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A Few Takeaways from the Selling Franchises Summit

Someone visits your franchise website, briefly looks around and leaves, not bothering to leave their name or contact info. Within hours the visitor’s phone is ringing with a customized sales call based on their profile, search history and other web activity-- all thanks to the latest artificial intelligence (AI) programs and applications.


This is just one example of how forward-thinking brands are using the latest AI tools to engage with prospects, increase efficiencies and speed up the sales process.


This was one of the big takeaways from the Titus School for Franchising “Selling Franchises Summit” last week at Palm Beach Atlantic University -- franchisors are increasingly all-in when it comes to embracing AI.

Other highlights from a marketing standpoint during the two-day educational and networking event, included:


Storytelling's Important Role in Your Sales Strategy


The Summit opened with a keynote by Carey Gille, CEO of Franchise FastLane, who spoke on the topic of “Building a Story Brand.”


“Make franchisees your heroes, not your business,” Gille said.


She was followed by a panel on “Franchisee Stories: The most powerful and least utilized sales tool!” led by BizCom VP of Client Relations August Johnson and featuring Scott Sutton, CDO of Empower Brands; Tony Padulo, CDO of School of Rock; and Jennifer LoBianco, CMO of Best Life Brands.

Titus panelists

 All three offered numerous examples of how franchisee stories are critical elements of their development strategies.


That set the tone for the rest of the Summit where the importance of success stories repeatedly came up in the presentations and discussions about effective franchise sales strategies.


“(Franchisee) videos can humanize the brand,” said Nomads Cast Founder Omar Mo in discussing the power of short form videos to engage today’s audiences.


Making Validation Work For You


Storytelling can especially play a significant role in validation, which was another hot topic over the two days.


“Customer testimonial ads deliver the best results,” according to Nick Ridgway, director of franchise development at Pirtek.


“Look at your top performers and develop those personas and their stories into the website,” added Victor Daher, VP of development at Batteries Plus, who stressed the importance of having separate franchise landing pages for specific target audiences.


When it comes to new and emerging franchises,

  • “Be very picky on those first franchisees,” said Jason Barclay, partner at BrandONE.

  • “Bringing in bad franchisees early can derail everything,” said Boulder Designs CEO Butch Mogavero.

  • “The first 10 to 20 franchisees buy on the founder,“ said Jesse Hudson, VP Carpool (a division of Franchise Fastlane). The reason is simple, he went on to explain, because there are no franchisees to validate. After that, franchisees then become more important in the validation process.


In regards to validation, Empower Brands’ Sutton said it is important to remember that part of franchise development’s job is to “educate prospects on what validation is and how to use it properly” in order to make sure they know what type of information to seek out and how to interpret the feedback they receive from franchisees.


Back To the Future Of AI


One more thought on AI.


Brand J CEO Jack Monson put together one of the most thought-provoking panels — “Using AI To Close More Franchise Sales” — and it was packed with the very latest information and updates on the subject.


This is the latest of a number of AI panels I’ve attended at franchise events over the last year, and it seems as if there is more excitement about the potential of this new tool than any other single advancement in the 30+ years I’ve been involved in franchising. And with good reason.


The potential to reduce costs as well as increase efficiencies and customization is incredible.


One participant said, “I’ve already replaced a lead qualifier and shortened the sales cycle” with AI.


While I am excited about the potential that AI brings to franchise marketing and development, I have not yet heard much discussion about privacy and other ethical considerations. What about the potential for abuse by unscrupulous brands?


Franchising already has an image problem when it comes to the federal government and in some states. It often seems as if Washington is looking for any reason to clamp down on franchising.


It would be nice to see franchise brands at the forefront of the AI revolution address ethical issues with something more than a quick, “I know there are ethical issues, but….”  or “we can talk about ethics later.”


AI is still in its wild west stage as innovative brands continue to try to push this technology to its limits. It’s an exciting, anything goes time. But it also seems as if the time has come to start working in more serious discussions of how to police potential abuses of this technology. Otherwise, a new sheriff may soon come riding into town, and as late president Ronald Reagan once quipped during a press conference, “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”


— Scott White, CEO

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