By Paul Pickett, Chief Development Officer, Wild Birds Unlimited
Many of you who know me, know that I am a big fan of Franchise Business Review. The team here at Wild Birds Unlimited has worked with them for nearly 15 years and we’re proud to have been named to their Top Franchises since the inaugural list in 2006.
Beyond the awards and recognition, though, is the multitude of ways FBR helps franchise development teams sell more franchises to the right candidates. Because there are so many options, it can be hard to know where to start. So I thought I’d share some of the ways Wild Birds Unlimited partners with FBR.
Step 1 is to survey your franchisees. If you’ve never surveyed before, Michelle Rowan and her team do a fantastic job of walking you through the process, and when the survey is complete, showing you how to use the data. The data is a goldmine for our leadership and operations teams also, but here I’ll stick to the value we find on the development side.
All the data from your survey is available via FBR’s interactive online reporting tool. They provide us with a link to the tool to give candidates access to the details of our FBR survey. We share this with candidates to accomplish a number of objectives:
1. Transparency. Candidates are often surprised that we will give them access to all of the detailed comments, both good and bad, that our existing franchise store owners made on our last survey. They proactively tell us that this level of transparency makes them even more comfortable with our brand and our franchise development process.
2. Efficiency. While we still require candidates to call and visit existing franchise store owners, giving them access to our full FBR survey allows them to get a much broader understanding of the satisfaction levels in our system. The candidate can sort the data in many different ways to obtain a better view of the levels of satisfaction that owners in similar situations are experiencing.
3. Time Savings for Existing Franchisees. Existing franchisees are already more than busy running their own businesses. While our franchise store owners are very generous with the amount of time they spend communicating with new candidates, giving the candidates access to this information makes them ask fewer, but better, questions and is a huge time saver.
Promoting your FBR Franchisee Satisfaction ratings and rankings in all of your marketing efforts to attract new candidates to investigate your brand is invaluable. We use these tools in press releases, on our franchise development website, in email drip campaigns to both new and old candidates, on Facebook (both paid and organic posts), in our PPC ads and in our print marketing.
We use the FBR pay-per-lead program that lives on their public website to engage with new candidates who have been driven to that site by FBR marketing. We get great leads who are already educated about the WBU brand, system and culture. In fact, we just awarded a franchise agreement to a candidate who had never heard of our brand or been in one of our stores. She and her husband wanted to open a franchise, but did not know which one, but did know they wanted to join a system that had very happy franchisees. They went to FBR’s site, saw our high Franchisee Satisfaction Scores and engaged with us immediately.
We also use a wire-framed link on our Franchise Development site to link back to FBR’s site for candidates who want to see our FBR rankings. The link enables us to capture their information and begin engagement. This too has been a great way to get candidates to fill out the form and get started on their discovery process.
Multiple Store Development
Part of our Multiple-Unit approval process is to go back and review the last three years’ worth of an existing franchise store owner’s FBR scores, if possible, to ensure that they are very satisfied with the current support levels we are offering prior to awarding them an additional franchise. At the bare minimum, it offers us a window into learning what they want and how well we are meeting those expectations to ensure alignment.
Development Specific Survey Question
We review this each and every year to make sure we are keeping high FSI (Franchisee Satisfaction Index) scores for the questions about the franchise development process. We ask the standard FBR question, “The Total Investment into my business, including both time and money, has been consistent with my expectations and any information provided to me by my franchisor,” and the custom question we added, “My franchisor provided a well organized process to help me obtain all of the information I needed to make a confident decision to join their system,” to help us understand if we gave the franchisee what they needed to make an informed decision about joining our brand.
FBR is one of our most valued partners. If you’re looking to get your brand in front of more candidates, get higher quality leads, and speed up your validation process, I highly recommend you engage with the FBR team.