This post originally appeared on Franchise Business Review and has been reposted with permission.
Social media has become an indispensable tool in franchise recruiting, with more and more franchise organizations using social platforms to attract new franchisees. With the ability to hone in on the exact type of operators they want to bring on board, franchise organizations are able to save time looking for the right qualified candidates. Meanwhile, prospective franchisees are using social media to research brands — oftentimes, making buying decisions before they’ve even contacted a franchisor based on what they see online.
According to the 2018 Annual Franchise Development Report, average advertising and media budgets for franchise sales and recruiting reached $202,462 in 2018. Of that, 12 percent went toward social media advertising. If your franchise hasn’t already allocated dollars toward social media advertising for recruiting, there’s no time like the present to do so — and here’s how you can begin using social media to recruit the best franchisees.
Start at the Local Level
Encourage your franchisees to share local content that shows the human side of your franchise. Not only is local content key to bringing in local business, but it’s also important for your recruiting efforts. The happier and more relatable your franchisees are, the more likely it is that prospective franchisees will take an interest in your brand. That’s because prospects, before they even pick up the phone and call you, are checking out your brand on social media to gather information and decide if you’re a good fit.
As your operators create local content, you can also share their posts through your corporate page and then boost the content. Target your boosted posts to reach the demographic, income level, age, interests and geographic region where you’re recruiting. Keep in mind that single-unit franchisees who are first-time investors will be looking for different information than experienced multi-unit, multi-concept prospects looking for their next investment.
Furthermore, you can create and boost your own franchisee “spotlight” posts that highlight successful operators. It could be a photo with a caption, or short videos that you post on your Facebook and Instagram pages and Stories. Keep an eye on the local news about your franchisees so you can bring attention to their success! Soon, you’ll have a consistent pipeline of prospects visiting your social media pages and inquiring about your franchise opportunities.
Does your franchise development team sell franchises — or award them? Shifting to an awardmindset is an important step in bringing in the best franchisees for your brand. You don’t want your team selling to just anyone and everyone, and indeed many franchisee prospects never make it past the initial phone call because they don’t qualify to buy.
With an award mindset, you can use social media to pre-qualify candidates. Establish a recruiting Facebook page for your brand, and send prospects there from your targeted ads. From there, Facebook Messenger can be set up to ask automated questions and gather information. You can ask the questions that help you know whether a candidate is qualified and genuinely interested in taking the next steps, then follow up afterward.
This way, when your development team does get on the phone with candidates, they can be fairly certain these are good leads. Meanwhile, the people who are serious about pursuing a franchise investment will feel confident they’re pursuing a great opportunity — one that will be “awarded” to them, not “sold.”
Set Them Up for Success
As you bring in new franchisees, make sure you have the proper support processes in place to set them up for success and long-term growth. As discussed in this article featuring FBR CEO Eric Stites, one critical success factor for franchisees is access to marketing, technology and innovation.
Indeed, franchisors that provide marketing solutions are more likely to attract and retain franchisees. When you invest in innovative technologies and strategies that help your franchisees spread the word and advertise their locations, it helps to drive their success forward. In turn, franchise candidates who learn of your support systems will see that you’re committed to the growth of your franchisees.
As you’re implementing new technologies, be sure you understand and address franchisee needs at the local level. Nowadays, social media is a customer support channel, where customers leave reviews, comments and questions every day. Give them a way to manage and respond to customers via social media so they’re not missing any sales opportunities or allowing comments and complaints to go unanswered.
In this way, not only will you be supporting existing franchisees, but you’ll also be circling back to point #1 above: Start at the local level. The better the local social presence, the better your reputation — and the greater the likelihood that new recruits will take an interest in your brand.