How to Acquire Unit Franchises for Your Commercial Cleaning Business


This chapter is for Master Franchise Owners or Regional Developers. If you do not own a franchise or don’t have the need to sell a unit cleaning franchise, you can skip this chapter.

As a master franchisee, acquiring new unit franchises is key to your growth. This growth fuels your business and allows revenues to rise over time. However, this kind of selling comes with unique challenges, so having a detailed process in place for how you will consistently sell unit franchises month after month will be far more successful than just running a few ads and hoping for the best.

Of course, we can do much better than just placing some random ads around the web and hoping the right people respond. With this chapter, we’d like to help you build a detailed step-by-step strategy that will supply you with a steady flow of leads week after week and month after month. And, as long as your sales process is in good working order, a healthy percentage of those leads should turn into unit franchise owners.


1. Define Your Ideal Prospect

As with all sales endeavors, knowing your ideal prospect is where this all starts. You won’t want to waste your valuable time and resources trying to attract people who are unlikely to convert and turn into unit franchise owners in the end. So, what does the ideal unit franchise owner look like? Creating the clearest possible picture in your mind is the first step in the sales process.

  • Have full-time employment. Typically, the profile of a new unit franchise owner is one of a person that currently has a full-time job and would like to become a business owner rather than an employee. They want the independence and opportunity that comes with owning a business, and they may have some financial resources saved up as a result of their ongoing full-time employment.

It’s important to differentiate your marketing efforts from those of people who are simply looking for a job. If someone is in the job market trying to find traditional employment, that person is not likely to make a good candidate as a small franchise owner.

For one thing, they might not be interested in being a business owner – they could be aiming for employment and planning on working as an employee rather than striving to own their own business. Also, if someone is currently unemployed, the financial resources might not be in place to purchase a unit franchise and get started as an owner.

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  • Largely white-collar, but not exclusively. Among the generalized categories of white-collar and blue-collar workers, the more likely place to find good leads is going to be within the white-collar community – but that is not a hard and fast rule, and it will vary from market to market.

There are two competing considerations here that you’ll need to weigh when figuring out how and where to market. On the one hand, white-collar workers are likely to have higher salaries and, as a result, may have more funds available to invest in a new business.

Without the availability of an initial investment, a lead is not going to be able to convert, even if he or she is highly interested and motivated. While blue-collar workers typically come to you with lower salaries in their current jobs, it’s also true that they are used to doing physical work and may have an easier time making a transition to the commercial cleaning world.

So, while you might have more luck in some markets seeking out the white-collar demographic, you’ll want to test that out and also expose your offer to some of the blue-collar community to see how that might pay off.

  • Interested in a gradual transition. One of the unique things about selling unit franchises, and one of the positive attributes that you can highlight in marketing materials, is the opportunity to gradually transition into this new field.

For example, imagine a lead that has a steady, sufficient full-time job but wants to either supplement that income or work on a business that could replace their job down the line. Buying other kinds of businesses would likely require this individual to go “all-in” – in other words, they would have to quit their job and work solely on the business.

This is a big risk and a risk that many people won’t be willing or able to take. With a unit franchise, it’s possible to scale the business to suit the amount of time that the new owner would like to invest at the start. That might mean buying a unit franchise that is provided with just a single contract, so the owner can keep their full-time job while also servicing the client in the remaining time they have available.

The new unit franchise owner might decide to keep this business as a small side hustle moving forward, or they may seek out larger contracts in the future if they see an opportunity to expand and make more money.

  • Existing business owners. Sometimes, the most obvious prospects are the ones that we end up ignoring. Many residential and commercial cleaning owners started their own businesses and want to move into the commercial cleaning space because it’s more stable and profitable.

This profile often doesn’t know how to get started, so a franchise would be a perfect fit for them as they will get all the training and support they need to get going in this industry. Other industries to consider reaching out to are carpet cleaners, pressure washing companies, window cleaning companies, and many others.

