Bridget Rawls, Director of Digital Marketing at Buzz Franchise Brands, has spent her entire career in the digital space. Originally from Atlanta, she graduated from The University of Georgia (go dawgs!) with a degree in advertising.
Starting out at a franchise company that focused on consumer goods, she was able to work across multiple aspects of marketing including brand development, social media, and e-commerce.
Bridget then took her passion for digital and project management to an Atlanta-based digital marketing agency, where she oversaw several multi-faceted websites, design, and digital projects. Bridget then made the move to Buzz Franchise Brands in October 2016 as Digital Marketing Manager.
After growing the digital department’s team and programs, she was promoted to Director of Digital Marketing in February 2019 where she continues to think strategically about digital’s impact across multiple brands.
When Bridget is not digging into analytics, supporting our franchisees’ digital growth or developing the digital department, you can find her reading a good book, hitting the beach or enjoying a nice glass of red wine.
Connect with Bridget on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- About Buzz Franchise Brands
- The home services industry growth
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:05] Coming to you live from the Business RadioX studio. It’s Franchise Marketing Radio brought to you by IDs, an award winning digital marketing agency that delivers integrated marketing solutions for franchisors, franchisees and franchise development teams. Learn why over 75 brands depend on ID’s team of dedicated marketers and client service professionals to deliver a strong ROI on their marketing investment. Go to IDS Franchise Marketing for a complimentary digital audit and consultation.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:43] Lee Kanter here, another episode of Franchise Marketing Radio and this is going to be a fun one. Today on the show, we have Bridget Rawls and she’s with Buzz Franchise Brands. Welcome, Bridget.
Bridget Rawls: [00:00:56] Thank you. How are you?
Lee Kantor: [00:00:57] I am doing well. I’m so excited to learn what you’re up to. First, for those who aren’t familiar, share a little bit about Buzz. How are you serving folks?
Bridget Rawls: [00:01:05] Yeah. So Buzz Franchise Brands is a multi-brand franchisor. We were established in 2012 with our flagship brand Mosquito Jo, who has since been since been sold. But we’re celebrating our ten years in business this year, which is super exciting. And we have three brands currently with a fourth to come. Very exciting. All focused in the service in the service space.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:32] So it started out as a mosquito Jo’s And then was the intention always to be kind of a multi brand operation or was that something that just happened organically after doing it for a bit?
Bridget Rawls: [00:01:45] Yeah, no, I really was kind of the long term vision. Our CEO, Kevin Wilson, has always been really clear about the intentions of franchise brands, really wanting to establish ourselves as kind of an umbrella franchise family. So we, like I said, started with Mosquito Jo. In 2012, we rolled out pool scouts, which is a residential school cleaning company. In 2015, we launched Home Clean Heroes. A couple of years after that, our residential cleaning company. And then after Mosquito Jo was sold, we acquired British film school in 2019, which is a swim school concept. So yeah, it’s been really exciting. I’ve been here for almost six years, so not quite the full ten, but it’s been an amazing ride.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:29] Now share with the listeners who are maybe franchisors and they have a single brand. What is kind of some of the economies of scale you can get when you are a multi brand and especially serving one industry like Home Services?
Bridget Rawls: [00:02:44] Yes, definitely. So I think the big benefit of a multi brand franchise company model that we have is that we’re really able to leverage what we call our shared services, right? So my team, I’m the director of digital marketing for Buzz Franchise Brands and I’ve got a team of three that works with me and we support all of our franchisees across all of the brands. So it doesn’t matter if it’s our largest brand British film school or our more emerging brand home heroes, we’re really able to kind of leverage those kind of specific expertise across across the board, which is nice. Whereas if you were launching an initial brand stand alone, the financials really likely wouldn’t make sense to build up such a robust team. But we really are able to kind of leverage those various niche skills across all of them. We’ve got digital marketing, direct mail, creative analytics, operations and support, and that really does kind of span across all of our brands. So it’s been a really nice way to kind of spread the love, if you will.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:53] Now in your role, are you primarily focused on kind of the franchisees and helping making them successful faster or as part of your work in digital marketing, also to grow the franchises, you know, the franchisors and identify more franchisees as well?
