Business 101: 5 Ways to Overcome a Sales Drought in Your Franchise Startup

Sales results often turn out different from what we expected, and it is not always better. This can be disconcerting for a new franchise owner. It might even lead you to question whether the franchise model “works”.

Rather than wallow in despair, if sales are slow, there are positive steps you can take. Franchising has an aura that can lead people to expect the ride will be predictably good and smooth. In my experience, business may well start off slower or rockier than everyone hoped — even when the franchise owner is the best fit for the system that the franchisor could dream of.

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A bumpy start-up seems more common in some types of franchise. For instance, starting a business in a long established retail franchise with a track record of good site selection may well mean more predictable sales than in an emerging business-to-business franchise. 

I have seen slow business start-ups from the inside of franchisor land, and there is no doubt in my mind that this is part of franchising — and you can get through it, but action is needed to get sales fired up.

Here are 5 things you can do if initial sales are not going as well as you would like.

Ask the franchisor for help. 

Franchisors are usually very willing to help you get over the bumps. They may provide extra support to help you improve your understanding and application of proven sales approaches or provide a boost to local marketing initiatives.

Ask other franchisees for advice. 

A fellow franchisee who is strong in sales might be able to give you tips and encouragement. Perhaps they can accompany you on sales calls and give you direct feedback.

Talk to people. 

Whether it’s phone calls, appointments, popping in to leave a brochure for a local business or networking, you can only make sales if you talk to people. It takes more than one contact to make a sale. So, you MUST be out there in your market, learning about potential customers and letting them know about you.

Hone your sales skills. 

If you do not have much formal   or experience, it is a good idea to invest some time in learning a little about selling.

Find some relevant books, courses or a skilled sales coach. 

At one stage, I found this book helpful, and my business partner, Peter Knight, is a big fan of books by Brian Tracy.

Try different things. 

It is good to follow a number of different approaches: phone, mail, email marketing, blogging, social media and networking events. This helps make work interesting, gets you out meeting people so you are not stewing in the office and helps you see what works for you.

It can be hard work to build a business that depends on personal sales, but it is one of the most rewarding types of business as you are really driving it. So, if things are not going as you hoped, do not despair, take a breath and try some of these suggestions.