Franchise Tip #4: If your franchise can have a special appeal to children, consider building relationships with local schools or incorporating an educational activity in your marketing plans.
There are a number of advantages to attracting the younger set—and by that we mean children—to your business. First and foremost, by introducing kids to your brand at a young age and ensuring that they have a good experience, you are more likely to develop a lifelong customer and possibly even the next generation of customers as they become parents and pass the experience on to their children.
Why do you think McDonald’s offers a Happy Meal with a toy inside?
But there are arguably better ways to draw children to your brand, other than offering a prize with a meal. Some franchisors encourage their partners to offer an educational approach, while other franchisees have discovered some secrets on their own.
Because his product is like a dramatic science experiment, Jerry Hancock has incorporated education in his marketing plan from the very beginning of Sub Zero Ice Cream. The novel franchise allows customers to create their own concoction of ice cream, yogurt or custard and then watch it being made right in front of their eyes with a flash-freezing process that uses liquid nitrogen.
Sub Zero has a built-in plan for marketing the product to kids while providing a science lesson in schools. It has a presentation for second, fifth and eighth grades that incorporates a liquid nitrogen demonstration intended to heighten students’ interest in chemistry and other sciences. Franchisees are also encouraged to hand out bookmarks and coupons with store information to the students.
“If we can get our product used in education, it’s probably the easiest and cheapest way to advertise but it’s also benefiting the community, too,” Hancock says.
Auntie Anne’s pretzel franchise supplies franchisees with a special kit to host field trips for students and student organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Participants are invited to make a special trip to a store to learn about the history of pretzels, the history of Auntie Anne’s and to try their culinary talents at rolling and twisting their own pretzels.
“They’re becoming our future customers,” Andy Kmiec, Auntie Anne’s associate vice president of real estate, said of the students. “They then go out and become ambassadors for the brand.”
Most Auntie Anne’s are located in shopping malls and the company aims to provide a unique experience for children so the next time they are shopping with their parents, they will want to return to the place where they had such a good time.
“For the few dollars that it costs, think about the loyalty and the benefits that come from it,” Kmiec said.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchisee Michelle Shriver took initiative in her own market to develop a program that dovetails with education in some Las Vegas schools. She is very passionate about education and uses her business to help the cause in her community.
“We do a lot with our local schools,” she said. “Education is really important to us.”
One of Shriver’s more creative marketing ideas involves encouraging children to read five books by issuing a bookmark from Tropical Smoothie, which teachers punch every time the student finishes a book. Once the children have read the required number of books, they can bring their bookmark to one of Shriver’s stores for a free smoothie.
Whether rewarding children with freebies for a good report card, or inviting schools to host special fundraising nights and share in the evening’s profits, there are many ways to make sure that your business earns an A+ with kids.