How can franchisees benefit from community relations?
By Shawn Saraga
Nothing supports a franchise business like its immediate community. Previously, business owners would rent space, hang a sign, and people would walk through the door. Now there is a lot more to attracting customers and more ways to do it. As technology has created a more personalized world, franchisees must compete in a more personalized marketing space. This can be done through social media, the chamber of commerce, local sports teams, high schools, hospitals or local charities. There are many other options to add to this list.
It is not impossible to see sales increase by 10-20 percent steadily and annually depending on community involvement versus locations that do not participate in their local community. Indeed, it is the mark of a great franchisee.
However, this raises questions such as, where do you start? Â»What are the best platforms to use? How do you relate your message to the people you are trying to reach? Here are three simple community outreach programs to get you started.
Sponsor local sports teams
Whether it’s a kids’ soccer team backed by an ice cream shop that they will visit after every game, or a beer league team sponsored by a sportswear store, sponsorships of team can go a long way in building brand loyalty in the community. The cost is reasonably low, the exposure of the company logo to families in the community is excellent, and the brand is associated with the team name and repeated often by residents. It appears on social media photos taken by families and allows special offers or incentives to be offered directly to family of teams.
Chamber of Commerce
Joining the chamber of commerce shows the community that a franchisee is serious about doing business. This can help attract more families and business customers and provides exposure to communities that they won’t be able to access without joining. The chamber usually offers annual local events such as community fairs, golf tournaments, and other marketing opportunities that you can take advantage of. They also hold regular meetings where a franchisee can meet other like-minded business owners and build relationships that can turn into sales. It’s an inexpensive option and has a huge impact on recognition in the community.
Hospitals and charitable fundraisers
As a business owner, supporting local charities is a social obligation. Choose a local charity and donate products or offer to sponsor an upcoming event. For traditional businesses, provide space for a fundraiser, as charities are always on the lookout for venues to host events and raise funds. While a franchisee can build a good relationship with that charity, gaining supporter status and using the charity’s logo allows them to promote their cause in your marketing materials, and in turn, the people of the community. community will know that the franchisee supports this charity. The opportunity is a win-win and it’s great to be a part of it.
Community outreach should be a consistent and ongoing part of a franchise’s marketing budget. Most franchisors budget a percentage of sales for local marketing initiatives, and it’s usually up to the franchisee to decide how to spend it. Franchisors will normally give suggestions or toolkits with ideas on what to do with that money. Take these programs seriously because the impact on business is immense. In today’s hiring community, it is also attractive to employees when working with a company that supports the community.
Building these strong relationships has a ripple effect that is felt for years to the success of a business. Also enjoy talking to customers and asking them what local initiatives interest them. Get feedback from the community. Having a community board where people can post local initiatives is another great free way to link the business to the community and let franchisees know what matters to their customers.
Remember that community outreach is not just a number on the franchise document to pay for, it is a vital part of a
Shawn Saraga has been a franchise and real estate development professional for 16 years and has helped open over 800 franchises of different brands during his career. He is also a speaker at conferences and a guest speaker at universities and colleges across Canada. He is currently Vice President of Global Development for barBURRITO Restaurants Inc.