A customer, let’s call them Sally, walks into a store, say Quiznos, and hands them a coupon along with her order only to have the cashier say something to the effect of “sorry, we don’t take that here… we’re not part of corporate… we’re not required… we’re not!”. Slightly confused and totally upset, Sally pays the full bill and heads home vowing to tell all her friends to stay away. But when Sally heads over to Facebook her post isn’t going to read “avoid this local, independent branch”, it’s going to say that Quiznos failed to deliver. The logo on the door is Sally’s target.
Franchise compliance is not new problem, nor a simple one… independent owners, local markets & a personal p&l to live by, but in a world where Sally can reach 100s of people who trust her opinion in seconds, it’s become a whole new risk.
So how do you bring together a single brand in a business that shares one logo and many autonomous owners to avoid a negative social onslaught?
It starts with education.
Just as your franchisees have to know about menu changes, marketing campaigns, uniform updates and all the other components that go into the training program, they have to understand how social media works and what you’re doing with it to impact their business.
Whether it’s an incident like the Domino’s viral video taking a brand down or a case study on results driving things up, it takes showing the reality that a connected consumer is having on the industry to invoke an understanding that things do indeed have to change.
Empowerment creates buy in
It’s typical for corporate to run campaigns, to invest in learning the new tools and make the big plays but it’s also someone’s livelihood and investment and chances are, they want the keys to drive their own success too. Since the franchisee is on the front lines already making, or breaking, the experience, it’s only logical to pair your education with programs and access.
You may not be ready for the next great campaign but the franchisee needs a way to play now. Whether they’re a social guru or think Facebook is a new best selling hardback, that means partnering up to deliver tactical ideas now and to accept in local programs rather than simply handcuffing stores down. In the same way that corporate benefits by distributing social across marketing, product, support and other areas, bringing it out the store owners is the best way to scale up.
Social as a means of communication
It’s not just about what the customer sees, franchise and corporate relationships are often strained by limited contact and a constant request for more marketing or more compliance depending on which side of the table you’re on. Enabling protected communities for owners, bringing together store level employees to serve as ambassadors or even just see the great programs from other stores not only gets the dialogue flowing, but it’s a practical way to demonstrate the value of a social program.
Franchise – Brand; Brand – Franchise
No matter what they mean to you, make no mistake that they’re synonymous to the customer in their expectations. This means that any visible component from support to products to that coupon Sally got in the mail must be globalized to insure the service is the same. It’s not what the business is use to, it may not be what the master franchise agreement says has to happen but it’s what’s required to survive and that means either getting buy in cooperatively or changing the rules.