Now let’s spend some time on our third Client archetype-The Franchisee.
The Franchisee can be one of the most challenging Clients to deal with. He can come across as overly aggressive, “strategically challenged” and not willing to invest enough in advertising. This is a misleading and incorrect portrayal.
The Franchisee typically comes from one of two backgrounds-
The first one is a professional employee at a major company. He is well educated, ambitious and, initially at least, saw himself spending his career climbing up the corporate ladder. However, somewhere along the way, he tired of corporate politics and taking orders and decided that he wanted to be his own boss.
The second career path is taken by someone who was employed by a company that had a business model that involved franchising. He may have started out at the entry level, sometimes without a college degree. Over the years he learned the ins and outs of the business to a point where he believed he would be able to successfully and profitably run his own business.
No matter which path was taken by the Franchisee, he had to come up with a very significant amount of money to invest. He will either take all his savings and plough it into the franchise or get into major, life changing debt. The end result is the same. He is not dabbling. He is committed to the success of the business because, at least initially, he has no other choice. There are no excuses. He is no longer an employee-now he is the owner of a company and will do whatever has to be done to ensure success.
Franchises work because they have taken a successful model and replicated it exactly across differently locations. This involves understanding exactly what makes the business run successfully and then doing it, over and over again, exactly the same way. When the new Franchisee comes aboard he is asked to get his hands dirty and learn to do everything that needs to be done. He may be asked to spend up to one year, at his own expense, learning how things are done at this company. This goes from greeting customers, to frying the burgers and cleaning the bathrooms. Going through this training gives him an in-depth understanding of the nuts and bolts of the business. He knows exactly what makes it run and is often full of disdain for outsiders, who have never worked in the operation, but who come to advise him on how to run his business.
The Franchisee places great value on his Agency partners getting their hands dirty and understanding his business at an operational level. If the Agency does not do this it will have no credibility and will be viewed, and treated, as a supplier-one that can and should be replaced when an equivalent but cheaper one comes along.
In large companies budgets are not really money. Budgets are budgets. They must be used up so that the function will be assigned an equivalent or larger amount to spend in the next fiscal year. The Franchisee however, sees budgets as real money. If the full budget is not spent, the difference goes into his pocket and will fund paying down his debt, his daughter’s college education, or his holiday in France. He will always be on the lookout for savings and every penny matters. It is, after all, his money.
Another important distinction is that deadlines are important. If the advertising was supposed to air on Thursday, one day before the Easter promotion went live, it had better air on that day. Excuses are not valid when they directly affect the operation and therefore, the bottom line.
One final distinction is important. While the Franchisee is his own boss, he still has a contract with the Corporation that obligates him to do things that he may not fully agree with. But he must do them. This makes the relationship between the Franchisee and the Franchisor stormy. And often the Agency finds itself in the middle of the conflict. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place and must navigate this situation very carefully.
So, how best to sell to the Franchisee?
The key thing that the Agency must always remember is that the Franchisee has a lot of his own money invested in the business. Therefore, if the cash register is ringing all is well. If it is not, nothing is acceptable. Talk of sacrificing sales for long term equity building is bullshit to him and, unless sales budgets are met, will get the Agency in deep trouble.
Always show the Franchisee how the creative work will help drive traffic and sales today, not tomorrow or next year. And always remember that your relationship is directly connected to his cash register. Not recognizing this is a very dangerous delusion.
Next up in the series is the Marketer at a large family owned company.