Bridget Rawls: [00:04:10] Yeah, it’s both. And we wear a lot of hats. I would say the majority of our time on a day to day basis is spent supporting our franchisees, making sure that they have everything they need in terms of website pay, digital SEO, social media support, all of that really kind of falls into my area. But then in turn, of course, we’re collaborating directly with our individual brand marketing teams for franchise development strategies. So we also lead the charge on the digital side there. So managing our franchise development websites, our relationships with our vendors to again really kind of continue to grow the brand, but at the same time making sure that we’ve got enough resources and bandwidth to keep our current franchisees supported.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:56] Now, in today’s world, is it almost impossible to have a to be a franchisee in a local market and not use kind of some of these digital ads and pay per click and things like that? Is it possible just to grow your business just through, you know, being active in the community, joining things, sponsoring local things? Is that possible? Or you have to have at this point some kind of digital ad work going on?
Bridget Rawls: [00:05:25] Yeah. So, I mean, you know, nothing is impossible, right. But I would say it’s highly improbable to grow efficiently without that layer of paid digital presence. Obviously, there are a lot of aspects to the digital landscape and they’re not all pay to play. But it really is important for our franchisees, especially as they are kind of coming out of the gate. Right, to really make themselves visible and present in the top of the search engine results across the display network, across social media to hit that brand awareness level and really meet people where they are and be present when they’re ready to convert in the search engine. So like I said, I don’t think it’s impossible, but I think it would be really hard to grow efficiently without that. So that’s really why we’re here to support our support our franchisees.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:17] Now, when you’re supporting the franchisees as part of the kind of I’m sure you have to kind of give them a digital marketing education, that they’re not as as savvy as you are and not as experience as you are. Any time you’re dealing with digital, obviously you’re dealing with other platforms primarily and you’re relying on them and the pricing that comes with that. Is there anything that you’re doing to help, like an individual franchisee to kind of build their own list or build their own kind of way to communicate with the people most important to them so they don’t have to rely on these third party platforms in order to get the word out.
Bridget Rawls: [00:07:01] Yeah, so a little bit of a layered answer, but I’ll try to answer kind of what you’re thinking. So yeah, I think the first part is education, right? So before any of our franchisees open their doors or open their their service vehicles, if you will, and or pools, you know, it’s really important to make sure they have a steady foundation of training. And part of that training is digital marketing training. So we spend a few hours directly with them, kind of walking through our philosophy of digital, the different aspects of digital, how our team supports them, and then how also our vendor partners support them as well. So rather than giving all of this knowledge to our franchisees who are saying usually don’t have a ton of experience in digital, it really is such a vast landscape and can be pretty more of a niche thing rather than just giving them all the information and then just letting them run free. We have really developed a lot of good, strong partnerships with some different vendor partnerships to make sure that we’re providing the services for our franchisees and an economy of scale. Right? So we work with partners usually who are really savvy in the franchise space, who have a deep experience it experience in it because it is such a specific business model. And then in turn their services that we offer in-house and we’re really able to leverage our first party data and obviously high touch points with the various brand teams to really make it worth their while. But really the goal is to make sure they feel educated, that in the digital space, make sure they feel empowered and make sure they don’t feel like they’re just kind of floating out there after training. A lot of the heavy lifting is on our team, so it’s been helpful to be able to do that.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:56] Is one of the advantages of being multi-brand, that the consumer is kind of the same across brands so that you can kind of share the consumer. So if one franchisee gets a consumer, then it can be shared amongst the other ones in the market.
