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Follow Franchise Plan
Ullrich said it’s also important to follow plans as they are put forth by the franchisor.
When Wild Birds Unlimited established what it calls the Daily Savings Club to reward customer loyalty by providing discounts and coupons on birdseed, Ullrich was one of the first stores to test the concept. For every birdseed purchase a member makes, they receive a 15 percent savings, plus they are rewarded with coupons with a cash value for every $200 they spend.
“All of us were a little reluctant at first,” he said of his fellow franchisees. “But the customers really picked up on it and we have been doing it for about five years.”
Ullrich and other Northwest franchisees have implemented new ideas generated during their regional meetings. For example, as a way of courting customers who aren’t necessarily football fans, each location held a Super Bowl sale on the day of the big game, offering a free bag of birdseed when a customer purchased a particular bird feeder. With a pre-mailed postcard announcing the sale, it was a very successful promotion, Ullrich said, and it helped generate sales at a time that is traditionally slow.
Existing franchisees also help new franchisees by compiling a list of best-selling products each year as well as poor performers that they call “never-stock-agains.”
“New stores will avoid those items that have been labeled “never-stock-again,” he said. “It sure does help the bottom line.”
Communicate With Colleagues
Camaraderie and good communication with fellow franchisees, especially those in close proximity to his store, is just good business sense, Ullrich said. Buying products together, for instance, can make them eligible for shipping discounts; or if Ullrich has a special order for one item that’s out of stock, and the order requires a minimum purchase, he’ll call up another franchise partner to see if they have any orders to make. That way, they can save themselves from paying extra fees.
Like other franchisees, Ullrich has been utilizing social media to help market his store in recent years. In 2011, Wild Birds Unlimited partnered with Engage121 as its social network software solution. With the software, the franchisor is able to monitor, evaluate, and respond in real time to social media activity across the widest range of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as consumer review sites and blogs.
Engage121 also assists individual franchise store owners with creation and implementation. Ullrich says he will receive a Facebook posting from his representative which he can post, modify, or disregard as it pertains to his store.