Bill Knight, ChemDry
Vice President of Franchise Development
If I were to give you Chem-Dry's secret weapons for the fourth quarter, they would be the art of listening and team closing. As we work with different candidates we have found that the more we can align our sales team with the candidates' personalities, the more people we attract and the more obstacles we overcome. When you leverage people and encourage the whole company to sell, then productivity and problem-solving increase. This approach fits our culture: Chem-Dry was a company built on chemistry--the chemistry of our products and the chemistry of our people. Our 2011 numbers prove this philosophy works as we are up 91 percent over last year and 31 percent over this year's plan.
In addition, we have a lot of deals that come from our existing franchisees, and we specifically geo-target areas to create competition and urgency. We try to make selling fun, and we create competition where we focus on hitting specific goals. We offer company incentives if an employee gives a referral or if they tee up a franchisee who is ready for expansion. We openly expose our culture and get franchisees involved by sharing their success stories. When there are major layoffs within large companies we try to promote our opportunity. Through these tactics we are able to fuel our sales, create a department that is enthusiastic, and build trust.
A plethora of new marketing vehicles is available, with technology and social media resources making it easier to amplify our value proposition. We invest in the things that work for our brand. We have discovered a new and exciting non-traditional lead source that is a huge producer, and we are adding new self-directed technology making it easier for candidates to follow our sales process. We are also committed to giving back to our franchisees. We have a new program where new franchisees are given access to our call center, SEO team, and new booking software free for their first year. This not only serves as a sales catalyst, but also adds real value to their business.
A lot of our new messaging is focused around Chem-Dry being a safe investment for more than 33 years. We recently came out with an Item 19 that backs this statement and shows our unit-level economics. We are the industry leader and have strong brand power that screams sustainability; we plan to convey this message even more next quarter. We will continue to survey our franchisees so we can understand who our target audience is. I am confident that by continuing to do all of these things we will be able to exceed our development goals.
Charles Watson, Tropical Smoothie Cafe Vice President, Franchise Development In the current and challenging environment, franchise development executives must do more with less. Budgets have shrunk, but expectations have not. Whether we are in a "new normal" or not can be debated by those with economics degrees, but it is clear that the lack of franchise financing and the overall economic sentiments of the average American "would-be entrepreneur" are making it difficult to hit development targets for most franchise organizations.
At Tropical Smoothie Cafe, we are investing in people, namely sales associates whose job is to cold call and reach out to those prospects who do not know they are prospects yet! Franchising is a people business, a partnership, and we are focusing on developing relationships with our prospects. We want to hear what their goals, fears, hopes, and dreams are to see if it's a match for our franchise system from a capital and personality perspective. Given the lack of credit availability, more times than not our prospect does not qualify to be a franchisee... yet.
A positive and straightforward experience with a franchise development professional who is not afraid to say "You don't qualify right now" or "I don't think we would be a good fit for reasons X, Y, and Z" is the type of honest feedback prospective franchisees are looking for. The last thing I want an excited prospect to do is move all the way through our process and invest their time and resources if I know they do not have enough liquid capital or a credit rating to come close to qualifying for financing. Even exciting new technology and tools in this arena such as Boefly.com (who we are in partnership with) can't make a 500 credit score and $20,000 cash into a $275,000 quick casual restaurant loan.
The greatest companies throughout history have always used economic downturns as an opportunity to markets their brands, products, and services "at a discount" and came out of those slow periods with radically increased brand awareness and customers lined up. We are doing the same at Tropical Smoothie, one prospect, one call, at a time.
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