Creating an effective marketing plan for a franchise business

Franchise businesses can be a great revenue source for both the franchisor and the franchisee. It allows the franchisor to grow their brand reach and profitability and allows the franchisee to own their own business with reduced risk. The success of a franchise, though, is dependent on a balancing act between both parties. It’s the franchisor’s responsibility to grow a brand and business model that can be easily replicated, but at the same time, their ability to do so also relies on the franchisee maintaining the brand’s values.

Take Checkers & Rally’s for example. The burger chain is a widely recognized brand with over 870 restaurants and plans to expand into new markets. How are they doing it? Franchising plus a strategic marketing plan! Here are a few tips for creating an effective marketing plan, from attracting new customers pre-launch to retaining loyal customers over the years.

  • Create a distinct brand style. This includes a visual brand and also a brand voice. While each franchise has an individual owner, the brand should still feel cohesive. Checkers does this by speaking to their customers in a fun, personable tone. For example, when Taco Bell released fries last year, Checkers placed a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times, challenging Taco Bell employees to try the fries at Checkers or Rally’s.
  • Identify target customers. This step is especially important for franchisees because you can’t assume that the same strategies will work in various regions. As the local, franchisees know best when it comes to marketing to their region.
  • Show instead of telling. Instead of offering too-good-to-be-true incentives, show potential franchisees what their life could look like if they start a franchise of their own. According to Lynette McKee, Checkers attracts franchisees by focusing on “franchisee profitability and a strong support system.”
  • Be responsive on social media. This is something that the franchisers should handle on a large scale, but franchisees can create local pages to interact with their community. Plus, studies show that consumers are 71% were more likely to purchase from a brand after a positive social media experience.
  • Develop a grand opening marketing plan for individual franchises. Franchisees should spread the word about their new business before even opening by promoting local events and/or special offers.
  • Optimize local search results. Sticking with the Checkers example, let’s say someone is on a road trip, and that someone loves Checkers. When they stop in a new city and search for the closest Checkers, they shouldn’t see a two-star review and unanswered customer complaints when the Checkers they regularly go to has five stars. Keep an eye on search results and ratings for individual franchise locations.
  • Create a customer loyalty program. Acquiring customers is only half the battle. Keep loyal customers coming back with a rewards program. The Checkers Rewards program is a great example of using mobile app marketing to engage their most avid customers.

Even though most franchisees aren’t necessarily marketing gurus, with digital marketing today anyone can learn a few tips and tricks. Marketing is absolutely essential for both the franchisor and the franchisee to succeed in business, so it’s in both parties’ best interest to develop and execute an effective strategy.