Maximize Initial Contact Rates Using the Channels and Order That Franchise Prospects Prefer

By: Michael Alston for Franchise Insights

November 15, 2023 – Consistent with prior monthly “mystery shopping” surveys, most franchise prospects (45.8%)  prefer to be emailed for initial contact with a franchise they are interested in according to fresh data in October 2023. On the other hand, 30.6% indicated a desire for a phone call for the initial contact, in the same order of preference seen when we last shared initial contact preference data.

Further, in all but seven of forty monthly surveys by over the last four years, email was the clear preference for initial contact. Only four times (since in August 2022) did text surpass email for preferred first contact. In the remaining three instances, email and texts tied for “first preference.”

Receiving a text is the most preferred follow-up method to an initial email.

On the other hand, in the most recent data, a clear majority (59.7%) of respondents said receiving a text was the second most preferred choice for initial contact about a franchise they are interested in learning more about, consistent with most of the prior surveys. 

Getting a text, however, was least preferred as first contact at 23.6% – less than receiving a phone call at 30.6%. A substantial 48.6% of respondents indicated that voice was their overall third choice for initial contact. 

Conclusion: For franchise leads who do not respond to an initial email, following up with a personalized text is a good practice, with the goal of setting up a subsequent voice call.

While there is some month-to-month variation in these results, and possibly some seasonality, texting has grown in acceptance over the last four years.

While the survey does not tell us the drivers behind these trend changes, the lower preference for initial contact by voice was significant in early 2020 as the pandemic unfolded, but now seems to be recovering in acceptance (growing orange bars across the top of the chart above).

Also in the “mystery shopping” surveys from August to October 2023, 56.7% of respondents said they were “unlikely or very unlikely to accept a phone call from a franchise” if they had “not previously received a text message or email from that company with more information.” 

Summary: Best Practices For Initial Contact

Email remains the most preferred and safest channel for initial contact, at 45.8% of respondents. The asynchronous nature of email makes it the most effective channel for the overwhelming majority of franchise leads that arrive outside of business hours, including weekends and holidays. It is also a more conducive medium for making your brief “elevator pitch” and conveying information such as video, links or a pdf brochure. Given the dominance of mobile phone use over landlines among business buyers, email is the most convenient for the prospect and best medium to introduce yourself and begin to tell your story.

Moreover, Apple’s prompt to set up its “silence unknown callers” feature, introduced in the April 2021 iOS release, followed by the “live voicemail” feature introduced to iOS17 in September 2023, make it critical to email an introduction first, so that the prospect knows to expect a call from you and add you to contacts. If they don’t, at least iOS 17 will pass you to “live voicemail” rather than banish you silently to the inbox . An automated introductory email at least 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 Franchise Insights “mystery shopping” survey is conducted monthly among aspiring business buyers inquiring about franchises at the brands of FranchiseVentures.

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.

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Published on Wednesday, November 15th, 2023.

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