communications on Facebook and follow Weise_Ideas on Twitter.


Branding Social Media Programs for Franchises; On the National, Regional and Local Level

We recently studied several franchise groups and their social media programs. These organizations had national, regional and individual business Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. We picked up on one major problem that seems to be a spillover from traditional franchise advertising — not paying attention to or following brand guidelines. Different logos were used, different ID nomenclatures were implemented and different tactics were being employed. And all this “different” leads to an erosion of the brand.Picture 6

It is possible, of course, that social media brand guidelines have not been established for the franchise systems we studied. But as previously mentioned on The Side Note, branding is in the details. There is no excuse for a system to have an absence of guidelines when individual franchise owners or regions are implementing social media campaigns independent of the national campaigns.

If you don’t have social media rules of engagement and branding guidelines, you need to get one established, now.

The following are suggestions for you to include in your guidelines.

1. Pick a version of your logo, or establish a new version of your logo, to be used on all social media sites.  Make sure it is used consistently and appropriately.

2. Establish a basic nomenclature for on-line networking sites. Similar to how you have established your email addresses (, create a specific formula for Twitter IDs and Facebook fan/group pages.

Example: Twitter IDs for a hair salon or donut shop may be called: DenverGoodHair, AuroraGoodHair or VailDonutKing, StCldDonutKing

3. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Just like vanity URLs, consider a vanity online “handle” for your organization’s social media account. Instead of just referring to your company by name, describe it or use your tagline.

Example: Facebook fan pages for an automotive franchise may be called:

San Diego, You can’t get better car care anywhere else

Manassas, You can’t get better car care anywhere else

4. Take advantage of the Twitter background to make it creative, and include your business information. Make sure this background or elements of it are used consistently by all of the franchises.

5. Make sure the company reference is consistent throughout all media posts. For example, either use your acronym or your full company name – pick one reference and stick to it.

6. Make sure the language used to refer to your services is used consistently. Is it a “blow-out” or a “wash and style”?

Don’t forget, when it comes to maintaining the integrity of a brand, all the details matter. With the explosive growth in social media, it’s important that you develop not only rules of engagement for all franchisees to follow, but that specific branding guidelines are developed as well.

Does your franchise system have a social media branding guideline? What tips can you provide to others? Share them here.


Franchise Marketing and Public Relations: Local Programs Should Drive Profits

Executing national franchise public relations and marketing is important to drive brand awareness and promote national campaigns. It also helps increase awareness in order to sell franchises. But as franchisors, regional franchise associations and local franchise owners begin to plan and budget for 2010, I encourage you to include a focus on local programs in order to drive business to individual stores.

Start by thinking about what gets people to buy your product or service. Is it offering a food or drink sample and getting consumers hooked? Is it your ease of scheduling?  Is it through word of mouth recommendations? Is it because of your well-known quality of service? All of these things should be considered when planning and implementing local campaigns.

Here are some marketing ideas to drive local business:

Have ambassadors talk about you where and when it counts. For example, if you are a salon franchise, ask your clientele to post referrals on local blogs, in their twitter posts and on their Facebook pages. Ask for testimonials that you can post on your social media accounts. Monitor what is being said about you on local social network sites, and be sure to respond.

Plan events tied to someone else’s promotion. Is there an ongoing farmers market or one-time festival that takes place near your business? Maybe your business is not “part” of the event, but it’s “close-enough.” If it is, leverage this proximity to market your own event that day. Communicate to your current clientele the specials you are offering on event days and how easy it will be to access your business from the event.

Partner with a local nonprofit to increase awareness and exposure in the media. Even if your franchisor has a dedicated nonprofit tie-in, try to do something locally like a fundraiser. How can you make an impact in your community that will help increase customer loyalty?
Many local franchise owners tend to rely to heavily on their national franchisor when it comes to marketing and public relations. This may be detrimental to the local franchises, as it doesn’t always enable them to get to know their community. And, as we all know, being an integral part of a community can significantly drive brand awareness and sales. If you’re a local franchise owner, I strongly recommend that you get out and start meeting and partnering with your community members. It can only be a win-win on all levels.


time to move your franchise to canada?

Canada flagCanada offers enormous opportunity for franchisors seeking to grow beyond our U.S. border, according to a press release issued by Canadian law firm, Cassels, Brock & Blackwell. The release comes as franchise lawyers in the U.S. and Canada prepare for the American Bar Association’s 32nd annual Forum on Franchising conference in October.

The press release stated that well-known U.S. franchise Buffalo Wild Wings is expanding their operations in Canada.

This press release got me thinking, “Why all this fuss about Canada?” I did some high level research online and this is what I found:

Franchiseek Canada:

  • Canada has the second largest franchise industry in the world, led only by the U.S. One franchise operation exists for every 450 Canadians.
  • Approximately one out of five consumer dollars are spent on franchise good and services.
  • Of all the franchises that opened in Canada within the last five years, 86 percent are under the same ownership and 97 percent are still in business.

Canadian Franchise Association:

  • The Franchise industry in Canada represents more than $100 billion in sales annually.
  • Franchised businesses account for 40 percent of all retail sales.
  • Franchising accounts for $90 billion per year in sales nationally, or 10 percent of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Is your franchise facing expansion difficulties in the U.S.? Maybe it’s time to look at other markets. And, Canada seems to be the most viable option currently available to franchisors.

