Millennials, Anyone? Won't you be our franchisee?
Franchise development has its fair share of challenges, not the least of which is recruiting potential owners who quickly become assets and have the chops to grow their franchise long-term. While Millennials may not be top of mind as your ideal development targets, omitting them based on overgeneralizations or anecdotes can be shortsighted and costly.
Still thinking of Millennials as lazy, distracted job-hoppers? Look more closely. You'll find these 24- to 39-year-olds are outperforming the stereotype and may be among your next best franchisees. No longer college kids, most Millennials are deep into adulthood and rising in their careers.
According to the Capital One Small Business Growth Index, surveyed Millennials carry attitudes and traits worthy of consideration for franchise ownership. Compared with other generations, Millennials, based on their responses, are:
- More optimistic about current market conditions, but not unrealistic. They're also more cautious about business, citing concerns about--and preparation for--a future recession.
- More focused on innovation, with more than half of respondents reporting that the innovation they see in their businesses is part of what leads to their optimism.
While you've likely heard that this generation changes jobs constantly, what you may not be hearing about is their willingness to put time and effort into endeavors they care about and causes they feel are important. For some, this means starting a business. Millennials are selective though, and will seek and experiment until they find the right opportunity to devote their energy.
They may also be more financially prepared to invest in franchise systems than you'd expect. According to Fundera, Millennials have significantly higher business credit scores than any other age group. While Gen X and Boomers are more focused on obtaining working capital and managing current business debt, Millennials are looking for money to invest in buying or expanding a business.
To generate Millennials' interest in your brand, meet them where they are. Often characterized as digital addicts because of their immersion in online media, they expect immediate, ongoing, two-way communication.
- Consider paid and owned social media campaigns to capture their attention and increase engagement.
- Produce and publish videos demonstrating how franchise ownership helps fulfill their entrepreneurial interests.
- Leverage your website to share important details about the opportunity you offer. The 2020 Annual Franchise Development Report from Franchise Update cites the need to ensure that your website is inviting and encourages visitors to take the next step in the process. The report also highlights the importance of referrals as the second most-effective means to produce new franchisees. To capitalize on this, use online testimonials of would-be peer franchisees thriving in your network.
Prospective franchisees conduct most of their due diligence online before reaching out to speak with a franchisor. To attract ideal candidates like tech-savvy Millennials, it's critical not only to develop an enhanced online presence, but to also create opportunities for meaningful engagement. You may just find that a generation you've previously overlooked makes the perfect franchisee for your brand.
Andrea Brandon is vice president of marketing and creative services at Mindstream Media. She works across the organization and its client base to build awareness and generate leads for both the agency and its franchise brands.
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Franchise Update Magazine: Issue 1, 2020