Franchise Industry Execs Miss the Opportunity to Leverage Franchise PR to Drive Sales
300 franchise executives converged on the Drake Hotel in Chicago this week for three days of intense evaluation about the state of franchise sales and dialog about best practices that drive results in today’s market. This much anticipated Franchise Update Conference centers around industry reports on numbers of franchise units sold, lead sources for the year, and cost per franchise sale.
This year’s theme, Mission Possible, held lots of promise as the previous year has been a wasteland for many companies. This year three big issues converge into a perfect storm that creates lots of choppy waters for franchise sales:
- Fran Data experts projected that the franchise industry will have some truly choppy waters for the next four or five years due to lack of bank financing and shaky loan underwriting making credit hard to come by
- Traditional powerhouses of franchise sales lead generation have trailed off significantly; franchise portals in particular are not delivering the quality leads they once were
- The dramatic shift in the way people communicate and build trust and how this impacts the rise of social media left more than a few companies struggling to connect the dots
A big disconnect with franchise sales lead generation centered on an old-school tool: Franchise PR. Here’s a list of lead sources for franchise sales this year:
Lead Sources for Franchise Sales (where leads for franchise sales come from)
- Internet 34%
- Referrals 28%
- Brokers 17%
- Print 8%
- Other 13%
- Trade Shows 3%
- PR 3%
Sources of Closed Franchise Sales (Where the leads that actually closed came from)
- Internet 50%
- Brokers 16%
- Trade Shows 13%
- PR 11%
- Other 10%
Franchise companies only generated 3% of the total leads for franchise sales this year. Only 3%! Those measly 3% of leads resulted in 11% of the total industry unit sales this year. 11%! Making matters worse, almost half of the companies represented at the Franchise Update Conference were not using PR to generate sales leads. HALF!
The Franchise Update report also gave out projected average budgets for franchise development: the average company will spend $162,000 on its total budget to sell franchises this year. PR was way down on the list of expenditures. If PR done poorly and without consistency produced 11% of the franchise sales last year, what should you budget to grow a franchise system?
Franchise companies need to wake up – PR if used correctly by someone that understands the social media shift is a powerful tool for franchise sales lead generation. PR firms need to wake up too. What PR worked 20 years ago and even what worked last year DOES NOT WORK in today’s market.
Here’s the issue: publicity is great. Publicity will get you in the papers and can help with search engine optimization and Google search results. Publicity can generate a binder full of clips. Franchisees love publicity because it’s great for the ego. Publicity does not, however, generate franchise sales. Old-school press releases about store openings, expansion plans and staff changes don’t have the oomph they once did in today’s social media market.
PR can be used to aggressively drive your franchise sales if you focus on telling your story and driving the social media conversation about what you do. We’ve successfully done this at my company, Showhomes, and I listened to Stan Freidman, CEO of Retrotax talk about how he has used it to get his new company off the ground.
Success with PR centers around the story you tell. If you can get people talking about your sales effort in social media arenas like Linkedin and Twitter, you can get reporters to bite and that will lead to lots of online trust and credibility. This is crucial because candidates are at their lowest trust level any of us have seen.
They call this the ‘Great Recession’ for a reason!
For more information from Thomas Scott, please contact him at: