Organisations like the British Franchise Association (bfa) and franchisers should "think smarter" and embrace new media, in particular the internet, to promote the industry to the public.
This is the claim by Ovenu, an oven valeting franchise, following a survey which revealed that there is a lack of franchise awareness among a significant number of the UK public.
The company's managing director Rik Hellewell believes it is time for a shift in focus for many franchisers. While traditional promotional methods can be useful to an extent, the internet offers excellent opportunities to tap into a market that does not know much about franchising.
Ovenu's research found that almost one third of people have very little idea of what a franchise is, with more than half of those who claim to know about it unable to give a clear definition.
In addition, awareness of franchise operators was low and mainly limited to recognised brands in the fast-food sector such as McDonald's and Subway.
Mr Hellewell said: "This study must be the wake-up call franchising needs to move into the 21st century and realise that without a cohesive and cost-effective recruitment process supported by our trade body franchisee numbers will drop dramatically.
"If this sector is to attract more people to franchising, it needs to move out of the comfort zone and think smarter about the way it works to promote itself with partners such as banks, business link and the media."
He also voiced concerns that franchisers could miss out on opportunities to attract potential franchisees if it does not fully maximize the internet.
Ovenu's study discovered that people are four times more likely to use online resources than traditional print advertising routes when researching franchising.
Recent data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) revealed that there are around 38 million internet users in the UK, which is 63 per cent of the population, showing how much potential there is for franchisers.
The internet also allows people from other countries to view details of franchisers that provide master franchises and regional franchises abroad. With over 200 million internet users in the US for example, according to the ITU, it gives franchisers a great boost if they want to expand to other countries.
Franchising websites such as Franchise Direct provide a platform for franchisers to get noticed by the public, as they can have their profile displayed and if potential franchisees like what they see they can quickly get further information and contact details.