Bridget Rawls: [00:09:13] Yeah, I mean, I think that’s always the kind of the big goal, right? I mean, obviously we don’t have locations across all three of our brands and every single place, so there will naturally not be overlap in some areas. There have been instances where our scouts franchisees have been able to coordinate with our British swim school franchisees if they’re in specific markets, because there’s a little bit of a shared interest in terms of water. But I will say that our target audience does kind of range a little bit across the board with British Swim School. We really want to make sure that we’re talking to parents with young kids and really hitting home the importance of swim lessons. You know, survival first is really what we’re focused on. It really is such a life saving skill. So that tends to be a little bit tends to skew a little bit younger. Obviously, we teach adults, too, but it does kind of primarily tend to be parents first. And then obviously with pool scouts, we’re looking at homeowners with pools, not just any homeowner. So that kind of narrows our pool a little bit unintended. And then for home clean heroes, you know, obviously any home is available to be cleaned, but really making sure we’re kind of identifying the sweet spot in terms of household income and making sure that we’re getting a customer who will continue to get service from us and kind of that recurring way. So while they are similar across. The Board. In some ways, it really is important for us to kind of identify the nuances across each. Like I said, I think it would be great for that shared customer to be able to have service across and all of our verticals, but really kind of making sure we’re honing in on who that person is first.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:01] Now, when it comes to the franchisee, is it kind of the same type franchisee prospect today as it was opposed to like pre-pandemic?
Bridget Rawls: [00:11:12] That’s a really good question. I think in some ways, yes, but in some ways, no. I think we’re seeing that the way that people are finding our franchise opportunity has changed a little bit. The level of research that they’re doing has changed a little bit. Now we’re offering virtual meet the Team Days. That’s something that we rolled out during the pandemic, obviously, since travel was obviously not possible there for a little for a little while. So I think those kind of changes have made it made the process maybe a little bit more approachable. But we’re still looking for individuals who are, of course, financially qualified, but also really kind of fit the ideal candidate of owners who are passionate and driven and are really looking to make a difference in their communities. That core aspect hasn’t really changed.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:06] Are you seeing any kind of maybe a more youth movement when it comes to people being open to franchising as a career path?
Bridget Rawls: [00:12:16] Yeah, I think we have seen a little bit skewed a little bit younger over the last couple of years, which is so incredible. I think people are starting to realize or continuing to realize, if you will, in the last couple of years that the classic 9 to 5 career is not the only way to gain success. And for those who are naturally entrepreneurially minded or who really like to be out in the community or outside and really kind of building something for themselves, for themselves. Franchising has become really, really attractive. There’s also such a range of financing options and different ways to self-fund a business such as a franchise. So I think that’s also made it, like I said, a little bit more open to a younger market. It’s been really exciting to see. Obviously, you know, having that young energy and excitement across our concepts really only kind of breeds across the rest of the system. So it’s really great to see.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:18] Now, can you share a moment, maybe early in your career when you were doing some marketing and you had an idea and you said, you know what? Why don’t you know, maybe a franchisee or maybe a franchise brand came to you and said, hey, we need help in this area. And you were able to kind of try something and it worked and you were like, Wow, you know, this is something that I’m good at. This is something that I can make an impact.
Bridget Rawls: [00:13:44] I think that’s a good question. I think really where we’ve been able when I look back at the beginning, when I first started at Franchise Brands, the digital department itself was not nearly as robust as it is now. So I think what we’ve really been able to identify based on learnings and doing the hard work and to building these various programs, is that it really is so important to be everywhere the user is. So I think what we can offer and have been able to really prove is that you need to have a strong organic presence, you need to have a strong paid presence, you need to have those local listings identified and maintained. You need to be present on social. And I think obviously for concepts that don’t offer the kind of support we do, it can be a little bit daunting for the franchisee. We’re like, okay, I know I need to be here, but how am I going to do this? So really being able to develop core competencies and partners in those areas over the last few years, again, just kind of thinking about where we started has been has been great. We’re really able to kind of offer this super robust level of support and landscape and strategies.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:59] Now when it comes to creating that kind of localized brand ubiquity so that the consumer kind of thinks of them or sees the brand at that point of decision, yeah. How much of an investment in their head should they be expected to be investing in in that level of brand ubiquity? Obviously, the more the better in some cases. But there is a point of diminishing returns, I would imagine at some point.