Finding the right people is always critical when selling something, but where do you find these people? We’re glad you asked, as that’s the topic up next on our agenda.

2. Address Prospects Properly

The Old Approach

There are some traditional methods of seeking out unit franchise owners that still persist in the market today. These are forms of advertising like radio and TV ads, billboards, and even magazines.

While you can still reach an audience through these methods, and you might even find the occasional lead this way, they are outdated and will not make up the foundation of a successful system. 

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You will notice that we are going to continually stress the importance of building systems that will consistently deliver leads to your pipeline week after week, month after month. It’s not good enough to place a few radio ads, for example, and then just sit back and hope those ads bring you the leads needed to keep selling new unit franchises.

Specifically, there are a couple of problems that you should be aware of if you are currently using some of these older advertising models or are considering using them moving forward.

  • Harder to target. With something like a television ad, for example, it’s going to be difficult to specifically target the audience you want to reach. Sure, you can pick out shows or stations that are going to roughly correlate to the target audience you want to reach, but that’s rather general targeting that is still casting a very wide net.

As a result, you’ll spend more on your marketing because you are reaching such a broad, general audience. And, when you do develop a few leads from this approach, those leads won’t be as well-qualified to enter your funnel because of the wide net that was used.

As we’ll talk about below, using modern marketing techniques that allow for much more precise targeting will help you not only cut down on your spending but also pick out exactly the right people that you want to reach with your message.

  • Harder to track. Another issue with some of these marketing strategies is the difficulty that you will have tracking their performance over time. When you get a new lead from a radio ad, for example, that lead may not even remember much about how they came to find you, or you might not even get to that point in a conversation where you can ask.

Again, this is an area where modern digital Marketing has a huge advantage. You’ll be able to easily track where your leads are coming from, and as a result, you can lean into the marketing methods that are bringing you good leads while backing off of the platforms that don’t seem to be connecting with the right people.

It’s going to be hard to consistently generate good leads for selling unit franchises if you are stuck in the past. Updating your marketing plans is an essential piece of this puzzle, and that’s exactly what we are going to talk about in the next section.

Modern Marketing Methods

The power of digital marketing platforms, when compared to some of the older techniques we discussed above, simply cannot be ignored. By digital marketing, we mean using web platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to present your target audience with content that will hopefully drive them in your direction.

That content could come in the form of a paid ad, and it could also be organic on your social media accounts. Also, LinkedIn has proven to be a highly-effective method for the commercial cleaning industry, and sending out targeted emails to interested parties is also a worthwhile endeavor.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the advantages of digital marketing for selling commercial cleaning franchise units are the exact opposite of the drawbacks we talked about above. Let’s get into these benefits in a little more detail so you can better understand what you stand to gain by taking your marketing to the web.

  • Abundant knowledge. One of the biggest reasons to embrace digital marketing is just how much you can learn about each of your advertising campaigns with this approach. Rather than just spending some money on traditional ads and hoping for the best, you can carefully monitor the performance of digital marketing and adjust as necessary to get better results.

For instance, you will know precisely how much you had to spend to acquire each lead, and you can track the cost of acquiring a new unit franchise owner for the various different methods you use online. It’s easy to see where your leads are coming from, and you can compare pools of leads against each other to see where your best prospects tend to be spending their time.

There is virtually no end to what you can learn through digital marketing, and that knowledge can increasingly turn into power as you continue to optimize your systems moving forward. Below you can see some of the metrics we track for our clients and the results we get, in this case using Facebook & Instagram Ads.

  • Predictable results. Surprises are not fun for businesses—you don’t want to invest in advertising and then be surprised by what comes next. Rather, you want this process to be as predictable as possible. In other words, when you invest a specific amount of money into your ad campaigns, you want a certain number of quality leads to be returned.

You can move closer and closer to that kind of predictability with digital marketing, and you can dial in a set monthly budget that you will invest in getting a certain number of leads into your funnel. The system won’t be perfectly dialed in at the start, but with just a bit of data from your initial campaigns, things will soon become optimized, and the outcome of your monthly advertising efforts won’t be surprising at all.

