Buying a Franchise

Does the Franchisor’s Web Presence Help You or Hurt You?

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When you’re choosing the best franchises for your review, you’ll do plenty of research, including online research about the franchise. When you look at the franchisor’s website, though, you may need to look at it from two different points of view.

A good web presence is good for you.

A rising tide lifts all boats, they say, and strong national name recognition is one of the selling points for a good franchise. If the franchise’s website is exciting and it draws business to you, you have an advantage over the competition.

Some things to look for in a franchise’s corporate website:
• A modern, attractive website that makes the company look appealing. If you’re considering a restaurant franchise you want to see crisp veggies or sizzling steaks. If you offer services, enticing descriptions of those services should show up when you look up the company’s name.
• Current information and a good call to action. It should be easy to find locations or the company’s phone number. You should see an up-to-date menu or professional photos of this year’s products. The franchisor should be able to tell you some facts about the amount of web traffic the company receives and how much comes from your area.
• Local information. There should be a way for visitors to find their nearest franchise. If you can have your own page, that’s a plus – as long as you can also update it. Some franchises provide franchisees with sophisticated publishing software with social media tracking tools and some just list franchisees or have a search tool on their main website. Either way, there should be a direct connection between the corporate website and your location.
• Social media engagement. Does the corporate office do a good job of connecting with customers and potential customers on social media? Some of the companies that are best at this part of the job are also very strict about social media on the part of local franchisees. Get the details of what’s allowed and what’s required in this area; if you won’t be able to do much for yourself, make sure the main office does a terrific job.

The website can also be competition.

If there’s an exciting website with e-commerce options, you may have a competitor rather than a marketing advantage. Check first to see whether consumers can buy directly from the company. It may look that way at first, but you might find that you are actually redirected at some point to a local franchise if there is one.

If consumers can buy directly at the website, find out how many do. Some franchisors feel that their online sales are bringing in customer who otherwise would not have bought at all. If that’s the case, ask for evidence of that and make sure you agree.

This may be an area in which your franchisor is willing to show some flexibility. As with any special concessions, make sure you get it in writing.

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