The International Franchise Association (IFA) held its 52nd annual convention last week in Orlando. The convention always covers a variety of topics that each of the hundreds of franchisors are facing. It is always nice to have Spring-Green lawn care team members in attendance, listening, learning and establishing a peer network. This year our CEO, Ted Hofer, attended and brought back information to share with the team.
The franchise community is a very close group and while it represents hundreds of thousands of franchisees, it is not uncommon for franchisors to share best practices and ask each other for input on problems we may be facing. Some of my closest relationships have been formed at IFA functions or educational events while earning my CFE (Certified Franchise Executive). The accessibility to industry veterans who lead many of the largest franchise systems in the country is well worth the attendance. I am not sure any other trade association can offer such an intimate setting with such a wide variety of leaders.
Using Local Digital Marketing to Promote Franchises
One topic that was discussed at the convention that really hits home with Spring-Green was local digital marketing. Spring-Green utilizes local marketing through the Internet in a number of ways. Spring-Green helps its franchise owners with their web presence by setting up, maintaining and providing ongoing optimization of their web pages; tracking web analytics like site traffic, click through rates, conversion data and more; sponsorship and management of localized paid advertising campaigns driving leads back to the local market; and management of an online shopping cart where customers who receive an offer in the mail can personalize their programs, sign up and pay online. Oh…and of course social media including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and blogs. Who would have thought having and online presence was so important for a lawn care service provider? It is!
Fostering the Franchisor-Franchisee Relationship
Relationships with existing and potential franchisees was also discussed at the convention with a focus on franchisee success, workable franchisee-franchisor relationships, trust in recruiting and the use of an Item 19—or earnings claim—in Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). Spring-Green makes customer satisfaction a priority, which leads to successful franchise owners. The franchise support center offers business planning and intelligence to help each owner, forming a great relationship between the owner and the franchisor. By focusing on profitability at the franchise level, or unit economics which is a term often used to establish a common goal for the business,it helps prioritize the areas of focus and allows for the dismissal of the distractions. Easily said, right? We believe it and live it. With a financial road map and franchise owner buy-in, great things can happen for all parties involved and that includes the customer.
A Focus on Franchise Development
As with every convention, franchise development is a big part of the focus. The current economy and financial lending environment has not made growth though franchising easy. It does not sound like there were any silver bullets but the theme of getting back to basics was echoed and understood. For potential franchisees, Spring-Green has a comprehensive and award winning franchise opportunities website. Here you will find information about the company’s history, investment opportunities, support and more. Spring-Green also provides an Item 19. This transparency leads to greater respect and trust between potential franchisees and the corporate office.
The IFA convention is a great time to benchmark your franchise system against your peers. Are you experiencing similar or different challenges? Are they the appropriate challenges for an organization of your size? What are the trends in franchising telling us? When do we see improvement in the lending environment? According to our CEO, Ted Hofer, this year’s convention reaffirmed that Spring-Green’s efforts to drive unit level performance while increasing profitability are on target.