How to nurture franchise leads

Potential franchisees are responding to your message and getting in touch. What do you do now?

How you nurture your franchise leads can make a difference to your recruitment results.

Whether you are focused purely on digital engagement, whether you rely solely on word of mouth, whether you have an integrated campaign across a number of channels, your recruitment strategy will fall short if there is no structured way to handle expressions of interest.

So what happens when you get an enquiry?

Some franchise brands send a follow-up email within the first 24 hours, and then follow this up with a more extensive email asking the potential buyer to complete an application process and confidentiality agreement.

Many brands choose to request a telephone conversation to find out more about the franchise buyer.

Anecdotally both these methods appear to produce low conversion rates.

What’s the alternative?

Avoiding missed opportunities

Fundamental to monitoring franchise leads effectively is getting to understand how far along the franchise buying journey is the enquirer; are they just interested in finding out more about franchising? Have they shortlisted your franchise as a possible purchase? Are they cashed-up and ready to buy?

Busy franchise development managers working to targets will inevitably be focused on the hot prospects.

But each of these positions is valid and requires a distinct response – a different piece of information.

A blanket approach that treats each franchise enquiry the same can lead to missed opportunities.

When you are out shopping and just browsing in a store, what can be more off-putting than a raft of sales people descending on you? It feels like you’re being hassled.

It’s just the same with franchise leads. A franchise prospect who is just starting out on the journey to find out more about franchising will only feel bombarded if he or she is overwhelmed with information – and information that they are not well placed to deal with.

The hard sell is rarely a successful approach.

A considered strategy that puts the franchisor in the position of trusted advisor can reap rewards.

Franchising is all about relationships, so take time to engage with prospective franchisees. Because a franchise prospect this month might become a franchise buyer in 10 to 12 months if treated right.

Many franchisors will already have a database of potential franchisees who are nowhere near ready to purchase. The crux however is to have a process in place that will ensure potential franchisees further down the path are receiving information pertinent to them. Lead nurturing in other words.

The lead nurturing journey

Franchisors who are able to supply their prospective buyers with interesting content that takes them one step closer to the purchasing decision are a step closer to efficient conversion of the leads into franchisees.

Imagine how an interested enquirer who receives information about the benefits of franchising will be better informed and ready to respond to another piece of content that tells him or her how franchisor support can help overcome some of their fears of going into business.

Another article that highlights the business advantages of a particular sector takes this franchise prospect yet closer to making a decision about whether or not to buy a franchise.

And when they are ready to consider brands, they are far more likely to have top of mind a brand that has helped them get to this point in the journey.

Measure to manage

Today’s competitive environment really demands that franchisors use measurement tools to score and measure franchise leads from the beginning to the end of the journey.

There are lead nurturing programs (Pardot, Marketo for instance) that can be aligned with your CRM to make the process easier to manage

A process that monitors and reports on the material consumed by any one franchise buyer allows the franchisor to follow the path of their journey, and to be ready to step up in person at just the right moment that a ‘tyre kicker’ becomes a hot lead.