Bridget Rawls: [00:15:25] Of course. Yeah. So I think with, with local marketing and really establishing, you know, owners establishing themselves as the face of the business is incredibly important from the get go. You know, as we all know, the benefit of coming into a franchise concept is that you’re buying into a proven brand with turnkey systems and all these things they don’t have to figure out for themselves. But where it’s still going to be completely important to make a difference is to again be the face of the business. So I think when we launch franchisees and really kind of explain the importance of that, especially starting out, usually it’s going to be more of an investment of their time than financial. I mean, of course, there’s going to be certain things that are fee based in terms of getting out in the community, but being out in the community is so important. You know, as little small, as small, as small as an example, as driving your vehicle on the weekends and wearing branded clothing. So you can be starting those conversations and really continuing to position yourself as as that local owner. I think that’s really where it’s important and diminishing returns, I would say for that sort of thing. There really isn’t one. It’s so important to continuously be in front of people and again really show that this is a local business. We’re making an impact in our community. And then there are things like, of course, on the digital side, on their individual websites. We really work with them to make sure that we’re featuring themselves and their team and how they’re involved in the community and really kind of making that cohesive across all of those different places. So yeah, so a little bit of a vague answer there, but it really is more, I think, thinking about how they can put themselves in front of the community as much as possible.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:15] So. Sure. And then what what is this fun announcement you have from.
Bridget Rawls: [00:17:21] Yes, yes, we’re very excited. So we are rolling out a fourth brand under our umbrella. It’s called Grand Illuminations. It is a premier holiday lighting and decor concept, still service based like our other or other brands, but it’s really exciting. So we’ve kind of gathered a handful of independent operators to become our first franchisees, really able to kind of leverage their knowledge and experience in this space. But we’re looking to be ready to service in a few key areas this holiday season. So it’s awesome. If you are someone who does not like to decorate your own house and would like someone to come in and design it for you with really premium products and definitely keep an eye out for great illumination. So we’re really excited. It’s a really nice tie in with our ten year anniversary and really continuing to build those franchise franchise brands as a multi brand franchisor.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:23] And then the service that they would be offering consumers is like the holiday lights. But would it also be like, you know, Mary graduated, you know, Happy 21st birthday and you put up those kind of signs as well?
Bridget Rawls: [00:18:36] Yeah, that’s a good question. We’re really starting to focus first on holiday decor and lighting. So I think there are some other. Opportunities down the road that we’re going to be exploring in terms of kind of year round initiatives. But this year, and I think the first handful of seasons, it’s really going to be focused on holiday decor. That’s a great question.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:57] And then this and and some of your other brands also, you don’t need a physical location, right? This can be done out of the home or with minimal location.
Bridget Rawls: [00:19:07] Correct. So that’s really one of the attractive pieces about our our concepts. They’re all service based. They’re all fairly low cost and quick to start. So the only kind of caveat I would say in terms of thinking about that is British Swim School. We do operate in physical pools, obviously, to teach kids how to swim, but we leverage pool partnerships and go into existing spaces like hotels, gym, so that you’re not looking at a huge build out of a pool, right. Like some of those other concepts. And then of course, the pool scouts humbling heroes and now great illuminations. Yeah, it’s completely service based. It can be a home based business giving the owner a lot of flexibility in terms of operation and really keeping those costs down.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:54] Good stuff. So if somebody wants to learn more about Buzz, where should they go?
Bridget Rawls: [00:19:59] Yeah, definitely. Visit our website buzz franchise brands dot com Instagram as well at buzz franchise brands and of course on Facebook to keep an eye out for all of the fun activities and announcements coming soon.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:14] Well, Bridget, thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Bridget Rawls: [00:20:19] Thank you so much.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:20] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We will see you all next time on Franchise Marketing Radio.