Franchise Execs Talk Delivering on a Brand's Promise
Franchise concepts each have a brand promise, something that defines the business and tells everyone—corporate staff, franchisees, their employees, customers—what to expect when they interact with the company. For Burger King it’s “offer reasonably priced quality food, served quickly, in attractive, clean surroundings,” and at Planet Fitness it’s to “enhance people's lives by providing a high-quality fitness experience in a welcoming, non-intimidating environment.”
Or in the case of Tropical Smoothie Café, “we always are anchored in that mission of inspiring a healthier lifestyle by serving amazing food and smoothies,” said CEO Mike Rotondo. But, as Rotondo and other franchise leaders discussed at the franchise summit hosted by law firm Faegre Baker Daniels in Minneapolis August 30-31, carrying that mission through an entire system involves more than just those at the top.
“The challenge for us is getting that down to the hourly workers in the cafes,” continued Rotondo. “We’ve done a very good job in our support center, now it’s taking that down and pushing that down to who we are in our cafes with our hourly associates … that’s really the secret sauce.”
At Camp Bow Wow, a key value is providing a premiere experience to owners and their dogs, said President Christina Russell, but when she came to the company three years ago she found it wasn’t fully resonating with the end customer because there was a disconnect with franchisees—the ones making that direct contact. The dog day care franchise has since made emphasizing the experience a priority in communication with franchisees and encourages them to get involved in their local community outside of the day-to-day business interactions.
“Ultimately the magic, the most successful franchisees are the ones who deliver that brand promise to their communities,” said Russell. “The more they engage with the community and really live those values that more [customers] want to come to you. It’s truly a relationship they’re building.”
At Grease Monkey, CEO John Adams said it was consumer research that ultimately brought about the creation of the franchise’s “Pit Crew Guarantee.” Consumers, he said primarily come to Grease Monkey for an oil change, and “they want it done fast, they want it done right and they want to know the people working on my car are trained.
“With the Pit Crew Guarantee, if we fail to return the vehicle in the time quoted, we’ll refund a dollar for every minute we go over the time,” continued Adams. The company also created new pit crew-style uniform shirts, which store employees only get once they’ve passed 20 courses in Grease Monkey’s online university. It’s boosted engagement among franchisees, Adam said, and the online courses are being expanded with more management training to provide store employees with a path to move up in the company.
The summit, Franchise Leadership: The Five Habits of the Highly Successful Franchise System, continues today at the Radisson Blu in Minneapolis.