Harnessing the value of your pilot franchise - Part 1

It's always important to 'lead your pack' and it is has never been more important to do this than now. Franchisors are operating within a highly competitive market place with new rival businesses (both franchises and independents) popping up to snatch your market share. So, it is vital to use all the tools you have to effectively market your franchise.

Marketing through franchising is a two-pronged campaign, split between marketing the overall franchisor package and providing a solid national consumer campaign that offers value for your franchisees hard-earned royalties. When both of these approaches are integrated in to a marketing strategy, your business will see improved sales and a stronger recognition of the franchise business as a whole.

Being a franchisor means that you act and operate as a leader. You always need to have the answers; you always need to know the latest statistics and you must always try to be one step ahead of your competitors. An effective way of achieving a good balance between all these various requirements is by harnessing and promoting the strengths of your pilot franchise. For many franchisors, a pilot franchise is simply the area or region where their head office is, whilst also being the area where their head office team provide their own products or services locally. This continual 'hands on' approach to keeping in touch with shop floor activity enables franchisors to interact and relate to their franchisees on many different levels.

There are five main ways to make the most of your pilot franchise:

1. Use your pilot as a marketing tool, for example, gather testimonials from happy customers and create affiliations with other local businesses (that could work well in other areas for your franchisees)
2. Use your pilot to create a good stage for prospective franchisees to view; creating first-hand experience (the best marketing test!)
3. Use your pilot to try out new product developments; to stay ahead of the competition and maintain your leadership title within your own franchise family
4. Use your pilot as a benchmark of quality; set industry standards and stand out from the crowd thus creating a fabulous sustainable competitive advantage
5. The 'do as we do' example; show that you can really walk your own talk.

You can use these techniques to build further value into your franchise package. As well as battling through the thousands of advertising messages that prospective franchisees are exposed to every day, you can help them to understand the theory behind your business through exposing them to it on a first-hand basis. This gives prospective franchisees a real feel for how it might be if they bought into your concept and became one of your franchisees. Surely a priceless, marketing sensory experience that many companies just can’t achieve or compete with.