Coming Apple Feature May Help Overcome “Silence Unknown Callers” Barrier to Initial Prospect Contact

By: Michael Alston for Franchise Insights

July 26, 2023 – Apple announced a new “Live Voicemail” feature for its anticipated September iOS 17 iPhone software update. Rather than banishing the caller directly to voicemail without ringing, as the “silence unknown callers” feature does, the first several seconds of the caller’s message is presented in text on the home screen, giving the call recipient an option to pick up the call.

 This gives franchise sales teams a better chance to make initial contact with prospects while both parties are near their phones, while at the same time allowing prospects to prevent unwanted spam calls. In the beta version reviewed on July 25th, this feature is turned on by default– no user action is required to take advantage of it.

The lost opportunity of low initial contact rates (prospects who say they weren’t contacted within seven days of request) has been a mystery.  Since we last shared data on this topic, initial contact rates reported by franchise prospects have improved slightly. According to this month’s monthly “Mystery Shopping” survey, 46.2% of inquirers to franchises reported that they were contacted by “all of the franchises they inquired to” within seven days of the requests, up from the the record low for this measure at 41.4% back in February 2023.

Those who reported being contacted by “none of the franchises” at seven days after inquiry “improved” to 25.3%. But that means that as much as a third of lead generation budgets were wasted by some franchise sales teams, assuming that the survey respondents are representative of the total population of prospects. With 25.3% of respondents being contacted by none of the franchises, and 12.1% contacted by less than half, we approximate the lost opportunity to be about a third of leads unanswered.

What could be driving this lost opportunity?

Why aren’t all prospects contacted promptly? Rather than blaming it all on insufficient effort or inadequate responsiveness of franchise sales teams, here are a few hypotheses:

  • Inquiries received outside normal business hours or on weekends are more than two thirds of all inquiries, making the lag time a likely factor. Sending prompt or automated email and/or text follow-up as a precursor to a voice call is always a best practice, based on consistent respondent feedback from these surveys.
  • Apple’s “silence unknown callers” feature introduced in 2019 likely hinders many initial voice conversations before the caller is in the prospect’s phone contacts. This again underscores the importance of emailing or texting before calling. In fact, according to Apple, calls will not be silenced from “people that are saved in your contacts list, recent calls list, and from Siri Suggestions to let you know who’s calling based on phone numbers included in your emails or text messages.” These are the “maybe: contact name” caller IDs you see when receiving calls from individuals who are not in your contacts.
  • Email service providers (ESPs) are aggressively blocking anything that looks like or has been reported as spam. Are you routinely testing to ensure that your emails are getting through?
  • Finally, the Mystery Shopping survey is directed to prospects no sooner than seven days after franchise inquiries are made, so any initial contact efforts made after a week are not counted.

Two Best Practices

  1. If you get voicemail, be sure to concisely say why you are calling. If the prospect has Live Voicemail enabled, you will hear this message;

‘After the tone, please say why you are calling. The person you are trying to reach might pick up.”

You might respond this way: “This is Jane Doe calling about your request for information about our XYZ Franchise.”

  1. Prospects want to hear from you initially by email. An automated introductory email gives you a chance to introduce yourself and set up a voice call for success. Include wording in your initial contact email to the effect that: 

“Your Caller ID may not indicate that it’s me, [first and last name] calling from [name of franchise], so we suggest adding our number [your number in format XXX-XXX-XXXX] to your phone contacts”.

The number of persons inquiring who are never contacted by any of the franchises they selected for more information is a costly paradox, given the lifetime value of franchise leads, and the increasing costs and scarcity of franchise leads due to privacy changes at Apple and their impact on Facebook and Instagram

Thankfully, a few simple tactics can improve these results.

The Mystery Shopping survey is conducted monthly by from a sample of franchise prospects that have submitted inquiries on the FranchiseVentures lead generation platform. The latest data is from June 8-15, 2023.

FranchiseVentures is the leading franchise lead-generation platform for potential franchisees to thousands of growing franchise systems in the United States and Canada. Its franchise lead generation brands include, Franchise Solutions, Franchise Gator, Franchise Opportunities, Franchise For Sale, and, and together they provide the largest aggregation of prospective franchise buyers in the U.S.

Interested in more insights from our proprietary data set? Subscribe here to make sure you hear about them first.

Contact FranchiseVentures to get your share of today’s aspiring franchise owners.


Published on Tuesday, July 25th, 2023.

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