Ableworld, the mobility and healthcare retailer, is embracing technology to expand its network across the whole of the UK. The franchise has taken the decision to increase its social media output, concentrating particularly on the use of video, to project the right image of the company as it reaches out to prospective franchisees.
Ableworld launched its franchise offering in late 2010 and is now looking to use the model to expand its network of 15 units, currently based mainly in the North West of England, around the country. But rather than channelling all the company’s social media through Twitter or Facebook, franchise director Paul Boniface wanted to capture some of the human element that he feels is still vitally important when recruiting for his network in other areas.
He explains: “We made the decision early on to make our franchise available across the whole of the UK rather than just in our own region. Therefore a lot of early communication was going to be via print and the internet followed up by e-mail, phone calls and then face-to-face meetings. A short video would help bridge the gap between the printed word and the commitment of travelling cross-country to a meeting.
”Within the first couple of weeks of being online the video had recorded many hits on YouTube, received positive feedback and led to the re-ignition of a previously dormant enquiry from a potential franchisee.
As with the use of other social media platforms, reflecting a company’s core values when recording a video is no easy task, as Paul says: “Our first few efforts, done in-house, were OK but definitely lacked something. We thought of employing a slick professional team to do it for us but very quickly came to the decision that ‘slick’ was not us. So, in the end I ended up fronting the video and asked a local firm to do the filming and production!
“The video contains some background on the company, an analysis of the market and details of the franchise package,” he continues. “At just over three and a half minutes long it conveys the important aspects of our franchise, and because it has been filmed at a real location (our head office) and presented by a real Ableworld person we hope it comes across as authentic rather than ‘slick’.”
Paul is confident that the careful use of social media will work well in combination with more traditional franchisee recruitment methods. He concludes: “Will we do it again? Like every other ethical franchisor we have nothing to hide and everything to gain by sharing information and showing our enthusiasm for the company; if video proves to be an effective way of doing so then yes, we will consider making a sequel (or two)!”