One of the areas of digital marketing that I know woefully little about is franchises. I worked with a franchise company (InterContinental Hotels Group) years ago on their corporate site, but I never really had great answers for questions around what their franchises could do to help SEO or how to establish guidelines for digital marketing.
Luckily there are people like Jordan Choo, my guest today, who are experts in franchise digital marketing.
In this video we discuss:
- How much franchisors invest in marketing for their franchisees, and what they should invest instead
- Why you should check your website every month to see what’s potentially broken
- What should franchisors know about SEO, and how can franchisees help their franchisors with SEO?
- Tools/technologies franchisors use that works well for SEO
- Why franchisors need a board of advisors made up of franchisees
- Why a franchisor’s job is primarily taking care of their franchisees
- The biggest mistake franchises make when investing in SEO/digital marketing
- Why it doesn’t matter where your local marketing firm is
John Doherty (00:02):
Hello, everyone. This is John Doherty, founder and CEO of Credo here, where we help great companies find and hire the right pre-vetted digital marketing agency. Today is the first in a new set of interviews that I’m doing with digital marketing agency owners, full disclosure agencies that are on Credo themselves. And today we’re talking about a topic that to be completely honest with you, after about 12 years of digital marketing experience, being an SEO, driving a ton of leads and traffic, two agencies, helping a lot of companies hired. This is a topic that I actually know woefully little about. That’s why I’m super stoked to have Jordan Choo from Kogneta here with us. Kogneta is a Canada-based Toronto area based digital marketing agency specializing in franchise digital marketing.
John Doherty (00:50):
I’ve known Jordan for… What is it, man? Four, five, six years now, something like that we’ve been working together. And Jordan is my guy when it comes to franchise marketing. So I’m super stoked to have him here today, helping us understand a little bit more about franchise marketing, what franchises need to know, what franchisors and franchisees need to know about their marketing channels, their marketing initiatives, and honestly their marketing budgets and how they can best set themselves apart. So, Jordan, welcome, super stoked to have you, if you would, tell us a little bit about yourself, tell us a little bit about Kogneta.
Jordan Choo (01:21):
Yeah, thanks a ton for the intro, John, and no pressure after all that high pay. So, in terms of who I am, as you mentioned, I’m Jordan, I run a digital marketing agency called Kogneta. We help franchisors profitably and predictably scale across Canada and the US. We’ve been in the world of franchising for the last six years, I’ve been in the world of franchising for the last eight to nine, were prior to starting this agency, I actually worked at a much larger one, helping companies and franchisors such as Volkswagen, Dairy Queen, Tim Hortons, really profitably and predictably grow. And it’s been history ever since.
John Doherty (02:07):
Awesome. That’s awesome. So, Jordan, one of the things I wanted to ask about that, I really wanted to open up with your, as you said, eight, nine years of franchise marketing experience over time, I’m curious how this changed. But also what is the number one mistake you currently see franchises making in digital marketing? What’s the thing that you see time and time and time again, that you’re like, “Come on, let’s solve this. It’s so important.”
Jordan Choo (02:33):
Oh, where do I begin? And which one do I choose? There’re so many. I think the largest one. And I’m a little biased. I’m a huge nerd. I studied economics in university, but I would really say what I like to call closing that loop. So, as marketers, we are always able to see how many leads we’re actually generating for a franchisor, but we never really have a good understanding of, okay, what happens after post submission, post phone call? And really closing that loop by integrating your CRM system back into your analytics platform, such as GA, helps us and your organization as a whole, really understand which channel, which keywords, the landing pages, content, what have you, actually drives the needle, versus which ones that don’t. And then based off this information, you can just totally geek out on where to invest and where not to invest into.
John Doherty (03:35):
Gotcha. So by GA, you mean Google Analytics, right? Putting that information back in there?
Jordan Choo (03:39):
John Doherty (03:41):
One of the interesting things and honestly, hardest things about digital marketing is attribution. And really understanding what are you getting from the channel, right? And it’s especially hard when it comes to… I ticket things, right? So a franchisor acquiring new franchisees, they’re going to pay you… The franchisee is going to pay the franchisor a lot of money, I’m assuming. I’ve talked with a few franchisors in the past, and when they told me what the investment is, I was like, “Oh, that’s a lot of money.” So, these things can be super valuable. And so acquiring these… Let’s just kind of jump into budgeting a little bit and kind of figuring out how much you spend, and where you spend it and that sort of thing. It sounds like you’re saying that by closing that loop, you can really start to understand where is the budget that you’re spending actually being profitable for you, versus is just kind of an expense, right? Because marketing can be both, advertising can be both.
