For any franchise, newly formed or long-established, your website should serve as one of (if not the) main sources for your franchise recruitment efforts, serving as a funnel from multiple channels including search engines, social media and paid advertising.
Aside from offering a cost-effective way to present your franchising opportunity, with your own franchising website you have control over the user experience and the means by which you entice visitors into learning more about your opportunity, and ultimately persuing it.
In today's digital landscape for franchising, there are numerous ways to source viable franchise leads. Often, franchises will look towards recruitment portals and directories for the bulk of their new prospects. Others might look towards using social media, predominately LinkedIn to raise awareness of their opportunity.
We can recognise that almost all franchises will already have a franchising page on their website, but the volume of content varies greatly, and it often becomes a section of the website that goes long overlooked, missing out on potential leads.
Here are 5 key reasons you ought to look towards the franchising section of your website as a key part of your franchise recruitment marketing plan:
When we talk about 'conversions' in franchise recruitment, we can look at them as being on multiple levels. The most obvious one is from the perspective of how many leads complete the process and become fully fledged franchisees - the expenditure required to secure a successful lead through the recruitment process as a franchisee.
We won't delve too much into how you can track your leads from first interaction with your opportunity through to qualified lead here, but FranchiseBase makes this a simple process so feel free to get in touch and learn more.
Yet to do this, we have to look at how many visitors convert into leads, as without leads there's little potential for new franchisees! In more typical sectors (e.g. sales or e-commerce), conversions can often be a relatively simple calculation, however with franchising - as you'd expect for the higher barrier to entry (cost, experience and location) it's not so easy to find a true cost per conversion, particularly with the many sources and factors that go into franchise recruitment.
This leads into why the Franchising section of your website offers such a valuable method for recruitment. There are no limits on the content you offer, and how you design and structure your site to optimise converting visitors from vaguely interest to qualified leads.
This takes many forms, and the most common ways to do this include:
1. Writing inspiring, engaging & practical content that visitors want to read
The key factor of any well performing website is it's content.
Your franchising section should provide a range of content that gives a visitor all of the information they need to take action at this early stage, including:
Further, introducing rich content such as video, audio and images will help further improve understanding for visitors learning about your opportunity.
Once you've written this content, the next factor is:
2. Designing the user experience and journey
User experience is all about the way by which users will interact with your website, and you can think of the user journey as an important extension of that experience. How will you take a user from your franchise opportunity homepage to making an enquiry, and what if they arrived to your site via a recent blog post, does the journey still apply? Of course it does, and every scenario should be accounted for, even by simple means to ensure that visitors don't get stuck into a 'loop' of content that takes them back to pages they've already visited without a means of making an enquiry.
Therefore, every section of your franchise recruitment section or website should offer a clear route for the visitor that follows your marketing process. You can do this by incorporating calls-to-action in the right places, based on the context of your content. For example, if a page is focused on specific aspects of how a franchisee would operate, provide an embedded form to learn more. Alternatively, when you reach the end of your FAQ's page, provide a very quick means to ask a specific question and request contact details to return with the answer.
Other examples for your call-to-action might be a button that opens a short form to receive a brochure, or it might be a link to schedule a session with you to discuss the opportunity. You might even provide access to a 'Discovery' area of your website, where interest parties are provided with more information on the opportunity you wouldn't otherwise share publically on the website. Once you've established trust through an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) or similar, they might get access to this information.
In summary, make sure you define a clear route for visitors throughout the franchising section of your website.
In summary on this point:
Use your own website as a central source of all things related to your franchise opportunity, and provide clear routes through these pages for prospective franchisees to be informed about your opportunity - as well as a simple way of reaching out to learn more.
Having covered the principles of designing great content and planning the 'user journey' for capturing leads, we can move into the long-term benefit of investing in your own franchising website – organic search result listings.
To understand organic search results in the context of franchise recruitment, here’s a short list of the common ways you might directly pay for franchise leads:
There’s clear merit in all of these options for advertising your franchise to source prospective franchisees, but they all have a huge, glaring downside:
When you stop paying, the leads stop coming in.
It’s obvious, but most businesses have a fixed expenditure available for marketing and recruitment. If you’ve burnt through your budget and not yet found the magic cost-per-conversion calculation that brings you a new franchisee at a predictable cost, you might struggle to justify continuing to spend on these kinds of method in the long-term.
This leads us to the next major benefit of investing in your own website as a key source for recruitment:
Create content once for long-term results
As you devise great content that gives your prospective franchisees an insight into your business, sharing insights into your sector and continuing to build content over time – search engines will begin to index this content for the magic keywords found throughout your content. The goal is for an individual to search for those keywords and find you at the top result!
