How can you protect and safeguard your brand using a franchise business model?
It is widely known that the brand is a franchiser’s most valuable asset and consumers decide where to buy a product or service based on what they know about the brand and the confidence they have in it to meet their expectations. In this context, it is of the utmost importance that the franchiser and each of their franchisees work together to meet these expectations.
To a large extent, brand value defines the franchise’s value and their potential for success. In economic terms, the brand value influences the cost of the initial franchise fee as well as the amount of royalties to be paid. Well-known trademarks that are relevant to consumers will tend to generate more turnover, more prospects who are interested in their product or service and a greater rate of conversion and loyalty.
The franchiser, as the owner of the brand, faces a challenge when they have to guarantee that each franchise protects and transmits the values that are inherent to the brand in their daily activities. On the other hand, the franchisee takes on the brand recognition in their area and becomes a communication channel for the consumer, as well as paying the franchiser. Therefore, they must be very clear about the possibilities, responsibilities and limitations for healthy and consistent brand growth.
A successful franchise model involves a set of support systems and a bidirectional communication that are perfectly interwoven and cover all areas of management. Malpractice could negatively influence the brand’s reputation, user experience and the ability to identify itself with collaborators. Ten tips which, in my opinion, should be considered by franchise companies or those who are considering expanding with this model are explained below:
- Be true to yourself. Understand your mission and vision perfectly. What did you come here to do? Define your strategy accordingly; what are you dedicated to, what are your values, what makes you different, what do you offer, who do you want to be for your customer. Stay true to yourself and your purpose and this will guide your decisions. Throughout your journey as a franchiser you will receive a multitude of input from your network of franchisees (regarding what is being done well, what should be changed and how “my” customer “is”…). There is no doubt about the fact that you must listen to understand the first line and the day to day running of the business, and from the healthy distance of knowing who you want to be, make decisions about changes that you deem necessary.
- Be excellent with your brand. Always present your brand in a clear, coherent, well-defined manner that can be identified by and is relevant to your target audience. Take care of its shape and maintain its visual essence (creativeness, coherence, cleanliness, rigour). Take care of your creative team, be sure that they are steeped in the business’s values and maintain them in the long term, both the internal and external teams. Equip your brand with value-added content for your target audience. Clearly define your communication strategy, content, channels, formats and be consistent and coherent. Develop platforms and support processes for the franchisee that allow you to put the communication materials at their disposal which were designed for the franchise headquarters.
- Define your brand strategy and the roles to implement it. As the brand’s owner, define the strategy and the annual operational plans to execute it. Despite what some people think about this model, it is crucial that you have a clear strategy and invest in resources in a sustained manner over time. A successful franchise is not made from a logo, four brochures and two social media posts. Clearly define your strategy, communication plan, target audience, message, and channels. Be the driver to implement a global strategy and guide your franchisees through their local marketing plan. This will mean that you will multiply the impact and create actions that your franchisees couldn’t have done on their own with their resources, you will be sure about the coherence and transmission of your brand’s values. It is the franchiser’s responsibility to define the brand strategy. Both parties, the franchiser and the franchisee, must take responsibility for executing the plan in their own area, simultaneously in a consistent manner. Take responsibility for it.
- Be proactive, prompt, and organised. Provide your network of franchisees with planned marketing campaigns on a regular and continuous basis throughout the year. Provide them with the content, visual support, and an implementation guide to facilitate the execution in the ideal form and time. Schedule, anticipate, offer bundled campaigns, and be at their disposal to help with and resolve any issues. By doing this, you will make your franchisee’s life easier and you will allow them to focus on their objective (capitalise on their franchise) not being distracted by tasks that don’t correspond to them.
- Make sure that the roles are understood correctly. The franchise model, per se, clearly defines the responsibilities, rights, and obligations for both parties, and these are recognised contractually. However, different situations may cause disruptive actions to emerge in regard to the proper management of the brand (for example, a franchisee with a background in marketing takes the initiative and creatively designs and produces creations that are more appealing and have clearer messages”, or another franchisee who may, in their quest to hit their target sales, affiliate with a partner whose values are not aligned with those of your brand).
- Local – Global. “My area is different”, “that doesn’t work here”, … Yes and no. Simply put, the franchise model is based on replicating a successful unit. Analyse and identify whether there are objective differences in the market that may impact the business and may require local adaptations (at an international level, for example, communication and branding adaptations will be needed according to the number of franchises in a country, the brand’s visibility, competition, etc.).
- Teach and train your network. Offer ongoing training to the different roles that are key to the success of the business on its different levels. On the marketing level, train your network so that they can carry out the tasks necessary for the success of the business and the brand (for example, creation of their local marketing plan, creation of brand loyalty, management of social networks, discourse, and sales process, etc.).
- Regularly assess the recognition, reputation, and perception of your brand in the market. Periodically measure your franchisee network satisfaction (perceived brand value, satisfaction rating, balance between what they contribute and what they receive, etc.). Measuring will help you to understand where you’re at, how close you are to your goal and which corrective measures need to be taken.
- Choose your fellow travellers wisely. This is a key point in this business model. In terms of your brand, your franchisee becomes your representative in a specific area and they have the power to generate the desired buying experience with each of their decisions (location of points of sale, cleaning, product arrangement, personal aspect, management of doubts, friendliness, after-sale service, etc.).
Similarly, in a successful franchise it is essential that the network identifies with the company and the brand, they live it and communicate it. Knowing, trusting and being transparent with one another is crucial. Be proactive in creating this environment.
- Challenge yourself. Never stop improving, innovating, and wondering about yourself. The market will change, and you need to be prepared for it. Similarly, your franchisees will go through different stages of their love affair with the brand and you need to know how to manage them. A franchise model is not a static model, despite relying on replication.
Ultimately, your challenge is about being true to yourself, and ensuring that your franchisee feels proud to represent you and sell your brand so that you all make a living from it.