FRANCHISE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
online reputation management tasks. It particularly
emphasizes blogging on its corporate website. “The
blogs on our website are written by industry technical
writers, identifying and relaying to potential new affiliates
what our business is about, what our industry can do to
be more green, and why someone would want to be
involved in waste management consulting,” Shapiro says.
“Continuing to blog regularly and keep your information
fresh and new is imperative these days to stay at the top
of search engines.”
Shapiro anticipates significant short-term growth for the
concept. “We are interested in opening 120 new locations
in the next 12 months and would love to target major
metro areas throughout the U.S. and Canada,” she says.
Love is a key part of the message and the appeal at
Seniors Helping Seniors, a Reading, Pa., franchiser of
non-medical home-care businesses. “We actually use
the word ‘Love’ in our advertising,” says Co-founder and
CEO Philip Yocom. The company’s specific services
range from mundane tasks such as changing light bulbs
to providing round-the-clock care. It’s overriding
objective, however, is to provide clients with critical
intangibles. “We provide less-active seniors with all of
the help they need to be able to continue to live
independently in their own homes with both the dignity
and the respect they deserve,” Yocom says.
Seniors Helping Seniors’ approach to social media is to
leave it to its master franchises. “We found our master
license structure is our best way for our Seniors Helping
Seniors franchise system to both maximize the opportunity
and to minimize the challenges inherent to social media,”
Yocom says. Local franchises are active in using social
media including Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube to
educate, inform, and interact with consumers and
professional referral sources. Examples include a local
franchisee posting a YouTube video of the company
joining the local chamber of commerce, another delivering
a videotaped explanation of the company’s mission and
offerings, and a master licensee posting weekly to
LinkedIn to develop potential franchisee contacts
When Seniors Helping Seniors began in 2005, the
company’s goal was to double its size annually and,
beginning 2011, add 100 new franchises a year for the
next five years. The company is on track to do that and
more, with approximately 175 franchise territories open
across the country. And for Yocom franchisee’s,
emotional commitment to joining the Seniors Helping
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Seniors continues to be as important -- or more so --
than the geographic market.
At Cousins Subs, family is fundamental to its attraction,
says Justin McCoy, director of marketing for the
Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based chain of sandwich
shops. The company has been family-owned since its
founding 40 years ago, and is in the middle of a major
expansion effort, stressing its quality product, training,
operations, technology, and competitive initial
investment, McCoy says.
“We have been extremely active in social media with our
primary focus on Facebook and Twitter,” McCoy adds.
Cousins Subs posts updates about store openings and
services such as online ordering while also mining social
networks for customer feedback. With 145 open locations
in Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota,
and Wisconsin, McCoy expects to add 15 by the end of
2012 concentrated in the Midwest, Texas, and Arizona.
At Red Mango a big concentration is on flexibility with a
real-estate platform that supports self-serve, full-serve,
and non-traditional kiosk formats, says Daniel Kim, founder
of the Dallas-based franchiser of frozen treat purveyors.
Other attractions include products top rated for health and
taste, and a diverse menu of frozen yogurt, smoothies,
parfaits, and other beverages, Kim says.
Social media serves up a helping hand, as well. “Many of
our franchisees are avid fans of our brand, so we get a lot
of leads through these channels,” Kim says. “Also, potential
franchisees research the brand through our interactions
on Facebook and Twitter.” Red Mango has 141 locations,
mostly on the East Coast and in the Midwest. “We will
continue to grow on the East Coast, and in the Midwest
and South, with a target of 200-plus stores over the next
12 months,” Kim says.
Clearly, growth-oriented franchisers in a variety of fields
are targeting social media as a vital tool for reaching out
to customers, franchisees, and others. Consultant Plaisted
says that franchises that aren’t active in social media
should probably move fast to get started. But she adds
that those who already have track records in tapping the
networks also have to remain nimble.
“I think social media is probably here to stay,” she says.
“But what it’s going to be might change. And you’ve got
to go where your consumers are. So whatever’s trending,
the business should probably follow.”