Database Maintenance

We’re frequently asked how often we update the Franchisor Database and which primary sources of information we use. The simple answer is daily. Updating roughly 4,500+ records is necessarily a time-consuming process that currently has one associate devoting 100% of her time to it. Other staff members make ongoing and daily updates to the database. Whenever we come across a new franchisor or a new executive within an existing franchising company, we enter that data into our database as a matter of course. All of the data is maintained in a Salesforce database.

In descending order of importance, the primary sources that we use are:

  1. Current-year FDDs (we have clean copies of over 1,200 2017 FDDs as of 6/1/2017). This is the primary source for the names and titles of key executives. To properly identify how current a contact is, we have separate fields in the database that note 2017 Verify, 2016 Verify and 2015 Verify.
  2. Franchisors who participate in The World Franchising Network, which manages www.WorldFranchising.com, as well as ~10 other websites that deal solely with franchising. Clients that pay to be on the sites are anxious to ensure that the correct information is always displayed online.
  3. The IFA’s Franchise Opportunities Guide, as well as the IFA’s periodic online resources.
  4. The CFA’s Franchise Canada Directory.
  5. Entrepreneur’s annual Franchise 500 listing, as well as articles and ads in the monthly magazine.
  6. Franchisor company websites.
  7. Attendee lists at various franchise trade shows ( MFV events, smaller franchise trade shows, conferences, etc.) – to verify names, titles and email addresses. We are always amazed at the increasing number of new franchise systems that show up at these shows. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of these new franchises are not around 2 years later. Unfortunately, many of the numbers used in franchisor directories is often at odds with the information in a company’s most recent FDD.
  8. Articles from publications that track the franchising channel.

One of the primary frustrations in maintaining the database is the inability to extract current headquarters’ mailing addresses and, more especially, the email address of key contacts. An increasing number of franchisors are opting to leave their mailing address from their website, and the vast majority only provide a generic email address (such as info@abcbrands.com or franchising@abcbrands.com , etc.). I personally think that making it unnecessarily difficult for a prospective franchisee to contact a franchisor directly is self-defeating.

The end result of the above efforts is that the Franchisor Database includes probably 98% of all active North American franchisors at any point in time. Conversely, it also contains maybe 50 or so franchisors that, for whatever reason, are no longer actively franchising. In trying to authenticate whether a company is still actively franchising, we find that many companies don’t answer their phones, nor do they return a call when a message is left. Many of these companies, however, continue to have active websites. Accordingly, it is difficult to delete them from the database with complete confidence.

Mailing addresses are probably 95% accurate (we provide a $.50 rebate for any mailing sent to the wrong address) and email addresses are probably 97% accurate/3% bad. (Although we have the email addresses of over 35,000 franchise executives, because of the Can-Spam Act, we are only able to provide a single email address for each company in the database.)

It should be noted that email blasts sent out by client companies that purchase the database may experience a significantly higher bounce rate than the 3% noted above. This may be due to the lag time between when the database is “rented” and when an email blast is actually sent. Of equal importance is the way that the email list is used. If you try to send out 200 emails at a time, the spam filters know this and, in many cases, assume that the email is spam. We personally find it significantly more productive to use a third-party firm (www.VidiEmi.com) that specializes in maximizing the throughput of email blasts. Lastly, the Subject in the email has a significant impact on the number of emails that are opened or sorted out because of implied Spam.

Although clients are under no obligation to purchase optional quarterly database updates, it is probably a good investment if you want to continue with your marketing campaign with the franchising community. Last year, we recorded over 500 new franchise systems. So far in 2017, we have added 142 new franchisors. It is generally understood that 20% of management personnel throughout industry change jobs or their titles (and maybe email addresses) within their company every year. Similarly, email addresses frequently change in an effort to cut down on spam.