October, 27th 2020
Michelle Rowan, president & COO of Franchise Business Review, recently sat down with Barry Bodiford, founder & visionary, and Jason Howell, VP of franchise development, at 360clean to talk about their experience working with FBR, how their business has been impacted during the pandemic and the success they’ve had with FBR’s lead generation program.
Michelle Rowan: Thank you, Barry and Jason, for joining us from 360clean. We were really excited to hear that you are finding some great candidates through FBR. I just wanted to spend some time and ask more questions. We appreciate you sharing this with us.
I know that this will probably go to Barry because, Jason, I don’t think you were with the brand when we first met Barry and learned of 360clean, but do you remember how you first came across FBR or how you knew about us?
Barry Bodiford: One of your former reps contacted me a good bit and we looked into the program. It made sense for us at that time, and we started utilizing it. We felt like it was an excellent way to validate other than just using our franchisees and what we’re saying to candidates.
You’re adding a third party who’s asking different questions that a potential franchisee certainly wants to know the answers to. It’s definitely been a great process for us, and it’s paying dividends with our franchise recruitment.
Michelle: Let’s talk about how the pandemic has impacted your business. Have you made any changes in your marketing or your recruitment strategies based on what you’re seeing?
Jason Howell: From a business aspect, it’s been fantastic for us. On both the franchisee recruitment side and also on the client side, we’ve been able to grow. That’s absolutely been fantastic. Through the pandemic, we’ve gotten a little bit more selective on the franchisee process. It’s helped us dial into who our core person is.
Michelle: We hear that when people start out, there are franchisees that were brought on board, but the type of person you’re looking for now isn’t necessarily the same. As you grow, you’re looking for a different type of person.
How did you go through the process of identifying who was a good fit for you, and who you wanted to bring onboard? And how are you vetting them within your process to understand that?
Jason: That’s a great question. You look back at the franchisees who have had some success, and you’ve had a look at those franchises who haven’t been as successful, and you pull out those traits from each one: “This person seems to thrive more. This person seems to not thrive as much,” and then you go after those.
It’s all in the person’s skill set and how you can help them be successful, because everyone’s skillset is not going to thrive in everyone’s system. Know what your system can offer that person and how you can elevate their performance.
Michelle: I was talking to Lisa [Crowther] and understand that you were trying to look regionally where you’re growing. With the increase of interest in what you’re doing, 360clean makes sense for a business owner right now because it’s now been proven to be pandemic‑proof. Lisa mentioned you shifted who you are looking for, or where you are looking in your strategy.
Barry: Before, we were doing some more of the target areas. Like, “Hey, we want more growth in X place,” so we would focus on that. We opened that up to a national approach of saying, “We just want to find the best franchise owners wherever they are.”
Instead of being so focused on one area, it’s allowed us a lot of flexibility. Some of the new franchisees we’re bringing on, you’d be surprised how much they teach you as well that’s different from your existing franchise owners.
Michelle: Absolutely. Each market is different. We usually hear from franchisors that their best leads come from their own website or referrals from the existing franchisees. Is that what you’re seeing, or where are you seeing the best lead source?
Barry: I would say that certainly, you do see a higher rate of engagement, quicker engagement, with leads from your website. But what we’re also finding is that a lot of our franchise leads that come from our website are also doing other types of searches, and they’re doing their own validation searches.
People may look at you, but they’re going to do some research online before they contact you. That’s where we feel FBR is helping us because they may come in through Google, but then we find out that they also read about our validation survey with FBR.
I think it’s a good marriage. Certainly, those leads are good, but the FBR leads have been great because we’re realizing those seem a little more vetted, they seem a little more engaged with the idea of owning a business – beyond having an idea one night at 10 o’clock and filled out a form.
Michelle: I think that’s good advice because a lot of times, I’ll say to franchisors, “Your candidate, if it’s a good candidate, is looking at you, about you, online before they’ll engage with Jason directly.”
Making sure that you have an authentic story out there, but giving them other ways to see who you are rather than your salesperson telling them who you are, is awesome. Whatever drives them to reach out to you directly is what the strategy should be for most brands.
Barry: I think you’re seeing that in all facets of life. That’s why Google reviews are so big now. I don’t want to say FBR is like Google reviews, but in some ways, it is because it adds some validation there for people who are looking for whether it be a consumer type service or B2B type service.
