Finding Franchisees: Using social media to connect with prospects
Company Added
Company Removed
Apply to Request List

Finding Franchisees: Using social media to connect with prospects

Finding Franchisees: Using social media to connect with prospects

It rarely shows up on a list of pros and cons. Sometimes, people find it hard to acknowledge to themselves that it’s even there. But Chelsea Penzone, vice president of marketing and franchise development at Authority Brands, knows it must be taken into account when it comes to wooing new franchisees.

Fear.

It’s often lurking in the recesses of people’s minds as they mull whether or not to buy their first franchise. And that fear can keep people stuck. That’s why it’s important for those on the franchising fence to hear from people who have been in their shoes, Penzone says.

When it comes to telling potentially persuasive stories, social media platforms are effective tools for today’s franchisors. More than 70% of Americans use some type of social networking platform, according to the Pew Research Center. This allows franchisors to make their pitches to prospective franchisees even before inquiry forms come in, and unstated concerns, such as fear of failure, can be addressed in a straightforward way from the start.

LinkedIn has become the go-to social networking website for Authority Brands and many other franchisors because of the site’s focus on business and its targeting capabilities. Still, there’s a world of choices, including Facebook, which is still the largest social networking outlet, as well as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. It’s just a matter of franchisors finding the best channels for connecting with the audience they’re trying to reach.

“Like me” stories

Since its start in 2017, Authority Brands has grown from two franchise brands to 15 that specialize in an array of home services. Its brands include The Cleaning Authority, Homewatch CareGivers, America’s Swimming Pool Company, Mosquito Squad, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and Woofie’s. Altogether, the company has 2,000 units from coast to coast that operate under its brands.

For the company to keep growing at the same clip, the leadership team must be adept at bringing new franchisees into the system. A number of concerns can keep candidates on the fence. They worry about the financial outlay. They question how much control they’ll have over their business. They fret over whether they have the right experience. And, with so many franchising options, it can be difficult to decide which system will work best for them. 

As part of its content marketing campaign, Authority Brands spotlights its franchisees and explores their decisions to sign on with one (or more) of their brands. Franchisees tell their stories, what they did before becoming franchise owners, and how they were able to translate their previous work and life experience into franchising success. The hope—and goal—is that potential franchisees will see themselves in those stories.

“We call it a ‘like me’ story,” says Penzone. For example, she says, “This person went from being a CPA to winning franchisee of the year. Something like that is has a huge impact on someone looking to make a change in industry, or to do a 180 from a traditional work life to owning their own business and hiring people. We want to help people understand that, because of the support you get from franchising, you can do it too, it’s a possibility.”

Those stories, along with other content that walks people through the steps of becoming a franchisee, seem to be paying dividends. Authority Brands has welcomed more new franchisees so far this year than at the same point in 2022. Penzone credits marketing and great collaboration with the sales team.

The company’s main social media vehicle is LinkedIn. The site, launched two decades ago, has about 930 million users worldwide. Facebook isn’t as effective for the company because of limited audience-selection options, Penzone says. Snapchat, TikTok, and other social media outlets might come into play in the future. For now, their audiences tend to be younger than the typical Authority Brands franchisee. 

“It’s hard to just put an ad out that says ‘Buy a franchise.’ You have to take that ad to a landing page or direct it to something that’s going to give a little bit more context and understanding of what it means to be a franchise owner to help guide people through the process,” Penzone says. Accordingly, the company creates content that explains things like the FDD, what’s expected of franchisees, and what they can expect from Authority Brands.

“A lot of people don’t understand franchising,” Penzone says. “So creating content that people can really understand—Okay, these are the steps to ownership.’ ‘This is what you’re going to get from a support perspective.’—those are the things we integrate into our campaigns or our content creation.”

Success through adaptation

Right at Home offers in-home care for senior citizens at more than 700 franchise locations in seven countries. The company was started in 1995 by Allen Hager, a Nebraska hospital administrator who saw a need to improve the care elderly patients receive after being discharged from the hospital, and to provide assistance to help people age gracefully in their homes. The company uses Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to reach others who might have the same passion for the work. Right at Home also advertises on TikTok.

It might seem obvious that people tend to change careers when they are unhappy in their current situation or are searching for more fulfillment or new challenges. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, people are moving from one industry into a completely different one more frequently now than ever. The pandemic, it seems, has sparked a reevaluation in what people are looking for in a career, and flexibility is a top priority.

Right at Home also leans on content marketing to draw people to their brand. So far, the results have been fantastic on a couple of different fronts, says Micah Loseman, senior manager of franchise development marketing.

“It’s not just the overall number of leads that are coming in,” he says. “The leads are more educated than before our content marketing efforts. Typically, by the time a prospect actually inquires, they’ve seen several different pieces of content on Right at Home from several different places. So they’re just more educated about us, and they’re quicker through the process. They kind of know what they’re getting into. It’s been an overall better experience from the prospect side, as well as for development directors working with them through this research process.”

