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Behavior Differences Between Franchise Leads and Franchise Buyers

May 14th, 2019

If you have read our articles in the past, you know that FPG creates a distinction between franchise lead generation and franchise buyer generation.

For this article, consider a lead as someone who signs a contact form but falls out of the process somewhere between inquiry and close.

A franchise buyer is just that; they make an investment.

FPG marketing research consistently demonstrates franchise buyers think and behave differently than leads, who fill out a contact form and then disappear somewhere in the process.

FPG’s findings

FPG used a combination of cookie and IP-based tracking to gather details for this research. The tracking allows us to track the behavior of individual users as they interact with websites — even as users switch between devices and networks.     

Franchise buyers do extensive online research

Buyers visited the franchise opportunity site on average 16 times, versus 3-4 times for leads. Clearly, franchise buyers have a voracious appetite for content, information, and data points to help them make an informed investment decision. If a franchise buyer went to your franchise opportunity site right now, would they find new and engaging content worthy of 16 separate visits?

Franchise Buyers vs. Franchise Leads

Buyers continue to research after becoming a lead

Franchise buyers spend almost 3 hours on the franchise opportunity sites FPG designed versus 20 minutes for leads. About half the buyer’s total research time was spent after the franchise buyer filled out the contact form.   

For a second, think about your franchise opportunity website the same way you think about a sales call. The qualified franchise buyer wants 3 hours of your time. Would you cut the conversation short or would you keep the conversation going to move the buyer along in the process?

Many franchisors are hanging up on their buyers by not providing more engaging and relevant content on their franchise opportunity websites. They wrongly assume the franchise opportunity website is more of a franchise brochure than a brand story with different chapters that franchise buyers engage with differently, and carry different degrees of relevance, as they move through their research process. For instance, our research showed that while blogs and lead-nurturing content are only lightly read by leads, they are disproportionately — and eagerly — read by franchise buyers.

Demand for information is still growing

This franchise buyer behavior represents a material change over the last 5 years. Buyers today spend 3 times as much time on franchise opportunity sites as buyers did 5 years ago (172 minutes versus 60 minutes). This is consistent with changes in buyer behavior for other high-ticket and high-emotion investments such as residential home sales and automobile sales.

As franchisors make more content streams available, buyers continue to digest the information provided. Five years ago, a robust franchise information site was primarily focused on lead generation. Once the lead was generated, conversations closed deals. Increasingly, franchise buyers are looking for new and robust content on the website as they move through the sales pipeline.

Franchise buyers demand more info

Implications

  • The 2018 Franchise Sales Index published by Keith Gerson and FranConnect showed that the franchise opportunity website was a franchisor’s number one source of deal flow. It is also the most productive and cost-effective source of deal flow. This report also showed very few franchisors had lead-nurturing content housed in their system.
  • While other sources, such as portals, referrals, digital advertising, and brokers, may be recorded as the initial source of the lead, buyers will still validate the concept by doing robust online investigation — primarily on the franchise opportunity website. The franchise opportunity website has two equally important purposes: lead generation and lead nurturing.  
  • In a previous FPG blog titled What Franchisors Can Learn About Buying Behavior from Harvard Business Review, we detailed franchise buyers’ behavioral shift towards self-directed online research. The average consumer spends 14.5 hours buying a car. The first 11 hours (75%) doing online research and the last 3 hours (25%) visiting the dealer. Franchise buyers track similarly. This trend minimizes the importance of the franchisee recruiter and maximizes the need for franchisors to employ franchisee recruitment strategists and content producers to drive deal flow.
  • If a buyer is continuing to do an hour and a half of research after becoming a lead, they aren’t looking for a sales pitch — they are looking for more educational information. If content producers have never engaged in mid-funnel franchise sales conversations or moved a lead along in the sales process, how do they know what content to produce and what concerns and questions qualified and informed mid-funnel buyers have that top-of-the-funnel leads do not? How would they know what content is and is not relevant at different steps in the sales process?
  • If the buyer is returning more than a dozen times over the course of their decision-making process, what is the type of content that engages the buyer initially, and what content keeps him or her coming back?
  • How does a franchisor pace content, making sure a buyer doesn’t get content that isn’t relevant to where they are in the information gathering process?
  • Does the franchisor just need a new website and blogs to maximize recruitment or an entirely new content-rich franchisee recruitment investigation process?

Benefits of a better strategy

FPG learned franchisee recruitment in the trenches. Our executive level franchise sales experience sets us apart from other PR, lead generation, and marketing firms. We’ve closed thousands of deals in our careers as franchise salespeople, VPs of franchise sales, and CDO executives. In turn, we’ve helped our clients close thousands more. In all, we share over 100 years of franchising experience working with over 120 brands.

Our integrated digital marketing, website design, and lead nurturing content strategy works. In addition to improving franchise recruiting results in the short-term, it results in better candidates and, ultimately, better-prepared franchisees. This creates quality growth, predictable recurring revenue streams, and ultimately a higher enterprise value for the franchisor.

Mike Seitz of emerging growth franchisor Earthwise Pets said, “We just finished our new franchisee training program this past week. We can see the direct impact of FPG’s lead generation and content strategy on the quality of the franchisees we recruited. They came better educated, better funded, are more prepared for training. They left training ready to develop the brand to its highest potential, ensuring they meet their multi-unit development goals, hit their financial targets and achieve their profitability objectives.”

Lead generation is easy. In any given year, over 1 million people inquire about a franchise.

Franchise buyer generation is difficult. FRANdata estimates only 13,000-15,000 first-time franchise buyers in any given year.

If you need more leads, you have ample choices in the marketplace.

If you want more deals, contact FPG by completing the form at the bottom of this page. 

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