Franchising 101: Grow Your Franchise by Partnering With Complementary Businesses


Mapping your franchise’s territory with precision is like finding the secret sauce for success. In a previous article, we explored how to define your winning criteria, but guess what? There’s a cherry on top that could make your franchise even sweeter: the power of friendship with complementary businesses!

Let’s dive into a light-hearted guide on how these business BFFs can help your franchise bloom 🌸 

Before you dive in, make sure you’ve got your hands on a territory-mapping app packed with demographic insights and competitor data. It’s like having a secret weapon in your pocket, helping you scope out the landscape before you even take your first step.

👉 8 best location intelligence tools to discover

What is a complementary business?

Imagine a business that’s like the peanut butter to your jelly—different but oh-so-good together.

A complementary business (or mirroring brand) is a business that doesn’t compete with yours; instead, it adds value to what you offer. In many situations, just having a complementary business near yours is enough for you to see an increase in your bottom line, but teaming up with them can be mutually beneficial.

8 examples of complementary businesses

There are bound to be tons of complementary businesses in your franchise territory, though they may not be initially obvious to you. Here are some interesting duos:

Sit-down restaurants & Movie theaters

Is there a more classic date night than dinner and a movie? Sit-down restaurants located near movie theaters are sure to be part of a great downtown scene.

Gyms & Sports equipment outlets

While a gym might have most of the equipment its customers need, things like foam rollers and sportswear are examples of equipment they’ll pop over to a store to pick up.

Fast food restaurants & Gas stations

Fast food restaurants are great stops for road trips, and drivers are likely to hit them up if they’re close to a gas station.

Real estate agency & financial institutions

Whether they need financing or advice from a financial advisor, real estate clients are best served if the agency is near a financial institution.

Daycares & businesses with more than 20 employees

Daycares primarily cater to working parents, and picking a location close to larger employers helps you provide a better service to those parents.

Beauty salons & hairdressers

Can you think of a better way to spend the day then hitting up a beauty salon after getting a crisp new haircut? Because that’s what the ideal customer for a beauty salon thinks.

Cafés & Pastry shops

Cafés can sell products from local pastry shops or pick up customers who need a hot cup of coffee to go with the pastry they just bought.

Yoga centers & Nutritionist offices

This duo can offer a holistic wellness approach that combines physical exercise and mental health through yoga with personalized nutritional guidance to enhance overall well-being.

Spot yoga competitors in Worcester, MA, USA.

Why teaming up with complementary businesses helps you grow

Just while their presence alone can help you grow, building partnerships with complementary businesses can have a huge impact on your business. Here’s how:

  • You can both get more customers:

Partner with complementary businesses, and a portion of their customers might become your customers as well.

  • You can reduce your local marketing costs:

Co-marketing can be especially powerful if you partner with a brand that your ideal customers already trust.

  • You get access to skills and expertise:

Business partnerships often allow you to build a network of trusted experts who can help you out with a favor or two.

  • You improve your reputation:

If you’re known as someone who goes out of their way to build beneficial relationships with other businesses, every subsequent partnership will be easier to build.

How to find complementary businesses in your territory with Smappen

Whether you’re starting out or looking to expand, finding your complementary counterparts is a breeze. Smappen, your go-to location intelligence buddy, makes it as easy as pie. With just a few clicks, you can spot potential business pals and start scheming up partnership plans.

Let’s take the example of the Etage Athletic Club, a gym franchise in Pittsburgh

Complementary businesses for the Etage Athletic Club could be sporting equipment stores or supplement stores, among others.

With point-of-interest data, you can easily pick out these complementary businesses on a map and get a quick list of sporting equipment and supplement stores you can partner with near your location.

4 ways to partner with complementary businesses

You now know how valuable complementary businesses are and how to find them. Let’s cover some ways you can partner with them directly.

Set up a referral program

One of the easiest ways to partner with complementary businesses is for each business to refer their customers to the other. After all, if they’re complementary, it just makes sense that your customers will be interested in whatever your partner offers and vice-versa. Offer discount codes or special deals to customers that come from a complementary business to make the partnership even more worthwhile.

Sell their product

You could always strike up a deal with a partner to distribute their product for them, especially if it’s complementary to something you offer. Sell a brand’s fitness gear at your gym, stock gift cards for a local restaurant at your movie theatre, and so on.

Host mutually beneficial events

Event marketing can still be incredibly effective, even if most marketing efforts have gone online. If you or your business partner has a particularly beautiful space, it could make sense to host a joint event there to drum up local interest in your businesses. An accounting firm, for instance, could host an event about tax season at a local credit union.

Leverage each other’s skills

There are ways you can increase each other’s bottom lines without directly selling each other’s products or sharing customers. Are there leaders at your partner’s business who can teach you things about marketing or logistics? Maybe you have a customer service expert on your side that can help your partner straighten out their own customer experience? These collaborations can have an amazing impact on your business.

Our compliments

Finding and partnering with complementary businesses isn’t just a smart move; it’s a game changer. So, why go it alone when you can join forces and achieve so much more? Smappen is here to help you discover your complementary businesses and take your franchise to new heights. Ready to start this friendship journey?

Discover our ebook 👇

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