President’s Corner: 2 Common Questions I Get About Franchising

Is a franchise a good fit for you?

I recently found some clarity in answering two questions I get from friends or acquaintances that know of my background in franchising but are outside of the industry themselves.

I thought my perspective could be helpful to others in the franchise biz, so here is my two cents, on these two common questions:

Question 1: “Is buying a franchise a good idea?”

Super simple, but it’s the same thing I’d ask if I were in their shoes.  Since it IS general, I make the assumption that they want me to compare it to starting a non-franchise / independent business in a similar industry.

My answer:  For most people – yes.  This is not my franchise-biased opinion, it is a fact that overall, it’s much less risky to join an established brand and pay royalties. There are exceptions, of course, and sometimes starting from scratch can have a bigger upside.

Also, there are inferior franchise brands, so choose wisely. But, net-net, a franchise is a particularly good idea comparatively. Much like Warren Buffett’s advice that most people would do better with index funds vs. picking individual stocks, it is all about managing risk.

I will say, seeing people take less risk and experience more frequent success buying franchises with their hard-earned money is the main reason I chose to start my company and help this business model expand!

Question 2:  Should I use a franchise broker/consultant?

Answer: It is a rather good idea but is ESPECIALLY good if they are open to considering emerging / early-stage franchise brands. If only considering large well-known brands, it is less necessary because there is more public data available and more opportunities to validate relevant performance with existing franchisees in their system.  Of course, there is also the issue of saturation in those cases. 

The big advantage of having a franchise consultant is that they have a real motivation and proven process to match an individual with a brand that fits them in a multitude of ways.  Sure, they are paid by the brand when a successful deal is signed, but this generally does not skew their motivation – because most broker/consultant systems represent a few hundred brands.  The compensation to them is similar regardless of where they place the candidate, so overall it’s a pretty good setup and really does benefit the franchise buyer at no cost to them.

It’s also a great shortcut to spending what could be hundreds of hours on research, and still not getting the wisdom of an experienced franchise professional.  Despite being in franchising for nearly 15 years, I didn’t have much experience working with them until we began providing several with leads last year, which has grown to be a major part of our business. 

From my experience with the franchise brokers/consultants we do business with, they have been deeply knowledgeable, ethical, and enter transactions that are mutually beneficial for all parties.

All and all – I fully endorse this idea!

Feel free to reach out directly on LinkedIn or at with any comments or questions.

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Podcast: PD CEO Talks Current State of Franchising

Regardless of times, the franchising sales pipeline remains top of mind for franchisors.

While some are seeing more action than others, keeping it growing remains a consistent priority.

Recently, Alex Oswiecinski, Prospect Direct founder and CEO, sits down with MODRN BUSINESS – a podcast that explores business tech and lessons from leaders in franchising – on how to keep those quality sales prospects flowing.

Joined by host Ryan Hicks, CFE, Alex and he discuss the current state of the franchising union all while digging into the hard data of what Oswiecinski sees brands doing across the board.

Make sure to tune in and listen today:

Going Onward and Upward: Handling Franchise Prospects During Uncertain Times

How to keep your franchise prospect pipeline running in unpredictable times

In times of uncertainty, as we are currently experiencing, it’s important, if not more so, to keep your franchise prospect pipeline active to capture the segment of franchise candidates that will rapidly grow:  those now looking for work.

Right now, this segment is looking to regain control of their life, find stability, or make a career transition – and a franchise offering couldn’t be a better fit.  The initial outreach, of course, might be more of a hesitation than a raising of the hand – but the reality is, if they are responding, they want to talk to you! 

There are many ways to tackle those on the fence, but with a little help from our partner Mick Riddiough over at 1-800-JUNKPRO, we have compiled a few tips and tricks on how to move these prospects in the positive direction despite outside factors.

Educate in place

Now probably couldn’t be a better time for franchise prospects to learn all about you and your brand.   Both parties are more than likely bound to their residences right now and can give one another a greater focus than in normal periods of their lives.  The qualifying process is all done over the phone and via email, so social distancing remains in place, and completing this process is at no cost to the prospect.

Time is your friend

The qualifying process for a potential franchise prospect takes time.  Most organizations require a 4-8-week qualification process, so by conducting this process now, in 1-2 months, both the inquirer and you will know if this is a strong match or not. By the time the qualification process is complete, there is a strong possibility you have reached greater clarity in the current circumstance – whether it be over, or it has decreased in severity.

