Most franchises are ‘local’ and as such need to manage their local online search presence and reputation.  However, many franchises operate in territories or service areas, and as a result are tempted to use their territory names to differentiate one franchisee from the other in local search.

This article discusses why using territory names in local listings could deter customers.

Franchise Territory Names can deter customers

Franchises operate territories, and as such get very parochial about how each franchisee is listed.  As such, many franchisees are listed with the brand name followed by the franchise territory.

For example; “Shiny Cleaners Milton Keynes” or “Shiny Cleaners Northampton”.

For retail franchises (one where customers come to your premises) this is not such as issue, however for a service area business (man in a van) where the franchisee is serving a wide area, a territory name in the title may lose your business.

Here’s why;

Your listing will be seen by people outside of your territory.

Territory names limit your search relevance and can deter customers.

If your franchise territory is included in your business listing name, you are potentially being overlooked by customers who don’t think you will service them; however, there may be an adjoining franchisee who can service them.

If a potential customer searches for your services in a town or county that borders your town or county, it may be that the ‘wrong’ franchise appears in the search results.   If the customer sees a different town or county name in the business name title to where they are located, they may think the franchise does not serve their location and therefore not call.  The customer won’t necessarily look for the franchisee that does serve their location.

As well as this, listing a town after you brand name can deter people who do not live in that town yet are within your territory.  For example, Warwick is 10 miles from Coventry, yet someone in Warwick seeing a listing for “Joe’s Plumber Coventry” will see Coventry and think “They’re not going to come to Warwick”.

A territory name can deter customers the further they are from the franchisee’s base.

The map below shows how territory names in local listings may deter customers on the border of two adjoining franchise territories.

 

111

What’s the solution?

To make yourself relevant to a wider customer audience, you need to remove the territory from your business listings and only list your brand! 

By only listing your brand name, your search results will have greater relevancy to a bigger customer audience as you will no longer be dismissed on the basis of geography.

 

222

Why might Franchisees object to this approach?

Franchisees may object to removing the territory name from their local listings if they believe franchisees adjoining their territories will take their enquiries.  However, by adopting this approach, the franchise network will be stronger as it will pick up more business than if it were to operate as individual territories.

To address the issue of ‘cross boarder’ issue of customers calling franchisees from outside their territory, franchises must have internal processes and controls to ensure that customer are served by the appropriate franchisee.

A franchisee address (wherever it may be) can be leveraged to raise the profile of the franchise network.  For example, Franchisee A may live in Franchisee B’s territory.  However, Franchisee A’s address could be listed to raise the local search footprint of the brand as a whole.  It does not mean that they need to deliver the service in that area.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes there are exceptions.  If the territory is small (in area) or there is a particularly dense population, or in a big city, then it can make sense to include a territory or location name.

Summary

Franchisees need to trade on their Brand not their location.

The further away a customer is from the franchisee, the less likely they are to call. 

Remove the territory name from your local listings and maximise your local presence to increase the overall franchises search footprint and relevancy.

4 tips for Service Area Franchises to improve local search performance:

  1. List franchisee locations with consistent Name, Address and Phone number in Google My Business, and local listing sites.
  2. Don’t use the territory name in a business listing.
  3. Extend your local brand and search footprint by using franchisee addresses ‘strategically’.
  4. Have an internal process to re-assign customer enquiries to the correct territory.

If you are a franchise and would like to discuss how your franchisees can improve their local online performance, please call MiShop.local. or click here to book a free on-screen webinar.