When there are several different franchise offers on the table, how do you make sure the buyer chooses yours?
The number of franchises has doubled in the past quarter of a century. According to the NatWest Franchise Landscape Report (2018), there are now 48,000 franchise businesses in the UK. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, your franchise offer needs a killer Unique Selling Point (USP).
Here, Cheryl White, founder of the Mercury Franchise School Ltd, suggests three ways to give your franchise offer the competitive advantage – and get your prospective franchisee over the line:
Put your money where your mouth is
If you have true faith in your ability to deliver a good return on investment, then take the burden of risk on yourself. Ask for a percentage of the franchise fee up front; then offer the franchisee the opportunity to pay the remainder of the balance when they hit a pre-agreed turnover. The beauty of this value proposition is that it demonstrates your total trust in the franchise model you have created – compared with other franchisors who want every penny of their fee up front, with no guarantees of future success. The buyer understands that you are incentivised to maximise the amount of support and training you provide to recoup the rest of the franchise fee, so you are more likely to be a present mentor.
Fill in knowledge gaps
Your prospective franchisee may be a dynamite salesperson; a natural people manager; or a marketing maestro, but you can guarantee they will be lacking in some business-critical disciplines. Being able to plug those gaps by providing access to a wider support team who can help them get to their first turnover target – and fast – could help you close quickly on that elusive sale. Typical areas where there are knowledge gaps include compliance with standards, finance and legal. Making access to experts in those fields readily available gives you a standout USP that turns a curious but self-aware buyer into one that is able to confidently invest.
Guarantee maximum visibility
When someone is interested in purchasing a franchise, they will typically do their research across multiple portals – drawing up a shortlist of prospective choices within a chosen niche. It is at that point that they begin to narrow their options, and having a competitive USP becomes critical. Every franchise offer is likely to include some form of initial support package – covering off legal documentation, a branding toolkit and, where appropriate, provision of uniforms. Ask yourself: ‘How can I exceed this baseline of expectations?’ Building in ongoing, focused support in the form of a co-created and co-delivered three-month marketing strategy – guaranteeing initial visibility, with a plan to sustain it – signals to the franchisee that you want to help them hit the ground running. For the results-driven buyer, who is concerned primarily about starting with a bang, this is the one USP that will close the deal.
We have looked at three USPs that work across a cross-section of franchise businesses. If you want something more bespoke to you, speak to your existing franchisees. What was it about your franchise offer that converted them from casually interested to going all in? Avoid the trap of building a franchise offer that simply reflects what you would want by sense-checking your ideas with other people – including, where possible, with franchising experts.
Look at your brand too – everything from the logo and corporate colours, to how it is positioned in the marketplace and portrayed in all forms of media. Most people choose to invest in a franchise precisely because they are buying into a pre-existing brand. They do not want to do the legwork that comes with trying to establish a start-up. Having a franchise model they can roll out – and begin to profit from immediately – is part of the appeal. The more brand recognition you can offer, the bigger the USP.
It's noisy out there, trying to sell franchises. A proven track record of success is the bare minimum of what a potential franchisee has come to expect. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is, fill in the knowledge gaps or guarantee maximum visibility in your franchise offer – courageously committing to USPs that elevate your brand. Good enough is not enough. This is your call to action to become extraordinary.