5 Prospecting Tips to Convert Fast-Casual Franchisees to SQLs
February 27, 2019
Outbound Sales Tips

Prospecting fast-casual restaurant franchisees is especially difficult. They’re different from traditional business owners, and there are complicating factors that make the process different from the prospecting you may have done in the past.

But you don’t want to waste your salespeople’s time with poorly qualified leads. So effective prospecting is crucial.

We learned a few lessons recently while working with clients looking for franchise owner lead data that will help make the process easier (check out this case study too).

Here are five things to keep in mind:

Understand Your Target Market

Starting and running a franchise is different than starting and running a completely independent business. Franchisees work closely with a franchisor, and that’s a different experience from being beholden to no one else at all.

Because many franchisees aren’t serial entrepreneurs, they may not have as much cash on hand as other business owners. They could also be more reticent to take risks. Or they may be obligated to franchisor vendor relationships.

It’s hard to generalize to specific types of business owner, because each individual—and each franchise model—is different. The point is that you need to understand your particular target market.

If you’re reaching out to franchisees for the first time, it’s worth taking time to get to know them before you start selling. What are their priorities? What are their biggest challenges? How much money will they be able to put up to meet those challenges?

Even if you’ve sold to dozens or hundreds of businesses in the past, franchisees are a new market. Spend time chatting with franchise owners, send out a survey, or find another way to get to understand them before you start selling.

That way you can tailor your value proposition to be as effective as possible. For example, you might think that your greatest value proposition is that your service automates restaurant facilities management. But your customers might appreciate most the fact that it helps them manage facilities-related vendor relations.

And your sales team can focus on that value during the sales process.

Have a Framework for Assessing Lead Quality

After learning more about your target market, it’s time to get down to specifics with your customer base. What makes a great franchise lead for your company? What factors go into your decision to pass them onto your sales team?

If it’s hard to identify or articulate the qualities that make a great lead, it’s time to start building a lead-assessment framework.

In many cases, your existing customers (or franchisees) are your greatest asset in developing this framework. Take a look at your best clients—what do they have in common? What are their key demographics? What do they do differently from other clients of yours or prospects that didn’t convert? How many franchises do they own?

Come up with a list of factors for your framework. Once you have a handful, prioritize them. You might find that your most valuable clients have over 50 employees. Or use a particular employee scheduling system. Or have been in business for less than two years.

Make a list with the most important factors at the top, and make sure to ask about those factors during prospecting. If a company doesn’t have any of those factors, your rep’s time might be better spent talking to another prospect.

Target Both Franchisors and Franchisees

If you’re trying to sell to fast-casual franchisees, you need to talk to the franchisees themselves. But you can also improve your prospecting by speaking with franchisors, too.

Why? Because many franchisors maintain close ties with their franchisees and provide support to get their businesses set up and running them profitably - they provide resources and guidelines for everything from which Point of Sale (POS) system to use, which print vendor to order marketing signage from, suggested uniform and promotional product vendors, and everything in between. If they think your product or service will be helpful, they can recommend it to new or existing franchisees.

Convince a franchisor that your company can help their overall business, and it’s like having another prospector on your team.

Of course, you’ll need to tailor your pitch to the franchisor. Some franchise owners might pass along information just because it will be helpful to their franchisees, but others are going to be looking for a benefit to their own business model.

It’s worth taking the time to develop a franchisor-specific value proposition, too. Help them understand why your product will improve their business, and you can turn them into a valuable resource.

Pro tip
: while franchisors care about the successful businesses of their franchisee partners, they are consistently looking at new and innovative ways to attract more franchisee investors to their concept. Don’t forget this in your franchisor pitch and remember to include how your product or service supports this goal.

Use the Right Tactics to Find Lead Contact Information

Maybe the most difficult part of franchisee prospecting is figuring out how to get in touch with leads. In the B2B world, most leads have professional email addresses that are listed on company websites or in lead databases.

But many franchisees aren’t part of an online corporate Team page. You might be looking for personal email addresses to get in touch with them. And that can be a big challenge.

You have a couple options here. First, you can invest the time it takes to conduct the research and find contact information yourself. This is a viable option, but it can be a long process. You might have to call or visit the franchise location, check a state business listing, or call the franchising company that licenses the location.

It’s difficult to know which will work, and you may have to try multiple options before you get up-to-date, accurate information.

Another option is to use a lead database. But few business contact databases contain franchisees. And if they do, it’s difficult knowing whether you’ll get quality leads.

Even if the contact information is up to date and accurate, there’s no telling whether this particular franchisee is a good fit for your business. Which means you’ll have a lot of prospecting to do with little guarantee that you’ll find sales-qualified leads.

Using a database does simplify the process, but it’s hard to know if you’re getting quality leads. That’s a big risk.

There’s one more option, though, and it combines several of the points above:

Take Advantage of Lead Generation Services

Because of the small size of the fast-casual franchisee market, you might spend a lot of time sourcing leads, researching, and crafting your prospecting pitch to make the most of every contact.

You might be surprised at how much more difficult it can be than prospecting non-franchisee leads. The unique issues brought up above, like difficult-to-find contact information, can make for a frustrating process. You’ll need both the manpower and expertise to make it work.

Which is why working with a lead generation provider with franchisee experience is so valuable. They have databases full of high-quality franchisee leads, and they’ll work with your prospecting criteria to find the best sales-qualified leads in the most time.

Before you start prospecting fast-casual restaurant franchisees, understand that you’ll need to do things a little differently.

As long as you know that this is the case and commit to using the right resources for your prospecting, you’ll do just fine.

Leadium has years of experience in sourcing and prospecting franchisee leads. Want to learn more about how we can help you sell to franchisees? Get in touch and we’ll walk you through the Leadium process.

Kevin Warner
Co-Founder & CEO