Lead Generation Secrets Revealed

How to evaluate & select franchise portals

Planning Your Portal Franchisee Lead Generation Campaign

What are Your Goals and Objectives

Here are key questions to candidly answer before you begin:

  1. How many franchisees do you want to sign in a 12-month period?
  1. How many leads do you need to achieve your goal?
    1. ex. You want to sell 10 franchises over a 12-month period
    2. You’ll typically find 80% of new franchisees (8) from portal leads
    3. The current franchise industry average is 150 leads to one Agreement
      1. This number varies up or down depending on factors such as, concept uniqueness, business model complexity, financial resources, recruiter skill
      2. So to sign these eight Agreements, you’ll need at least 1,200 internet leads over 12 months – an average of 100 leads/month
  1. What is your average time to sign a new franchisee?
    1. The average is five months

Based on the above goals, you’ll work over 17 months to achieve the eight new franchisees based on generating 100 leads per month over 12 months. To speed things up, you’ll need to generate the 1,200 leads as quickly as possible. So, to sign eight franchisees in 12 months, your 1,200 leads would need to be in the pipeline by the end of month eight, which means getting 150 leads per month.

What Kind of Portal Budget Do You Need?

Now we know how many leads we need and the required timeframe. Now you’ll need to work out the right lead generation budget. How? It’s easy if you follow a rule of thumb which has served FPS clients well over the years.

Examine the simple formula below:

(New Franchisees wanted x no. Leads to sign 1 Franchisee x Franchise Fee) ÷ 800

For example: If the franchisor wanting to sign 8 new franchisees has a franchise fee of $20,000 then:

(8 x 150 x $20,000) / 800 = $30,000

This is a realistic budget that needs to be set aside to generate the 1,200 leads to sign eight new franchisees.

  • This is a cost per lead of $25 ($30,000 / 1,200)
  • The advertising budget needed for one franchisee is $3,750 ($30,000 / 8)
  • This is a monthly budget of $2,500 spread over 12 months
  • For faster growth, this is a monthly budget of $3,750 spread over eight months

Allocating Your Marketing Budget

There are many portals that generate franchise leads for franchisors. They range in content and quality.

  • Some are stand-alone and others part of a partner network
  • Some offer fixed cost packages and others pay per lead
  • Some portals guarantee the number of leads delivered per month and others don’t

This is a reliable process to decide your marketing mix…

  • Where do you want your franchisees located?
  • The internet reaches people anywhere
  • The number of portal leads will be different based on your growth strategy. Both will pay the same for a portal lead. But the number of leads generated will vary:
    • New franchisees close to headquarters (fewer portal leads)
    • New franchisees sought nationally (many portal leads)
  • If your expansion needs to stay close to home portals may not always be the most cost-effective choice to generate the leads you need to grow
  • So if you’re developing in specific markets you may want to invest more on local initiatives than franchisors growing nationally
Finding the Right Portal

Where to Find Franchise Leads

What criteria should you use to select the franchise portals to work with?

Franchisors with a modest budget may select 2-3 portals, while franchisors with greater budgets will often advertise on eight or more portals. It is vitally important to work out the right combination of portals, the right content to show people and know how visible the brand will be across the portal.

Over the last eight years, the number of portals offering franchise lead generation programs has jumped dramatically. There really isn’t a comprehensive list of portals published anywhere, but here are some of the best-known portals. | | | | | | | | | | | | America’s Best Franchises A-Z | Franchises

Portal Selection Process

Narrowing down your best prospective portal list can be daunting. That’s because most of the information you can get often comes from sales people trying to sell leads and promotional programs.

Four Tips to Select the Right Portals:

1. Find out where the competition advertises. Some portals do a better job at generating leads for food franchises or man-and-van franchises. Others may be better at home-based or business services franchises. Find out where direct competitors advertise by running a search for their company on Google. All listings eventually come up if you go through the first few results pages.

2. Ask other Franchisors what’s working for them. Franchisors can be a great source for finding out which franchise portals are successful. However, it can also be very misleading, because they’ll have different ways of handling leads, which often means that while some franchisors may talk positively about one portal, the next franchisor says it’s a waste of money.

3. Speak to the portals you already spend money on. Since franchisors are vocal about where they’re getting their leads, the portals always know which portals are doing well and which portals are struggling. Ask for referrals to other portals. It’s rare that one portal can provide all the leads you need.

4. Carry out a simple Google search. If you can find a portal on Google then a franchisee prospect will also find the portal. The easier the portal is to find online, the better the chances of getting more leads from that portal.

Questions for Lead Generation Portals

Separating the Men from the Boys

1. What affiliations does the portal have to the franchise industry?

  • Are they attending franchise shows, conferences and events?
  • Can you tell if the company has shown a commitment to the franchise sector?
  • Do they clearly understand the needs and challenges of a franchisor?

2. How long has the portal been going?

  • Many of these portals come and go all the time
  • Don’t pay too far in advance to portals that have only been around a short time

3. What is the average number of unique visitors per month?

  • This is important! Get a good idea of how many people will be exposed to your brand profile
  • Page views are irrelevant. Ignore them. They don’t offer a fair comparison of visitor traffic
  • If a portal cannot give this information be forewarned. There better be a good reason why.

4. Where does the portal traffic come from?

  • Before asking this question, you should know if the portal appears in the search results for keywords related to opportunities in your franchise segment
  • Some portals don’t rely on Google search results to be found, and may pay for traffic through partner portals or email marketing
  • Make sure that the kind of people the portal attracts is consistent with the profile of the franchisee being sought. e.g. if the ideal franchisee profile is a part-time work-from-home parent, then it’s no good being on a full-time business portal

5. How does the portal drive traffic to your brand’s profile page on the portal?

  • How many mouse clicks or touches does it take to get to your brand profile page?
  • Are there any other ways to reach your profile page?
  • Will the portal use the specific brand profile page to target search engine traffic or is all the traffic driven straight to their homepage?

