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Our established panel of franchise industry professionals discuss best practices for emerging franchisors, marketing tactics, and how to manage your expectations. Listen as our 3 experts examine their experiences within the industry and help you make growth minded decisions for your brand.

Meet the Panel

Dana Kline Dana Kline, CFE

Hand & Stone Massage, Multi Unit Franchisee

Connect with Dana

Jerry Flanagan Jerry Flanagan

President, CEO, Founder of JDog Franchises, LLC

Connect with Jerry Flanagan

Mitch Cove

Rita’s Italian Ice Franchisee & President of the Rita’s Philadelphia Advertising Co-op

Learn More About Rita’s Italian Ice

Main Points

Let’s take a look at a few key discussion points:

[2:47-14:10] New Franchisee Best Practices & Social Media Marketing

A good marketing strategy generates business. But how do you structure your plan to expand your base and bring in revenue? It depends.

For Jerry’s junk removal business, it began as a grass roots movement. “A lot of door hangers and lawn signs.” He jokes, “I don’t think I own a piece of clothing that doesn’t say JDOG on it.” Believing in your brand and being your brand become crucial entities for a startup looking to target local business.

Commitment and persistence are important for a successful marketing campaign. Dana explains, “Social media is key; you can’t just do a Facebook post once.” In order to generate brand awareness, being on as many platforms as possible on a consistent basis can create results. But it doesn’t happen right away. Dana suggests, “find an eager marketing student at a local college looking to boost their resume and manage a media campaign. A common misconception is that managing a social media account is free. But it’s not! It takes time.”

Mitch, a long-time franchisee owner in the well-established Italian ice franchise, Rita’s Italian Ice, brings a different perspective. “Advertising revenue was scarce in the 80’s, and these platforms weren’t available.” Be creative. Find new ways to boost your marketing. Direct mail, tv, print ads, and radio are still viable players. Understand your companies target audience; this will help you decide where your marketing dollars matter most.”

[14:11-19:04] The Importance of Earned Media

All the panelists agree that understanding your clientele and their needs are important. Jerry points out, “Customer referrals are critical.” If you are an emerging franchise, reviews can make or break your system. Remain relevant and provide quality customer care.  

How do you get franchisees to emulate your system? 

Establish a mentor system for new franchisee support. The first 6 months of a new franchise system is critical. Make it a point to be checking in on new franchisees to keep them on track.

[19:05-20:59] Open Communication is Key 

Mitch makes a smart observation, “Early success is not always continuous, which is a struggle.” Maintaining open lines of communication between a franchisee and franchisor becomes imperative. There will be times when you don’t agree, but vocalizing your concerns is a good idea.

[21:13-25:18] Flops in the Franchise Industry 

With every opportunity, comes the chance to “flop.” Without these learning moments, franchisees and their companies would become stagnant.

Dana and Mitch recall circumstances where communication was important:

Dana recollects a company-wide promotion that went awry; getting internal buy-in from your staff on big level projects when the idea comes from the top of your system can be difficult.

Mitch discusses R&D generated water ice flavor failures. “I wouldn’t have picked Twizzlers or Swedish Fish flavors.” Sometimes a franchisor can become so internally focused that they forget what it’s like to be “out in the field.” Speaking with franchisees and their employees can really set you up for success.

[25:19-33:09] How do you deal with a franchisee that doesn’t have the marketing mentality?  

Jerry remarks, “Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you pound the same message in.” A franchisee still may want to recreate your system.

Although this is often the case, Dana says, “recognizing your franchisee’s background” will help you measure their strengths and weaknesses. Assessment tests are a standardized system that can help you pinpoint traits that are commonly shared among your top franchisees. Once you have a list of those qualities, look for prospective franchisees that share those abilities.

Mitch agrees, “as your brand grows, systemize! There is no secret recipe to make people do things the way you want them to; identify people who believe in your brand.”

[33:10-39:47] How do you coach a franchisee to receive buy in from employees?

Dana points out, “As a franchisee, I stop in to my stores on Saturdays.” Be visible and accessible to your staff.

Mitch drives home the importance of hiring the right people. “I can teach you to do the job, but I can’t teach you to smile and be pleasant.” 

[39:47-41:35] What questions should a potential franchisee ask a franchisor before signing an agreement? 

  • Give me a list of franchisees in your system that I can speak with. Although your franchisor should answer your questions, franchisees can offer a different perspective and will generally disclose realistic answers.
  • What are the franchisor’s competitors?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you have in your system?

[48:30-51:06] Takeaways 

To wrap up the discussion, Tom Spadea asks the panel for one piece of marketing advice we should take away from this episode:

Jerry reaffirms, “Get your community behind you. You are your brand; market every single day. It’s a 7-day work week.”

Dana suggests, “Don’t eliminate any idea from your marketing campaign. Return on investment is different for every segment of a business. Adjust your expectations.”

Mitch closes the discussion with a final thought, “Consistency, continuity, and stick with your message. Build your brand, name, and awareness.”