John Doherty (04:37):
It can be an expense, because you’re not making it back. In which case, you probably cut it out, because there’s a bigger reason for it, longer term thinking. But it can also be just a phenomenal investment and you can get good payback, but it might also take a while. So tell us a little bit about that and kind of how you as a marketer, think about driving in franchisee leads to franchisors, if that’s the franchisors ultimate goal? And how should franchisors think about how much to spend, where to spend it, time to pay back? Those kind of things.
Jordan Choo (05:06):
Yeah, as you mentioned that sales period between a franchise development leader, an FD lead coming in to when it actually closes is a very long time, right? Don’t be surprised if it’s six, 12, 18 month close period. So being able to really have that kind of laser focus understanding of what is happening, is super important. What I also like to track is not just sales and revenue, but also SQLs, or sales qualified leads, because that’s a proxy metric to where your revenue is going to be coming from. Now, there’s this industry number of, do 10% of your overall revenue. And to go off on a bit of a tangent here and answer a different question, John, is on the consumer franchisee marketing side, a lot of new franchisors in their FD agreement, will allocate one to 3% of a franchisees budget to actual marketing. That is way lower than the actual norm, you should be allocating at least five to 10% in order to see those good quality results coming in across the board for all of your franchisees.
John Doherty (06:28):
It actually sounds like you’re saying that a lot of franchisors, when they’re the ones that are kind of running marketing for the franchisees, they’re actually putting way too little, they’re under investing in marketing in those areas. So, out of curiosity, what would you say is an average franchisee fee per month or per year?
Jordan Choo (06:48):
Yeah, yeah. So based off of franchisees revenue, definitely shoot for that five to 10% range. That is industry normal, industry standard. Don’t be gun shy when it comes to that line item in your FD.
John Doherty (07:05):
So, if they’re making 100… The franchise is making $100,000 a month, you’re saying they should be putting five to 10 grand of that, this is total revenue, not profit, this is total revenue, five to 10% of that back into marketing?
Jordan Choo (07:20):
Yeah. And it goes kind of across the board, right? So you’re aggregating all of your channels, all different channels, right? So obviously, we’re talking about digital, but there is also an offline component, right?
John Doherty (07:32):
Jordan Choo (07:32):
A lot of franchisees and franchisors continue to invest in the offline investments, whether that’s decal wraps, swag, door to door flyers, billboards, TV, what have you. So with these channels, it does add up really quickly. And then when you start to layer on PPC, SEO, content marketing, social media, it goes way very, very quickly.
John Doherty (07:55):
Yeah, totally. Yeah, absolutely. And so it kind of comes down to… And as you said, closing that loop, because there are a ton of channels that you can do, there’s online and offline, there’s sponsoring your kids soccer team, that sort of thing. And all this stuff adds up and it sounds like kind of finger in the air if you have a franchise that’s making 1.2 million a year, they should be putting you know 60 to 120K a year into marketing. And then also, and obviously some of these branding, more brand marketing initiatives like sponsoring your kids soccer team’s jerseys is more brand marketing, right? You can’t really tie that one back directly, but where you can, tying it back. And then overall saying, “Okay, we spent 100K and we made X amount more.” And so really looking at marketing as an investment not necessarily an expense. Just out of curiosity, just because I don’t know much about kind of offline brand marketing, how do you typically see and how would you… And obviously saying that knowing that you’re a digital marketer.
John Doherty (09:10):
What’s the breakdown you often see between offline and digital marketing for franchises? And once again, the actual franchise not a franchisor trying to get a new franchisee, I do want to talk about that though. But what’s kind of break down you see for a franchise like a local Tim Hortons, or something like that? I love Tim Hortons, even though I’m based in the US. What’s the typical percentage breakdown, what’s local Tim Hortons going to be spending on offline versus online at this point?
Jordan Choo (09:38):
Yeah, you know what? I hate to give you the typical SEO answer, John, but-
John Doherty (09:42):
Jordan Choo (09:43):
It really does depend. What’s interesting is that with a lot of the home service brands that I’ve spoken to in the past, they have found that offline advertising has been working wonders for them. And-
John Doherty (10:00):
So, by home services you mean hvac, plumbing, those sorts of things? Lawn care, et cetera.
