For Orangetheory CEO Dave Long, success didn't happen by accident. Over the last three years, Orangetheory has been growing at a rate of 137 percent. McCorvey attributes most of this growth to well-planned expansion of the innovative fitness chain. The company has built its success on a foundation of having strong relationships with its franchisees. And the franchisees have rewarded this trust and collaboration from the brand handsomely – many Orangetheory franchisees are now multi-unit owners.
"Some franchise companies do big multi-unit deals, where franchisees might own 50 to 100 locations," McCorvey said in an interview with Entrepreneur. "Most of ours will end up owning three to five locations. We found that they're able to build a tight, successful team to support that without making it too complex. It doesn't get too big that they can't get their eye on and touch and feel the product."
Success like the team at Orangetheory are seeing doesn't happen overnight. Today, franchise brands must pull together many different tactics to fuel their rise to household name status. One of the most proven paths they can follow, like Orangetheory, is to invest in growth-oriented local marketing tactics that accelerate results early and build more trust with their franchisees.
Top 5 Local Marketing Tactics for Franchise Growth
#1: Get Franchisees to Focus on the Customer Experience
The right customer experience can drive significant results for multi-location brands. However, inconsistency challenges can disrupt that customer experience and hurt your brand's growth prospects. This usually happens to brands because franchisees simply don't have the time or expertise needed to execute high-impact and brand-compliant marketing. As such, franchisees rely heavily on the guidance provided by the parent brand.
To help franchisees deliver a better (and more consistent) customer experience, brands have to create the infrastructure to be true marketing partners to their local affiliates. You can't force them to do too much all at once. When franchisees are handed this kind of blank page, consistency issues are bound to happen. Instead, the brand should focus its efforts on giving local franchisees the training, collateral, and direction needed to get started with their marketing. Then they can run local marketing as independently as they need without being stuck with all the extra work that can come with it. Franchisees want to focus on the customer, so you should free them up to do exactly that!
With the right amount of control over local marketing, corporate marketing teams can "show" their franchisees what great marketing looks like and what that marketing means for the brand experience.
#2. Tailor Local Marketing Channels
To maximize franchise growth, the best franchise brands tailor which local marketing channels they use based on customer demographics. In this instance, the brand can supply the local affiliate with media-specific templates that let them add a bit of regional or local customization to their marketing. What kinds of messaging does that particular audience identify with? Has the brand considered local and regional dialects? Can the brand insert some relevant local imagery to bolster the ad's effectiveness?
By tailoring these local marketing channels, marketing "feels" more authentic. When a brand institutes a bit of local or regional customization in their local marketing, the consumer feels validated in their buying decision — the brand just "gets" it. More engaged customers means, you guessed it, more growth.
#3. Consolidate Marketing Tools
Unfortunately, local marketers don't have the time or patience to jump around from system to system to try and get their marketing done. That's why some brands are investing in more centralized tools to manage a broad spectrum of marketing processes all in one place. With a one-stop-shop for franchisees to do marketing from, corporate teams can better manage the marketing activity across the whole network. These all-in-one solutions are also ideal for local marketers who struggle to create brand-compliant promotions. In fact, even though marketing consistency was recently cited as brand manager's number one customer experience challenge, with a central marketing toolset for franchisees that concern can be almost entirely written off.
Marriott has long been a leader in this area. They recently invested in a consolidated marketing toolset designed to reduce internal complexities and streamline local marketing execution. As a result, Marriott's corporate marketing team maintains control over marketing processes and brand deliverables. Now, all 3,600 properties can source brand materials and better align with brand standards from the same place. This all-in-one solution helped Marriott reach its growth goals – it has even played a big part in making the ongoing merger with Starwood easier to manage.
#4. Focus on Efficiency
In order to sustain growth in the long-term, brands need to ensure that their franchisees are operating at peak performance as often as possible. As a result, it's critical to gain visibility into the effectiveness of your local marketing. When brands don't have an accurate understanding of how franchisees are running their marketing, unnecessary spending at the local level can escalate quickly. Getting ahead of efficiency issues is a must. Corporate marketing teams have to remove any and all roadblocks between themselves and the franchisees so they can be sure franchisees are investing in the right places. A software-as-a-service platform might help brand marketers manage the most cumbersome marketing practices from company headquarters. Meanwhile, local marketers don't have to spend time on redundant or unproductive activities.
By using a tool designed to allocate time more effectively, corporate teams can nail down more efficient practices and processes to keep local marketing getting out the door. Local teams can then focus their energies on day to day operations, where they can make the biggest impact.
#5. Benchmark Local Marketing Success
To improve performance at the local level, corporate teams need to gain an understanding of how local marketers are using marketing materials, and how successful they are when they do. When distributed brands have the context about what's working and what's not, they can course correct. Otherwise, brands will continue to send their affiliates collateral that doesn't get used or isn't effective.
When corporate teams understand how collateral is being used, they can create “benchmarks” to gauge the effectiveness of that material. For example, brands can equip local marketers with additional graphics for social media if it's looking like it's a high-performing channel. After supplying those assets, marketers can monitor how they're being used. As a result, they gain valuable insight that will let them prioritize future assets based on what they know will perform well.
Ready for Massive Franchise Growth?
Many franchises orient themselves towards accelerated growth by understanding their local networks, fine-tuning their marketing strategy by making changes on-the-fly and correcting their mistakes as they go. They're constantly iterating on the brand's core customer experience. When corporate teams are able to align local marketers with the brand's unique values, promises and messaging, the brand is almost guaranteed to be successful. Your favorite franchise brands almost certainly know how to respond and resolve these gaps in the customer experience.
Ready for even more insight into the challenges corporate marketing teams will face this year? Read our recent benchmark report on distributed marketing, gleaned from a survey of 200 branding leaders and CMOs.