During the retail and restaurant attraction process, city government leaders often face the challenge of recruiting franchisees. The reason is simple: many retail and restaurant projects require a franchisee before developing the site.
If you need to recruit a franchisee for a pending development project, consider these five tips.
1. Know What You Have to Offer
No attraction efforts should be made until an inventory of available opportunity sites (both existing retail premises and vacant land) has been made. Understand that some franchisees will want to own the property rather than lease. Prepare focused marketing packages that:
- Include both the zoning for the sites and utility availability
- Showcase the site opportunities with photos or renderings of plans/progress as applicable
2. Always Promote Your Marketing Packages
Your branded marketing material should be included in every business visitation, site proposal, trade show packet, and online. Make sure your website has all of the most up-to-date information (including Buxton’s analytics) so that a franchisee can perform due diligence on their own.
- Use testimonials in the form of quotes or videos on your website
- Outline your incentive policy clearly (if you choose to use incentives)
- Ensure that these brochures are in electronic format to quickly email to prospects
Display brochures in your city hall. You should also provide council members and key staff (economic development, community development, planning and engineering) with this marketing material and make sure they understand it.
3. Go to Networking Events
There are many regional and national events that offer the opportunity to meet current and potential franchisees. Consider becoming a member of the many franchise organizations; subscribe to their newsletters and online updates. Also consider attending trade shows or regional franchise events. These are great opportunities to meet franchisees; consider sponsoring any of these events:
- The Great American Franchise Expo
- Multi-unit Franchising Conference
- International Franchise Association
- International Conference of Shopping Centers
Alternatively, host your own Franchise Fair or Business After Hours event. This can be a small and intimate gathering, or you can plan a large-scale event by partnering with community stakeholders such as chambers of commerce, developers and financial institutions. If you work with partners, make sure the work is delegated and that everyone knows their role to ensure a successful event.
4. Engage With Existing Franchisees in Your Community and Region
Develop a targeted list of those businesses within your community and those in proximity…and then work that list. Sources could include your community’s business license and permit data as well as contacts from the real estate community. Proactively seek local referrals from your chamber of commerce. Visit the existing franchisees as part of a retention program to learn. Build relationships with those existing franchisees, ask for testimonials, seek referrals and make sure they are aware of additional franchise opportunities in your market.
5. Consider Incentives
Consider incentives customized specifically for franchisees that are designed to promote your community as an ideal market for franchise opportunities. Here are three best practices:
- Know which prospective retail and restaurant concepts use a franchise business model
- Create a formal incentive plan – allow the incentive to be used for training, travel, inventory, etc.
- Offer LSMx licenses from Buxton as a marketing tool to any current or potential franchisee in your community
Recruiting franchisees is an important step in bringing new retailers and restaurants to your community. While the process may be challenging, it is not impossible. By organizing your resources and proactively reaching out to prospective franchisees, you can reach your development goals.
Want to learn more about recruiting franchisees as part of the retail development process? Watch our on-demand webinar to hear a former California city leader talk about her experience and these five tips in more detail.