Optimize Your Management of Franchise Portals

The Web Reigns Supreme for Franchise Sales

The Internet remains the king of franchise sales. According to the 2015 Annual Franchise Development Report, which analyzed 139 franchisors and a little over 36,000 units, the Internet is the leading source of franchise sales for the second year in a row.  The report showed that 42 percent of all franchise sales come from online sources. All hail the king!

The ways in which franchise leads are generated through the Internet shifted between 2013 and 2014:

graphic that shows how more franchise leads are coming from the internet

When a franchise executive reads this data, they may very well assume that it makes sense to spend more advertising dollars on franchise-related portal websites. Upon further investigation, however, one may find that the leads provided by these portals are not as cost-effective as you think.

Why? Because certain portals set themselves up to capture your online leads before they arrive at your franchise development/recruitment website.

How? By running pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google and Bing’s search engines that show up at the top of clients’ branded search queries (also known as keywords).

For example, let’s say that someone is keen on purchasing an Elements Massage franchise, and would like to contact them about setting up a time to chat. To find the proper contact information, they go to a search engine and search for the phrase “Elements Massage franchise.” Here’s what they’re likely to see in the search results:

graphic showing screenshot of an franchise portals ads on branded searches
screenshot of franchise portal ad examples on branded keyword

These ads push the organic search result for Elements’ franchise development website, likely the best answer for a search related to Elements Massage’s franchise opportunity, further down the search results. This gives the portals, and not the franchise recruitment site, first dibs on this lead. These portals’ ads are highly relevant to what the user needs. In this case, the contact information of someone who can explain Elements’ franchise opportunity in more depth. This gives the ads more legitimacy in the eyes of the searcher and a greater chance of being clicked on first.

Takeaway: you might be paying portals for franchise leads that you would have received for free organically if the portals weren’t buying ad space above your franchise recruitment site on your brand related search queries (keywords).

Mobile = More Challenging

This strategy is even more effective for searches performed on mobile devices, where people must scroll further down the page to see the organic search results.

graphic showing screenshot of franchise ad portal on mobile device

Mobile devices are used extensively in the franchise lead generation process. The percentage of prospects making contact using their mobile devices nearly doubled between August 2013 and August 2014 (going from 23 percent to 42 percent).  What’s the takeaway? It’s easy for portals to obtain and take credit for franchise leads and franchise sales that would likely have come straight to the franchisor’s recruitment site for free in the first place.

What Your Franchise Can Do

Here are a few things your franchise can do to make sure you optimize your management of portals:

1. Make sure that the portals you work with are not spending as much of your budget buying ad-space on branded keywords. For example, if I’m recruiting new franchisees for my make-believe Italian restaurant/bar franchise “Bocce & Beer,” I wouldn’t want portals buying ad space on brand-related keywords that I know my franchise recruitment site, boccebeerfranchise.co, will likely rank number one for organically by default. Examples of these keywords include the following:

  • “Bocce & Beer franchise”
  • “Bocce & Beer franchise opportunity”
  • “Bocce & Beer franchise cost”
  • “Buy a Bocce & Beer franchise”

Instead, consider purchasing ad space on non-branded keywords that you think your target audience may use when searching for their dream franchise opportunity. In our make-believe case,  my keywords selections might initially include the following:

  • “Bocce business concepts”
  • “Franchises for young entrepreneurs”
  • “Unique bar franchise concepts”
  • “restaurant with lawn games franchise”
  • “Outdoor bar franchises”

2. Ask your portals to show you more information about the origins of their leads. Figure out if their leads come from an ad that they ran on one of your branded keywords. Google and Bing both have outstanding tracking capabilities, so it should be very easy for a business to show you the results of PPC campaigns performed on these search engines.

3. Buy the ad space yourself!! Purchase space on your branded keywords to effectively reduce the number of portals that show up at the top of the search results. Plus, because your franchise recruitment site is the best answer to users’ search queries, the quality score of your ad will be higher, and search engines will be willing to position your ad at the top of the results for a cheaper price than everyone else.

Conclusion

Online portals can be an excellent source of new, quality leads for your franchise if they are properly managed. Improper management can transform these portals into under-producing investments that take credit for quality leads that your franchise earned on its own accord.