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From the Trenches

Tuning Up a Franchise Website

Mike Sweeney | January 7, 2009

I encounter a lot of franchisor and franchisee websites in my daily life, both as a consumer and businessperson.  While some franchise systems have figured how important it is to build a well-branded, easy to navigate, action-oriented site, the vast majority still miss the mark. 


Here are a few “dos” for the consumer audience:


  • Make the homepage simple.  Layout should be clean.  Information should be limited to what is most important to the consumer.  Page should load lightning fast.
  • Allow the consumer to find the closest location, or for that matter any location, from anywhere in the site.  That, in addition to gathering information, is the most common reason for the consumer’s visit to the franchise website.
  • Provide more than just address information for each location.  Add local coupons.  Add a picture of the store so the consumer can identify landmarks.  Add easy ways to get in touch with the local store, like store-specific emails, phone numbers or even click-to-call functionality.

Here are a few “dos” for your franchisee audience:

  • Build a professionally designed website to represent the corporate brand.  Nothing drives franchisees nuts more than buying into a franchise system that fails to represent the company and its individual locations in a professional way.
  • Build microsites, not just landing pages, for each franchisee.  Keep in mind that each franchisee has invested in and is running their own business.  They want a site to represent that business, not just a page with a picture and address.
  • Design a common template for each franchisee microsite, but then allow for areas that can be customized and/or edited by each franchisee.  As the franchisor, you do need to control the corporate brand, but there is a middle ground that provides the franchisee just the right amount of editorial freedom.
  • Do design and develop the corporate site and the franchisee microsites at the franchisor level.  Put it in the franchise contract if necessary.  While some of your franchisees will be capable of putting together a well-designed site, if you open that door then be prepared to see some real clunkers representing the brand at a local level.
  • By all means, think about lead generation and customer acquisition when building the site, not afterwards.  Do the search engine optimization work at the national and microsite level during the site redesign process.  Build landing pages for search engine marketing and other purposes during that process as well. 

It would be unfair not to mention that this post was inspired by the recent relaunch of the Precision Tune Auto Care website.  I won’t give you a before and after, but let’s just say that the new site is a massive improvement, primarily because the folks involved on the corporate side followed the rules above and did not try to do things piecemeal – they identified all the moving parts that the new site would impact, and handled each with extreme detail and concern for both the corporate brand and their franchisees at each step.

Gil C / Shutterstock.com

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About Mike Sweeney:

As Right Source’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Sweeney creates, plans, and implements our vision, mission, culture, and strategic direction as well as serving as an advisor to our clients. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame and has more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing strategy, including digital, content, and marketing technology. You can find Mike on LinkedIn.