Effective Referral Tactics That'll Attract New Franchisees Franchisors should implement these strategies to close new deals.

By Jeff Cheatham

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Franchise industry professionals simply love the power of data and statistics. They can often make or break a convincing argument about the validity of a particular industry, concept, market or business model ⁠— which is why it's important to focus on franchisee referrals in your system.

Referrals are among the most effective strategies to close a new franchise sale. Referral sources can come from many different sources, including brokers, consultants, existing franchisees and even secondary contacts of owners such as family, friends and business colleagues.

For a look at how to increase new franchisees in your system, focus on these four important referral tactics.

1. Get to know your franchise consultants

A franchise consultant is one of the premier ways for enhancing your franchisee referrals. But before they can help you find new franchisees, they have to be familiar with your concept. This is why a majority of franchise brands have some form of dedicated outreach designed to reach consultants. Whether it's an email drip campaign, trade show schedule or sending out routine brand pitches, don't ignore this valuable source of referrals.

Familiarize yourself with the consultants who operate in the territories you're trying to fill. Make sure the collateral and materials you're sharing clearly demonstrate your brand's value proposition. Convince them to include your concept in their inventory. Some consultants work with dozens of candidates at a time, meaning you should think of them as the ultimate referral gatekeepers.

Related: The 2 Key Sources of Prospective Franchisees You Haven't Considered

2. Email marketing campaigns

Many franchise brands routinely send collateral and materials to consultants and candidates in their own database. But there is an art to it ⁠— and the more effort you put into it, the better the reception rate. Before you begin an email outreach campaign, put yourself on the receiving end of your proposed email. Does it include relevant information about franchise offerings? Is it well-written and interesting? Does the business opportunity stand out among the crowd?

If you wish to be chosen, it requires more effort than sending over boring boilerplate statements. Do your best to wow them with statistics, data and analysis that make a convincing case that your franchise opportunity is worthy of a referral. This strategy extends to the subject line as well. Craft a few clever messages that act as a hook, then see if you can set your line and get a bite from a prospective franchisee.

Related: Emails Are Back...But Where Did They Go?

3. Reward-based outreach

Sometimes, there's just no better place to start than with your existing franchise owners. If your franchise brand has the budget and the means, it can design a reward-based outreach campaign designed to attract new referrals. Incentives can be an attractive way to not only get attention, but also to encourage follow through from a potential franchisee.

What you offer is solely up to you — and it need not break the bank, so to speak. But put some thought into a reward-based outreach program that has something substantial to offer your target market. If your program happens to take off, there are opportunities to turn the initiative into a competition for the most referrals.

4. Assess your effort and course-correct

While referrals are indeed high-value targets for a prospective sale, they can come from a wide variety of sources. But unless you're tracking when and where they've heard about your brand, you could be wasting precious resources in the wrong area.

See if you can't arrange a data collection program for your referral that extracts the precise referral source of your outreach. While it may be a time-consuming process to get this initiative going, analyzing the source of your franchising leads may lead to some surprising conclusions. At a minimum, you'll have a better idea of how a referral is coming in contact with your brand. Once that's understood, you can allocate the proper resources and time on the sources that provide the most referrals — and create a referral program that's worth your time.

Related: A Successful Content-Marketing Strategy Goes Far Beyond Page Views

Jeff Cheatham

Founder and CEO of Creative Content

Jeff Cheatham is the founder and CEO of Creative Content, a full-service copywriting and public relations firm. He's based in Dallas and works with multiple B2B clients and over a dozen franchise brands to develop proprietary content campaigns for lead generation and sales development programs.



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