Now, there are hundreds of ways to optimise your website, content and marketing activities to compete for high-ranking search results, but for this post the key recommendation is to write concise, informative content about your franchise and to continue writing it.
For example, use your blog section to provide industry insight that demonstrates your experience and knowledge, and in turn you can expect to source visitors from all kinds of backgrounds with an interest in the content you’re writing. You'd rather reach someone who primarily has a passion for your sector or services and is looking for a new opportunity than someone whose sole interest is buying into a franchise.
While it may present a challenge to find the time to produce new content regularly, consider the potential of a superbly crafted blog post that inspires a handful of individuals to join your franchise over the course of a few years. I'm sure you'd think of it as money (or time) well spent.
The franchising section of your website should not exist inside a vacuum. By leveraging other, popular areas of your website in clever ways you can highlight your franchise opportunity to people who might not necessarily be looking for a franchise – but they could serve as a great candidate.
In a typical scenario, the core focus for a franchise website will be to promote the business and its services, helping to draw a link between customers and the local franchises providing services in their area.
When done correctly, the franchises’ website will be well structured to direct local enquiries to their appropriate franchisee, all whilst providing the franchisor with a detailed overview of their network’s success on a location-by-location basis.
Features such as postcode search, franchisee mini-sites all contribute towards offering this functionality whilst creating the shortest route from a potential customer reaching the franchise website to finding their local franchisee and making an enquiry or booking a service.
This leads us to a key challenge for any franchise; how to approach dealing with enquiries for areas that aren’t yet covered by a franchisee. The typical response is to inform the customer the area isn’t yet covered, and ideally capture their information to let them know when the service is available. But this also serves as a great example of how to lead visitors to the franchise opportunity in a productive way.
This is just one of many ways to introduce subtle links between the customer-facing franchise website and franchise opportunity information.
The key is to be subtle and use context – if you’re writing a news article on the success of a local franchisee, be sure to provide a route to your franchise opportunity with inter-links between pages on your website.
By implementing these kinds of features, you can improve your chances of finding a prospective franchisee in an area you’re targeting, with a keen interest in the sector you operate in.
This is particularly valuable for ‘lifestyle’ franchises, perhaps ones with a lower cost of entry and where the individuals passion for the business niche is the most important factor in being a good candidate.
At this stage, if you’ve implemented all of the above features, the next task will be to monitor your progress and understand how your franchising section is performing.
Thankfully, having full control over your own website means you’re in a position to track every aspect of your website through commonly used tools such as Google Analytics.
Most franchisors will already have a general understanding of website analytics. They may monitor these stats themselves, or outsource to an external agency who provides updates.
What many may not know is the methods that can be used to optimise your Franchise Opportunity section to improve your chances of sourcing new leads.
Some of the key metrics that can aid in this optimisation area covered below:
In summary, having a razor-sharp focus on the performance of your franchising website or franchise opportunity section will allow you to make informed decisions on how to improve over time, write new content that resonates with your readers and ultimately source more qualified franchise leads. It's a mammoth subject we'll be covering in more detail with future posts, but a good principle is to define the goals of your franchising website and make informed changes to improve their rate of conversion.
In our final section of this article, we’ll consider what happens after a new lead has visited your website. As any franchisor, consultant or franchisee knows, expressing interest in a franchise opportunity is only the first step of a long process towards becoming a franchisee.
With your website successfully generating leads, the most common scenario will be a form e-mail dropped into your inbox.
It’s primitive, but it works. It’s also a very manual process that is prone to error, with a very real chance of missing out on an excellent candidate if an e-mail goes astray or technical problems (spam filters, expired captchas on the form) create issues in lead enquiries getting through.
Thankfully, having control over every aspect of your franchise website, you can mitigate these risks by using tools and services to ensure you make the most of every new lead opportunity.
Consider using services and tools such as these listed below to keep your growing candidate list organised:
There are a raft of services that you can integrate into your website to handle your incoming leads and automate the next step of the recruitment process, including our own software designed solely for franchises – FranchiseBase.
We developed FranchiseBase after more than a decade of building interactive, lead-generating websites for a wide-range of franchises. We recognised that beyond the initial enquiry via the website, there wasn’t a suitable tool that handled the next steps of the recruitment process.
It used to be that features such as e-mail follow-ups and monitoring the progress of leads was a very manual task for franchisors, occupied by spreadsheets, manually uploading contacts to e-mail services and generally time consuming.
FranchiseBase allows you to devise your franchise recruitment process, and automate each step with scheduled e-mails, text messaging and actions that give your team reminders for every lead as they progress to joining your franchise.
A brief overview of features that will make franchise recruitment easier for you include:
If you’re interested in FranchiseBase, franchise website development or any other element discussed in this article, get in touch with us for a chat by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on +44 01325 978544.