With looking at franchises, you don’t have anywhere to go. But obviously, with someone like FBR, there is that validation source, and you can read what people have to say and what they think about it from their standpoint.
Jason: One thing I like a lot about the leads that we’ve gotten from FBR is that it seems those candidates are a lot more process‑driven. Through that validation, they just go through the process a lot smoother, which has been awesome.
Michelle: We like hearing that! When you started working with us, we did the survey, and you were just checking out that validation piece. What made you decide to start trying the lead program? Were you facing any challenges as far as the quantity or quality of leads that you were getting?
Barry: Once we opened things up nationally and got away from the three-party franchise system with having regional developers, that allowed us to open up to more geography, which made better sense.
We’ve tried Facebook, we’ve tried different channels, but we were looking for someone not focused more on high volume but more focused on high quality. That’s certainly what we’ve seen since we started with FBR in June. It’s definitely paying off.
Michelle: Since June of this year, four out of the six deals you’ve closed have come through FBR leads. We love hearing that. How does that ratio compare to other lead sources or websites that you’re utilizing?
Jason: It’s not even a comparison. We just closed two more this week, and another one that came from FBR. It’s not even close compared to the other ones. It’s less quantity, but it’s more quality. It’s so much better going through the process. They’re so much more apt to engage with you, and in your processes, which is huge.
Because all you want when you’re vetting new franchisees is their eyes and their ears, and you want to find the best marriage if they fit your system. Can they thrive, and can you thrive with them? That’s fantastic.
Barry: We feel like it’s our responsibility to get deals closed. It’s the responsibility of the lead provider to give us quality leads. But when we measure on closed deals, we also measure on what we call a personal profile.
When we get a lead, we send information right back out, asking them to fill out a personal profile. It’s not a full application, it’s a little more than just their name and phone number, but it asks a little more just to test their engagement.
That goes out to them through text message and email. We measure that, probably more than anything, as far as our lead sources because we feel like if you can give us people that are going to engage, then it’s our job from there.
Not only are FBR’s leads closing a lot higher and faster, but also, the engagement on the personal profile side is a lot higher compared to other sources as well.
Michelle: How are FBR leads converting as far as the length of time they take to close compared to your average deal length? Are you seeing any difference there?
Jason: FBR is somewhere around four to six weeks in our system. It’s not a ton of time. Others seem to be more like 6+ weeks, 8, 10 weeks, because it seems like they have to do a lot more validation.
They want to call more franchise owners. They want to research this a lot more, they have to do due diligence. But your leads do seem to have a sweet spot of four to six weeks with us.
Michelle: As far as the validation part, do you share your franchisee satisfaction report during your validation process with all candidates?
Jason: Absolutely. When I’m having the Zoom meetings from my desk, the picture I have in the background is with awards that we won from you. It’s really awesome.
I make sure that’s in the shot. It just reconfirms what I’m talking about. Of course, we say, “Hey, please go out, vet us. Go to FBR and make sure you see all the awards that we won through third parties,” and they actually love it.
Then they get another validation. When they call one or two or three franchise owners, and then they get the validation from the franchise owner, it’s a win‑win.
Michelle: I love it. By using Franchise Business Review – and you do everything – you make your summary report available to candidates, which I think is a fantastic way to show transparency, get them interested, and say to themselves, “If I’m looking at other brands, why aren’t they sharing this level of information that 360clean is sharing?” Kudos to you on that.
Have you been able to see if Franchise Business Review has been able to reduce your cost per sale by using that information or by using the leads that we’re sending your way?
Barry: Absolutely. Certainly, there are a lot of lead generators out there that are offering low prices per lead, but after you get 100, 200, 300, you start to really measure that, but absolutely.
It makes our process a little more streamlined because people in this online validation world want to do some things on their own. To be able to send them to a one‑stop‑shop that has all of that information is quick for them, it’s quick for us, and very streamlined.
Michelle: We love working with you guys, and we’re really proud of you. A lot of franchisors don’t start as early as you started. We say as soon as you have 10 franchisees, start asking because you want to make sure they feel they’re part of how you’re going to grow this brand – that you’re paying attention to them and their experience, and how you can do things right or better as you’re bringing more franchisees on. We love just seeing the feedback that you’ve had and happy that you are doing well during this very strange year.