Christmas across the franchise: How to make the most of the festive season talks to two franchisors about their different approaches to Christmas promotions

The pre-Christmas spending frenzy is the perfect time for businesses to make the most of marketing tactics and promotions – and franchises are no exception.

In fact, the process of formulating pre-Christmas customer incentives is a lot easier within the supported network of a franchise.

Marketing and sales directives usually come straight from the franchisor, so all a franchisee has to do is apply them with gusto.

Following the notion that a franchise is a tried and tested business model, it makes sense that a franchisor will create promotions that will work well financially and practically for each franchisee.

In some cases, however, franchisees are expected to arrange their own marketing strategies.

Whatever the case, the aim is always the same: great sales to ensure a solid start to the new year.

Festive marketing targets

  • Key considerations when creating any seasonal promotion include:
  • Profit margin
  •  Clarity of message
  • Time scale
  • Social media targeting
  • Spend barriers

A good franchisor will have already run through the numbers to make sure no-one will lose any money by offering a specific promotion and a clear marketing campaign should be circulated around the franchise network, including details of what’s on offer, eye catching promotional material and images, a defined start and end date and social media strategies.

If the aim is to bring in new customers, then the offer should be targeted accordingly and not to established customers. Conversely, if the Christmas offer is a ‘thank-you’ to regular clients then any festive email campaign should make that crystal clear.

Offer options

An effective way of seeming to play the Christmas discounts game, without giving too much away is by implementing a spend barrier. Franchises can offer 20 percent off one particular product or service (rather than everything) – and promote this to non-customers only.

As well as limited edition Christmas products, franchises can also offer free delivery, multi-buys, buy one get one half price, prize draws and gifts to local charities.

Bright ideas

Whilst most franchisees are expected to tow the company line when it comes to marketing, the beauty of a good franchisee/franchisor relationship lies in open channels of communication.

There’s nothing to stop an entrepreneurially minded franchise owner taking marketing suggestions to the top.

It’s always worth remembering that the Egg McMuffin – arguably the MacDonald’s chain’ most famous product next to the Big Mac – was dreamt up by a franchisee. In 1972, Herb Peterson came up with the idea at his own Santa Barbara franchise and the recipe soon was adopted by all MacDonald’s restaurants across the globe.

A tale of two franchises…

Some franchisors, however, do give their franchisees complete autonomy over promotions, especially in the B2B sector.

Sunil Kapoor, managing director of the UK operations of Signarama – the world’s leading sign making franchsie – expects his franchisees to set their own sales and promotions:

‘Each franchisee has their own area and knows their customers in their local market. We work with the owners and help develop their local promotions when asked – but they are free to set their own, working with local charities and other businesses in their area.’

For this type of franchise, where the customer base can be completely diverse, it makes sense to give franchisees more control,

‘We try and keep it simple and as we are a B2B, it works better that way.’ says Mr Kapoor.

Franchises with a regular and predictable customer base – retail and food and drink, for example – are better suited to the ‘one size fits all’ promotions strategy.

Francesca Litner, Managing Director of the Caffé Latte franchise group agrees:

‘We handle the promotion ideas from Head Office, then we send them to the stores and get the EPOS supplier to put on their tills. I expect them all to do the same deals. It is important from a brand prospective - and customers who go to a Caffe Latte expect the same deal in all.’

This year the Caffe Latte franchise will be offering gingerbread muffins, gingerbread lattes, mince pies and a white hot chocolate called a ‘Snowball’.

The marketing, in this case, is very centralized:

‘We monitor sales through the portal and have compliance checks with the stores and we put the promotion on Facebook, Twitter and our website.’

However a franchise owner goes about making the most of the season of goodwill, careful preparation and market analysis will be key to achieving the ultimate Christmas bonus – a healthy profit.

Nicky Tatley

About the author

Nicky contributes articles to all titles in the Dynamis stable, primarily, and and is a regular contributor to other business publications including Talk Business, and NuWire Investor.