  • Diverse lead generation. Diversity is always a good thing in business. Without diversity, you are exposed to losing your source of leads when the one or two things you have been doing stop working.

Going back to the previous section, what if you use TV ads to generate leads – and those ads suddenly get way more expensive and no longer fit in your budget? Or maybe they simply stop bringing in any quality leads that you can convert into new unit franchisees.

Whatever the case, you want to have plenty of different methods to capture good leads, and digital marketing offers a buffet of choices. Blending social media ads, email marketing, video content, and other types of promotion will give you a nice spread that can keep churning out leads even if one or two of the methods doesn’t work out over the long run.

Facebook May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb
Leads 139 167 292 208 139 103 109 95 121 117
Leads to Meetings Conversion
Rate (%)
10.07% 14.37% 12.33% 15.38% 16.55% 5.83% 1.83% 2.11% 8.26% 10.26%
Meetings Set 14 24 36 32 23 6 2 2 10 12
to Customer Conversion
Rate (%)
21.43% 25.00% 19.44% 3.13% 17.39% 66.67% 200.00% 100.00% 30.00% 25.00%
New Customers 3 6 7 1 4 4 4 2 3 3
Total Spent
on Ads ($)
$1,450.56 $1,413.68 $1,425.34 $1,552.01 $1,248.87 $947.98 $930.12 $954.03 $974.44 $1,113.63
Cost Per Lead ($) $10.44 $8.47 $4.88 $7.46 $8.98 $9.20 $8.53 $10.04 $8.05 $9.52
Cost Per
Meeting ($)
$103.61 $58.90 $39.59 $48.50 $54.30 $158.00 $465.06 $477.02 $97.44 $92.80
Cost Per Customer ($) $483.52 $235.61 $203.62 $1,552.01 $312.22 $237.00 $232.53 $477.02 $324.81 $371.21

3. Optimize the All-Important Conversion Funnel

You might be picking up a theme by now when talking about how to sell unit franchises – we don’t want to leave anything to chance. While there will always be some element of chance involved in selling anything, since you can’t force people to buy, we want to take as many variables out of play as possible to refine the process and optimize results.

That’s the concept behind constructing a detailed conversion funnel that will attempt to take leads from the point where they request more information to the moment when they sign the paperwork and become a new franchisee.

Mapping the steps someone takes online from the moment they realize you exist until they become your customer will help us see the big picture, understand the assets we have to create, and the metrics we have to track in order to achieve the desired results.

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How to Acquire Unit Franchises for Your Commercial Cleaning Business 8

As you can see from this chart, which is an example of our conversion funnel process when using Facebook Ads, there are many steps involved in how you can take the lead who shows interest in buying a unit franchise from start to finish, where you close a deal.

Let’s dive into some of the details of how this kind of funnel works so you can gain a better understanding of the attention to detail that is needed to make this all work.

  • For this example of driving traffic with Facebook and Instagram Ads, the lead in question will arrive on a landing page on your site after seeing and clicking on your ad. With that landing page, the goal is very simple – to get the visitor to fill out and submit a form with basic information so the next steps of the funnel can be activated.

For this reason, landing pages are kept quite simple, and they will include little else beyond the form that we hope the visitor will submit. Getting as much of your landing page traffic to fill out the form as you can is key to keeping your marketing costs down and maximizing your return on investment in this area.

  • Once a form is received, the rest of the funnel will jump into action. That includes a phone call that is placed promptly while the opportunity is still fresh on the mind of the lead.

If that call is answered, the goal is to secure a meeting, which will be reminded via a text message before the date and time arrive. If no one answers the phone, the lead is not discarded – rather, a message is left, and the lead can be moved into another area of the funnel for further follow-up.

