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Franchise Tip #1: Be aware of the businesses and organizations located near your franchise unit and utilize them to drive sales and garner new customers.
Franchisors will tell you that location is everything when deciding where to establish your business, and the demographics within a certain radius of your store could determine the kind of success you will have.
Location continues to be important even after you have opened your doors, and franchisees should be familiar with surrounding office buildings, schools, churches and retailers as opportunities for creating traffic to their units.
“You want to introduce yourself to businesses within a mile of your location because they are a great tool for you,” says David Pierre, an Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt territory developer in New England.
For example, Pierre has established reciprocal agreements with neighboring restaurants by promoting 20 percent discounts to customers who visit the partnering eatery. The restaurants, in turn, promote his business as a place for dessert.
Jim Emrich, who owns two Let’s YO! franchises in New Jersey, is certainly capitalizing on two of his biggest neighbors, a movie theater and a grocery store.
Emrich spent some money when opening his first store to produce a video that would be shown prior to every movie at the nearby cinema and he made it a community event by inviting local people to his store to be part of the 40-second commercial.
Meanwhile, as shoppers at a nearby ShopRite exit the supermarket, they will find advertising for Emrich’s store on the back of their grocery receipt.
Dean Clarino, a Teriyaki Madness franchisee, said he makes it part of his daily routine, as he is driving to work, to identify at least one nearby business that he hasn’t approached and makes it a point to introduce himself there and perhaps even offer them free lunch. He delivers the food to the office and for about $23, he can feed about 10 people who are likely to visit his outlet at a later date and create buzz by talking about it with their family and friends.
And you don’t have to be running a food franchise to benefit from surrounding foot traffic.
Kristel Thomas owns a Brain Balance Achievement Center in Canton, Ohio. Her business helps children with learning difficulties. She’s located directly across from an elementary school where parents can see her facility and signage when they transport their children to and from classes or visit the school on various other occasions.
Thomas said it was important for her to get to know principals and teachers personally at the school in order to develop referrals. She markets her program according to the school calendar, running promotions right after report cards are issued. Some teachers will also place fliers for the business in students’ backpacks for them to take home.
But she didn’t stop at just the closest school to her business. She also identified some 50 schools in her region and developed the same types of personal relationships with them to help build her business.