Jordan Choo (10:06):
Yeah. Door to door flyers, coupons. Those types of things have worked wonders. So, there is a decent percentage of budget that is allocated to offline. But as marketers, both in house on their side and agency side, digital just provides you with that ability to really attribute every single cent that is being spent and what that ROI is. So you do see a lot of brands lean a bit more on the digital side, rather than the offline side.
John Doherty (10:38):
Is there anything that brands can do to do a better job of tracking offline stuff? Like special URLs that unfurl, that redirect to a URL with UTM parameters? Is there anything that can be done there? Or have you seen anyone do anything interesting there?
Jordan Choo (10:54):
Yeah. Yeah. And I’m glad that you brought this up. UTM tracking parameters, either they’re shortened or it’s a custom domain. I’ve seen some companies use QR codes as well with their offline advertisements-
John Doherty (11:09):
Which people use now.
Jordan Choo (11:10):
Yeah, yeah. Call tracking numbers. So, call rail or call tracking metrics, all great platforms allow you to create one off static numbers that you can either put for on a campaign level, on a geographic level, what have you to really attribute what’s going on, and even specific coupon codes. So having a coupon code assigned to a campaign within your CRM, really allows you to understand the effectiveness of a campaign.
John Doherty (11:41):
Yeah, gotcha. Gotcha. Cool. Yeah. I was just curious. It’s always been one that I’ve been just never really quite understood. You see people buying billboards and as a digital marketer I’m like, “How do you even track that?” Right? So it makes me think about there’s a… I live in Colorado, and there’s… I live in Denver, and there’s Steamboat Springs, which is a well known ski area. And there’s this Western supply shop, so like cowboy hats and cowboy boots and that kind of thing. And they are known, there’s one road running to Steamboat from Denver basically, you got 70 and then you turn up six, or nine, six, something like that. I know the turn, it’s at Silverthorne. I’m going to drive by there today. You turn up there, and you basically take that all the way to Steamboat.
John Doherty (12:26):
And this store is known for they start, not billboards, but signs stuck in farmland, literally 50 to 100 miles before you get to Steamboat. So pretty much anyone going to Steamboat, sees these things, it’s like two lane, windy road through Colorado prairie, and over some mountain passes. So basically, anyone that goes to Steamboat, ends up going to this store, because it’s also middle of Main Street, but they’ve been advertising to them for the last 50 to 100 miles of this drive. And I’m like, “That is a huge ROI for them.” Right? And it’s been there forever. But there’s no way to really track that, right? It’s really like kind of affinity stuff.
Jordan Choo (13:05):
Yeah. There are platforms out there that allow brands to track using local data. So GPS, bitstream data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, the whole move towards beacon, being able to track if a person actually went past the billboard. And after going past that billboard, maybe it’s once, maybe it’s several times, whether or not they went into Tim Hortons or went into a home hardware, or what have you. The technology is not perfect, but it is out there. And you typically see the larger brands leveraging it, because they want to understand that ROI.
John Doherty (13:49):
Right. Gotcha. Yeah. And it seems like that would only make sense on a broader scale, you’re buying hundreds of billboards across the US or across Canada. Where does it make sense to keep paying for that, whereas it makes sense to not?
Jordan Choo (14:01):
John Doherty (14:01):
So, totally makes sense. Okay. Another my personal curiosity around online and offline marketing for franchises, something I wanted to get into is, so talking to the franchisor, someone looking to get or someone that owns the brand and is getting franchisees. The question really to put it as succinctly as possible is, what should franchisors, what should head offices know about creating guidelines for what their franchisees can do for their own marketing? My own personal background here is I used to work for Distilled in New York City and my largest client when I was there, and this is eight, nine years ago, 10 years ago now, was Intercontinental Hotels Group, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, et cetera. And it was always just like a fascinating web to think through where the franchisees could do specific things, but other things like all the local data and the NAPs and the GMBs are all owned by the head office.
John Doherty (14:59):
What have you seen, and how do you counsel franchisors that are thinking about this, about what do they allow them to do, whether its own website or own their own GMB and doing their own citation building and that kind of thing? How would you recommend that franchisors think about this and thinking about creating these guidelines in a way that’s going to be the most effective? And obviously, we’re just talking about digital marketing right here.
