Five Customer-Service Practices to Bring to IFA’s Trade Shows
Apply these customer-service principles to attract, engage and convert interested trade show attendees.
Few opportunities are as ideal as the International Franchise Association’s trade shows (the International Franchise Expo, Franchise Expo South and the West Coast Franchise Expo produced by MFV Expositions) when it comes to attracting prospective franchisees to your brand. At Papa Murphy’s Take ‘n Bake Pizza, we are experiencing record franchise growth by capitalizing on these opportunities to attract, engage and convert interested trade show attendees into our franchisees.
We attend eight to 10 franchising shows per year, so we know the importance of a successful event to growing our business. Making sure we maximize our recruiting potential at these events is critical for us to maintain the consistent, predictable growth that has made us one of the fastest growing brands in the country.
Most business owners would agree that customer service is one of the most important factors with regard to growing your customer base. However, those same principles can be applied when recruiting the next round of franchisees to your business.
The next time you attend an IFA trade show, try applying these five customer service practices to grow your pool of franchisees:
Know who your customers are.
Businesses invest plenty of resources into determining who their customers are so they can ensure their products appeal to specific markets. The same goes when recruiting a franchisee. We have a sheet that describes the type of individual we want to convert into a franchisee. Papa Murphy’s Pizza targets the existing QSR operator and single-unit owner/operators. We also look for people who have been in corporate America for 10 to 20 years and are ready to go into business for themselves. Knowing who your likely customer is will save you time and effort otherwise wasted on the wrong prospect.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
Many business owners will tell you how important it is to patronize your business now and then to make sure you’re delivering on what’s important to them. Taking a similar approach with prospective franchisees really helps us define our talking points when they arrive at our booth. We have to know what it is about Papa Murphy’s that will get them excited. Prospects appreciate our fanatical customer following. They like our price-point versus the value. Most of all, they like the ease of our operation. With no ovens, no dining rooms and no delivery, our business is really simple to operate.
Consider how much thought is put into the customer experience at your business in terms of materials. Whether it’s menu boards, promotional materials, packaging or pizza toppers, we have put countless hours of research and testing into which materials are most effective at keeping our customers coming back.
One of the ways we apply this principle at the IFA trade show is designing our booth to look like our new restaurants so our message remains consistent. Many of our future franchisees will be current customers, so the booth design offers a sense of familiarity. We’re also careful to make sure we give them the right information so when we follow up, they’re able to have a good conversation with us regarding their future as a franchisee.
Have a clear follow-up plan.
Many businesses do an excellent job of acquiring their customer’s contact information to follow up with surveys, feedback requests and targeted offers to make sure that customer keeps coming back. One of the things I see often is that franchisors will do everything right at the trade show, but then lack good follow up. When offered, we make sure to take advantage of “scan the badge” technology so their contact information goes directly into our database. Also, anyone we meet at the show gets a follow-up email and an attempt to follow up with a phone conversation. If all we do is give materials away, the odds of those prospects starting the franchising process will be pretty low, but we’ve discovered that consistent follow up greatly increases the likelihood that they’ll begin the journey to franchise ownership.
Have your ultimate goal in mind.
Determining our ultimate goal with a customer is simple. We want to create food that our customers love so much that they keep coming back for more. Without that goal in mind, we risk wasting time and resources trying to accomplish things that aren’t important to our final objective. Too often, we see franchisors come to important events like an IFA trade show without their ultimate goal in mind. Our goal is to get prospects into our franchising process. We have in mind a certain number of candidates we need in our funnel to predict our future growth. The franchising process takes four months from the time we meet a prospect until we have a signed franchisee agreement. Therefore, everything we’re doing at these shows is geared toward assuring prospects have a clear plan of action to get them started with the franchising process.
By taking these customer service principles along to the trade shows, you greatly increase your chances of turning visitors to your booth into future franchisees.
Scott Mellon, CFE, is vice president of franchising for Papa Murphy’s International, the take and bake pizza franchise with more than 1,370 locations in 38 states, Canada and Dubai. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org via the directory.
Visit www.franchise.org “Event” for details on IFA trade shows.