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Building a Scalable Process for Converting Franchise Leads

How to convert leads into franchise sales

Contender eSports founder Brett Payne shares tips for converting leads into franchise sales.

For Brett Payne, selling franchises has always been about following a process that works.

“When I got into franchising, the first concept that we had, (my boss) said, ‘I really want you to franchise this concept, but I don't have a team. Can you do this all by yourself?’ And I had no idea what I was doing, but of course I said yes,” Payne recalls of his time working as the Director of U.S. and International Franchise Operations at Classic Rock Coffee.

Ultimately, Payne managed to sell rights to the brand to an entrepreneur in Islamabad, Pakistan. The international sale strengthened Payne’s confidence in franchising, prompting him to create more franchise systems while handling every detail of the sales process on his own – including Contender eSports, a franchise system of retail gaming centers he founded in 2018 after noticing a space in the market for gaming concepts.

Since then, Payne has established a replicable process for converting leads into franchise sales, successfully growing the system across 15 U.S. states, with new gaming centers in Canada and Saudi Arabia opening soon. Read on to learn how Payne and his team made it happen – and how you can, too.

Here are steps to building a scalable process for converting franchise leads:

  • Maintain control over your sales process
  • Know who you're trying to reach
  • Build a marketing strategy around your target demographic
  • Qualify your leads
  • Focus on building relationships and trust

1. Maintain control over your sales process

Staying in control of the franchise sales process is critical for successfully scaling a franchise system. By understanding the ins and outs of the entire franchise brand as a franchisor, you can ensure you’re reaching the right prospective buyers and representing your brand’s value in the clearest way possible.

“I think the trick, obviously, is not losing control of the process anywhere,” Payne says, noting that maintaining a bird’s eye view of your brand can help streamline the process of working with franchise brokers and attracting the right candidates to the system.

To maintain control over your franchise sales process, consider the following tips:

  • Attract the right attention. When it comes to marketing, not everyone speaks the same language. When you’re working with brokers, provide the information they need or ask for to reach qualified buyers on a professional level.
  • Define your ideal franchisee. To reach prospective buyers that will be a good fit for your franchise system, define your target demographic. Take time to figure out what your ideal franchisee looks like, and then tailor your recruiting efforts to reach them.
  • Build trust. Establishing relationships with franchise brokers and candidates requires time, effort and patience. Always be transparent about the brand and who you are as a franchisor.
  • Find a process that works for you. By establishing a structured process for attracting qualified leads and closing franchise sales, you can ensure a smooth conversion process from start to finish.
  • Use technology to streamline information. Although the franchise sales process itself requires human-to-human interaction and relationship building, sales software can often be used to simplify the process of gathering leads from multiple sources, accepting payments and keeping mandatory documentation in one place.

By taking the time to stay in control of your franchise sales process and building trust with candidates and brokers, you can increase the odds of converting franchise leads into franchise sales – and reduce the chaos that can come with a more scattered, less professional approach.

2. Know who you're trying to reach

Understanding who you’re trying to reach as a franchisor is a key factor in making sure you’re recruiting the right franchisee candidates to your system.

“(Question) Number one is, who am I trying to reach? That depends on your brand – it depends on who you're trying to appeal to,” Payne says.

To make sure you’re reaching the right prospective buyers, consider asking the following questions as you’re developing your franchise sales process:

  • What values, skills and qualities does an entrepreneur need to align with my franchise brand?
  • What does my ideal franchisee’s current career and financial situation look like?
  • Where can I find candidates that meet my target demographic (both online and in the real world)?
  • What kinds of messages would appeal most to my target audience?

By defining your ideal franchisee, you can ensure that you’re focusing your marketing efforts on the right people – and attracting candidates whose goals, values and qualifications are aligned with your brand.

3. Build a marketing strategy around your target demographic

Once you’ve defined your target franchisee candidate, make sure to develop a marketing plan that will attract them. In particular, choosing the right platforms to reach them effectively is important.

“You have to build your lead mechanisms around (where your target audience is). Sometimes it's LinkedIn, sometimes it's Instagram, sometimes it's TikTok. Sometimes. Not every brand is on those … if their customers aren't on those platforms,” Payne says.

Instead, Payne says franchisors should tailor their digital marketing strategies around their target audiences on whatever platforms those customers use most. Franchisors should also spend plenty of time learning about marketing techniques – something many take for granted or treat as an afterthought when it comes to franchise sales.

“Franchising and marketing (are) completely separate things. The tendency is always, ‘Well, I'll just go hire a marketing company.’ But the problem is that a marketing company doesn't know the DNA of your brand, and it's really hard for them to understand the nuances of that,” Payne says.

Because of that, Payne encourages franchisors to take control of their marketing strategies. When developing your franchise sales marketing plan, consider asking the following questions:

  • Who is my target buyer?
  • Which platforms does my target audience use most?
  • How can I reach my target audience effectively on those platforms?
  • What kinds of content – whether it’s blog posts, videos or photos – will appeal most to my target customers on each platform?

Digital marketing can require a significant amount of time, effort and money. By making sure you’re reaching your target franchisee candidates in the most effective ways, on the most effective platforms, you can avoid wasting resources – and focus more on closing sales.

4. Qualify your leads

For many franchisors and brokers, another important strategy for using time and resources effectively is to qualify leads before meeting with them to discuss sales.

“Once I’m getting interest in my brand, how do I qualify (leads) so I'm not on Zoom or Google Meet or a phone call for an hour and a half every meeting, just to (hear at) the very end of it, ‘I really love your concept – the only thing I have to do now is find the money and I'm going to do it.’ Anybody who's ever been a franchisor or a franchise broker has been on those kinds of calls,” Payne says.

To avoid scheduling meetings with franchisee candidates who aren’t properly capitalized to meet the needs of owning a franchise business, franchisors and brokers need to qualify leads early on in the franchise sales process.

“With emerging brands, the tendency is just to sell no matter what,” Payne says, adding that this is a common mistake among new franchisors.

To keep meetings with prospective buyers on-task and avoid investing unnecessary time and resources into unqualified or overly casual candidates, consider the following tips:

  • Limit initial calls with prospective candidates to 30 minutes.
  • Have a clear agenda for every meeting with a candidate and take the lead by following it point by point.
  • During the first few minutes of an initial call with a candidate, ask whether they have enough capital available to purchase a franchise business. If not, thank them for their interest and invite them to reconnect once they’re properly capitalized.
  • Gauge candidate interest and make sure they’re familiar with the brand.

By qualifying your leads early on, you can ensure that your time, resources and energy are well spent on prospective buyers that are genuinely interested in your brand and are properly capitalized for franchise business ownership.

5. Focus on building relationships and trust

Although it may seem counterproductive, it’s also critical for franchisors to remember that selling franchises is about more than just closing a deal. It’s about building relationships, developing a solid reputation with candidates and brokers, and establishing trust in a highly competitive industry.

“You've got to build trust with your possible applicants or possible clients. And that takes time. It's not always a direct sale,” Payne says.

To establish trust with candidates and brokers, it’s important to maintain open channels of communication. It’s also critical to offer transparency, honesty and professionalism in your interactions with other professionals in the franchise industry.

By adopting digital marketing best practices and developing a franchise sales system that follows a streamlined, professional and properly structured process that qualifies leads early on, franchisors can increase the odds of attracting the right franchisee candidates to their business – and scaling their brand to the next level over time.

To learn about franchise opportunities with Contender eSports, visit

To find out how we can help you grow or develop your franchise, contact us at (800) 976-4904 or click the button below.

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