How to Find Qualified Franchise Leads (and Convert Them)

When unemployment rises, the number of people turning to franchising also rises. When it becomes harder to find a job, many people decide starting their own business is a better option. Today, however, unemployment rates have dipped to some of the lowest we’ve seen in nearly two decades, which means the stream of qualified franchise leads is slowing to a trickle at the same time many brands are hoping to accelerate development to keep up with customer demand.  

With franchisors all competing for a limited number of candidates, development teams need to get creative to find more leads. One way to do that is to leverage franchisee satisfaction data to show candidates why your brand should be at the top of their list. Here are some ideas you can implement to find more qualified franchise leads. 

4 Ways to Bring in More Franchise Leads 

1. Use owner reviews.

In today’s Google era, it’s no surprise that 78% of Internet users conduct product research online [Hubspot]. Just look at the success of Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor and other sites that share feedback from actual people who have used the product. 

Franchise candidates are no different. They are making a significant investment and want to see what others are saying about their experience as a franchise owner in your system. 

Testimonials are great, but going a step further and providing owner satisfaction reviews and data can truly differentiate your brand and help you capture more leads. If you survey your franchisees, you should have a report that you can post online for candidates to download. If you gate it behind a form, you can then capture and nurture that lead. 

2. Rethink your portal and broker strategies.

Franchise portals typically allow visitors to request information from tens or hundreds of brands at once, which result in a high volume of leads, but not necessarily high quality. Following up on leads that go nowhere can be a drain on your sales team. Franchise brokers, on the other hand, may bring you more qualified leads, but they can charge upwards of $15,000 -$20,000 or more per deal. 

Consider alternative sites that target more serious buyers, but at a more reasonable cost per lead. For example, FBR charges $85 per lead, and targets candidates genuinely interested in researching the top performing brands and doing their due diligence to determine where to invest. The volume of leads is lower, but the quality of candidates is much higher.

3. Invest in multi-channel marketing.

Finding better franchise leads requires a multi-pronged approach. The buyer’s journey isn’t always a straight line from submitting a form to becoming a franchisee. There’s so much more that influences a candidate to inquire to your brand, so just because you can’t attribute a lead to a specific source, it doesn’t mean it’s not driving business. Make sure your brand is visible in all the places your target candidates are visiting. That might mean a combination of print and online advertising, PPC, public relations, sponsored content, awards, trade shows, social media, podcasts, etc.

4. Implement click to call for mobile.

Nearly 60% of site visits are from mobile devices. If your development website isn’t mobile-friendly, that should be a top priority. Beyond that, click to call is another opportunity to engage with candidates. Click to call is essentially a service that allows mobile users to click on a phone number and place the call without dialing. It makes it easy for candidates who are researching your brand to contact you and gives them a choice as how to they want to engage. Rather than filling our a form to request info (which isn’t always easy on a mobile phone), they can just click to number to call you. Plus, the numbers are trackable, so you can use them in online marketing and advertising campaigns to which of your campaigns are bringing in calls to your sales team. 


Converting Leads into Franchisees

It’s marketing’s job to find franchise leads, but it’s then up to your sales team to convert them into franchisees. 

Research cited by Forbes found that 71% of the leads generated on the Internet are wasted simply because companies wait too long to respond–46 hours and 53 minutes on average, and sales reps typically make only 1.3 call attempts before giving up and moving on.

Instant gratification is the expectation in today’s mobile and connected world. If you inquired about a product and it took days for that company to get back to you, your impression of the company would probably be pretty lousy–and you likely would have found the product somewhere else in the meantime or even forgotten that you were interested in it in the first place.  

It’s no different when it comes to franchise leads. You want to make sure your call is the first call a candidate gets. If someone else gets to them first, they may have a great conversation with another brand (instead of you) or have a terrible call that turns them off from franchise salespeople in general.

These five strategies can help your team close more deals: 

1. Call immediately.

Think an hour doesn’t make a difference? Wrong. If you just received the inquiry via the web, likely that person is still sitting at the computer and near a phone. Plus, you’re on their mind at that moment.

“If you follow up with web leads within 5 minutes, you’re 9 times more likely to convert them.” 

2. Make additional calls at different times of the day.

If you don’t get the candidate on the line with the first call, try again the next day, and the day after. Call once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the early evening. How many call attempts should you make? Keeping in mind that research shows it takes an average of 9-10 calls to reach someone, at some point you may want to leave a “kiss off” message. Say you don’t want to be a pest and if/when they’re interested they should give you a call.

3. Use email as part of your outreach, but don’t rely on it entirely.

Send an email to follow up your first call, but simply thank the candidate for inquiring, let them know you’ll call back, and leave your contact info. Don’t send all the information in an email – just enough to give the candidate a reason to call you. If you send all the details in an email and your competition doesn’t, then they’ll need to speak with your competitor and not you.

4. Learn about the candidate; don’t blab about yourself.

Ever been on a first date where the other person only talked about him or herself? Boring, right? On the first call, you want to learn about the prospective franchisee—not spend the entire time trying to sell them on your business. Why are they interested in a franchise? Where are they currently working?  What are their career and family goals? If you called quickly (as you should have), the candidate may not have been prepared to dive into these details, so start off light and set a date to follow up to dive deeper. 

5. Know your lead source and measure your success.

Know the contact ratio and close ratio for the lead source you’re using. Find out if they share leads. Also know your average cost per sale, and divide it by the cost per lead you pay to your source. That will tell you how many leads you need to get, and how many you need to close to cover the cost of your investment. You’ll be less frustrated if you set your expectations appropriately.

Finally, be open to technology that can help your sales team convert more calls to franchise applications. As we mentioned earlier, candidates are coming into the sales process more educated than ever, so that first phone call has to be as effective as possible. Advances in call optimization technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) offer the ability to record prospect phone call and analyze their effectiveness to uncover opportunities and refine your sales conversations to improve your call to conversion rates. 

If you’re interested in getting more qualified franchise leads, contact us to learn how our pay-per-lead lead generation program can match your brand with the most serious franchisee candidates. We’d be happy to walk you through how to qualify, what you can expect, and all of the benefits – both development and operations related – you’ll gain.

About the Author:Ali Forman

Ali Forman

As the Marketing Director for Franchise Business Review, Ali’s role is to educate franchise companies about and inspire them to participate in FBR’s research in order to grow and improve their brands. Ali lives in Maine with her husband and two sons.