According to the International Franchise Association (IFA), the internet is the way forward for small to medium sized franchises or businesses marketing their products and services.
The internet enables a franchisor to connect and tap into a large pool of new and customers who are currently unaware of franchising opportunities advertised on the internet. This is reinforced by Director of Ovenu, Rik Hellewll. He believes the internet offers excellent opportunities to tap into a market that does not know much about franchising.
If franchising is to continue to be successful, it must embrace new media, and “think smarter” about internet and web based technologies. Increasingly small franchises are turning to online media marketing tools to increase productivity, to drive awareness of brand and sales, and in decreasing overall costs and yearly ad expenditure.
Ovenu's research found that almost one third of people have very little idea of what a franchise is, with more than half of those who claim to know about it unable to give a clear definition.
In addition, awareness of franchise operators was low and mainly limited to recognized brands in the fast-food sector such as McDonald's and Subway.
Mr Hellewell said:
"This study must be the wake-up call franchising needs to move into the 21st century and realize that without a cohesive and cost-effective recruitment process supported by our trade body franchisee numbers will drop dramatically."
"If this sector is to attract more people to franchising, it needs to move out of the comfort zone and think smarter about the way it works to promote itself with partners such as banks, business link and the media."
He also voiced concerns that franchisers could miss out on opportunities to attract potential franchisees if it does not fully maximize the internet.
Ovenu's study discovered that people are four times more likely to use online resources than traditional print advertising routes when researching franchising.
The internet enables people from other countries to view details of franchisers that provide master franchises and regional franchises abroad. With over 200 million internet users in the US for example, according to the ITU, it gives franchisers a great boost if they want to expand internationally.
Franchising websites such as Franchise Direct provide a platform for franchisers to get noticed by the public, as they can have their profile displayed and if potential franchisees and interested entrepreneurs like what they see they can quickly get further information and contact details.