  • This funnel process considers the legal requirement to disclose a lead at least two weeks before an agreement is signed. It is necessary to provide the relevant disclosures to a lead upfront, and then at least two weeks must pass before a contract can be signed and a deal confirmed.

Of course, there is the potential for some of your leads to leak away in that two-week timeframe, so the conversion funnel understands that reality and works on staying in touch in the meantime, so a sale can hopefully happen when the two weeks are up.

Specifically, content like motivational text messages that get the lead excited about owning a unit franchise, or success stories from others who have gone before, can go a long way toward maintaining engagement and optimizing conversion rate.

Having a solid, proven funnel in place – and then executing the plan set out by that funnel for each and every lead – is at the heart of selling as many unit franchises as possible during the year. As the sale of unit franchises is what will drive your business forward, you can’t afford to leave this part of the operation to chance.

Sure, you might luck into the occasional sale that doesn’t come as the result of a well-defined, organized conversion funnel, but those will be the exception rather than the rule. Lean on a funnel like the one highlighted in the chart above and the path for leads to become unit franchise owners will suddenly be a lot clearer.

4. Don’t Overlook SMS Marketing

Text message marketing has been around for many years, but it’s experienced a massive renaissance in 2022. It is a cost-effective solution that gets you immediately on your lead cell phone. One of the advantages that franchise owners don’t seem to notice is that most, if not all, of your unit franchise leads will provide their cell phones as a preferred method of communication. This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Here are some eye-openers and hard facts that will make you prioritize this channel to reach and communicate with your leads. Simpletexting is the source of the following data. 

  • Over half of consumers (51%) reply to a text message within 1-2 minutes.
  • Over half of consumers check their text messages 11 times a day.
  • 85% of consumers check their texts within 1-5 minutes of receiving a text.
  • When we look at reply rates for texting, this time radically decreases. Over half of consumers (51%) reply to a text message within 1-2 minutes, and 33% reply within 5-10 minutes.
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How to Acquire Unit Franchises for Your Commercial Cleaning Business 9

Source: SimpleTexting

So, how do we use text messaging to sell more unit franchises? The first step is to get the leads. Once we get the leads, then we can start our campaigns. For this strategy, we use a version of the No Leads Left Behind System – but in this case, it has been designed specifically for franchises. 

No Leads Left Behind – Unit Franchise Version

Below, you will find actionable tips and campaigns that every master franchise owner should follow to book appointments. 

New leads that come from our campaigns will receive SMS and email campaigns to set expectations, pre-qualify the lead, create brand awareness, and schedule appointments through inbound responses. Here is the first message we sent to every prospect.

SMS: Franchise – New Lead

Hey there! We’re so excited to see that you want to become an independent business owner with {name of your company} . We can’t wait to hear about your goals! When is a good time for us to give you a call?

Second Attempt

We already know we need to call the leads multiple times to get them on the phone. So every time we reach out to the prospect and they don’t answer, we complement our calling efforts with an SMS letting the lead know that we are trying to call and asking for a good time to call back. Here is one example that we use:

Hi {{contact.first_name}}. It seems like I just missed you.  It’s {{user.first_name}} from {name of your company}. I was wondering if you’re still interested in learning more about our commercial cleaning franchise opportunities! We are growing and are looking for entrepreneurs who want to grow their own businesses. When is a good time for me to give you a call?

Appointment Scheduled

Once you talk to the lead and they are interested in scheduling an appointment, we enroll them in an appointment reminder campaign. We have seen a 30% increase in appointment show rate when we remind the leads of the time and location of the appointment several hours before the meeting. 

Appointment No Show

It is normal in the industry to get a number of no-shows to your appointments. This campaign will remind the lead that they had a meeting and didn’t attend. It will ask if they are still interested and will attempt to reschedule the meeting. 

Hey there! It’s {{user.first_name}} from {name of your company} . We had a meeting scheduled today to talk about our franchise options at {name of your company}, but it looks like I missed you. Do you want to reschedule? Could you reply to this message or call me back?


