Using Social Media to Advance Your Franchise Business
Franchising World magazine brings readers insights from the industry’s high-achieving multi-unit franchisees who provide their views on currents topics of the day.
QUESTION: How is the growth of social media affecting communication with customers?
Jack Flechner, along with his wife Ilene, Joe Sloboda and Frederick Burgess are owners of BBQ Boyz, LLC and Flechner is the director of operations of BBQ Boyz, LLC, a franchisee with licenses for 26 locations of VooDoo BBQ & Grill restaurants in Florida. They will open at least eight VooDoo BBQ & Grill restaurants in South Florida and then start expanding north throughout Florida over the next few years. They also plan to begin opening the first of their 10 Twin Peaks restaurants in South Florida as early as next fall. Flechner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Burgess at email@example.com and Sloboda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLECHNER: “Social media has become an increasingly powerful and important way for retailers, and specifically restaurants, to reach out to new customers and stay in touch with existing ones. People are engaging with social media on an ever-increasing basis, and it’s a cost effective way for retailers to market to large groups of people, plus there’s an increased ability to track results and efficacy. That combination has transformed the traditional marketing process.
For our VooDoo BBQ & Grill franchise in Florida, we have engaged several avenues of social media to spread the word about the concept. We use Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Pinterest to educate the public preceding our grand openings, and then to re-engage them once we’ve opened. The effective reach compared to traditional mass marketing is staggering since it would be economically impossible to reach the same amount of people through traditional marketing channels. Additionally, we worked to develop a mobile app with the franchisor to track customer spending habits and reward them for their patronage. While not a novel idea, the use of a mobile rewards card app is a convenient and effective way to engage the customer in a meaningful way.
For our new Twin Peaks locations in South Florida, we’ll use social media in much the same way. The Twin Peaks Girls are a great asset to the brand, and have a great following on social media. So we’ll encourage the Twin Peaks Girls in our restaurants to develop their own following on social media so guests know when they’re working and what special events are going on in the restaurants.”
Norm Hanson is Metal Supermarkets’ 2012 Franchisee of the Year. He has been with Metal Supermarkets for 20 years, and is the owner of two Metal Supermarkets branches in Edmonton, Alberta and one in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In addition to his Metal Supermarkets branches, Hanson owns Thermex Metal Treating Ltd. a commercial heat treating company in Edmonton. He has tentative plans to open a fourth Metal Supermarkets location in 2013. He can be reached at email@example.com.
HANSON: “So far, for Metal Supermarkets, social media is an online tool that helps us bring customers to our stores. Customers may find us via Twitter or Facebook and pose a question about a product, inventory or metal processes. But the majority of conversations with our customers still take place offline. Customers typically have product-related questions and those conversations are more effective in person or on the phone. In those instances, we’ll provide a phone number or invite them to our store that day so we can help answer their questions in a more efficient manner.
In addition to a customer service tool, maintaining an active social media presence shows customers that we are relevant. It’s also another online destination for current and potential customers to learn more about the Metal Supermarkets brand and our products. To that end, YouTube has probably been the most useful social media channel to us and our customers. We host demonstration videos on YouTube that can be viewed through our website, and we point customers there when they have questions about shearing or production saw cutting. Interestingly, our customer base is predominantly male so we’ve found that Twitter has been slightly more popular than Facebook in terms of engagement.
At the end of the day, for Metal Supermarkets, social media is just another communication channel. Our customers still need and expect face-to-face interaction.”