For the last three years, I have been working as the Marketing Manager of a well-known European and American fast-casual franchise chain, being in charge of the Miami and New York locations. Giving my vast experience, I have decided to share some thoughts about the marketing relationship between the franchisors and franchisees, their needs and expectations.
What are their needs and expectations?
On one side, franchisors are providing a proven business model and a trustworthy marketing strategy. On the other side, franchisees have a very important part in implementing the strategy. While building a strong brand, they also have to accommodate the expectations of the local consumers which can be very different by region, country or even continent. When the CMO is building up the overall marketing strategy, many things need to be taken into consideration. A common marketing strategy, a flexible approach and an adaptable concept to satisfy each market the brand has penetrated. It’s not an easy task and requires a lot of research, knowledge, and expertise on the CMO’s side.
Therefore, what is the most encountered challenge that corporate franchisors are facing when managing the marketing relationships with the franchisees and the other way around? How can the corporate franchisors give the necessary marketing support to franchisees? What happens if the corporate partners fail to provide such a strategy or, in case of a strong marketing strategy, the franchisees fail to implement it?
Experts insights. What did they say?
Five marketing experts agreed to share their experiences and their thoughts about the subject matter. And they have strong points.
“One of the most common challenges that franchisors and franchisees are facing is a fragmented marketing strategy. A mixed marketing message and a dispersed strategy can send the wrong message and create confusion among the consumers. Franchisees are limited in their marketing endeavors and rely solely on the strategy designed by the HQ. Therefore, franchisors need to make sure they are providing a core marketing strategy that benefits both parties and, ultimately, increases the growth and revenue for everyone involved. On the other side, the franchisee branches need to work together with the HQ and help the franchisors define the brand and promote a unified marketing message. It’s essential to have clear and structured marketing strategies and goals.”
“Franchise marketing brings your corporate brand vision & your local franchisee visions together, under a broad marketing umbrella (strategy) that supports both. The ‘secret sauce’ is to have a digital partner that is flexible, understanding of both scenarios, committed and focused on creating loyal customers while boosting brand awareness. The challenge that I see is if the local franchisee starts getting comfortable and slowing changing the customer journey. That’s a no-no. The key to success is brand consistency. The end goal on both sides is to work together and see the franchise grow, two-fold.”
“Based on my experience, I imagine that franchisors and franchisees face a challenge with building healthy lists of qualified leads. Lead generation can be time-consuming and expensive, so doing it in an ineffective manner by generating leads that are not truly interested in the business would be a waste, since they’re unlikely to convert into buyers. Supporting franchisees in developing their digital lead generation capabilities would likely be fruitful for both parties. This can be done by investing in branding & digital marketing materials, social media, search engine optimization, and other factors that, together, can generate good leads. Targeting is a big factor, as too often marketing campaigns don’t use get to the right audience – it’s important to know who your audience is.”
“A franchisor typically brings valuable assets to the table, these include a proven business model, a recognized trademark, established business systems, training and support, and so much more. Differently from a franchisee, whose essential role is to duplicate the franchisor’s successful business model in order to help it expand into a regional or national market. In my opinion, the franchisee role it’s not a passive role, by any means, and requires significant investment and work.”
“Every organization’s marketing efforts must come with the brand and audience in mind at its core. Consistent branding is vital in the case of franchise marketing. What is your brand identity, what does it mean or portray, and what do we need to relay to the customer to keep it consistent throughout all franchises? The franchisor’s mission, value, and purpose should be reflected across all its franchisees’ marketing efforts. Start with consistent color branding and follow with creating a brand voice that will best optimize your audience reaching efforts regardless of location. A set of branding marketing guidelines and manuals prepared for franchisees could make the world of difference when setting up, organizing, and preparing to launch sustainable marketing support.”
The Marketing Game. Who wins?
As all the experts agreed, the key to success is brand consistency. The franchisor’s mission, value, and purpose should be reflected across all its franchisees’ marketing efforts. Supporting franchisees in developing their digital lead generation capabilities would likely be fruitful for both parties. A mixed marketing message and a dispersed strategy can send the wrong message and create confusion among the consumers.
There are various challenges that corporate franchisors are facing when trying to implement a common marketing plan for their franchisees. An inconsistent strategy from the corporate headquarters or a fragmented relationship with the local franchisees can affect both businesses. Franchisees are complaining about the lack of help from their corporate partners, pointing out to a small amount of advertising spend dollars and even the absence of creative content. On the other side, the corporate franchisors understand that when the franchisees thrive, they bring tremendous growth and awareness to the brand as a whole. Tracking success might be also a challenge, especially when franchisees are new to the market and don’t know the industry well. Understanding what metrics to track, how to measure the success of the campaigns, and how to track ROI over time is essential to what would be considered “good marketing”.
Both parties need to find and promote the right messaging, audience, and targeting strategies. Knowing what to look for in terms of results is extremely important to running a profitable business. Greater things can be achieved if franchisors and franchisees understand that they have a common goal. Mutual interdependence and reliance are the keywords. For both parties to thrive, a relationship based on cooperation is needed. Different personalities or motivations are not allowed to affect the marketing relationship. They must act together and be bound in their common and mutual endeavors. Cooperation leads to a win-win situation and any conflicts between them are unproductive.
In the end, the business partners need to understand that teamwork makes the dream work!