First come, first served

Those who decide to not complete the qualifying process will be onto evaluating their next business option and those who qualify to accept an invitation can move forward.  Either way, the prospect is not “sitting around” waiting to get started.  And, most importantly, those who are accepted can get a head start over those who wait, including getting first pick on their territory of preference.

There is no question that we are in the midst of unprecedented times.  Hopefully these tips can offer you a little direction on how to keep the franchise prospect pipeline moving, and as Mick says, “continue onward and upward.” 

3 Ways to Strengthen Your Franchise Lead Gen

Franchise lead development can be fruitful if done right.  The reality is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this practice, but it can always be bolstered if approached correctly.  There are several avenues franchisors can take to get there – but the best bet is to figure out what works best for the specific franchise.

Every strategy doesn’t work for every system – so it is important to identify the concept needs foremost.  Looking to create more volume?  Want lead quality over quantity?  Knowing what the end game is before beginning can help you determine the best route to get there.

Get in front of the right audience

The road to any successful franchise lead generation strategy first and foremost begins with finding that target audience.  Lots of money and time can be spent on advertising in a variety of different ways – but it won’t mean much if the recipients have no interest nor the capital to even engage in the ask.

Creating a franchise buyer persona is a great way to establish who you need to target.  By defining exactly what types of franchisees are successful for your concept, you can build the right approach down to the when, where and how to reach qualified candidates.

Create copy that converts

Once you know who to go after, you need a way to reel them in.  Research suggests franchise buyers invest in concepts based on these key elements:  good track record; product adaptability/flexibility; affordable entry costs and fees; and brand image.   These are the items you need to tell your story and engage the imagination of a potential franchisee.

Your content should be equal parts research, strategy, and storytelling.  The content must be tailored to the audience in which you are trying to reach while being both specific and relatable.  People want to attach themselves to a brand they believe in – so let your content do the talking.

Broaden lead sources

In the franchise lead gen world, you never want to put all your eggs into one basket.  It is very uncommon to find a franchise that finds success off just one medium. Sticking with one source can eventually lead to the well running dry, so it is imperative you find a variety of lead gen sources to work for you. Customers today are constantly evolving, and you need to make sure you are evolving along with them.

Overall, the key to effective franchise lead development requires an investment.  Having a nice mix of both time and resources allocated to this portion of your business will lead to a more diverse strategy, ultimately leading to more success.

3 Foundations To Make Your Sales Boom

Reminisce back to a time when we sat with a phone list making cold calls hoping that one in a hundred would land a new customer. It was a numbers game, and what you needed was time and patience…lots and lots of it. It doesn’t have to be that way anymore, and frankly it shouldn’t be. There are many tools to help you build your business and be more productive, perhaps so many that you don’t know where to start. Let’s talk about three simple concepts that can easily be implemented to improve any sales program.

Network to hone in on your target market

Someone out there is looking to reach the same target audience that you are. They may not be selling the same product, but they are searching for the same buyers. Depending on the nature of your businesses, cooperation can be a huge asset.
Find out what they’re doing to reach these customers. How are they getting and holding buyer’s attention and driving interest? What challenges are they facing in these conversations? What sort of unconventional techniques are they using, and what feedback are they receiving that might surprise you?
The other option is to look at your network for someone who is selling a product or service that is complimentary to yours. Is there a cross-selling opportunity? Could you possibly setup a mutually beneficial referral agreement, so that they are incentivized to keep your product top of mind when talking to customers.


Know your client’s needs inside and out

Information is right at your fingertips these days, so you should have no trouble learning about your potential client. Delve in deep! Find out everything you can about the company and their journey. Look to see if there are any challenges they might be trying to overcome for which you could provide a solution.
If you can show them exactly how your product can help them solve a current problem, you are much closer to getting a deal. How is their world changing, and how does your product or service fall in line with new needs? Having the right timing with a relevant solution will ensure you and your message receive full consideration from your target customers.


Put technology to work for you

We all know that face to face conversations are the best way to create trusting relationships that lead to sales. With more clients being across the world or working from home, getting that face time isn’t always possible.

The best place to start leveraging technology is with video conferencing and tools like Skype. These are a great ways to bridge the gap between visits, or put a face with a name immediately after a valuable new prospect shows interest.

Touching base via phone, video, or in person is great, but at the same time you don’t want to be that needy salesperson begging for meetings, especially with busy high caliber B2B executives. There are other subtler methods using technology that can be leveraged to remind them to keep you at the top of their list.