As for the number of leads coming in, the impact of the content-focused strategy is striking. “Right now,” says Loseman, “I am ahead of target for new franchises sold by about 40%. I’m under budget when it comes to cost per lead by almost half of what I had anticipated for the year. Granted, lots of things could change, and those numbers could change. But with this content-first approach, we’re bringing in leads under budget. We are ahead of the goals.”

Loseman joined Right at Home in 2018. Since then, the improvement in the ways the company targets potential franchisees has been tremendous. Five years ago, the company had to rely somewhat on luck that the right prospect would see a Right at Home ad on a day when they were ready to make a career move.

“I’ll call it a flash-in-the-pan type mentality. It was trying to find that lightning strike,” he says. “You needed to find the one person who was between jobs or just had a bad day at work, who had the funds, and who then also saw an ad from Right at Home and would inquire. That’s asking for a lot of things to happen all together.”

And when Facebook made it no longer possible to recruit franchisees by targeting households based on income or other factors, Right at Home had to get more creative in its outreach.

“What we changed was the mentality of how we were approaching it,” Loseman says. “Now, the mentality is telling a story more efficiently. We’re trying to drip pieces of content out in front of potential prospects. For example, I’m going to share franchisee stories, and I’m going to share some awards that Right at Home has gotten. But how we do that is not in an ad format. It’s all articles. It’s all long-form content. All I’m trying to do is to get you to engage with some of that content.

“So, that way, when you do have that bad day, when you do have that transition period between jobs, whether it’s a week or two months or a year from whenever you start seeing our content, now one of the first things that you might do is say, ‘Hmm, I saw an ad about Right at Home,’ or ‘I saw an article about a franchisee that really resonated with me. I want to check out Right at Home as part of my job search or as part of my next step.’”

Multiple channels

While there’s no doubt that social media plays a key role in franchise development, it’s also important for franchisors to use all the tools at their disposal, says Samantha Tacca, senior manager for franchise development and marketing for Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa. The company uses various digital channels and platforms to recruit franchisees, she says, and also is present at trade shows. The company places a high value on referrals, and people who visit its recruitment website can view video testimonials from current franchisees.

“There’s not just one outlet that we are leveraging for growing the organization,” says Eric Haberacker, Hand & Stone’s director of digital and social media. “We still love a great referral. But again, with the times going digital, we are really leaning into figuring out how to unlock those channels to make sure we are getting the most out of all the opportunities that are there.”

For the past decade or so, Hand & Stone has been adding 40 to 50 locations a year, and today has more than 550 spas in the U.S. and Canada. While its main social media outreach is through LinkedIn, the company is continually researching other social media platforms to see how they can best be used to reach potential franchisees, says Tacca.

“The interesting thing about social media platforms is that they each offer something a little bit unique,” says Haberacker. “And LinkedIn, as of right now, offers the best opportunities for us from a targeting standpoint. We have a very good way of understanding who our existing franchisees are in terms of what their attributes are, and LinkedIn gives us the best opportunity to try and whittle down the gigantic audience that’s out there to find the folks we feel are most appropriate. Facebook does offer some of that. It’s just not as detailed.”

What’s ahead?

As for what’s coming down the pike, who really knows? Many social media users are already turning to platforms or verticals that are smaller and more topic-specific than the larger, better-known ones. The tools for targeting potential franchisees will only improve, and Haberacker says Hand & Stone plans to take advantage of any technology that’s useful. 

“The real key is that it’s not social media as the singular approach to attracting new owners,” says Haberacker. “It’s really leveraging technology, things like artificial intelligence and ChatGPT. We are investigating all of these new technologies and looking to see how we can leverage them to attract the right folks into our system. Yes, we will use those things within social media platforms. And we will find the next best platform to put our promotions and our offers out there. But at the end of the day, it has to be a part of the overall process. Otherwise, we’re going to fall behind our competitors.”

Published: November 6th, 2023

Share this Feature

Hot Dish Advertising
SPONSORED CONTENT
Hot Dish Advertising
SPONSORED CONTENT
Hot Dish Advertising
SPONSORED CONTENT

Recommended Reading:

American Family Care
SPONSORED CONTENT

FRANCHISE TOPICS

FEATURED IN

Franchise Update Magazine: Issue 3, 2023
Franchise Update Magazine: Issue 3, 2023

Ziggi's Coffee
SPONSORED CONTENT
Conferences
InterContinental, Atlanta
OCT 16-18TH, 2024

Clayton Kendall provides franchise communities nationwide with comprehensive branded merchandise programs leading to greater brand exposure,...
MSA provides domestic and international franchise advisory services to franchisors and companies seeking to establish franchise and licensing systems.

Share This Page

Subscribe to our Newsletters