Jordan Choo (15:20):
Yeah. So, I’m highly opinionated in this. I like to lean on the side of the franchisor having more control rather than franchisees, especially when it comes to the SEO side of things. When you have multiple websites floating out on the interwebs for a single brand, so you’ll have the franchisor website, which will have maybe a micro site or a sub domain or a page specifically for the franchisee, inevitably, you’re going to have a franchisee that decides to go a little cowboy, and add their own domain, start trying to do rankings, whether it’s buying links off of Fiverr, or something wild. And not only does that make life a lot more difficult for the franchisor when it comes to SEO and marketing, but it also diminishes your brand, right? Because what will happen inevitably, is certain logos will be used, certain colors, certain branding, what have you, that is not aligned with how you as a franchisor want your brand presented.
Jordan Choo (16:29):
So it’s diminishing and diluting that strength and authority that you have. So, I like to recommend for franchisors be a little more strict, but do give franchisees some flexibility, in terms of where their dollars are invested, what types of campaigns that they’re involved in, some control over the type of content and what the content is on their site. Whether it’s internal micro, external micro, just a page, what have you, so that there is that some sense of ownership and control that franchisees have.
John Doherty (17:04):
So, you’re talking about… So, thinking about the hotels for example that I just gave, right? So, owning a lot of things that I just said, but then giving franchisees some control over their own… We call them HDPs, hotel detail page. I can’t believe I remember that, that was literally nine years ago, I worked on this eight, nine years ago. We call them HDPs, hotel detail page. So, giving them some guidelines around… Letting them upload their own photos and that kind of thing, but giving them guidelines around that, right? And so having like, “Hey, you can do this, but we also have right to review it, ask you to get different photos taken.” That sort of thing where they’re not high quality enough. That sort of thing it sounds like. So is that the kind of content that you were talking about there?
Jordan Choo (17:55):
John Doherty (17:57):
What about when it comes to local content, right? Because a big part of local marketing is local content, showing that you know the area, and obviously the kind of content, the kind of service that you provide is going to be different, whether you’re a Red Roof Inn, motel, or Four Seasons. So the second one you have a concierge, the first one you have a front desk and a bunch of brochures. But is there anything that you recommend that franchisors do for franchisees, or encouraged franchisees to do, that will also make them more effective digitally when people are looking for a hotel in Steamboat Springs, Colorado?
Jordan Choo (18:36):
Yeah. So if you’re a net new franchisor, and you’re just starting to grow your brand and grow your website, I highly recommend having it as part of your onboarding process. So when you’re bringing in a new franchisee, or when you’re launching a new location, have some sort of form or area where the franchisee, or the location manager can input information that is then used to drive the actual content on the site. Now, things get a little messy when you’re already a pre-existing franchisor and you’re trying to get existing franchisees to create new content. It’s a little like herding cats, because there’s going to be a lot of follow ups, a lot of editing and re editing. But having that content that actually speaks to the local presence like, yeah, you as a head office can create it, but it’s not going to have that umph if you will, that a franchisee would have. So, essentially, what I’m trying to say is, it is a bit of an uphill battle, but it is worth it in the long run.
John Doherty (19:45):
So, I guess one follow on question there is, if you give… I can see there being some issues with if you give local businesses, local franchisees ownership over their HDP, or their profile page on Timhortons.com for their specific location. And you don’t have editorial… You may legally have editorial oversight, but you don’t have anyone internally actually doing editorial oversight. How do you recommend businesses do that? And should they even give that editorial freedom to their franchisees before they have infrastructure built out internally in order to do that?
Jordan Choo (20:29):
It’s a bit of a catch 22 if you don’t have those resources internally, a few ways that I’ve seen this handled is, one, you either… The franchisee will use some sort of form to submit a request to have something changed. Or you’ll actually see built within some CMSs content management systems that franchisors use, is there will be some sort of review verification or QA process. And that can always be outsourced to a third party, such as an agency like myself, or a VA, or something like that, where you have a checklist of things to look for, it’s quickly gone through and if it passes, it passes, and if it’s not, it’s kind of kicked back to the franchisee.
John Doherty (21:18):
Totally, totally. And VA, virtual assistant, right? Someone that you hire maybe overseas or even in the US kind of a freelancer, it’s their job to kind of do that and to run that process. WordPress has a pending review option built in, that some bigger companies, bigger publications will use where it’s like it’s written, but you can’t actually push it live on the site, it has to go through review, internal review, even if it’s just a cursory look, some control essence searches for words that shouldn’t be published, that sort of thing. Yeah, that totally makes sense. I like the idea of having a form, they have a login, and then request to edit this, and then it goes kind of do that quick editorial workflow. And it can be part of someone’s job to log in everyday and just take a look and approve the things and keep on going.
