Attracting the interest of franchise buyers and scaling your brand
Authenticity is critical for attracting the right franchise buyers to your brand.
Prospective franchisees look for brands that are different from competitors and add value to their lives through support, education and service.
Telling a compelling brand story can organically generate buyer interest and boost franchise sales.
When it comes to creating a legacy for your brand, franchising – with its immense potential for scaling – can be a life-changing endeavor for a successful entrepreneur.
According to the International Franchise Association’s 2023 Franchising Economic Outlook report, franchising output increased to $825.4 billion in 2022 – up 4.8% from the previous year. During that same period, the number of franchised units increased by 2% despite ongoing inflation, labor shortages and other challenges still lingering in the wake of the pandemic. That resilience is what makes the franchise industry so appealing to business owners looking to grow their brands – even during uncertain times.
Still, for emerging franchisors (and those who just feel stuck), the factors that franchise buyers consider when purchasing a franchise often remain elusive. To find out what it takes to generate interest from buyers, The Internicola Law Firm turned to professional franchise coach Tariq Johnson for expert insights into what prospective franchisees want in a franchise brand – and how franchisors can sell more franchises in a highly competitive industry.
Top 5 things franchise buyers look for when choosing a franchise include:
- An authentic brand story
- A unique offering thats different from the competition
- A brand that adds value to their lives
- A genuine connection
- A professional, impactful presence
1. An authentic brand story
As an expert franchise consultant, multi-unit franchisee and host of The Franchise Empire Show, Johnson says one of the most overlooked opportunities for franchisors looking to attract franchise buyers lies in creating content that tells a unique, captivating story about their brand.
“I think an opportunity that a lot of franchisors are missing out on is the opportunity to create content and a ‘story brand’ where people connect with (franchisors) and already want to do business with them because they connect with the founder story,” Johnson says.
When it comes to telling stories that sell, though, all content is not created equal. To ensure your brand story makes the right impact when prospective buyers see it, Johnson advises franchisors to prioritize authenticity in their approach to content creation. This includes limiting conversations to topics you’re knowledgeable and qualified to talk about while staying true to your brand.
“I started making videos on YouTube back in 2018. I didn't want to be ‘the franchise guy,’ and I didn't want to make videos (about) franchising, but I owned franchises at the time and I knew I wanted to build a personal brand. I wanted to make sure that I was being authentic in whatever I was talking about,” Johnson says.
2. A unique offering thats different from the competition
When it comes to generating interest in your franchise offering, finding ways to differentiate your brand’s identity from competitors is critical.
For Johnson, that meant setting his online content apart from others at a time when many franchise-related channels were pushing sales rather than expanding their brand’s influence by serving prospective buyers in valuable ways.
“I didn't see any sort of compelling (franchising content) around what I thought would be really deep and valuable and kind of technical. Everything was kind of promotional, trying to get people to generate leads or work with them from that perspective,” Johnson recalls.
Instead of focusing on sales, Johnson focused on adding value to his viewer’s lives. By providing prospective franchise buyers with franchising tips and expert insights, Johnson’s content helped viewers improve their professional lives, gain knowledge about their industry and build careers as successful entrepreneurs. Ultimately, the strategy helped Johnson attract 28,000 subscribers in under five years.
3. A brand that adds value to their lives
Beyond unique content that serves their needs, prospective buyers also look for opportunities to improve their lives and feel better about their careers.
“At the end of the day, people don't want to buy a franchise. They want to own a successful business that they think is going to allow them to experience something in their life – freedom, flexibility, ownership, pride, just a sense of being proud of themselves when they look in the mirror – because they took a courageous and bold step. And so that's what people are buying,” Johnson says.
While the benefits of buying a franchised business can mean different things to different buyers, it often includes the following:
The ability to earn more money
A more flexible lifestyle
Feeling valued and supported
More autonomy over their career and success
Still, Johnson cautions franchisors to stay realistic about their promises to prospective franchisees and avoid overstating the benefits of their franchise offering.
“(When franchisors sell) the dream that they're a knight in shining armor, you're gonna attract the wrong people, in my opinion. You’ll attract the ‘shiny object’ people who don't want to put in the hard work,” Johnson says.
4. A genuine connection
When they’re exploring franchise opportunities, prospective buyers are sometimes looking for more than just a new way to draw an income. Often, they’re looking for a brand with good values and a founder they feel inspired by.
“What makes it simple and effortless, I think, is if you have a genuine mission and purpose in what you're communicating,” says Charles N. Internicola, a franchise attorney with 25 years of experience and the founder of The Internicola Law Firm.
As a franchisor, that means building a compelling brand story and website that communicates your vision and helps prospective franchise buyers understand your offering. To ensure your story generates buyer interest, consider using a three-part framework:
Purpose. What services do you provide to consumers? What value do you add to your franchisees’ lives? What is your vision? What’s your “why”?
Opportunity. What can franchisees expect to gain from doing business with you? What support, financial benefits or other value does your brand offer?
Transformation. As a franchisor, how do you transform your franchisees’ lives?
In addition to a brand’s added value, buyers also look for founders they feel a connection with. For Johnson, that meant sharing his achievements alongside the struggles he overcame on his entrepreneurial journey.
“On my channel, and especially in a lot of my earlier videos, I talk about how my dream was to always be an entrepreneur. And that I felt stuck in the corporate world,” Johnson says.
After years of navigating red tape and other obstacles to entrepreneurship in his former career in the financial advising industry, as well as losing his self-esteem after a string of failed business endeavors, Johnson eventually found his calling as a franchise owner – and built a thriving, successful business that he used to help other entrepreneurs succeed.
By being open about his winding path to success, Johnson’s story builds trust and makes him more relatable to the entrepreneurs he works with.
5. A professional, impactful presence
When it comes to attracting franchise buyers, having polished, professional marketing content is critical.
To make sure your brand’s content is on-point and impactful, make sure to continuously educate yourself about industry trends. Workshops like The Internicola Law Firm’s Brand Story Masterclass are designed to help new and emerging franchisors develop world-class brand stories and websites that can convert brand fans into buyers by forging emotional connections.
“So many founders forget that origin story – you forget how it made you feel. Some of the questions we ask in our workbook are not only about problems and solutions, but how did it make you feel when you did X? And our advice in our workshop is to live in that feeling and that transformation,” Internicola says.
Internicola also stresses the importance of staying true to yourself and your brand throughout the franchise sales process – something prospective buyers can sense whether they’re viewing your content online or interacting with you in person.
“The big takeaway (is that) you're being genuine. Because life is short. We're all here for a brief journey. … And I think that's great advice for everyone who feels stuck with their brand story, or articulating it and producing it. I think a big part of (the) advice here is to be who you are and be genuine,” Internicola says.
To learn more about Tariq Johnson, visit www.tariqjohnson.com.