In 2022, there were an estimated 792,000 franchises in the U.S., with quick service restaurants and business services making up the largest and second-largest segments, respectively. Tech franchises have seen strong growth recently, as have health and wellness, pet services, and home improvement.
So, how do all these franchises hope to succeed in a sea of competition? The answer is dependent on many factors, of course, but one strategy that can make a measurable difference is utilizing Google reviews.
Though franchise marketing and SEO often rolls up under the larger corporate strategy, each location essentially functions as its own business, with its own unique employees, managers, customers, and quirks. So while your corporate office is focused on company-wide strategies and methods, your responsibility is at the local level to ensure your new location is visible online and able to reach new customers.
Gathering Google reviews for the new location is an important part of local SEO. When you build up a body of reviews, you can get a boost in your local search ranking. And appearing higher in search results helps your franchise get found by new local customers, increase conversions, and build trust within the community — all which can give you a competitive advantage.
Read on to learn the steps and methods for getting the Google reviews you need to help launch a new and successful franchise location.
1. Set up and manage a multi-location Google Business Profile
If you haven’t already done so, claim your business listing on Google by setting up a Google Business Profile. Use Business Profile Manager to create a business group where you can follow the steps to add multiple locations, including the new franchise location. Simply enter the details of the new location, such as the business name, address, contact info, and more.
Later, as Google reviews start coming in for the new location, you can sign into your profile account, click on your business group in the menu, and view or respond to reviews.
2. Ask customers for reviews
Though customers will sometimes leave reviews on their own, it’s better to ask them, since it can make the difference between passively waiting for a trickle of reviews to come in or proactively going after the number you have in mind.
When new customers make purchases or book services at the new location, be sure to get their email address and/or phone number along with permission to text them (if you plan to communicate with them by text).
Between email and text, you can quickly and easily start asking customers for reviews. Make sure to provide a link for leaving the review and that the process is as simple as possible. You can also ask for reviews in person, on your website, or through a variety of other ways that work best for your franchise.
3. Implement an ongoing review management strategy
Getting a few reviews and calling it a day doesn’t serve your franchise. You need an ongoing review management strategy that ensures you have enough reviews coming in to keep things fresh and reinforce with Google that your business is still functioning and legitimate.
Your review management strategy can encompass aspects of your corporate marketing and SEO strategy, too, and it’s important to make sure your local efforts align with corporate expectations. But at the local franchise level, your strategy should include, at minimum:
- Actively listening to what customers are saying to figure out where improvements can be made to the new franchise location as well as the customer experience
- Responding to all reviews — positive, neutral, or negative — to show local customers that you’re engaged, you understand their specific needs, and you’re willing and able to address any issues
- Continually asking for and generating new reviews
4. Use a review management platform
Managing Google reviews takes time, especially if you’re trying to do it manually. One of the best things you can do when you launch your new franchise location is to adopt a comprehensive, automated review management platform at the same time.
That way you can hit the ground running with automated tools that help you get the reviews you need, monitor and reply to reviews, and gain powerful insights into your local customers — without expending huge amounts of energy or attention that need to be devoted to getting your location up and operating.
With an easy-to-use platform like GatherUp, you can combine review management with SMS marketing so you can quickly take the insights you get from customer reviews and turn them into personalized text communications for individual customers or for whole customer segments. You can send messages announcing special promotions, sales, or events, reminding customers of appointments or reservations, responding to customer service requests, and much more.
All your customer feedback, reviews, replies, and other important customer data can be found and managed in one place, with the ability to set user permissions however you need to, so you can hand over review management to the corporate office or keep it at the local franchise level if you prefer.
When it’s time to launch a new franchise location, making Google reviews a key part of your launch can go a long way toward ensuring its success.
To learn more about how GatherUp can support your individual franchise or multi-location business, schedule a demo.