John Doherty (22:10):
Awesome. So, let’s move on to talking about… Well, first of all, I want to talk a little bit about SEO here in just a minute specifically, because you and I are both longtime SEO guys. So, I’d like to geek out on that area. And if you want to talk any more about paid, that might be interesting as well. And one thought that I had actually was, it can be hard to justify having someone in editorial or whatever, making sure, doing that QA, but as you just said, and this is something that I tell people a lot, if you go from one to 3% of budget, towards marketing to five to 10% of budget, all of a sudden, you found a lot more budget there, or you created, not found but created a lot more budget there.
John Doherty (22:57):
So now you can afford some of these things, right? Oftentimes I tell agencies that are like, “I have no profit margin.” And I’m like, “What are you charging?” And they tell me and they’re charging half of market rate. I’m like, “Raise your prices, and this is how you do it.” Right? Obviously, you can’t do that if you’re Tim Hortons or McDonald’s or something like that, right? People will scream about, “My coffee costs 20 extra cents.” But if you’re at that scale, that’s going to make a huge difference in your business overall. But I guess what my question here was, is so talking to franchisors specifically, because from what I understand a lot of what you do, as well as what you’ve been doing a lot more in the last little while, is helping franchisors acquire franchisees, right?
Jordan Choo (23:42):
Yeah, we’ve been doing a bit of that. I would say that our main focus is more, instead of what we call that B2B side, or the franchise development side, is more on the consumer side or helping the franchisees grow and find new leads, customers, what have you.
John Doherty (24:00):
Gotcha, gotcha. Okay. So, I’m not going to ask that question then. So, the question now is going to be, what is it usually that drives a franchisor, or a head office to come to an agency like Kogneta? What’s usually going on in their business, and where are the areas where they really should think about enlisting the help of an agency like you all?
Jordan Choo (24:29):
Oh! I would say as of recently, for my specific case, the website as a whole has been neglected. So, inevitably, there are just numerous opportunities to improve, whether that’s on the SEO side, on the PBC side, even on the conversion rate optimization side, because as a franchisor, you are being pulled in 1000 different directions to support your franchisees, to grow your franchise network meaning, sales on the FD side. And to add here, if you did raise money, and if you want to grow rapidly, making sure you appease your investors as well. So what inevitably ends up happening is your website gets neglected, performance drops.
Jordan Choo (25:23):
And then franchisees are constantly bombarding you with emails, “Hey, what’s happening, I’m getting no customers, you’re charging me five to 10%, and yet, you’re not using it, I’m angry, I’m going to sue you guys.” And it just spirals from there. So, we’ve been coming in helping them clean up their website to get them really back on track with things.
John Doherty (25:46):
Interesting. What are some of the common things that you see franchisors doing wrong on their websites, especially from an SEO perspective? What are some of the hairier things that you’ve come across? And what are some of the more common things as well, because I’m sure people can take… go [inaudible 00:26:02] and say, “Oh, I’m doing that one. Thanks, Jordan.”
Jordan Choo (26:04):
Yeah, I would say a hairy and as of recently a common thing is, because of how complex some franchises are, they will go through multiple tech stack iterations. So, they may start off with Google Sheets as a CRM, go and start using Zoho. And then as they grow, they’ll go to Salesforce. And then as they grow again, they’ll switch to a custom built CRM. When you’re migrating from all these technologies, there is inevitably a technical debt on your website, meaning there are things that are on your site, there are functionality or pages or what have you, that have been forgotten about because of this consistent change in technology.
Jordan Choo (26:56):
So as a result, you end up shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to performance. Because not to geek out on the SEO side, but we know multiple pages, thin pages, pages that should be no indexed, but are being indexed. It’s just out of bloat. And again, shoot yourself in the foot in the long run.
John Doherty (27:16):
Right. Yeah. Not to mention, broken forms and missed opportunities, because it’s someone’s personal embedded Calendly calendar or HubSpot calendar or Salesforce calendar, and that person left the company six months ago, and meetings are getting on their calendar, and no one is looking at their calendar, that sort of thing. Yeah.
