Franchising has become increasingly popular in 2023. There are a number of positive predictions, according to the 2023 Franchising Outlook Study, and forecasts show it will continue to grow. In fact, it will add more than a quarter-million jobs and another 15,000 new independent businesses this year. Franchising is an amazing business model, regardless of the product or service, from The Lube Center (for cars) to Diaper Services to Diamond Brokers, that can be reliably exercised by trained staff while minimizing the need for innovation.
Ultimately, it creates a template for a successful business model, delivering a replicated product that consumers understand and rely on for a known quality, a known experience and a known price — without concern for the location, time of day or staff.
But the success of a franchise lies in attracting the “best of the best” franchise owners and operators who represent the most compelling characteristics of our American spirit: motivated entrepreneurs willing to invest and commit to creating their own American dream as a business owner. A franchise must compete for these valuable franchisees by demonstrating their franchise provides a clear path to success with support and tools, making it an ideal investment choice.
This article will explore a new franchise value that is obtainable, demonstrable and turnkey, that will not only influence the potential operator but will catapult existing franchise operations to new levels of success. This value is applicable to all forms of franchises in any industry — literally, any franchise that needs or would benefit from building loyal customers — but for the sake of providing examples, this will focus on the food service industry.
Gain a competitive edge with a successful marketing solution
Franchisees desire success just like you do, and beyond furniture and fittings, or supply chain operational challenges, it’s important to support all locations with critical marketing and sales support that sets them up for profitability from the start.
However, the work doesn’t end once the franchisee has a successful launch. Across the entire franchise, from locations in operation for years to the newly opened store, consistent, reliable and valuable guest engagement and direct marketing are as important as the decision to standardize fries delivered directly from Idaho.
Embracing a new, innovative approach to engaging the guest and leveraging the success of the individual locations for the success of the franchise will position both the franchisee as well as the franchisor to new levels of growth.
So, to gain a competitive edge and to attract not only potential franchisees, but investors, integrating an ongoing and successful marketing solution into your franchise operations is a “must.”
The role of integrated WiFi marketing in a franchise
Effective marketing for a franchise requires the right technology to maximize return on investment. Studies show that 96% of customers prefer a business that offers free on-site WiFi (Cisco), and an overwhelming majority of customers are happy receiving promotions and messaging while connected to the WiFi. However, only a small percentage of franchises have turned their WiFi presence into a successful marketing solution, which can be accomplished through integrated WiFi marketing technology.
This technology is actually a set of technologies that include WiFi, text, social media and digital displays integrated to execute a marketing campaign. And it provides a single operational point to oversee franchise-wide marketing campaigns, while also empowering operators to leverage those same technologies for localized campaigns.
With integrated WiFi marketing, customers can access the free WiFi by providing their phone number or by logging in with Facebook, Google or email, and this builds a simple, consistent and reliable communication link directly to the device in the customer’s hand. This link allows the franchise to recognize the device and record their visits and general behaviors, such as the days they come in, times of day, duration of the visit, typical frequency and more. With this new data, the franchise is now able to hyper-target customers with messaging that resonates uniquely with their interests.
With the customer data, personalized SMS messages with specific offers can be sent, and the franchise can track when a customer enters a new location and send them a message such as, “We’d love to hear of what you think of our Fresno location (link to survey), and for your time, we’ll upgrade your choice of combo meals.” Or it could even be something more fun like a link to the social presence of that specific store’s events page and asking for a “check-in.”
Tying It all together for optimal success
Since the goal of this article is to demonstrate a way a franchisor can provide value to attract top-performing franchisees, let’s look at a fully integrated example of WiFi marketing that ties in a WiFi greeting with social media, digital displays, text messaging and use of a QR code — all while customer data is being filtered and the messaging targeted — for revenue-generating results:
A customer who has visited before and provided their information to access the free WiFi walks into the restaurant location and the device is recognized. The customer immediately receives a greeting via text message: “Thanks for visiting us again. How do $5 margaritas and $2 tacos sound with prizes and entertainment? We’re having a 4th of July fiesta. Learn more here (link to event on Facebook).”
The customer goes to the Facebook event with a single click and (hopefully) “likes” the post and RSVPs to the event. While there, the customer learns that those who join the loyalty program get a free pint glass at the event and can reserve EXCLUSIVE VIP seating in advance — an offer only made to WiFi loyalty customers.
The event and loyalty program benefits are further promoted on the digital display signage that has the following message: Get VIP status at our annual 4th of July fiesta. Sign up for our loyalty program by texting FIESTA to XXXX.” The digital display signage also has a QR code that can be scanned for more information on the 4th of July fiesta and a call-to-action to RSVP.
The customer has now received messaging that accomplishes several important steps. First, the customer has been enticed to attend the 4th of July event. Second, the customer has been driven to the restaurant’s social media posts where they can engage, which in turn, ensures Facebook’s algorithm shows the posts more prominently. Third, the customer has been “encouraged” to join the loyalty program which, in turn, motivates the customer to become not just a repeat customer, but a loyal customer. And fourth, the digital display messaging and QR code further reinforce event attendance, loyalty program participation and social media engagement.
Combined, this integrated approach to marketing the restaurant’s event and loyalty program translates to the customer attending and spending money at an event they may otherwise have not paid attention to or known about, and most importantly, the customer has transitioned from being a one-time customer to a loyal, revenue-generating customer.
For the franchise, this is valuable because the solution is centralized, and all the marketing elements can be uniform, distributed in a timely manner and not be reliant on the individual franchise locations for compliance with the program. Additionally, since it can be automated, replicated and distributed across the entire franchise with the click of a button, the underlying marketing campaigns are synchronized and executed for maximum results.
While for the franchisee, the campaigns are no longer a burden and allow the franchisee to focus on their operations, staffing and profitability driven by powerful marketing that drives repeat business and event attendance. Also, the franchise and franchisee both are able to see the tangible, black-and-white results of the effectiveness of the complete marketing campaign in real time.
Effective marketing is essential to growing a franchise business, and the incorporation of integrated WiFi marketing technology can maximize ROI and help achieve business goals — while providing the franchise with a unique and revolutionary discriminator in the competition for the most desirable franchise operators.
By offering Integrated WiFi marketing technology as part of franchise operations, franchisees can capture customer data, send targeted SMS messages, leverage social media, utilize digital displays and access real-time reports across the entire franchise. Overall, providing this technology can increase the franchise’s overall brand image, boost franchise success and contribute to overall brand growth.