Did you hear about that great franchise?
Yeah, that’s a rhetorical question, but it’s also a clue to the single-most important key to creating a strong customer base for a franchise: Word of Mouth (or WOM) marketing. People talking about your product or service is an incredibly powerful tool. Face it. When it comes time to make a critical buying choice, are you more likely to take the word of an ad or commercial or a friend who has firsthand knowledge of the product?
We all know an advertisement is bought and paid for. The company can say anything it wants (within the bounds of the law, anyway). Your friend, however, has no ulterior motive, except to tell you the truth. They don’t want you to get burned or they’ll hear about it from you for years to come! That’s why your’re going to trust your friend. And that’s why WOM works. One legendary Southern California franchise built its success almost completely on WOM. The In-N-Out Burger chain achieved cult status by, first, serving a quality product, and second, using its very satisfied customer base to spread the word and increase sales. One really inexpensive marketing campaign tapped into their grassroots WOM appeal like no other. Periodically, they would give away In-N-Out bumper stickers to customers. They would then send out spotters to write down the license plate numbers of cars with the bumper stickers on them and hold drawings to award prizes such as trips to Hawaii, video recorders, microwaves, etc. It was a tremendous success and it directly rewarded loyal customers.
Today, a franchise can easily build its WOM by implementing a well-constructed and proven turnkey referral program that also rewards loyal customers as well as put them to work for you. By giving your patrons a special discount or free offer in return for recommending you to friends and family, you are able to grow and expand your customer base in an organic, consistent way. The number 1 secret to building a successful franchise? Offer your customers quality products and services and motivate them through the incentives of a robust referral program to refer you to friends and family. A happy customer is your best salesperson. And your most powerful marketing tool.