Imagine for a moment that you are a musician in an orchestra. You have spent countless hours perfecting your sound on one designated instrument. Sure, you could probably play Beethoven’s “Symphony 5” beautifully. However, your audience is never hearing the whole song unless the entire orchestra is playing together in harmony.
Franchise networks work in a similar way.
In this analogy, each individual location is a musician in the franchise network. They all have a specific role in the network – but they can’t play it alone. If one of the musicians goes solo and plays out of tune, the orchestra is disrupted entirely. Instead, each franchisee needs to play an essential role in the network while also retaining their identity.
So, how can franchisees play that role in the network while still serving the larger brand?
Step 1: Treat each customer like they will leave tomorrow
The average American moves 11.7 times in their lifetime according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Many of the customers you have today are most likely going to leave your location eventually. However, if you make a good enough impression on these customers, they are more likely to visit another location in your network out of loyalty to your brand.
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. This creates a halo effect around the entire network – increasing the likelihood that a customer moving into your area will visit your location if they had a positive experience at another location.
Step 2: Choose the right Marketing channels for you and your Franchisees
Think of the role of a conductor for an orchestra. He/she is the visionary for the whole production – meticulously studying and exploring the music before it is even presented to the musicians.
The role of a Franchisor works the same way. It is critical that the Franchisor strategically researches and selects the right marketing channels to use before the marketing plan is presented to Franchisees. Whether a franchise network is advertising locally or nationally, you want to create the noise in the marketing place that makes the consumer choose you.
In order to choose the right channels, you need to understand how each will play a role in enhancing your franchise network.
Outbound channels (think Direct Mail, Email Marketing, banner ads) make consumers aware that your brand exists.
Inbound channels (think your Website, Paid Search Advertising, Social Media) help consumers reach you and validate that you are a credible business.
Centermark by Web.com is designed to take a look at all of these marketing channels in order help you capture your customers’ attention in the places that matter most.
Step 3: Track your customers’ digital footprints
The digital landscape has created new outlets for consumers to complain about or praise businesses. If you leave the wrong impression, that customer can easily and immediately share their negative experience through an array of different channels including online review sites (Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc.), blog sites, Social Media channels and more. This not only hurts the one franchise location – it can taint the validity of the entire network. It’s similar to the actions of musicians in an orchestra. A poor performance from one musician can have an adverse effect on the entire orchestra – disturbing the tune of the song completely despite everyone else playing along to the correct music.
While Franchisors cannot control the customer experiences for every franchise location, both Franchisor and Franchisee can play a role in how they respond to the customer. First thing’s first – Immediacy is key. Research from Jay Baer reveals that 42% of consumers expect a response within 60 minutes. While you may not be able to resolve an issue within an hour, you can still acknowledge the problem and let the customer know that you are actively working to resolve it. A polite and personal message can turn your disgruntled customer’s opinion around and give you a second shot at gaining their satisfaction and loyalty, therefore improving the reputation of not only the franchisee but also the entire franchise network.
Ultimately, the network is more successful when it sounds like a synchronized orchestra, but franchisees need to rock in order to protect and grow their own business. Some franchise brands blend the two roles by empowering franchisees with the autonomy to control their own style of music while playing a melody that matches the brand. This way, 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.