Rockstars & Choirboys: The challenges of franchise consistency

Everyone wants to be a rock star.  The fame, adulation, and the nearly limitless ability to do, speak, and act any way you want is undeniably appealing.  Being a popular musician means you have no boss to answer to other than the opinions of your fans; your job is to give them more of what they want.  You write and play your music, then the world listens; if enough people like what they hear, you are rewarded with ‘customers’, along with the success and independence that accompanies acquiring lots of them.

Now that I’ve got you thinking about music, imagine for a moment you’re listening to a song from your favorite artist.  You are singing along and dancing to the beat – now simultaneously press play on a song from another of your favorite artists.  Then another.  Get five of your all-time favorite songs playing at the same time; not in succession, on top of one another. Can you hear it?  Suddenly you can’t make out the melodies of any of them, and the sounds that usually sooth, motivate, or move you blend into a cacophony of noise that only serves to irritate and confuse.  Can you hear it?

That’s the sound of a lot of franchise marketing.

Successful franchisees want to be rock stars of local marketing, writing, playing, and performing to earn fans (customers) that will fuel their success.  They’re not rebelliously breaking away from the franchisor; but, they own and operate an independent business and they suffer the consequences of failure personally.  They can’t afford to be complacent and hope that a national strategy pans out, they have bills to pay and they need to acquire customers by whatever means necessary to serve that end.  Sometimes, however, as with any rock star, success leads to excess, and the customers start to hear five songs or more layered on top of one another, five messages from five franchise locations or more clashing and weakening each other.

The franchisee’s can lose their voice when they forget that they’re not actually solo rock stars; they’re part of a choir.

Nobody wants to be a choirboy.  There’s no fame or fortune in being one of dozens, hundreds or thousands of seemingly nameless and faceless clones all singing the same song.   But, there is undeniable power in the sound of all of those voices working together to build a rich, and beautiful song.  That’s every franchisor’s goal;

the network grows in revenue, size and satisfaction when the power of the brand acts as a tide that lifts all ships.

When the melody emanating from each franchise is the same, the cumulative effect gives customers confidence that they’re doing business not just with a good local provider, but also with a trusted, national brand that can serve them anywhere.

Everyone wants to be a rockstar; nobody wants to be a choirboy. The network is more successful when it sounds like a choir, but franchisees need to rock in order to protect their own business.

Perhaps it’s possible to be both?

Some franchise brands blend the two roles by providing enough autonomy to empower franchisees to control the style of their own music, while playing a melody that matches the brand. Each franchisee is free to work on solo projects that enrich their individual business – with varying levels of success, but ultimately return to play with their peers because that’s the true foundation of their popularity.  It’s a bit like being in Genesis 😉

What do you think?  Can a franchise brand encourage rockstars to act like choirboys in order to create a more harmonious sound?

We think so…

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