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media channels can help your brand stay top of mind with prospects and customers.  By running ads where your customers are online, you can create a halo effect of awareness even when not directly communicating with them. The first place you might think to find business professionals is LinkedIn, but keep in mind that Facebook is by far the biggest platform with most active users.

Think digital advertising just for awareness is too expensive? While Google Adwords has received a lot of corporate budget dollars of late, Facebook ads remain relatively inexpensive and untapped in the B2B world relative to the size of the audience and active daily use. A great way to most efficiently use an ad budget is by creating a Custom Audience of existing customers, or prospects that share the same traits as your best customers. There are even tools like this Custom Audience Builder that can help you pinpoint your exact buyers to show ads to.

Leveraging available resources efficiently will push you ahead and allow you to compete in a world overflowing with noise and information. Use these three areas as a jumping-off point, the key is taking the first step and getting started to try and see what works. Use your imagination and let your network and technology do the heavy lifting for you!

7 Ways to Turn Email Prospects Into Sales

Great sales and marketing require a balance of art and science, which is why experimentation is encouraged – especially when it comes to email marketing.

So where should you focus your creative efforts? Where should you apply rules and processes? Here are some tips from experience and best industry practices to make it a bit less daunting.

  1. Subject Lines – keep them short … and test.

Even if you have the best body content in your email, to be successful, your email must be opened. Your subject line needs to be strategically crafted (about three to nine words long), with planned A/B testing and possible follow-up messaging to those that open but don’t reply. While you can’t put your entire pitch in the subject line, you should make it personal … and it should highlight what you can do for them.

  1. Email Body – brief, direct, personalized CTA.

If you want to stand out, customize and personalize. You’ve put the time and effort into finding the perfect leads – now focus on a message that will intrigue them and address their needs. At this early introductory stage, be brief … direct … and don’t be selling. Your goal is to pique their interest and, if possible, foster familiarity through some common ground.  Individualize each email so that the recipient views it as a natural message that they would get from a helpful colleague or peer in the industry. Go further than just changing the name on a stock email. Dig deep using the prospect data fields that are available to personalize. Finish with a low-pressure CTA to schedule a call or demo and be sure to include your full signature.

  1. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Thanks to the omnipresence of information online, replicating an existing successful franchise model under a different brand name is simple – and getting increasingly hard to protect against. Before, a franchisor could preserve its brand identity because it was harder for others to learn about its operations, locations, marketing tactics, and business strategy. Today, entrepreneurs halfway around the world have everything at their virtual fingertips to research and create a similar enterprise at home.

  1. No HTML

This may be a controversial one for some marketing pros and agencies, but from our experience, images, graphics, etc. do not increase open or reply rates in most B2B scenarios. There are, of course, examples of these styled campaigns that perform well for certain brands and target audiences. In general, however, natural-style emails receive more opens and replies than any other style when executed well.

  1. Copy Proofing

You’ve already invested time in framing your approach and gathering a target audience, so don’t skip this critical editing step. It should be an automated part of your content creation process, using experienced copy professionals to correct spelling, grammatical, and word choice errors.

These simple mistakes will damage authority and credibility with your prospects, making it more likely for them to delete your message – especially since you haven’t established a relationship with them yet.

  1. Timely Replies

You’ve done the work, now comes the reward: warm prospects. Don’t wait for them to shop, but at the same time, don’t be creepy. Same-day replies or call follow-ups are expected. Email auto replies acknowledging inquiry receipts are acceptable but should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Most importantly, have a plan in place and a proven process for handling incoming interest. Seamless follow-up, education, and on-boarding will ensure that you optimize the ROI on your investment.

  1. Tracking and CRM

Soon, new leads will blend with existing ones … and you’ll want to make sure nobody gets left in limbo. For this, there are easy-to-use reports that will tie campaign results for opens, replies, and other metrics and are packaged in a transferrable file. These friendly formats are flexible to upload to all major CRM systems and integrate into pipeline tracking, funnel progression, and closing metrics to tie campaigns to results.

The bottom line?  Keep it professional with a balance of useful personalization. Stick to these time-honored tips and you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to maximizing your sales and marketing arsenal.

Buying B2B Data: What You Need to Know

If you’re looking for a reliable way to get ahead in lead generating and prospecting, buying B2B data could be a viable avenue to explore. Although some have philosophical reservations about buying contact lists, it is a proven strategy that can be an integral part of your lead generation playbook.

The important part is how you use the data and apply it to an overall marketing strategy. Here are some key points to help you determine how much of a role purchased data should play for you, what to look out for with vendors, and how to best apply the data you purchase.