This is one of the most critical stages in the pipeline. At this stage, you have already disclosed the lead, and they are considering buying a franchise. This campaign will share motivational messages and success stories and try to show the prospects the potential that comes with owning a cleaning franchise. 

Hey there! Thanks once again for your interest in the {name of your company} franchise. It was great to meet you and get to know you better. There’s a lot of information to take in, and I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. It’s {{user.first_name}} here from {{location.name}}


Every Cleaning business should have a nurture campaign that talks about the benefits of owning a franchise and why their company is the best option in the market. This campaign is meant to educate the prospects and make them schedule a meeting to learn more. We also want to provide value and create engagement by asking questions. 

Hi {{contact.first_name}}, {{user.first_name}} here from {name of your company}. Quick question, What’s your reason for wanting to open a commercial cleaning franchise or at least consider venturing into the janitorial business world? Give us a call or text back!


If you have been in the franchise industry for some time, you should have a decent-sized database of unit franchise prospects sitting around in your office. With this campaign, we want to reactivate that database by reminding the prospect that they were interested in a commercial cleaning franchise at some point in the past. In addition, you want to know what has changed in their lives since the first time you contacted them. 

Hi {{contact.first_name}}. It’s {{user.first_name}} from {your company}. I was wondering if you’re still interested in learning more about our commercial cleaning franchise opportunities! We are growing and are looking for entrepreneurs who want to grow their own businesses. When is a good time for me to give you a call?

We also encourage you to have a referral campaign to incentivize your active unit franchises to refer you to good candidates and reward them if you close any of their referrals. 

5. Use a CRM to Organize Your Data and Follow Up with Unit Franchise Leads (Skip if you are not a Master Franchise)

We have a chapter on CRMs, why you need one, and the best way to use it. So, if you are not familiar with CRMs, please go to the CRM chapter and then come back. We also talk about the importance of following up with leads.

We show you a couple of studies; one by Harvard Business Review and another one by the National Sales Association. These studies apply the same principles for selling accounts to franchises – no matter how good your marketing is, if you don’t have consistency in your follow-ups, you will never close a lead. 

The people who fill out your form to express interest in owning a unit franchise of a commercial cleaning business are surely busy already.  They likely have full-time jobs, and may have many other obligations outside of work, including family commitments, hobbies, etc.

Even if they are very interested in what you are going to tell them, it’s possible they simply can’t answer the phone when it rings. And, they might not really have time to get back to you or follow up in the day or two after that call goes missed.

Another thing to consider here is the fact that your number will not be known to the leads when it arrives on their phone. Many people—most people, perhaps—simply decline phone calls out of habit when they don’t recognize the number.

So, you won’t get a lot of answers on that initial call, as you’ll need to first overcome this hurdle. After leaving a message on such a call, the lead will then realize where the call was coming from and may be more likely to answer it in the future.

6. Remember to Follow-Up Throughout the Funnel

When we talk about following up with your leads, you might think first about continuing to call after your first attempt goes unanswered. Or, maybe you are thinking about follow-up communication after you discuss the opportunity with a potential unit franchise owner, but that conversation doesn’t lead to an appointment. It’s important to follow up in these situations, of course, but it’s just as important to follow up after a meeting has taken place and you have presented what you have to offer.

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The required two-week period post-disclosure is the perfect opportunity to follow up multiple times to keep the lead warm and help them get even more excited about what this opportunity could do in their life.

Sending along success stories of past unit franchise buyers is a great method that has provided us with plenty of positive outcomes. Seeing people who are just like them, and were once in a situation similar to what they are in now, is incredibly motivating.

With a steady stream of motivational content filling up those two weeks, you may be able to prime more of your leads to go ahead and take action after the disclosure period has ended.

Now that we have a good refresher on the importance of following up with your unit franchise leads, it’s crucial to keep your CRM organized. This is how we do it at Cleaning in Motion.

How to Acquire Unit Franchises for Your Commercial Cleaning Business 10

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