The good news for franchise recruitment is there are key lead generation sources that will work to various degrees of success.
Base your recruitment budget on cost per sale - If you don't yet have this information, contact Franchise Update Media Group for the latest Annual Franchise Development Report (www.franchiseupdate.com/afdr).
Non-paid media sources - Include referral programs and networking opportunities in your lead generation plan, with related expenses budgeted accordingly.
Use multiple media sources - Using only one medium confines your message to just a portion of your buyers, limiting awareness and consequently the potential of your sales growth. Betting your success on a single source can be dangerous. "I only use the Internet" or "Brokers are the only way to go" or "PR is 100 percent of our recruitment budget" puts your franchising expansion in a vulnerable, high-risk position.
Increase winners, dump losers! - Beef up what's working, get rid of what isn't, and try alternatives. Ride the winners as long as they continue to produce franchisees, upgrading your presence while the going is good.
No annual contracts to start - As a rule of thumb, commit only to 3- to 6-month contracts when signing up with a new media source. You need to find out if the new source works!
Say "yes" to conditional annual contracts - Once you discover a source is working, you can save by committing to a long-term agreement. But do so only if there are reasonable terms that allow you to drop out. Most media have a 30-day notification clause that allows you to opt out with prior written notice, provided you pay the frequency rate you have satisfied at the time of your cancellation. I often signed annual contracts with this stipulation, since it provided greater savings while reducing financial risks in the event of poor performance. With the dynamics and complexities of lead flow in today's multi-media environment, your top sales source today may become tomorrow's turkey soup.
Test, test, test - To conserve experimental dollars, run smaller ads on a limited frequency schedule and you'll produce better results. Build on the winners, get rid of the losers and watch your ad costs drop and your sales rise!
Don't forget trade media - Franchise advertising should be tested in your industry publications, websites, and shows, which may also produce good franchise prospects, sometimes at a much lower cost!
Create an opportunity fund - Budget some money to take advantage of special editions, activities, or new media programs that arise during the year. A special fund for this purpose helps prevent missing out on special opportunities.
Quarterly adjustments to your plan - The best performing media plan is constantly evolving. Analyze your lead generation activities at least every three months. What you don't measure, you can't improve. Continually keep track of your advertising performance. Companies that review their recruitment programs only once a year are making costly mistakes - especially considering how volatile website marketing, broker leads, PR, referrals, or most any of your sources can be at any given time. Changes in buyer interests have been triggered by hurricanes, election years, war, and booming and busting economies.
Only results count - Recruitment advertising has one primary mission: generate qualified prospects for franchise ownership. Branding, image, or any other marketing objective really has no value if your advertising isn't generating email responses, or better yet ringing your phone. Recruitment advertising is response-driven and demands continual sensitivity and adjustments to maximize your success.
This is an excerpt from my book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.
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