What draws us to lists – and what can go wrong

Companies and entrepreneurs have been drawn to buying B2B lists since databases began. Who wouldn’t be interested in a tool that can save you from going after unqualified and uninterested contacts and organizations? Buying the right data to enrich your marketing and sales intelligence just makes sense when it is done properly.

Negative issues and perceptions generally stem from one of three areas:

  1. Accuracy of raw data
  2. Recency of last record update
  3. Application of that data in external marketing

As with everything, knowledge is power.  Here are some proven strategies for both avoiding potential pitfalls and maximizing your B2B data.


Know your niche and the right type of data provider for you

Start with YOUR market – not someone else’s. Looking at pre-built lists to guide your data purchase decision is a recipe for waste, stale data, and disappointing results.  If you haven’t shopped around to find services that can offer you a consultation and collaboration to create a totally customized dataset, you may not have looked hard enough.

There are also services that offer wide-open access to their complete database, with filters that give you control of how to slice the data. These are typically subscription services that require an annual contract. Be aware of the limitations of these preset filters for your specific niche, overall completeness of the database, and make sure to verify for yourself how often the data is validated.

Getting a sample of actual data that meets your criteria is essential in the evaluation process. No amount of bells and whistles can make up for questionable accuracy at the raw data level. Also, be sure to consider the quantity and frequency of data needed to keep your pipeline full. This will help determine which data solution will be the most cost-effective for your needs.


You might think you know your niche, but you can probably do better

Ask any established company who their target customer is, and they’ll most likely refer you to their website’s Customers page or a brand positioning slide on a pitch deck. In reality, this top-line answer is usually not close to defining core customer attributes, which is critical in creating the perfect list that is neither too wide, nor too narrow.

This is where the expertise of a quality B2B data provider comes into play. The art is connecting and translating industry jargon and broad terms into crisp keywords and phrases. Fields like title, company, sector, and others can be divided in nearly infinite ways with a little imagination and the experience from having done it successfully, over and over again.


Picking the right supplier and buying the perfect list

Here are some questions to think about or research as you navigate this valuable process:

About the vendor and their data:

  • Where is the data being sourced?
  • Does the vendor appear credible online?
  • Does their website look like they’ve invested time and money into it?
  • What do customer reviews and testimonials say?
  • Does the vendor offer free data or trial access?
  • Do they offer a quality guarantee?
  • What is the minimum purchase size?
  • Will you have a consistent, assigned representative to communicate with before and after the purchase?
  • If the service is completely automated (no live representative), what is the process for getting a refund if the data doesn’t meet expectations?

About you:

  • What key fields will you be using most – and are they complete and accurate?
  • What is the main way you’ll utilize the data?
  • What about data you already have that may overlap? Can the vendor remove duplicates against their database before you purchase?
  • How will you measure the ROI of your data purchase?
  • How will you integrate the data into your existing systems?
  • Who will be assigned to follow up on the increased inflow of leads? Should they be tied into the purchasing decision?

The more prepared you can be coming into the vendor selection process, the more confident you can be in the expected results and in identifying red flags that might get in the way of achieving desired ROI.


Multi-channel data usage to maximize ROI

Although it’s important to focus on the primary way you’ll utilize the data when determining what to buy and from whom, considering multiple usages for the same dataset can result in geometrically higher results.

In the past, data would have come from lead sources that involved in-person, direct mail, phone or mass media advertising.  With the advent of digital marketing, the dynamic of lead generation had changed – and will continue to change at a rapid pace. This means staying ahead of where your customers are looking and capitalizing on the best way to reach them where they are to create awareness and action.

To most efficiently use B2B contact and company data, perhaps the biggest weapon is segmentation. Whether dividing your own internal organic list or supplementing from an external source, having an end product that allows for message personalization is essential.  The data can then be applied in the following channels effectively to provide best-in-class multiples on investment:

  • Segmented email marketing campaigns and sequences using the data to personalize
  • Custom audience creation on social media, such as Facebook
  • CRM data appending to make sales reps more productive
  • Target audience building for keyword and phase-based searching, such as Google Adwords
  • Better placement of banner ads and other marketing posts online
  • Adding a second or third method to reach key customers
  • Intelligence to get straight to the decision maker

We hope you can apply some of the ideas in this B2B data list buying guide to your vendor evaluation and selection process to make data a more critical part of your B2B sales and marketing strategy. Ultimately, the right vendor and data should not only help you acquire new customers but should also give you back time to focus on revenue-generating activities like innovation and building existing relationships.