So You Want to Buy a Franchise?
That wonderful feeling of starting a new business sweeps over you. And the excitement and anticipated success thrill you. After all the company told you they would provide all the marketing support you need!
Besides that it will only cost you an additional $375 per month plus the cost of advertising.
I have worked with several franchise owners. Most noteworthy have been NaturaLawn of America, Mr. Electric, Sears Garage Doors, and Advanta Clean restoration.
Over the years a few common themes have emerged.
Common Themes of Franchise Advertising
- Just because the corporate headquarters tells you they know how to advertise your franchise that does not necessarily translate to your territory.
- What you think you’re getting, may not be what you really wind up getting.
- Once you signed that franchisee agreement you lost your ability to choose for yourself how to advertise online.
We’ll unpack these one at a time.
First, what works in North Carolina may not work in Chicago. As a Google Agency Premier Partner, we have learned to do our keyword research regionally. This is because people use different words in different parts of the country. Sounds obvious, but your corporate headquarters usually will not spend the extra money for separate Google paid ad campaign research and landing pages.
And if you dare to ask whether you can take the money you’re paying your corporate headquarters and use it to hire out your own digital advertising you’ll be met with a resounding NO!
Here’s the fine print you may not know you signed. Your corporate owns your business, you just run it. Sure you can sell it, but you can’t deviate from the hundreds of rules, policies and regulations your corporate dictates.
Finally, you may suspect and you may be right, that your corporate headquarters is making money off your required advertising payments.
How Many Corporate Franchise Advertising Programs are Structured
Many corporate franchise authorities will fund their own marketing department’s staff at your expense. Some people, mostly the owners of the corporate franchise, would call this good business. But you might call it unfair.
Of course “fairness” is a point of view. Your point of view may include the following complaints:
- Why is my money going to advertise a corporate owned national landing page instead of my regional territory website?!
- People land on a national zip code page and are asked to enter their zip code before I get the lead?!
- How do I know whether the money I’m paying for online advertising is only going to my territory?!
- Why don’t I have access to my real Google Ads account?! I’m only getting a dashboard and PDF report that I don’t understand!
- I suspect the online agency my corporate franchise owner hired is giving “kick-back” commissions to my corporate headquarters which is my money!
So you’re tempted to reach for a pain reliever now to alleviate your pounding headache. You’re not wrong.
Recently, I met with a local Chicago Kitchen and Bath Renovator that had been victimized by an unethical SEO operator who used “black hat” practices to try to make it appear as if they had many different locations on Google Maps. One of the major franchise authorities I have worked with also tried this black hat technique.
Both were caught and penalized by Google! Yes – even a major corporate franchise tried this! Do you really believe the most powerful search engine on the planet won’t catch on at some point? Honestly!
Google opens complaint form to crack down on fake info in Maps
Will this reduce the issues with fraud and spam in the Google My Business listings?
What You Can and Should Do BEFORE Buying a Franchise
- Hire an attorney that is familiar with franchise agreements to review the document.
- Talk to other franchisees. Not the ones your corporate gives you to talk to, but the ones you cold call.
- Talk to a Google Agency Partner like US Marketing that practices transparent business practices.
Unfortunately, not all online agencies are honest. Shocking! Right?!
How to Know if an Online Agency is Honest
So how do you know if the agency is honest? Here are some guidelines:
- If they are not certified by Google as an Agency Partner that’s a clue!
- Even if they tell you they are certified by Google as a Partner you need to insist on seeing their Partner’s Profile. All legitimate agencies will link their Google Partner Badge to their profile on Google.com/profile
- US Marketing Google Partners Profile is located at: https://www.google.com/partners/agency?id=3825667047
- You should pay Google directly for your advertising and verify that your payments are going to your individual Google Ads Account number separate from the fee you pay your agency
This is important because unethical agencies may not assign you an individual Google Ads Account number. That means you really don’t have any way of reconciling your advertising charges. Not good!
Like most business matters. Caveat Emptor. Educate yourself. Talk to a lot of people in the business independent of the company trying to sell you. Ask a lot of questions. Make an informed decision!