Making the switch from a single-location chemical manufacturing business to a distributed franchise operation is tricky at the best of times. Even the simplest transition of this kind requires a fundamental restructuring of your company model and can strain your business management skills to their utmost. The potential rewards, such as greater revenue and a more robust brand that’s less susceptible to sudden upsets, usually outweigh the risks, but in the bustle of starting up new Canada franchise opportunities, it’s easy to overlook some important details. One detail that’s often missed is also one of the most important: updating your online presence to keep your SEO relevant and draw the website traffic you depend on.
The Importance of Staying Relevant
If your chemical manufacturing company has an SEO strategy, you probably don’t need to be told how important it is for a customer- or vendor-facing business. Many of your best clients probably found you through a web search that led them to one of your carefully constructed landing pages. You also probably know that internet search algorithms reward your website for posting fresh, usable content that gets linkbacks and high engagement numbers. Maybe most important, for a company that makes and sells potentially hazardous materials, coming in first, or nearly first, on a results page signals to the market and the public that you’re a serious concern that attends to details like optimization strategies and optimized metadata.
To keep the front page position your company has earned, and not slip in the rankings because location information on your site is out of date and inaccurate, be sure to either remove specific location information from your site altogether, or invest the time necessary to add a new page to your site for every new franchise location. If, for example, you open a satellite operation making plastics from natural gas near Winnipeg, even if that location is not open to the public and doesn’t expect visitors, you can include it in your “Our Locations” directory for the sake of completeness. It’s also a good idea to occasionally mention each of your franchise locations from time to time on your company blog if you have one. Search engines notice this content too, and a disconnect between the locations on third-party sites like Yelp! and what is or is not mentioned on your own site may hurt you somewhat in the rankings.
They’re Your Public – Keep Them Informed
Chemical plants have a special responsibility to keep the public informed about their presence in a community. It’s a sad fact that the public is generally uninformed about the regulations your company is expected to obey and the elaborate safety mechanisms you have in place at every location you’re responsible for maintaining. By setting up a location-specific website that describes each of your franchise locations in some appropriate-for-the-general-public level of detail, you can easily keep the community around your locations from being unduly worried by the steam coming out of your vents. If, for instance, your company is known to produce volatile or expensive chemicals, but your franchise operation in Vancouver mostly makes non-polar solvents for industrial use, something with little or no risk of explosion or fire, an uninformed public in Vancouver might fear the worst when they see a new franchise opening. By linking a new-location site to your main page, and by keeping it updated so it’s easy to find with a casual search, you can preemptively allay the public’s baseless fears.
Should You Franchise Your Website Too?
A basic question of business management has to be answered when you’re updating your website with all the new pages: should you do it all yourself or trust your franchise partners to handle their own web presence? Both approaches have their advantages and drawbacks, but there may be a middle way that reaps the benefits of each.
Centralized control of your website means that your franchisees do virtually nothing to help maintain your company website. You, or your web and marketing teams, write all the content and the development and database work are done centrally. This puts the content under your control, but it can also introduce a lag between new information coming up at one of your franchise locations and having the information appear on your site. Alternatively, you can farm out the web work to each franchise holder. Under this arrangement, each of your franchisees has a person in-house to do the necessary online housekeeping, which is then uploaded to an independently run, and even independently hosted, site with your company’s logo and contact information on it. This speeds up the update cycle, but it almost invariably creates minor issues as local site content diverges from whatever you have on the parent site.
A viable third way is to split the loaf. Let local franchisees draft their own updates and suggest changes to the main company site, but then handle all updates through the IT department at your first location. This way, you can encourage local innovation while exercising final say over how your brand is presented to the public and what kind of social media presence you maintain.
Changing over from a one-spot shop to a nationally franchised chemical manufacturing business involves planning, time and effort. Take care to include your company’s web presence in the switch so that your landing pages, blog and contact information pages stay as fresh and relevant as they were when they only applied to a single location.