“Call Me” Has Turned to “Text Me” for Franchisees
Last July, FranchiseHelp started our first experiment using text messages as a means of communicating with potential franchisees.
(To get a look at what we did back then, take a look at this post.)
Since then, we’ve captured data from literally millions of texts and have had numerous internal debates about the role text messages should play in our business (connecting potential franchisees with franchisors) and in the franchise development process overall.
Should texts supplement calls? What about using both? Or even more extreme, what if we scrapped calls completely and just did texts and emailing? But then what about people who only use landlines?
So in recent months, we’ve tried numerous different strategies, continually tweaking toward solutions that work for everyone.
What We Did to Test Texting vs. Calling
Earlier this year, FranchiseHelp finally turned the choice over to our visitors. Rather than assuming users wanted to receive phone calls to verify their interest in franchising, we asked whether or not they preferred phone or text.
It looked a little something like this:
(For us, it’s simply important that the phone numbers users provide are, in fact, correct. Thus we’re indifferent as to which option the lead chooses.)
We started rolling out these features in February, and we’ve been blown away by the results.
Since we started giving visitors the choice, an astonishing 88% of leads have elected to be contacted via text message.
Here’s what the trends look like over the past few months:
It looks like we’re even trending slightly toward more text messaging, as the percentage has grown from 85% to 89% since February.
How Does this Relate to the Franchise Sales Process?
It’s highly unlikely that you need to do lead verification like we do here at FranchiseHelp.
However, these findings are a fairly strong signal from the pool of potential franchisees that the telephone is quickly becoming passe in terms of ways to communicate.
We get feedback all the time that it’s difficult to get people on the phone. Metrics like telephone contact rates continue to come down, and it’s easy to see why.
Although we don’t have the actual evidence, we're confident that had we included email as a third option for communication, we would have seen close to zero people choose phone call.
We're definitely NOT saying that it’s time to abandon telephone calls as far as communication with your leads. In fact, this Gallup Study reveals the phone is still very much alive. We're saying that it IS time to explore alternative (or, we should say, additional) methods as well.
Frankly, when we were first running this analysis, we were expecting something more along the line of a 50/50 split of text to call.
But a 90/10 split? That's a whole other animal!
That’s the reality of the franchise lead generation and sales environment that we’re working in, and it's changing everything.
Where Things Go from Here
It's clear now that the combination of the mobile first consumer + text messaging / SMS is completely transforming the way prospective franchisees want to research and communicate with franchisors.
And if history offers any lessons, the way prospects wish to be communicated with is not open to negotiation just because the other party (whether that be a portal or a franchise sales pro) wishes it were so.
Yet rather than treat this as a threat to be outrun, the savviest development directors will embrace text communication as an opportunity unlike any the industry has seen in years. FranchiseHelp's account managers have seen firsthand the immediate benefit for franchisors we work with to texting right for their concept. (Like anything sales, the optimal implementation is not one-size-fits-all.) And we're frankly baffled that figuring this out isn't a top priority for every brand. But the data shows it soon will be.
The improved ROI on your lead generation budget and sales team investment is simply too great to put this off.
How Franchisors Can Take Action on these Findings
If your franchise is interested in text messaging technology designed for franchise development teams, check out our sister service FranFunnel.
It's pre-loaded with continually updated best practices and templates developed from millions of text message interactions across hundreds of thousands of leads.
FranFunnel is designed to function independently or play beautifully with CRM systems (such as the franchise CRM FRM Solutions), and can work with leads from all your sources -- whether they be FranchiseHelp leads, leads from your own website, or leads from elsewhere entirely.
Further Reading on Text Messaging for Franchise Lead Generation and Development
FranchiseHelp research and data on text messaging for franchise sales:
Real-world findings from FranFunnel (text messaging for franchise development teams):
Want guidance on using text messaging for your franchise sales?
With data analyzed from millions of text messages and tens of thousands of leads a month, we've seen both the benefits and pitfalls of using text messaging / SMS for franchise lead generation and sales (it's our job, so we don't expect too much credit for it).
We'd love to share our hard-won data, advice, and free training on the topic with your development team.
We'll discuss our internal findings on incorporating text messaging the right way -- customized to your brand, target franchisee profile, financial requirements, lead volume, and sales team size -- whether you have any interest in working with FranchiseHelp (great!) or not (it's ok, just buy us a beer at the next show!).
Optimizing Your Franchise Lead Follow-Up Process
As important as it is to focus on the lead "generation" part of the sales funnel, it's equally, if not more, important to make sure that your franchise's follow-up process is optimized.
Wait, you’re telling me that your homepage is NOT your most visited page on you website?
Yeah. I know. Shocking.
“Franchising” May Be More Dead Than I Thought
Since then, I’ve received lots of positive and negative feedback on that article. Some people seem to think that I undersold my point, while others pointed to the fact that overall interest may be waning but interest amongst the most important groups was increasing.