The first three weeks as a franchisee can be a tough gauntlet to run. Fortunately, Caroline Crabbe, general manager at Jo Jingles, reveals her survival guide for your first month as a franchisee
Reality check: Once you have registered your business with Inland Revenue and have dealt with other important logistical requirements, such as setting up a business bank account, it’s time for a quick reality check. You’ve taken the plunge; launching your own franchise is a big decision. You might have chosen this route to gain a more flexible and beneficial work-life balance in the long term but remember: you’ve just begun. Establishing a franchise takes time, passion and a lot of self-discipline.
During the first week, take a breath: you’ll need to invest blood, sweat and tears into getting your new venture off the ground. That might mean less free time to begin with but later down the line the benefits and change in lifestyle can be dramatic.
Spreading the word: You – and only you – can ensure you’ll succeed as a franchisee and that means developing your own local marketing strategy from the outset. You have to tell the world you are here: no one will do it for you.
It’s true that any good franchisor will provide you with the support and tools you need to get your business off the ground. In many cases, you’ll be able to take advantage of a fully functioning marketing programme, nationwide advertising campaigns and an established brand reputation. But that doesn’t remove the need for you to market your franchise individually; ultimately this is your business and you are the only one who can make it a true success. The earliest days should be spent thinking about how you can let people know you exist.
That’s the spirit: To grow your franchise successfully, you need to have relentless drive, ambition and focus. A get-up-and-go spirit is essential, as is the motivation and the self-discipline to get out there and make things happen for yourself.
Getting to know you: You’ve invested money in a franchise so it goes without saying that you’ll quickly need to establish who your customers are. Spend time getting to know your consumer base in greater detail. In most cases, you’ll already have a good idea who they might be but you need to take that a step further. A good place to start is to develop your own audience character profiles.
Build a picture of what your customer looks like – there may be a few different types of demographic. Give them a name and a personality. What do they look like? Where do they shop? Where do they live? How much do they earn? How many children to they have? What do they wear? Where do they go and what do they like doing? The more detail the better because this information will help you market your business to the right people.
Act local: Adapt your marketing activity to local cultures and trends to make your business relevant to the audience you are targeting. The more people that identify with it, the more likely they are to take notice. Whilst you should make the most of the nationwide marketing programme provided by the franchisor, you should also still expect to invest time and money in doing your own marketing locally. It’s great to have nationwide appeal and recognition for your brand but use that success as a platform to create more local exposure for your business and you’ll reap the rewards.
Going public: Aside from marketing, public relations is another great way to explain your purpose, get your message across and explain to people why they should be interested in your services or product. Get to know your local media: find out what your local newspapers, magazines, local online news sites and TV and radio stations are. Do your research and keep in touch with local media on a regular basis, ensuring you share any local news about your business. When dealing with the press avoid the ‘big sales pitch’ and instead focus on stories, angles and ideas that will resonate with the readers of the publication. Journalists want good stories, not adverts.
Hungry for more: Once you’ve got your customers, you need to keep them coming back. So consider giving away freebies, sponsoring local charities or running special promotions, loyalty programmes, referral rewards and competitions.
Getting social: Social media has given us the perfect platform for highlighting customer engagement and that gives you a real opportunity to boost exposure for your business. We live in a culture today where people like to talk about the things they are doing so it’s vital to set up your own social media channels from the outset – as long they are consistent with your franchisor’s policies.
Singing your praises: Happy customers tell other people so get your clientele to share their experiences and don’t be afraid to ask people for reviews; this is a great way to shout about your success. Most large franchises will have their own mainstream website but many are supportive of local-focused sites and social media pages too. Equally, join a local business committee to make contacts, spread the word about your business and share knowledge with other likeminded business people.
Know your enemy: Knowing who your local competitors are is vital. Do your research, follow them on social media, see what they are doing, who their customers are and what promotions they run. You can learn a lot from an already established rival. And remember there is plenty of room for a bit of competition, so don’t be afraid to be confident with your marketing.
Staying alive: You are almost a whole month into your launch at this point; you might have laid the groundwork but it doesn’t end here. You have to keep your franchise alive through your own passion and determination. If you wake up every day and love what you do, you’re on your way to a successful business because if you believe in it, others will too.