3 tips on how to empower your franchisees to acquire local customers

3 tips on how to empower your franchisees to acquire local customers

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People buy franchises for two reasons. First, they expect to be backed by experts in running a successful business. Second, they want to join a strong brand that everyone has heard of. The industry standard for franchisors is to provide training, technology, and resources to support their franchisees. They are not allowed to go out alone.

When a multi-unit owner opens another auto repair service, they do so because they are interested in cars, not SEO. Franchisees reasonably assume that the head office will take care of that. They are right? No, at least in most cases. This is why.

The broad franchise marketing framework works like this: On a national level, marketing is all about brand value and awareness. It’s not about driving customers to a specific store, but about raising the profile of all the stores in the network.

When it comes to local marketing, franchisees lack knowledge and support. Therefore, they often turn to agencies or get caught between search algorithms, sketchy listing profiles, negative reviews, and falling star ratings. If your franchisees lose their local competition, your brand may lose yours, globally.

Franchisors need to understand that when it comes to local marketing, it takes two to tango. To win local customers, they must provide hands-on support and always keep an eye on the business performance of their franchisees. Packaged support such as a local marketing program could even set your entire franchise offering apart. Here are three drivers for local customer acquisition done from a corporate perspective:

Related: 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Local Franchise Marketing Right Now

1. Choose your local marketing approach: ongoing training or in-house execution

Your local marketing program can be executed in two ways. Success in local markets can be achieved by first implementing continuous learning opportunities for franchise owners. A well developed and delivered training program will give franchisees confidence as well as hard skills. If you don’t already offer an employee learning framework, it’s worth considering how you can give your franchisees the tools to develop a competent workforce.

Clients of PromoRepublic, travel agency Expedia Cruises and health care franchise Medi-Weightloss, for example, provide tour videos and webinars on local marketing while maintaining a central information hub to store best practices and frequently asked questions.

The second option is to do local marketing for your franchisees. After all, one of the benefits of franchising is corporate support to help grow a business faster than it otherwise could.

To take things away from their franchise owners, a family of home service brands, Authority Brands, offers local marketing programs. Their corporate marketing team is committed to building infrastructure on behalf of franchise owners and establishes a dedicated team that can deliver, rather than just advise.

The head office then measures the success of the individual locations. This involves dashboards and reports, not only to share with franchise owners, but also to hold accountable the marketing team running these programs. What gets measured gets improved.

Related: The 4 Essential Elements of a Franchise Marketing Plan

2. Facilitate organic lead generation for franchisees

Brand discovery and the customer journey look very different today. People now feel free to shop where it’s easiest for them, using a mix of channels. For example, last year, 53% of US holiday shoppers checked online to see if a product was in stock before going to the store to buy it.

When switching online/offline, customers expect continuity and the same experience. To meet these expectations and capture more leads organically, franchise brands are increasing their investments in digital marketing, with the goal of building a unified omnichannel presence. Their efforts typically focus on:

  1. Drive traffic to local landing pages: Before you spend dollars driving traffic to your website, make sure customers land on a geo-targeted landing page with the relevant information. Many established franchises, like car care brand Ziebart or Goldfish Educational Swim School, rely on traffic from social media, listings or review sites and have increased their digital marketing budgets by about 50%. As a result, the swim school website has received around 55% more traffic in the last 4 years.

  2. Increased search and ability to find maps: Shoppers often have an idea of ​​what they’re looking for, but they don’t necessarily know what product or brand they want. So, they do their window shopping online. Local SEO may be exactly what you need to help potential customers find your specific location and decide to buy from you. The key points here are GBP creation/management, automation of listing and review management, and performance tracking at each location.

  3. Improve online reputation: People trust online reviews, seek recommendations on social media, and rate businesses. This affects the rankings and visibility of businesses in search and maps. Being seen is good for brand awareness, but to sell more, local businesses need customer trust. Franchises often use online reputation management tools to improve and measure key metrics for this. The important thing here is to understand that your brand’s online reputation is the sum of the reputations of all your locations on the network.

Related: Keep It Local: The Importance Of Localizing Your Franchise Approach

3. Make content easy to locate and praise individuality

In the industry, we often see franchisors providing all the social content for a franchise’s local page. But this makes local businesses seem alienated from the local community, inauthentic and inhumane.

While franchisors have significant reach, corporate marketers typically can’t localize messaging for different regions, let alone micro-segments of a city, such as neighborhoods or streets. This is the point where the head office could give franchise owners a choice while still being behind the wheel.

However, franchisees can create content that resonates with the local community and addresses the pain points of their customers. Therefore, they go beyond brand awareness to trust, a key next step before prospects become customers.

The best way to give franchise owners some freedom and allow them to add a local touch is by providing them with customizable content. This works great when the front office suggests templates and other pieces of content and allows editing. To prevent some franchisees from going rogue, you can use design approval workflows and upload your brand kits to keep your brand intact.

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