Jordan Choo (27:36):
Exactly. And again, going to the tech stack changes, CMSs, content management systems are huge, because as you scale, you’re going to need more and more granularity, permissions, when you have more franchisees on board, so when CMSs changes, a ton of pages are forgotten about, there’s a ton of functionality that’s forgotten about. And as a result, you have broken links, horrible 404. It’s just an absolute mess that’s just forgotten about.
John Doherty (28:06):
Yep, yep. I was on a site recently. I live in Denver, and I was on a site recently, and wanted to contact them about a service that I needed. And I click their contact us button, which by the way, had a typo in it. Instead of just get started, it was to As, S-T-A-A-R-T-E-D. It was like a pirate. Yeah, it was just misspelled up there in the top. And it went to a 404.
Jordan Choo (28:33):
John Doherty (28:33):
The page was not there. And I was like, “You got to be kidding me.” Someone I was looking to pay multiple hundreds of dollars to and guess what I did? I didn’t go to Facebook and try to contact them there, I went to their competitor, because I could contact them. So yeah, that kind of thing, it’s just a business killer. And some of that is just hygiene. Once a month, I always tell people, I do this on my own site, at least once a month, or when I feel like things are slowing down and they shouldn’t be, things just feel a little off, they feel a little slow right now, what do I do? I go back through my conversion flow, is our get started button working? Is our form submit? Did my connection to pipe new leads that are coming in through Slack did that get broken? And leads are actually there, but I just don’t know it because that zap from Zapier broke, right?
John Doherty (29:20):
That kind of thing. Just going back and just looking at these things consistently, just to cinch check, did something break that we didn’t mean to break that is going to materially affect our business in a negative way? Is something that I feel like a lot of people don’t do. And yeah, as you said they neglect their websites and stop performing for them anymore, or it was great in 2014, but we’re in 2021 now, and what people expect from the internet load times, visuals et cetera, has changed, not that you change it every six months with the latest trends, but you should be refreshing your website every couple of years just to kind of keep up with the times and stay modern. So, let’s geek out a little bit on SEO for a second. Because it’s something that I know you think about a lot, is something that I thought about a lot for a long time.
John Doherty (30:13):
So, you mentioned to me before we started here that you think SEO is really one of the most under leveraged channels, and under invested in channels for franchisors. So I’m curious, from your perspective, what should franchisors be thinking about when it comes to SEO for their franchisees? And what can franchisees do that’s going to help out their franchisors as well, when it comes to driving traffic to the search engines?
Jordan Choo (30:40):
Oh, man. On the franchisor side, it’s really just make sure you have all your table stakes there. Right? So are you actually… Do you actually have your GMB profiles verified? Do you have ownership of them? Or are franchisees owning them? Are you doing citation distribution and management at scale? Whose job is that? Hint hint, it should be on the franchisor side and should not be left up to the franchisees.
John Doherty (31:09):
Jordan Choo (31:10):
Yeah. And that goes for reputation management as well, right? You really want to have a good understanding of what is happening because as important as it is for franchisees to be providing a good service, you as head office need to understand what is going on. In addition to that, just making sure you scale out your site with best practices, like actually have those franchisee pages, have a nice locator. Don’t list all of your franchise locations on a single page and that’s it. They need to have at minimum dedicated pages, if not internal or external micro sites for that.
John Doherty (31:48):
Yep. Internal, or external micro sites that the franchisor controls.
Jordan Choo (31:53):
John Doherty (31:54):
Gotcha. Are there specific… I hate to use the word, solutions tools that CMSs, that franchisors tend to use for scaling out micro sites, or scaling out sub domains? Obviously, what’s best is have it there on your main domain, right? Like, franchise.com/location/… and then what? Address? I’m curious what you recommend there, but yeah, is there a tool, is there a common CMS that you see franchisors using, or is it just homegrown?
Jordan Choo (32:27):
Yeah. There are a fair amount of franchise specific CMSs out there. These are all proprietary. And when I say proprietary, I mean another company owns them, you’re paying them a monthly fee, most likely on a per franchisee per location basis. The other alternative is WordPress, there are a few plugins out there that allow you to get granular with permissions allowing your franchisees to edit it, allowing you to kind of scale things out for every new franchisee that you have, a new location description page or franchisee page is created. Again, I’m highly opinionated in this in that I personally believe that you should own your entire website. So, I do my best to recommend for franchisees to go that WordPress route, though, for not all of them it makes sense. So that’s my answer in terms of the CMS, Now in terms of site structure, I have written an article on it, hint, hint, nudge, nudge, check out Kogneta’s blog for that. But what I typically-
John Doherty (33:41):
Give me the link and I’ll put it in the show notes.
