3 Steps to Growing Your Franchise to $1 Million
Buying a new franchise location can be great. You know the brand offers something customers want, and that a successful operations playbook has already been created for you. But that doesn't guarantee you'll see success just by opening your new location.
You still need to bring your full energy to the table, and ask yourself:
- How do you get your first customers for a new franchise location?
- How can you streamline operations while creating quality customer experiences?
- How do you keep customers coming back and buying from you?
We’ll help you answer these questions, so you can walk away knowing how to get enough revenue early on and not stress about keeping your doors open.
1. How do you get your first customers as a new franchisee?
You need a strategy that keeps capital flowing and prevents you from hitting empty a few months in.
That means finding your customers and getting them interested in you, fast.
Advertise everywhere around your franchise location.
Being present in your area can go a long way (even if that presence is through business signs in yards and intersections). The key is that you use multiple channels to reach the broadest audience possible, including:
- Ads in print and digital publications
- Public radio and podcasts
- Trade shows, chamber events, and conventions
- Online marketplaces
- Social media platforms
- Physical signs and posters
It takes at least 15 to 20 impressions before someone in your target audience will make a purchase. The more places a customer sees you, the more likely they are to take action.
Just be sure you’re introducing your business in a way that is easy to understand throughout all these channels by including a brief breakdown of:
- What service or product does your franchise offer?
- How does it work?
- Why does the consumer need it?
Below is a solid example of an ad from Mosquito Joe that includes all of these three details through educational content.
PC: Mosquito Joe
The goal is to get people talking and asking questions about you, and they can’t have that discussion with their peers if they don’t know how to describe you.
A final way you can get people to talk about your business is by advertising through these channels how low risk it is to try your product or service. Having no contracts or discounts on the first purchases can not only help you attract first time customers, it’ll encourage them to get their friends on board.
Prioritize search engine optimization (SEO) to appear first in local searches.
The best way to reach people is to meet them where they already are—which is on their smartphones.
You want to be the first business in your franchise territory to come up first when consumers search for your specific product or service, and the way to do that is through search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is especially great for franchises with a brick and mortar store, or who service a specific geographic territory. You essentially pop up in their searches when they type "clinic near me" or "pest control in Chattanooga.”
You create demand and interest (for example, through the types of advertising we talked about above), and then you have ads and online listings available for when people look you up that lead them to your optimized website.
There are five key ways to optimize your website:
1. Create a Google My Business listing.
2. Get back-links from other local websites.
3. Submit listings to local directories.
4. Optimize your site for local searches.
5. Create content.
For a detailed step-by-step guide for each of these, check out the related post below.
Create a customer experience that encourages referrals and reviews.
The more you can get customers advertising your business for you, the better. So what can you do to get them singing your praises?
Aside from offering stellar customer service to begin with, it goes a long way to actively reward customers for referrals. These rewards could be anything from swag to discounts on their next purchase.
Likewise, directly asking for reviews will work 76% of the time—as long as you make it easy for customers to find the review link.
You can advertise your referral program and review links on social media or through your customer newsletter.
PC: Mosquito Joe
2. What can you do to streamline operations and create quality customer experiences?
You need to get organized so you’re not all over the place when customers start coming in. It’s easy to prioritize quickness over efficiency when that happens, but your goal is to create a system that keeps you from spreading yourself thin.
That starts with identifying bottlenecks and finding tools to help automate them.
But what does a bottleneck look like?
The first step to finding bottlenecks is mapping out your service process so you can a) analyze step-by-step what you’ve been doing, and b) have a roadmap you can refer to and update.
Even if you do already have an operations manual from your franchise's corporate office, you still need to learn what will work for you and creating a plan can help you tweak it on the fly.
One diagram that can help you get started is the Supplier, Input, Process, Output, and Customer (SIPOC) roadmap. It breakdowns:
- The suppliers who input the information to start the process
- The input the suppliers put in
- The process for what your team does with that input
- The output that results from that information
- The customer who the processed information is delivered to
Below is an example of what a filled out SIPOC may look like.
Once you have this diagram, you can pinpoint the areas where your process is potentially flawed. For example, you may notice that servicing multiple neighborhoods is holding you back, when you could be servicing a single neighborhood in a day and cover more ground.
Use text messaging to fill the gaps in your communication.
You’re most likely going to find that gaps in communication are your primary bottleneck as you map out your process. So what can you do to fill those holes?
The biggest boon will be using the channel customers prefer to use the most—which is text messaging. 99% of text messages are opened, and 84% of consumers want businesses to give people the option to text them.
But communicating with customers from one cell phone can cause its own bottlenecks, so you’ll need a platform where multiple people can jump in to manage messages. That way you can help train reps on how to respond to customers in real-time, plus have a way to save all the messages for keeping records.
Aside from responding to one-on-one inquires, a solid texting platform can help also be used for:
- Scheduling reminders in advance
- Using keywords to build contact lists
- Creating templates for common communications
- Creating groups for seasonal promotions (we’ll talk about this more next)
You can also get feedback and make adjustments to your process when customers are willing to communicate with you through a quick and painless message. You just have to text them:
“How are we working for you, and what can we do better for you?”
Your success comes down to taking care of your customers—and you can’t properly do that if you’re not having a conversation with them and learning the specifics of what they need.
"Most people don’t like to complain, so it’s hard to tell when they’re 100% happy, but we’ve found that if we ask how the service is working over text, they’re more likely to give our technicians that final thing that can make our service 100% for them." - Trey Powell, Mosquito Joe
3. How can you retain customers and encourage them to keep coming back?
You have to account for fluctuations in business, especially if you’re a seasonal franchise. That means having a game plan for getting customers to come back and upsell them at the perfect moments.
Start by gathering all your existing customers’ contacts in one database. You want a platform that makes it easy to reach all of them at once when you have seasonal sales or prepay opportunities.
For example, with Text Request you can drop your spreadsheet of contacts into a group message and format it with custom fields (like the customer’s name or last service date).
These group messages are a great way to send out rewards for repeat purchases, updates on specials, or discount offers for prepaid purchases. The best part is these group messages are like BCC email, and any responses become a one-on-one conversation, so you can handle customer needs on an individual basis.
51% of customers expect brands to identify their needs and make relevant recommendations that include price sensitivity to enhance their overall experience. Personalization like this is huge for retaining customers and profitability.
Charge more and be worth it.
Undervaluing yourself can have a cascading effect on your business, as you try to shift over to what you’re really worth later.
So start off at the right price and be worth it. You want your customer service to be so solid, that customers don’t leave you (and if they do, they come back).
Use communication tools like text messaging to make sure you’re available to customers when needed, and create processes that leave room for answering inquiries and getting feedback to better your services.