5 must-have tips for a successful franchise strategy

Franchises have become the go-to model for entrepreneurs who want to find stability when running their own business, and avoid unpredictable risks that usually come with opening an entirely new business.

Franchised businesses carry lower risk rates and have a higher probability of success due to brand "support". This, however, does not solve all the problems associated with growth and development.
By now there are over 750,000 franchises in the US. And the number continues to increase rapidly.

So, in this article, we will outline the most important steps of local optimization that will help franchise companies strengthen their market position and get ahead, attract local customers and gain a reputation as a client-oriented company.

#1 - Local pages for each franchise company.
Integrate with online maps and other online directories
In order to promote your goods and services in the local market effectively and to be "visible" to potential customers, first of all, you have to know how you're currently performing online.

Check if there are any mistakes or missing information, or locations that are not listed at all or are duplicated.

Identify whether your listings are ranked high on generic local searches (for example, "clothing store nearby" or "best pizza nearby").
If a company has tens or hundreds of branches (retail, HoReCa representatives, etc.) it is extremely difficult and time-consuming to go through each source manually looking for data discrepancies. RocketData offers free brand audits to help businesses get a better understanding of how their locations are performing online.

A brand audit will help assess the online visibility of your franchise company so that you can make improvements.

Claim your business listings by submitting the maximum amount of the company's information to relevant sites (search engines, maps, online directories, etc.).
#2 - Optimize your listings - generate more in-store traffic "from online"
What does it mean?

This is not only about the creation and monitoring of listings' inaccuracies, but rather this implies a series of actions that can put your company in the best possible position for consumers who want to find and choose your brand.

This guidance will help you to not miss something important:

  • information about your franchise company (contact details, working hours, etc.) should be submitted to different sites working with local search. Local links (citation signals) are perceived by the search engine positively;

  • all the listings should be detailed and accurate with no mistakes;

  • special attention should be paid to Google My Business: all the business information should be maximized accurately in GMB listing as this is the shortest and most effective way to create visibility in Google's local search and to drive traffic to your locations;

  • optimize your listings: select the correct business category (main and additional), add photos, additional attributes, answers on FAQ.

  • work with content (e.g., provide the latest news in Google Posts).

  • work with reviews: by stimulating customers to write comments, you are optimizing your reviews both for Google and for potential clients that are reading them.

If the submission and optimization are carried out correctly, an effective local SEO strategy can influence the ranking (increase the company's position in the local search) and generate in-store traffic "from online".
#3 - Make yourself known on social networks
Until recently, most franchisors didn't maintain separate corporate ("main") and local pages on social media. There was a single brand account, thus, social posts and activities were typically generated from this page. However, all that has started to change — today more and more franchises are creating local pages.

Today, an effective online presence implies the existence of separate pages for each branch/franchise company even if there are hundreds.
If they are created and claimed properly, and contain complete and up-to-date information, they are of great importance to the brand. ~85% of all consumer impressions happen on pages that represent individual/local stores, showrooms and restaurants. And just 15% of impressions happen on brand or corporate pages. In other words, users show a preference for locally relevant pages vs. national or corporate pages in social networks.

So, the fact that local pages are experiencing more engagement than corporate brand pages proves that local content will help you to grow your business, and thus make it more profitable.

In addition to controlling your business "visibility", Facebook pages have great SEO potential. For instance, creating a Facebook page can help you reach a higher ranking quicker even than your website will.
Keep these points in mind:

  • identify which social networks contain your target audience;

  • create local pages for every location, adding contact and other information;

  • "localize" your content: post news, information about discounts, promotions and events that are relevant exactly to your franchise company;

  • provide prompt feedback: answer users' questions and requests;

  • conduct marketing activities (contests, polls);

  • stimulate users to write comments; by doing this you are optimizing your reviews for potential clients that are reading them.
If you don't have a Facebook/Instagram business page, anyone who wants to check-in inside your company can do so by specifying a place. So, the location can be named inaccurately or contain false information. And if it wasn't you who created the page you would not have access to control the information thereon.
#4 - Monitor reviews and promote brand reputation

Monitoring reviews about your franchise company is one of the best ways to protect your brand's reputation.

Every day you can receive hundreds of reviews across dozens of sites. If you don't track them and don't respond to them, negativity could hurt your reputation. And ultimately it provides customers with an insight into how reliable a business is.

Also if there are a lot of unanswered questions and negative reviews without feedback, the business loses potential clients - in other words, profit.

Furthermore, online review "signals" is the third most important local ranking factor. Working with reviews allows a company to get to the Local Pack to gain foot traffic.

Our recommendations:

  • work with reviews on all relevant sites (not only Google My Business);
  • stimulate customers to write reviews, answer their questions and demonstrate an interest in solving conflicts and misunderstandings. Failure to do so is a significant missed revenue opportunity;
  • delve into every review - they may contain valuable consumer insights and help eliminate problems associated with the quality of goods and services with minimal cost.
  • create response templates: this is one of the easiest ways to protect brand consistency when responding to reviews across all franchise locations.

So, by promoting brand reputation you can obtain:

  1. profit, causing customers to turn to competitors;

  2. leads, because reviews account for 15% of how Google ranks a business;

  3. an opportunity to influence the star rating (by responding to reviews, you build up a dialogue with a customer — this encourages them to leave comments, rate a business, etc.).
#5 - Analyze your progress, focus on KPI
One of the most common mistakes franchisees make in the chase for success is neglecting to monitor their efforts related to local optimization and reputation management and to make adjustments if necessary. Most owners of franchises tend to simply apply all the marketing practices suggested by the corporate office, and wait for the results.

For example, to realize whether there is a positive result (and profit) in working with locations, use analytics and key metrics from your Google My Business account.

It's very often the case that franchise owners tend to focus on other components of their SEO plans, which leads to sticking to outdated practices and missing out on possible trends for each specific location when they could be improving their local SEO and reputation based on simple steps.

To succeed and utilize the potential of each franchise, you should focus on KPI, implement tracking and analytics tools that can single out issues with every listing and local page (on the maps, social networks and other relevant sources). This measures can give insights into how working with franchise locations and reputation affects the company's ranking in local search, a user's engagement, in-store traffic, loyalty and profit growth.
Be sure to optimize the entire franchise location, even if there are hundreds of them. Submit information to the maps, social networks and other sources. Promote brand reputation by working with reviews and track your performance over time.

If your franchise's aim is to have more sales prospects at an early date, more visibility online and more in-store traffic, take into account the tips above and entrust professional software to improve and reach these possibilities.
Get a free report on the online-presence of your locations.

Find out where you don't have listings, where the data is incomplete or mistaken