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 we update the database on a daily basis. Updating roughly 4,000+ records is necessarily a time-consuming process that currently has one associate devoting 100% of her time to it. Other staff members also make ongoing and daily updates to the database. As we acquire new FDDs, we immediately extract the key data points from the FDD and put them into the Salesforce primary database. Whenever we come across a new franchisor or a new executive within an existing franchising company, we promptly enter that data into our database as a matter of course. All of the franchise industry data is maintained in a much larger Salesforce database that also includes industry suppliers, attorneys, lenders and investors.

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

  1. Current-year FDDs (we have clean copies of over 2,200 2019 FDDs, over 2,300 2018 FDDs and over 2,300 YTD 2017 FDDs) are the primary source for accurate database information. To properly identify how current a contact is, we have separate fields in the database that note 2019 Verify, 2018 Verify and 2017 Verify. Current FDD data supersedes all prior data.
  2. The IFA’s Franchise Opportunities Guide, as well as the IFA’s periodic online resources.
  3. The CFA’s Franchise Canada Directory.
  4. Franchise Times for accurate industry news and periodic surveys.
  5. Attendee lists at various industry conferences (the Franchise Times The Restaurant Finance & Development Conference is an especially reliable source of executives and their email addresses).
  6. Franchise trade shows (MFV events, smaller franchise trade shows, regional 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 franchise systems are not around 2 years later. Additionally, many of the unit numbers and investment ranges used in franchisor directories are often at odds with the information in a company’s most recent FDD.
  7. Entrepreneur’s annual Franchise 500 listing, as well as articles and ads in the monthly magazine.
  8. Franchisor company websites.
  9. Articles from publications and websites that track the franchising space.

One of the primary frustrations in maintaining our franchisor database is the inability to find current email address of key contacts and, to a lesser extent, current unit counts and current headquarters’ mailing addresses. An increasing number of franchisors are opting to leave their mailing address and telephone number from their website, and the vast majority that do provide only a generic email address (such as info@abcbrands.com or franchising@abcbrands.com, etc.). Only about 15% provide the email address of an executive. I personally think that making it unnecessarily difficult for a prospective franchisee to contact a franchisor directly is self-defeating.

The Franchisor Database includes probably 98% of all active North American franchisors at any point in time. Conversely, it also contains maybe 100 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 most company executives do not answer their phones, nor do they return a call when a message is left. Many of these defunct franchcisors, 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 $1.00 rebate for any mailing sent to the wrong address). Lead email addresses are probably 85% accurate at any point in time. (Although we have the email addresses of over 30,000 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 15% noted above. This may be due to the lag time between when the database is “rented” and when an email blast is actually sent out. 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 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, 20% address changes and 25% lead email address changes. So far in 2019, we have added 300 new franchisors. It is generally understood that 20% of upper management personnel throughout industry change jobs or their titles (and maybe email addresses) every year. As companies are acquired by a larger entity, this frequently results in a change in the @ suffix. Lastly, email address methodology frequently changes in an effort to cut down on spam.