How a franchise can increase reach and attract customers by expanding its services.
By Marianne Christman
Expanding your services – especially those that offer unique opportunities within your niche – can be a great way to increase your reach and attract new customers. Adding new products or service offerings can often meet the needs of current customers, attract new customers with different needs and help you compete more strongly in your industry.
However, you must know and genuinely care about your customers and their needs. Think long and hard about the value a new product or service would bring and how it would help your customers. Take advantage of the relationships and trust you’ve built with them. They see you as an authority in your space and would likely welcome innovative ideas that would help meet their needs.
Whatever you do, remember to stay true to your brand and to your company’s culture.
Identify new opportunities that complement your core services. Leverage your core service offerings – what you already do well and are passionate about – as a starting point for developing new ways to meet your customers’ needs.
Here are questions to ask:
- What new opportunities exist within your niche?
- Is there a specific demand in your market that your competitors are not addressing? Understand your competition and current customers’ needs and take advantage of these opportunities.
- Can you solve a common problem? Specializing in a particular area can better address the pain points of your customers. Think about the added value you could provide by offering an added service.
Form Strategic Partnerships
Does your franchisor have partnerships at a broader level that you can leverage? As a franchisee, having access to relationships that have already been researched, vetted and established can be invaluable. It can save you time and money, and lend instant credibility, especially if the partner has a solid reputation in your industry. Also, in many cases, these alliances already share a similar vision and culture and have core values that match yours.
You can take this one step further by forming exclusive partnerships. These can give you a leg up on the competition because you know that no one else can offer that identical service or program.
Our company has relationships with several national partners that provide education, training and certifications in programs related to brain health and dementia care. These partnerships were formed at the franchisor level, but we leverage them in our local markets to help expand our reach. The specialized programs complement our core services, and they offer added value to current and prospective clients who are living with Alzheimer’s, dementia and traumatic brain injury.
These niche programs also help us attract and retain team members, especially caregivers. Because we are providing specialized training, caregivers can further their education and they have more opportunity for advancement. We’re allowing them to grow and do their jobs better, so they want to stick around.
Rethink Your Network
Offering a niche service may open (or re-open) new doors. Perhaps there is a referral source you’ve approached in the past and it just wasn’t a good fit at the time. Or your new product or service might give you the opportunity to network in places you wouldn’t have thought of before.
Consider using your team members who are out in the community as ambassadors. This can help generate word-of-mouth referrals and valuable testimonials. For example, our caregivers and homecare aides are out in the community in various care facilities teaching and utilizing our unique brain health programs.
Some of our current and potential referral sources are so impressed with what they’ve seen that they have asked us to educate their staff on our programs. Therefore, we have trained home health and hospice staff in assisted and independent living communities and memory care facilities. We have made it a focus of ours to specialize in these dementia care programs so that if someone wants care in this area, our referral sources know to turn to us. They look to us as the experts, and we are forging new partnerships
Embrace Grassroots Activities
Oftentimes when introducing a new program or service, you must be creative and cost-conscious when raising awareness. Boots-on-the-ground grassroots activities can be very effective. Examples include:
- Hosting free events or sponsoring community events to increase exposure;
- Speaking at local or industry events and conferences to be seen as a thought leader;
- Offering free education to connect with potential customers. For example, we offer free classes throughout the community – in places like local senior centers and fitness centers – to allow referral sources and potential clients to experience the program; or
- Partnering with relevant organizations that will help build awareness. We have a great partner in the Alzheimer’s Association where our certified team members run Alzheimer’s support groups and help family caregivers who are caring for a loved one with cognitive decline.