Have you considered expanding into a different country? Where? Why?


franchisEssentials [E-IDEA] Five Steps to Social Media Success

franchisEssentials is a consulting company that was created by Paul Segreto. Paul brings over 20 years of experience to the franchise industry and shares his knowledge through his blog. Segreto recently described franchisEssentials’ five-step process to social media success. Segreto has dubbed this process E-Idea. Below is his description of the process as seen on the franchisEssentials blog.

1. Exploring different aspects of social media, including social networking and key Web 2.0 technology that creates excitement and brand awareness within your industry segment.
2. Identifying primary and secondary targets – Who will be targeted to purchase and/or visit your franchise locations? How deep do the target groups go, and are there collateral groups that can be tapped?
3. Developing a Strategy and Plan of Action – Customized to specific targets in accordance with franchise development goals and objectives.
4. Executing the Plan – Putting the plan in motion, including monitoring and managing the process with new content and updates. Keep it fresh!
5. Analyzing & Quantifying the Results – Is it working? Do you continue straight ahead or repeat the process from the beginning? What are actual results in franchise sales and system revenue?

Click here to read the entire blog post. Click here to follow Paul on Twitter.

I think Paul did a great job laying the framework for a successful social media campaign. It seems to me that organizations are jumping straight from step one to step four. They get really excited about the potential and jump in with both feet before they truly understand what it is they’re jumping into.


does your franchise have what it takes to be published in Franchise Times?

Getting published

What franchisor wouldn’t like to have their story published in a trade magazine like Franchise Times? Seemingly everyone would like to have their story published but few stories are ever chosen for publication. How can you set your franchise apart and make your story more appealing to an editor?

Franchise Marketing’s Sean Kelley interviewed the managing editor of the Franchise Times, Nancy Weingartner, in March. The interview was primarily focused on answering the question: How can franchisors improve their chances of getting their story published in trade magazines like the Franchise Times?

Three useful tips from the interview:

•    Editors are attracted to companies that are engaged in innovative activities.

•    Ease up. Avoid being pushy in your attempts to create a relationship.

•    When you have a story idea, send a short e-mail with attached background information.

Below I have included one question and answer from the interview. I found Nancy’s response to be very helpful. I hope you enjoy it as well.

“SK:  What’s the best way for a franchise company to “pitch” their story to Franchise Times?  What format and method should they use to submit their information (Email?  Fax?  Mail?)  Should they follow up?  How often?  What can they do to increase their chances of success?

NW:  The best way is to send a short e-mail message with a file attached with background information. Tell us why you’re different or how you’ve solved a problem others could learn from. While a follow-up phone call is good—it puts a real person behind the e-mail—be careful not to bug too much. Sometimes the lead time on stories is immediate, other times it may take a couple of months for an editor to decide to follow up on something. Always be polite and respectful of the editors’ time and acknowledge that you know he or she receives a lot of requests. One thing to definitely not do is to get snippy with editors or demanding. Remember people like doing business with people they like, and that goes for editors, too—we like writing stories about people we like. So be yourself.  Don’t try to force a relationship.  I’ve had people call me every month with an update on their pitch, and, in many cases, I got around to doing the story because they captured my imagination.”

To read the full interview, click here.


expand your franchise with linkedin

linkedinpic1LinkedIn is an extremely popular social networking site used by professionals in all walks of life. A quick scan of your Gmail contacts will probably reveal that many of your peers are already using LinkedIn to network with like-minded professionals. But you are a franchisor. Why would you use LinkedIn? It’s not like you are trying to connect with CPA’s. You’re trying to expand your franchise.

LinkedIn can be used to accomplish your goals. Franchisors must focus on three areas to completely leverage LinkedIn to expand their franchise business. These include joining groups, participating in the “Answers” section, and creating a “great” profile.


Joining Groups:

LinkedIn has hundreds of groups available to franchise professionals. Do a group search for “franchises” and you’ll find that you can join over 300 such groups. Why join?
LI Groups
The most important reasons for joining a group include:

1. Search functionality: Being a group member allows you to access the profiles of the other members in your group. (If you belonged to the “Franchise Networking” group, you would have access to over 2,200 LinkedIn profiles!)

2. Communication: Not only does being a group member give you viewing privileges, you’ll also has the ability to directly contact your fellow group members.

3. Showcase your group affiliations: When you join a group, LinkedIn gives you the option to display a digital badge on your profile. These show people visiting your page what groups you belong to and where your professional interests lie.

Becoming an Expert:linkedin-answers

LinkedIn’s “Answers” section gives anyone the opportunity to answer or ask questions on almost any topic in almost any industry.

You should seriously consider spending some time in the Q&A forum to find questions that you can answer. Why?

LinkedIn awards its users with expertise points for every answer they provide. According to LinkedIn’s Web site, “When your answer is chosen as (the) best by the question’s asker, you gain a point of expertise in the question’s category.”

Creating a “Great” Profile:

There are many articles out there that attempt to sort out the do’s and don’ts of setting up your LinkedIn profile.
The following list of three articles will point you in the right direction and help you create an outstanding LinkedIn profile:

LinkedIn Profile Extreme Makeover: Guy Kawasaki offers short easy-to-digest recommendations to vamp up your profile.

Six Elements of a Great LinkedIn Profile: Scott Cunningham offers great information and the details to help you implement his suggestions.

4 Minutes to Optimize a LinkedIn Profile for SEO: HubSpot offers two key pieces of advice and a four minute video detailing how you can optimize your profile for SEO.

Now that you have the skinny on LinkedIn, join some franchise groups, become an expert and create a great profile!

Drop us a line. We would like to know what tip(s) you found most helpful!

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