6. What is the package?

  • Do they offer a range of packages?
  • What’s included in each package?
  • What are the rates?
  • Ask for a walkthrough of the portal and understand every package
  • Compare the rates for each package and look at the visibility each one gives
  • Ask which package is most popular and which package offers best value
  • If it’s a Pay-Per-Lead (PPL) portal, what is their definition of a lead?

7. What is the process a portal user goes through to become a lead?

  • How easy does the portal make it for someone to inquire about your brand?
  • The easier someone can inquire, the lower the quality of that lead
  • Some portals fully pre-qualify leads before matching and showing them any franchise brands

8. Does the portal offer any free exposure? For first time advertisers?

  • Ask if there are more ways to increase exposure with free opportunities
  • What does the portal do to promote new advertisers?
  • Do they host and post press releases?
  • Can you submit articles?
  • Do they offer link swapping?

9. Do they offer screens or filters?

  • Can you eliminate leads that do not meet specific criteria (location, financial qualification, timeframe, etc.)?
  • Can you add other questions to a lead form? Be careful with this. At this early stage asking for less information is usually better unless you want reduced lead flow. Also bear in mind that many people may not want to answer personal questions on a generic form

10. What are the contract terms?

  • Make sure you’re happy with the length of the contract and that you can get out if necessary.
  • Ask what the payment terms are. Some portals require payment upfront in full, others just ask for a credit card to bill monthly, some charge on a pay-per-lead basis at the end of the month
  • What are the discounts for committing to longer time periods? Some fixed cost portals offer monthly, quarterly or annual contracts (sometimes annual contracts can attract a 20% overall discount)

11. How many leads should be expected?

  • This question is merely to find out what an average listing, like yours, with the same amount of exposure should expect to get
  • This is not meant to be a guarantee. But having an idea upfront of what the average cost per lead should be, allows you to have future discussion with the portal to ensure targets are met
  • It all goes back to identifying how many leads per month you’ll need
  • Be careful if a web portal will guarantee a specific number of leads on a pay-per-lead or fixed cost basis. If they do, make sure you have answers to all the other questions asked. It may be a sign that the portal sends leads to more than just the intended franchisor, because maybe the person didn’t untick a box
Making the Final Portal Selection

Create a Competitive Matrix

A competitive matrix will help you review look at all your portal information in one place. Decide what information is most important and prioritize.

If budget needs to be tightly controlled, pay-per-lead portals may be favored. If high traffic portals are targeted, drop the low traffic portals. Then start looking at portals that’ll offer the best value. This could be a combination of exposure, demographics and price. Or, it may be flexible terms, price and expectations.

Select the portals you want to begin a relationship with. If it takes 150 leads to result in a sale and your average sales cycle is 20 weeks, it may take 3 months to generate 150 leads and another 5 months to generate a sale. Franchisors should invest in at least a 9-12 month campaign to give adequate time to evaluate the quality of the leads.

Establish a Strong and Trusting Relationship with the Portal

The relationship and understanding between you and the portal is vital. Give and get the feeling that a long-term relationship is a must. Without this relationship, you’ll have a much more difficult time tweaking the campaign to get the most out of your spend in the future.

One of the hardest decisions is whether a franchisor should spend less on each portal and advertise on more portals or spend more per portal and advertise on fewer portals. The answer to this depends on many factors. After you’ve managed campaigns for a while, you’ll know which portals are doing best and how many portals are needed to reach the goals set.

Portals that produce the best quality leads should eventually get a larger share of your advertising budget. To start with, it makes sense to select advertising campaigns that are similar so that ongoing portals evaluations are comparable. Doing different things on different portals is not something you can measure and evaluate.

Evaluating Portal Performance
Perhaps the most important step in the whole lead generation process, is evaluating a portal’s performance. Set up weekly, monthly quarterly, six-monthly and annual reports to understand what is happening with leads that come from each portal.

After each six-month period, franchisors should re-evaluate each portal’s performance in detail.

These should include:

  • Leads per month
  • Cost per lead
  • Leads contacted
  • Cost per lead contacted
  • Leads qualified
  • Cost per lead qualified
  • Leads attending Discovery Day
  • Cost per attended Discovery Day
  • Leads converting to franchisees
  • Overall cost per franchisee

Contract renewal should be earned based on the quality, not quantity, of leads delivered, and this becomes apparent if the above reporting is carried out.

Quantity vs Quality

If one portal generates 500 leads over 6 months, but none of the leads progress beyond the first step of the recruitment process, the portal is delivering quantity but no quality.

If another portal delivers only 300 leads over the same six months, resulting in 20 qualified leads, five attend Discovery Days and one signs, the portal is delivering quality instead of quantity.

In most cases, the more leads a franchisor gets, the more time the recruiter spends following up. Is it better to receive 300 leads and get one franchisee or 600 leads and no franchisee? Use your recruiter’s time wisely.

Every six months replace one or two portals that aren’t performing based on the reports, or where the relationship is possibly difficult to manage and start the process over again. It can take time to find the right combo. But once you do, you can increase the spend on the portals that consistently produce quality leads.

Excellent communication and relationships are key. Talk about what’s working and what isn’t working with your account manager. Giving great feedback and, if results are good, testimonials, will make the relationship stronger.

When good communication and respectful relationships are in place, then you’ll have the makings of a long-term partnership that’ll keep you both successful and working together long into the future.

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