It seems that a day doesn’t go by in the franchising world without franchisors complaining about leads. It seems that as long as franchisors have been purchasing contact inquiries to help them boost their development pipeline, there have been complaints about “lead quality.”
However, one of the less spoken about aspects of the development process is what happen after the leads are purchased by the franchisor. Given that every franchise has a slightly different process (with some more successful than others), it’s difficult to get an understanding of what lead follow-up processes look like across the franchise landscape…until now.
Starting in June 2016, we partnered with our sister company FranchiseHelp to record data about how different franchises followed up with the leads.
Every day for 3 weeks, we went to FranchiseHelp and submitted a lead under the pseudonym Liam McAlister. We bought a phone number and opened an email account to simulate the various ways that franchises could get in touch with the leads. (It should be noted that we didn’t charge our clients for these leads.)
After submitting the leads, we would wait and track a few different metrics:
We didn’t respond to any communication because we didn’t want franchisors to prioritize our leads any more than they would any other lead coming into their system. This way, we keep the analysis as free from bias as possible.
When the test was completed, we had submitted leads to 71 unique franchises.
The research about what makes an effective lead follow-up process is robust.
While the complexity of the findings is high, there are three recommendations that are present in nearly every single study you’ll read:
1. You need to follow-up with lead as quickly as possible
2. You should vary the types of communication you use
3. You should be persistent in trying to get a hold of the lead
FranchiseHelp wrote about these topics at length both here and here. Ultimately, one study described the ideal follow-up process like this:
As you can see, that’s 3 calls and an email within the first two hours (including one literally immediately.) After that, there are four more emails and three more phone calls over the next 22 days.
And the study above doesn’t even include the concept of text messaging, another topic FranchiseHelp has covered the effectiveness of here and here.
But we’re not unrealistic, we know we can’t expect every franchise to have the “perfect” follow-up process. Lead follow-up takes a lot of resources (human, capital, and technical.) Franchise development leaders don’t have an unlimited budget to focus on this process.
So before we began the tests, we forced ourselves to write down what we thought the average follow-up process would look like. We guessed that:
In short, we were shocked. Our expectations weren’t even close to what is going on in reality. It was way worse.
As mentioned before, we tested 71 unique franchises. If you were to look at the 24 hours after our leads were submitted, you’d see:
On a more positive note, we did receive emails from 64 franchises within the first 24 hours.
Here’s a fuller look at the data –
Franchisors’ lead follow-up processes are broken.
Frankly, the deviation from the ideal follow-up process and what we’re seeing out there in reality is devastating. In all likelihood, thousands and thousands of potential franchisees are being turned off from opening their own business simply because franchisors are dropping the ball.
There’s a real opportunity for franchisors to improve their process through the use of technology. While the CRM space is crowded in franchising, it seems that these pieces of software are not enough to actually reach franchisees well.
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