I spend a lot of time blogging about marketing a from-scratch small business, but less blogging about marketing a franchise. Which is funny, because I used to own one. So let’s look at some marketing tips, as well as lessons I’ve learned from the failure of my ice cream shop.
Lesson 1: The Franchisor Will Not Do All the Marketing
That’s probably the biggest thing I needed to learn. Just because we were a part of the Marble Slab Creamery family didn’t mean they would hold our hands in the marketing. Yes, they sent promotional material, but it was me contacting the local Little League and pitching them on hosting an ice cream social at our store. Or placing ads with coupons in the local paper.
Lesson 2: Stick to Your Interests and Experience
Just because I had eaten ice cream, and in fact had worked for Baskin Robbins at age 16, did not make me an expert. I’m a writer, and I don’t like having to buy bananas last minute to replenish our stock. Or pretend to be cheerful when the mom with 16 kids asks for yet. another. sample.
Lesson 3: Be Well-Funded
You need more than enough to pay that franchise fee up front; you need money in the bank to cover your employees’ salaries. Inventory. Advertising. Unexpected repairs. Whatever you’re thinking your budget is for your franchise, double it.
Lesson 4: Diversify Your Marketing
Social media wasn’t huge when I had my franchise, but it is now, so make sure you’re using it. And press releases are great, too. It’s nice if the franchisor issues a release about you being the latest addition to the franchise, but if they don’t, you can write one yourself.
Lesson 5: Don’t Quit Your Day Job…Yet
If you’re well-funded, you can afford to hire a manager to run your franchise while you continue to have the security of a job with benefits. If you make enough money, sure, quit. But don’t do it until you’ve safely crossed into steady profit.
Running a franchise can be a great opportunity if you like the structure that comes with one. Just make the decision carefully, and if you’re unsure of what to do, hire my friend, Joel Libava, the Franchise King, for advice.