How did you get into the digital marketing industry?
In 1998 I was in my 3rd year of college and a bit of a secret computer nerd. A friend of mine found out and asked if I could create a website for his band, which I did, in Microsoft Notepad! After 2 years and a dozen websites built, I reached out to a global telecom company (that I interned with in High School) to see if they thought this internet thing might end up going somewhere. They said yes and I was hired as a Corporate Webmaster. Fast-forward 13 years and a full-breadth of web technology and internet marketing experience later, I was hired as the Sr. Director of Marketing & eCommerce for Edible Arrangements International, managing their $500B web business and $20M marketing budget. The experience and contacts gained there gave me the confidence needed to launch Bee Local Marketing in 2018. My wife, business partner and Edible colleague, Kelley, joined as my business partner and the Bee Local CEO shortly after. Kelley has over 20 years’ experience in Brand & Creative Marketing, with 12 years on the agency side, working with brands such as Heineken, Bayer Health and Dannon.
What’s New in the Bee Local Business or in the Franchise Model?
We have recently simplified our core services to make it super-easy to explain, sell and execute digital marketing solutions to small businesses. In the beginning we tried to be everything to everyone. As we grew in revenue but not team size, the need for process simplification became increasingly important so we started to identify areas of the business that we could optimize, with the proposal process being our first target. We quickly realized that the majority of our clients were buying the same or similar services so we began pairing down our offering to the most effective and efficient solutions. The net result was not only a much-improved proposal process but more streamlined service packages which offered a simplicity that clients appreciated. This also paves the way for new franchisees to not have to go through the same growing pains and realizations that we did, they get to benefit immediately from this new approach.
Where do you See Opportunities or Challenges for the Franchise/Business Moving Forward?
Opportunities: 4.4 million new small businesses open every year, adding to the 33 million that already exist. Our client pool is virtually limitless.
Challenges: popular ads platforms such as Facebook & Google are constantly evolving to make their services easier to use, which may inspire certain small business owners that are brave and have a lot of extra time on their hands to attempt to market themselves. But we’re pretty confident there will always be entrepreneurs that don’t have the time, resources, required experience or quite frankly want to deal with the marketing side of the business. That’s where we come in.
What is your Goal for the Business Moving Forward?
Our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to be a household name to small business owners in North America, similar to what the Yellowpages was in the 80’s and 90s. Our short-term, practical goal is to grow the Bee Local brand to 10 units by the end of 2024, refining our processes and profitability model along the way. By the start of 2025, we will have a well-oiled machine, poised to become THE premier marketing partner for small businesses in the US and Canada.
Talk to us About Training and Support, How Do You Deliver?
Our training is delivered in 4 phases:
1. We offer a comprehensive online training program that new franchisees will be required to complete. It is broken out into all the key areas of running this business from franchise setup to setting policies to operations to sales & marketing. Each section has a series of quizzes that must be passed in order to open the location.
2. After the online training is completed, new franchisees will attend a multi-day series of interactive coaching sessions where members of the Bee Local team will take them through a more detailed view of critical business functions;
- Fulfillment & Alternative Staffing solutions
- Sales & Marketing – franchisees will be provided with our most current “Marketing Playbook” upon completion of this section which will help guide them in selling and marketing their business and Bee Local services.
3. Our goal is to have quarterly Operations, Sales & Marketing review sessions with all current, active and open franchisees. These sessions will be similar to the initial interactive coaching sessions but typically 3-4 hours long, covering off on changes within the marketplace or company and addendums or changes to the Marketing Playbook.
Your most difficult moment at the Franchise Business?
We are just now franchising but one of our most difficult moments as a business was choosing to part ways with our largest client (at the time), which represented a $10,000 p/mo net hit to the business financials, primarily because our company cultures weren’t aligned. We have an internal motto of “Work hard and be kind” and while a total embodiment of that mantra is not required to be our client, we decided to draw a line in the sand, setting a standard and example for our employees, vendors and other clients that we will not allow revenue to come before our character and integrity. That was a difficult moment but a necessary one that ended up working out in our favor. The freed-up resources allowed us to explore and accept a major opportunity that turned into a $1.2M client.
Define your Franchise Model:
A. Training and Support Model?
Our business model is inherently scalable due to the nature of the operations. We expect that most franchise partners will operate from a home office location and work using our systems and operating platform virtually. With this, training can be done in large part virtually, but we do have some onsite, classroom style franchise training as well that’s part of the Bee Local franchise system. We take so much pride in what we do and have a deep training and support model to help people not only be successful, but create the same results for clients that we have been able to do with our corporate business.
B. What is the Fee Structure?
$30K franchise fee, 6% of gross royalty, 1% of gross for the marketing fund
C. Territory Definition?
Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 people
D. Day in the life of a Franchisee?
This varies based on model (owner operator vs. absentee owner vs. shared responsibility etc.) There are also nuances within each model depending upon the individual experience(s) of the franchisee.
What does Your Franchisee Do in the Business Every Day?
Right now, we are executing all of our client work for ourselves. The goal is to gradually shift resources to a partial fulfillment model where we assist franchisees in executing a portion of the services they sell, in addition to servicing our core clients. Our ultimate goal is to have a dedicated internal team, similar to the one we have now, where 100% of their resources are committed to supporting franchisees.
Who is the Ideal Franchise Candidate?
There are three ideal candidates…
1. The solo marketer: this is a skilled marketing professional who feels stuck in a middle-management or director-level role at a corporation but has an entrepreneurial spirit and wants to start their own business. The main issues with starting their own business are:
- They can be a skilled marketing professional but may lack the business acumen or desire to create an entire business from scratch. Our turnkey model gives them all the tools they need to start selling and providing services the day they open.
- They may be skilled in a specific area of marketing such as SEO or Web Design but lack the skills and experience in other areas such as Social Media or Creative Services. Between the Bee Local corporate fulfillment programs and alternative staffing options, they will be able to position themselves a full-service digital marketing agency, on day 1.
- This person could have already started their own solo agency and even if they managed to solve for the two issues noted above, they may have found it difficult to create, sustain or scale to meaningful revenue. Bee Local offers proven, out-of-the box sales and marketing tools that were used to grow our own business north of $3M annually, with only 4 full-time employees. Additionally, we have an impressive client catalog, which is visible to the public on our website and social media channels, which gives instant clout to a new franchisee. Most small businesses are excited to be working with the same agency that supports major brands such as Edible Arrangements and Uno Pizzeria & Grill.
2. The networker: it is a major advantage to have a deep professional rolodex (remember those?) when starting virtually any new business but especially one that is B2B. I tell people all the time that the ultimate irony regarding our success is that we didn’t spend a dime on marketing in our first 3 years! At the exact time we launched Bee Local, we had a very specific and extremely fortunate set of circumstances (a story for another day) that afforded us access to dozens of recently relocated leaders, whom already had confidence in our abilities, spread out in almost every industry. Referrals are key to the success of any B2B company, but especially a marketing agency. Even if you don’t have the stars align quite like we did, just having local connections and the ability to sell yourself is a major advantage. Because of our unique model, featuring a simple approach to sales & marketing as well as ground-breaking alternative staffing and fulfillment solutions, a veteran networker could be very successful as a Bee Local franchisee.
3. The smart investor: really, anyone with a passion for business can take advantage of our low-risk, high-reward model. Because there is such low overhead, for example no need for an office or expensive equipment, an entrepreneur could simply build out a team like the one we started with. A skilled digital marketer, an established networker and access to our alternative staffing and fulfillment solutions is all that’s needed to build a profitable enterprise.
For more information on the Bee Local Digital Advertising Franchise Model, visit the corporate site: