As a franchisor, you not only have the job of building your brand on a national level, but you have the additional responsibility of helping to manage and support your franchisees’ marketing efforts on a local level, to ensure their success and enhance the reputation of the brand. So you set up a program with marketing guidelines, funding and even promotional materials, but it just doesn’t seem to be working out as you had hoped. What went wrong?
When it comes to franchises, marketing is a team effort, but unfortunately, not all teams play well together. It takes a combination of communication, resources, dedication, enthusiasm and intuitive leveraging of individual talent to accomplish common goals and achieve victory. You need to give your franchisees the correct tools, instruct them on how to use them, and then motivate them to winning behaviors and champion their successes.
Provide Marketing Funds for Franchisees
In providing franchisees with funding for local marketing campaigns, franchisors must tread a fine line between being overly restrictive on how the funds are used, and not being restrictive enough. While you want to ensure that the funds are used for their intended purpose, that being marketing rather than inventory, rent or other budget items, you also don’t want to discourage franchisees from applying for funding because the process is too complicated or time consuming.
By providing a clearly defined set of funding guidelines along with a streamlined reimbursement process, franchisors stand a much better chance of getting franchisees to participate meaningfully in a local marketing program.
Provide Expert Guidance
Designate a knowledgeable marketing management team to champion and support the efforts of franchisees. Many operators are so busy running their franchises that they don’t have time to learn the ins and outs of local marketing, and will gladly accept helpful advice and guidelines on how to proceed. Your marketing manager or team should be in charge of standardizing and harmonizing the marketing efforts of franchises, including providing approved content, graphics and templates, as well as managing or overseeing local business listings for a consistent message and format.
Make it a Team Effort
Franchisors should make a concerted effort to get to know their franchisees, to understand their strengths and weaknesses as well as the particular challenges they face in their individual markets. To this end it’s a great idea to get out in the field every so often and visit different franchises, perhaps even check out their nearest competition.
Every team has players with different skill sets. Successful teams leverage the skill sets of their players to best effect. By pairing stronger players in the marketing arena with those who are struggling, the whole team benefits. Conversely, franchisees with weaker marketing skills might have helpful management or operational advice to pass on to their marketing partners in exchange.
Remember to acknowledge, promote, and reward successful marketing efforts. Not only will it incentivize continued efforts, but it gives other franchisees something to strive for and a clear outline of what kind of marketing activities are most effective.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the constantly evolving digital marketplace, it’s pretty much impossible for any one person to be a subject matter expert these days. Even the best marketing teams need outside help once in a while. Encourage your marketing manager or team to be open and honest about their areas of expertise and let you know when they’re in over their head.