Featured image for “Why Your Franchise Opportunity Website is the Most Important Tool in Your Franchise Development Toolbox”

Why Your Franchise Opportunity Website is the Most Important Tool in Your Franchise Development Toolbox

June 11, 2020

You have a great brand. Your franchisees are happy. But you’re still not hitting your franchise recruitment goals. Why?

Brands often fail to do a good job telling their story to potential buyers who are doing online research. When a candidate tries to learn about your brand, your franchise opportunity website gives you a chance to tell your story in a way that educates people about the business opportunity and your brand’s values. Some franchises try to withhold most of this information in hopes of getting people to call and enter into conversations with a recruiter. And a trickle of candidates will follow that path.

What typically happens when you fail to deliver a strong brand story, though, is that people research your brand elsewhere — in online forums that may offer a skewed perspective on your brand. Or they give up altogether and decide to research one of your competitors instead.

A strong franchise opportunity website is the first place where you should invest time and money. It will strengthen your recruitment pipeline by bringing in high quality leads. According to the 2020 FranConnect Franchise Sales Index report, only referrals and brokers tend to have higher lead-to-close ratios. Broker deals, however, are the most expensive deals from a cost-per-acquisition standpoint. And while referral deals are great, they’re hard to generate en masse until your brand already has significant momentum.

What questions should my franchise information website answer?

As people are researching brands, they have some common questions that tend to fall into two categories:

Qualification filters

  • How much does it cost to start?
  • What territories are available?

Brand story

  • What makes this business model unique?
  • What makes demand sustainable?
  • What is the growth potential of the industry and brand?
  • What is the culture of the company and its leadership team?
  • Can I picture myself meeting my goals as a franchisee?
  • What do existing owners say about the opportunity?
  • What is the ROI?

Your website should, at a minimum, provide comprehensive answers to all of these questions.

The first set of questions helps researchers qualify themselves. If they don’t have enough money, or if their preferred territory is not available, then there’s no reason for them to become a lead. It’s a waste of their time and yours.

The second set of questions is designed to help franchise candidates make their first decision: Am I willing to surrender some of my privacy and my time to reach out and learn more about this brand?

You must earn the conversation

Time is a precious resource. Telemarketers have trained us to be extremely reluctant to give up our personal details online. In order to encourage people to share their contact information with you, you need to provide enough compelling information that people become invested in learning more. Your site should provide a robust mix of research, strategy, and storytelling in order to engage the imagination of potential franchisees. It’s not enough to tell your story. You need to provide enough information for candidates to create their own story — a personal narrative about how your business fits what they are looking for.

Buyers want more content than you think

Franchise buyers don’t really invest in a franchise. Buyers invest in their own narrative about how their life will look different if they own a particular business.

Your franchise opportunity website is the primary place franchise buyers should go to shape their narrative. It should help buyers flesh out their dreams about how their lives, careers, and finances may improve as a franchisee.

While a short, cursory brand story may be enough to pique interest and generate some leads, buyers are looking for more. FPG designs sites with a goal of franchise buyer generation. We design sites with a lot of content because buyers respond to it.

In 2018, FPG audited the sales results of our clients, and what we found was stunning. We knew from experience that buyers tended to be much more educated when they had their first conversation with recruiters, and that they read the franchise opportunity site in greater depth — but the extent surprised even us.

The average franchise buyer spent almost 3 hours on the franchise opportunity website over 16 visits. This does not include time spent reading customer reviews or on the brand’s social streams. This is only the time they spent on the franchise opportunity site itself. By contrast, leads visited the site an average of 3.5 times and spent 20 minutes on the site.

Leads and buyers are distinctly different groups of people. Leads (those who sign the contact form yet do not buy) only have a fraction of the interest and far less demand for information than a buyer has, as depicted above.

Many franchisors design websites based on the behavior of leads — with thin content, little storytelling, and plenty of hype. But buyers are looking for something different. They are looking for credible, transparent information mixed with journalistic storytelling that explains the business model and tells the story of the people within the brand.

How do I know I need a new website?

To generate more deals, you need to attract visitors to your franchise information website and convert those visitors into leads. Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

With a weak site, for every 10,000 visitors, the franchisor above loses 2-3 deals at an organizational cost of $80,000-$120,000, not counting lost royalty income and franchisor equity value.

For websites costing an average of $25,000-$30,000, that works out to a 300%-400% ROI, generally all realized in the first year.

Examples of Top-Performing Websites

Rita’s Italian Ice Franchise

A&W Restaurants Franchise

i9 Sports Franchise

Finance your new site. Deal expires July 31.

For clients who hire FPG to develop their websites between now and July 31, FPG will finance a portion of these sites for up to 12 months with zero interest, allowing the franchisor to monetize their return before the site is completely paid for.

For more information, contact Joe Mathews at 860-309-1484, email Joe@FranchisePerformanceGroup.com or fill out the “Contact Us” form below.