Networking is an essential business skill in the franchise industry, and it provides a competitive advantage at various stages of the entrepreneurial process. Franchisors use networking to improve lead-generation and sales strategies, while prospective franchisees establish valuable contacts to aid in the development and management of a successful business operation. It serves as an effective way for franchisors to connect with individuals who may be interested in their business model, product or may not even be familiar with the world of franchising. While digital networking can provide new opportunities, face-to-face interactions foster more robust and enduring relationships.
Andy Knights, CEO of Stagecoach Performing Arts, is no stranger to the power that effective networking in a franchise can unlock new and exciting business opportunities for both franchisees and franchisor. Here, he shares his advice on how franchisors can use networking as a tool to raise awareness of franchising and its specific strategies that can prove beneficial for all.
Establishing a clear goal is crucial before attending or organising a networking event. Stagecoach aims to educate audiences about franchising, and attending regional and national networking events focusing on the industry is a great way to achieve this. At the Music & Drama Education Expo in London, Stagecoach connected with over 2,500 visitors, communicating its franchise opportunity, from those interested in joining a franchise to those unsure about how franchising even works. Focusing on networking as a collaborative, informative, relationship-building exercise is integral rather than just a way to find potential franchisees. Referrals are central to networking, and building strong relationships can lead to valuable referrals down the line.
Preparation is key. Researching who you may be meeting and tailoring communication to them helps establish more meaningful connections and increases the chances of building long-lasting relationships. Connecting on LinkedIn before the event and arranging meetings can also help make the most of the time at the event. By scheduling meetings with individuals who are interested in learning more about your franchise or may be potential franchisees, franchisors can maximise their opportunities. Stagecoach utilises events like the Move It Expo to inform attendees about the range of opportunities available, including student classes, teacher training, job openings for teachers, and the process of becoming a franchisee.
Needless to say, the overarching goal of a networking event is to establish relationships and identify potential franchisees who are a good fit for the franchise system. However, the real work begins after the event is over. Franchisors need to stay in touch with their contacts to nurture the relationship and keep the lines of communication open. Following up after a networking event helps franchisors remind their contacts of the franchise opportunity and continue to provide them with valuable information. It also helps build trust and credibility with the contact, leading to a long-term business relationship. Franchisors who are diligent in following up will be better positioned to identify the right franchisees and support them throughout their entrepreneurial journey.
While digital networking has become increasingly popular, face-to-face interactions remain essential in establishing more robust and enduring relationships. When franchisors maximise their opportunities by researching who they will be meeting, tailoring their communication and following up after will provide franchisors with a competitive advantage, improving lead-generation. As for prospects, those considering joining the network can also establish valuable contacts to aid in the development and management of a successful business operation. When done correctly, a network event can be beneficial for all involved. For more information about Stagecoach Performing Arts, visit stagecoachfranchise.com