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Why Directories and Portals Remain Relevant Means of Franchise Recruitment

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a cost-effective way to provide your franchise development team with contactable, qualified entrepreneurs guaranteed to become your next franchisee? Well, there is.
Online lead generation portals and directories have been a part of the franchise recruitment process for more than 15 years. Now that the nation is emerging from the nadir of the economic downturn, it’s time to reassess the professional relationship between lead generators and franchises, and to remember how and why directories and portals remain relevant means of recruitment.

It’s Clear: We Need Transparency
The relationship between franchises and franchise lead generators has always been tenuous–and for good reason. It’s not uncommon for the two not to see eye to eye, but there’s a simple solution for that: greater transparency.
Franchise development teams often do not fully understand the details of the lead generation process, especially as it pertains to the resources required for a successful campaign. On the part of the directory or portal, a greater effort needs to be made to explain operations and lead generation processes to the franchise client. Explanations as to how leads will be generated and where advertising dollars will be spent can go a long way in eradicating any distrust or anxiety about investing in an online lead generation campaign. In response, franchise clients should remember that it takes some time to properly develop an effective lead generation campaign; that, and some patience.
There’s a widespread misconception that generating leads is instantaneous; it isn’t. The moment one gives up is the moment before his or her hard work and investment pays off. Unfortunately, depending on the patience level of franchise directories and portals is often one good lead away from a long-term business relationship or one dissatisfactory lead away from a short-term relationship. As lead generation is an industry that’s based largely on the participation of others, that kind of dynamic can be particularly nerve wracking for a portal or directory.
There’s a widespread misconception that generating leads is instantaneous; it isn’t.

While franchises would do well to ask themselves the value of a potential candidate in terms of time and money (and remember to be patient), franchises should also communicate to online portals and directories what is and is not working. Positive feedback is as equally helpful as constructive criticism. At the end of the day, lead generators and franchises want the same thing: qualified leads, but they have to work together to achieve this goal.

Why it’s a Mistake to Not Use Directories and Portals
Of all the lead generation options available to franchises, none is as cost effective as portals and directories. That’s not to say that brokers, referrals, corporate websites and trade shows aren’t viable recruitment options–they’re just not consistently as time or cost sensitive as portals and directories and they don’t reach the same wide audience.
The average American spends 32 hours per month just browsing the Internet. Of all age brackets, those aged 45-54 spend the most time online. This is particularly significant considering the entrepreneurial behavior and financial situation of the 45-54 age group. According to the Kauffman Foundation, 28 percent of total new entrepreneurship activity last year was thanks to those between the ages of 45 and 54, just one percent less than those between 20 and 34.
Youth does present its own benefits, but it stands to reason that those between the ages of 45 and 54 have a greater chance of success when it comes to securing a small-business loan than those between 20 and 34. Entrepreneurs in the former age group have had time to pay off any student debt, accrue business experience, build a savings account and, as a result, may be better prepared for franchise ownership.
One of the most important reasons online directories and portals remain relevant in terms of franchise recruitment is the scope of the potential lead market they can capture. Open all day, every day, online lead generators are always working to find qualified entrepreneurs because they’re Internet-based. Prospects are able to research opportunities on their own time. It only makes sense to pursue a lead generation option that’s available when your potential candidate is. Why invest in a recruitment tactic that doesn’t put you in front of the entire world?

What About Other Recruitment Methods?
Portals and directories are not better at recruiting franchisees than any other recruitment option, but they are a necessary complement to other recruitment options. The Internet is extensive; it makes sense to explore the lead market through multiple channels.
That said, the usual amount invested in online portals and directories for a lead generation campaign is extremely reasonable when compared with brokers and trade shows. Trade shows can be a fairly expensive recruitment strategy when you factor in travel, lodging, booth rental and other expenses. In addition, trade shows present geographical and time limitations. A large percentage of franchise trade show attendees are from within a certain radius of the trade show’s location. It can be difficult to achieve sales or lead goals within the short time period of just a few days and in front of an audience that’s usually only from the surrounding area. It’s the lead generation equivalent of putting all of your eggs in one, expensive basket.
Brokers are an ideal recruitment tool for franchise concepts that haven’t yet trained and developed an internal sales team. Brokers act as both a sales representative and an additional qualifying filter for any leads they receive on behalf of the franchises they represent. A broker’s expertise can prove to be invaluable for newer franchise concepts. A broker’s fee is usually between 30-50 percent of the franchise fee, which can be substantially more than the cost of a lead generation campaign with a directory or a portal that will ultimately produce more qualified leads in the long term.
Referral leads, either generated through word of mouth or a franchise’s corporate website, are a phenomenal way for a franchise to recruit potential franchisees. These types of leads comprise a very small percentage of total individuals interested in investing in a franchise. The rest are doing what we all do when making an important business decision: research.
The best place for a prospect to research multiple franchise concepts remains a directory or portal, especially considering the variety of existing franchises within the industry and the number of new concepts that enter the industry each year.
Lead generators spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure paying clients remain relevant. By driving traffic to the directory or portal’s home website, buying keywords, monitoring search terms, boosting a franchise’s search engine optimization and exploring various marketing mediums, portals and directories are able to engender prospect interest and connect concepts with candidates previously unreached. Over 700,000 franchise establishments make up the whole of the franchise industry. It’s imperative to remain visible. If your concept is not visible, it will become irrelevant. Irrelevant does not sell franchises. 
David Schwartz is CEO and owner of Franchise Clique and Franchise Buy. He can be reached at 843-277-1095 or dave@franchiseclique.com.

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