A review of various franchisor websites conducted by the Franchise Advisory Centre in recent months has highlighted five common problems that undermine the credibility of franchise brands and become a turn-off for potential franchisees.
1. Use of online forms without contact details
If an online form is the only way that potential franchisees can contact the franchisor about their franchise offer, it leaves the impression that the franchisor is unwilling to engage with franchisees.
It might also be indicative of the nature and extent of future support after a franchisee has joined the system (i.e. fill in the form and we’ll get back to you if or when it suits us).
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A complete lack of contact details for the franchisor’s head office (phone number, postal and street address) indicates that there may not even be a head office, or that head office just doesn’t want to be bothered with pesky franchisees. Again this is a potential indicator of the quality and extent of the support (or lack thereof) to be provided to franchisees in the future.
The absence of contact details on a franchisor’s website also risks creating the perception of secrecy in its dealings, and that there will be little or no transparency in its recruitment, management and support of its franchisees. This is in stark contrast to my oft-repeated phrase that “transparency builds trust” in franchise relationships.
2. Separation of franchise and consumer offers
Franchise websites that only promote their franchise offer and provide no meaningful information to their customers have their priorities fundamentally wrong.
Every franchisor’s website must communicate with customers first, and potential franchisees second, and not the other way around. Aside from the logic that most franchises will have more customers than it will have franchisees, a website that talks to customers first acknowledges them as the most important audience for that brand’s future success, and uses the site to actively promote its products or services.
Only when the information needs of customers have been comprehensively addressed by the franchisor’s website should any consideration be given to then promoting the franchise offer, which should be done via a separate tab or menu item linking to a separate and specific part of the franchisor’s website.
3. Failure to create a franchise landing page
While potential franchisees are increasingly turning to the internet to research franchises, they still read business and franchising magazines and newspapers, which means that all print advertising should include the franchisor’s website as the next logical point to obtain more information.
However franchisors don’t do themselves any favours by sending potential franchisees to their customer-focused home pages when they could have a dedicated franchise landing page, which for most websites can be easily established.
This means that all franchise information can be accessed from the main page, without confusion between customer and potential franchisee audiences.