Jordan Choo (33:43):
Yeah, will do. What I typically recommend is depending on how dense your franchisee territories are, meaning, are you a Tim Hortons where you have 10 locations within one city block? Or are you more of a service area franchise where you have one per city or for multiple cities. So, depending on the density, I will typically recommend either an individual page, so very similar to what you mentioned, John with the hotel description page, or an internal micro site where it’s locations/Toronto, and then you kind of have sub pages within it. So, that’s ideal scenario. If you have to go the sub domain route, do it. Please do your best not to go with external sites, meaning franchiseabctoronto.com, where it’s a completely separate site. Because that causes a lot of headaches, not just from a marketing side, but even from a technical management side as well.
John Doherty (34:51):
Absolutely. Yeah. Because if you’ve got 100 franchises, first of all, the domain fees themselves kind of add up, right? You have 100 franchises, and each one has a domain that costs even just $10 a month, right? That’s $1,000, $10,000, I think is what that is. So, that’s a lot… That becomes a lot of money, right? Versus you have one domain that maybe you pay $10,000 for it, but it more than pays for itself within a year. Plus, you don’t have the extra hosting, the extra upkeep and the rolling out new plugins, if you’re on WordPress, and all that sort of stuff. So yeah, just from a technical money, infrastructure…
John Doherty (35:35):
People to maintain that infrastructure just from that perspective, it makes a ton more sense just to have ideally on your main domain, on your main sub domain, but then if necessary, individual sub domains is better than… And then all that is way better than each individual property being able to have their own website for reasons you mentioned before. Branding, conversion, duplication of things, duplication of Google My Business, all that sort of stuff, it just gets insane. So what can… I’m sorry, if I missed this, I don’t think I did. But what can franchisees then be doing to help out franchisors? Let’s assume the franchisor is owning the Google My Business and the NAP and the citations and that sort of thing, and owns the main website. What do franchisees need to know in that case about how they can best support when it comes to updating their profile on the site, when it comes to social media profiles, when it comes to local marketing they’re doing? What can they do to support good local SEOs that they can rank?
Jordan Choo (36:39):
You know what? I would say the best thing, not just from a local SEO, or local marketing perspective, is just get back to the franchisor as quickly as possible with whatever requests that they have. Because what inevitably ends up happening is, a rising tide lifts all boats when it comes to franchise marketing. So, if you are able to get back to the franchisor quickly, if you’re able to provide them with content, it not just helps you, but it also helps your fellow members as well. So, that is what I would say is the biggest thing. And understand that things don’t happen overnight, especially on the SEO side. Yes, you are a business owner. It is your livelihood, it’s most likely your primary source of income. So, on head office level, they do understand and have that sympathy for you. But at the same time, it’s not flick of a switch, things will happen immediately, especially when it comes to SEO.
John Doherty (37:43):
Right, right. And you could probably say from the franchisor level, communicating with your franchisees letting them know what’s going on, if there’s special promotions going on, you’re updating the website, there’s going to be some downtime, that sort of thing also… So it’s a two way street as well. And probably just saying, “Hey, here’s what we’re doing. Here’s what happened on the SEO front, here’s what Kogneta did, here’s what our agency did over the last month.” In order to improve rankings and Google and drive more customers. Do you see franchisors doing that well?
Jordan Choo (38:22):
Yeah, I’m actually glad you brought that up. Because what I’ve seen some of the most successful franchisors owners do, is actually put together boards of advisors that are made up of franchisees.
John Doherty (38:35):
Oh, I like that.
Jordan Choo (38:37):
Yeah. With some of them, it’ll just be a board of franchisees where they will provide input on everything kind of going on, while with other systems, typically larger ones, is they will have a board specifically for marketing, or specifically for operations or sales or what have you. And that way you’re able to, especially close that feedback loop in terms of what the actual franchisees are seeing to what franchisor head office is seeing. Because there will always be that disconnect. Your goal as a franchisor is really to support your franchisees. So, by being able to reduce that feedback loop and communication line, you’re just making your life and even the franchisee’s life super easy.
