Franchise Branding…Much Ado About Next to Nothing

I hear franchisors, with persistent prodding from turf-scrappy marketing folks, extolling the benefits of branding as the primary reason for the success of a franchise system. It’s a MYTH. If you abide by their proposition, you are doomed to failure. Marketers will point to iconic brands like Coca Cola, any number of Procter & Gamble products and McDonald’s as proof positive that branding is paramount. No. What drove these brands were not catchy names, smart logos and graphics, and award-winning imagery, though helpful, of course, it was the bare-knuckled, persistent focus on distribution.

Before a Coke TV commercial made you cry or smile, the Coca Cola Company created a network of aggressive, shrewd, well-connected bottlers to capture retail space and dominate fountain drinks. Procter & Gamble invested more money, time and effort in couponing, sampling and shelving fees than on branding. And McDonald’s aggressively opened stores well ahead of a consistent image in the marketplace. In fact, they’re still opening 800+ units worldwide every year even with a sorry branding program.

For all those companies and brands, the lesson is you grow through distribution. Franchising is distribution at its core. In the best way, too: with someone else’s money. So put branding in its place. Attend to franchising first and always and you will win. Franchise development is the cornerstone of building a successful franchise system.

That’s why I’m crafting a companion booklet to my Tannerisms for franchise prospects titled Tannerisms for Franchisors. It’s franchise coaching for franchisors. Yes, I draw on my 40+ years of experience and insights as a franchisee, franchisor and franchise development manager to give you ideas, concrete examples, and a roadmap for your future. In fact, Tannerisms for Franchisors is going to upend conventional wisdom—absolutely turn what you thought or what some MBA graduate told you was important on its head. Not because I want you to think differently—because I do—but because doing today what you did yesterday will not work tomorrow.

Franchise Development–Get Off Your ASS Selling

I recently participated on a development panel at a well-attended franchise show. The panelists were all bright, young—in my case everyone is young—high-energy development directors, sitting before a roomful of veteran franchise sales directors.

I can tell you I wasn’t surprised by what I heard—it was loud and clear and more of a whine: “We’re spending too much for leads.” “The quality of leads continues to decline.” “I can’t keep my franchise development managers busy.”

I sat and listened. I bit my tongue. And, when I’d absolutely heard more than enough of the same old message, I took to the podium and asked, “How many of you are hearing from your development managers that they’re not getting enough leads? Please raise your hand.”

Well, I didn’t have to count. All hands shot up as if they were reaching for floating $100 bills. There was a lot of head nodding, reluctant smiling and a good amount of mumbled chatter. I couldn’t make it out. I didn’t need to. Everybody was in the same situation with their development managers…Complaining about no leads.

I stood and waited till the room quieted. Then for a few seconds I looked around the room shaking my head. A few of the franchise directors smiled waiting for confirmation, or empathy, or a ready answer. I had one. It’s one of my Tannerisms for Franchisors.

“If your development managers are complaining that they’re not getting enough leads, fire the bastards!”

The room went eerily silent. You could’ve heard ice melt. A few directors looked around. Then the mumbled chatter started again, as did the reluctant smiling and head nodding.

“Your well-paid development managers were hired to develop leads, not as order takers. Leads that come in over the phone or through the web, those are my leads. Get off your ass and go out and get your own leads.”

(Even if your managers are working with franchise brokers, fifty percent of their leads and sales should come from their own development efforts.)

Your develop managers should be attending franchise shows, working with outplacement firms, networking through LinkedIn, conducting webinars, emailing targeted lists, and plain ol’ pressing the flesh.

“Don’t tell me you’re not getting any leads. Tell me what you’re doing to build your pipeline. Now go and get out of here.”

Tannerisms for Franchisors…Coming Soon!

I created Tannerisms for aspiring franchisees. Now I’m crafting a companion booklet titled, Tannerisms for Franchisors. It’s franchise coaching for franchisors. Yes, I draw on my 40+ years of experience and insights as a franchisee, franchisor and franchise development manager to give you ideas, concrete examples, and a roadmap for your future. In fact, Tannerisms for Franchisors is going to upend conventional wisdom—absolutely turn what you thought was important on its head. Not because I want you to think differently—because I do—but because doing today what you did yesterday will not work tomorrow.

Let me give you a short (I could write another book) example: I hear franchisors, with persistent prodding from turf-scrappy marketing folks, extolling the benefits of branding as the primary reason for the success of a franchise system. It’s a MYTH. If you abide by their proposition, you are doomed to failure. Marketers will point to iconic brands like Coca Cola, any number of Procter & Gamble products and McDonald’s as proof positive that branding is paramount. No. What drove these brands were not catchy names, smart logos and graphics, and award-winning imagery, though helpful, of course, it was the bare-knuckled, persistent focus on distribution.

Before a Coke TV commercial made you cry or smile, the Coca Cola Company created a network of aggressive, shrewd, well-connected bottlers to capture retail space and dominate fountain drinks. Procter & Gamble invested more money, time and effort in couponing, sampling and shelving fees than on branding. And McDonald’s aggressively opened stores well ahead of a consistent image in the marketplace. In fact, they’re still opening 800+ units worldwide every year even with a sorry branding program.

For all those companies and brands, the lesson is you grow through distribution. Franchising is distribution at its core. In the best way, too: with someone else’s money. So put branding in its place. Attend to franchising first and always and you will win. Franchise development is the cornerstone of building a successful franchise system.

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