John Doherty (39:21):
I like it, I like it. That’s smart. So, the marketing team having a set of franchises, it’s their customer advisory board. Right? Franchise advisory board, let’s call it, that they’re constantly kind of getting that feedback from, communicating to, getting feedback from, which helps them kind of improve everything that they’re doing for the good of the whole.
Jordan Choo (39:42):
John Doherty (39:42):
I like it. Very cool. Very cool. Well, Jordan, we’re coming up to the end of our time. So, before I asked you where people can find you online, I would love to know is there anything that I have not asked about that you would love to communicate to franchisors or franchisees about their marketing?
Jordan Choo (40:09):
Marketing is an investment, not an expense. So, think of it as a long term investment, don’t try and go with the cheapest option out there. Because that will not only burn yourself, but it will burn your franchisees. That’s something that is not good at all. As I mentioned before, your primary goal as a franchisor, is to do your very best supporting your franchisees. And that also trickles down to the third parties that you work with as well.
John Doherty (40:42):
Yep, yep. I love it. I love it. Yeah, that’s actually… Just to jump in real quick here. That’s something that me running Credo where we basically, generate leads for marketing agencies, we help a lot of companies find the right marketing agency to hire, right? We’ve helped close to 6000 now over the last six years. So sort of a lot of companies across the board from your small local coffee shop, all the way up to some of the biggest brands in the world. And something that we see all too often, that just kind of put my head in my hands and shake my head every time this happens, is they’ll be talking to some great agencies that charge industry rate, industry standard rates, but do phenomenal marketing. And as you said, think about it as an investment not an expense. And then they’ll come back and they’ll be like, “Oh, we hired my board members nephew’s agency, but they haven’t done SEO before, but they’re going to learn and they were cheap.”
John Doherty (41:37):
A, that’s under investing, and B, you’re just going to lose so much time and opportunity there. Right? Even if you work with them for six months, right? That’s six months that you could have been working with someone, yes, paying them more, but because it’s an investment, you’re going be seeing that return a lot faster versus like, you may have only wasted $5,000, but that’s still $5,000 that you didn’t have to waste. And then also, something that I always talk about with franchisors, is it doesn’t really matter where your local marketing firm is, where your marketing firm is, especially if you’re nationwide. Across Canada, across the US or both or whatever, it does not matter quality wise necessarily, if they are in Atlanta, Georgia, San Francisco, California, or Toronto, Canada.
John Doherty (42:33):
Right? The one area that it can make a difference is what they need to charge in order to afford to live in those areas. So, that is something to look at. But someone that going knows local marketing, is someone that knows local marketing. Geographically bound marketing. Someone that knows franchise marketing knows how to market a franchise no matter where it is. And it’s much more about the systems that you set in place and the guidelines that you set in place that determines whether or not you’re going to be successful rather than they’ve been to these three Tim Hortons within this couple block area, in our case, the Walgreens the pharmacy, there’s like six around me here within four miles. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been to all of those Walgreens, they can come to your office necessarily, right? We’re still in COVID times, but pre and post, they can hop on a plane, right? So, they can be there in a day’s time if needed.
John Doherty (43:23):
And even if they’re in your local area, they’re not going to come to your office last minute anyways. So, you’re going to plan ahead of time, they can hop on a plane, and they can be there. So I also just want to encourage that kind of mindset shift, where it doesn’t really matter if they’re in your specific local area, it matters that they have the processes and have the experience working with businesses like yours to drive those results.
Jordan Choo (43:44):
Exactly. Glad you brought that up.
John Doherty (43:46):
Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, Jordan, where can people find you online if they’re interested in learning more about you, following you, following Kogneta? Give us the goods.
Jordan Choo (43:56):
Yeah. So you can find out more about me. I’m most active on LinkedIn. My name is Jordan Choo. That’s J-O-R-D-A-N C-H-O-O. You can check it out my company’s website kogneta.com, K-O-G-N-E-T-A.com. I’m also part of this fantastic platform called Credo, hint hint nudge nudge. You can also find me there.
John Doherty (44:16):
Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. So, Jordan… So, if you’re a franchisor looking to hire a marketing firm, please do check out Kogneta, they are fantastic at what they do. So we have worked with them for a long time, fully stand behind what they do. Jordan’s a fantastic guy and his team drives great results. So, Jordan, thanks, man. I appreciate having you on the show.
Jordan Choo (44:38):
No problem. Thanks a ton, John.