Taming your brand ‘Monster’
besley & copp has been a specialist franchise supplier for over 12 years, looking after the brands of many well know national and international franchise businesses. Operations Director, Shane Tout had a few useful pointers for any franchisor just starting and help for those who feel that they are losing brand control.
Marketing your franchise brand is both exciting and rewarding and with a degree of creative flare, you have limitless resources to help you engage with your franchisees and support them in the sales process.
From a franchisors perspective, delivering their brand, products & services to their franchisee network is paramount, but control is the key here to ensure that the brand is not diluted or damaged when products or services are regionalised.
As the number of territories grows, many franchisors hit a point where the brand becomes difficult to manage and control is lost to the franchisee. This is a slippery slope and should be avoided at all costs! We all know that communication is instant these days so a badly written advert or perhaps branding used out of context can be damaging both to the franchisee and the franchise brand as a whole.
So how can you avoid this?
If you are a fledgling franchisor, always start off on the right foot by creating a clear set of brand guidelines and writing this into your franchisee contract. This document should clearly show the franchisee what’s expected with the brand and how the branding elements should be used and not! It should not only included basic information such as colours and logos, but should also go into some detail in respect of advertising examples and the ‘tone of voice’ used when talking to customers. Having invested in your franchise, a new franchisee needs to understand the importance of the brand and message consistency as it’s in the interest of both parties to get this right and will pay dividends when you both you scale your businesses.
A more challenging scenario of course is when you own an established brand and you feel that you are starting to lose brand control. In this instance, the earlier excitement generally turns to a degree of panic and profit can be eaten away by increased central administration and brand policing. So how can this be addressed?
Firstly, it’s important to know the scale of the problem, so do your homework. Talk to your more proactive franchisees and find out what concerns they have. It could be a simple case of a franchisee not being able to find your brand guidelines or perhaps a more deep-routed situation whereby the franchisee thinks they know best! Either way, if you want to grow your franchise network, you need to address these issues and create a workable brand policy for growth. Many objections to a mandatory brand management policy revolve around the perception that the franchisee is being told what to do. But actually, isn’t that what they bought a franchise for in the first place? They bought into your franchise for your experience and the brand that you have market-tested and developed.
In order for you to scale your network, you must have courage in your conviction and control your brand from the start offset. If you are already a little way down the road, then reign it back in as quickly as possible! But how do I deal with franchisee objections?
Objection: Why do I have to buy my materials from the franchisor when it some cases I can buy them cheaper locally.
In some instances this may be the case, but who will be ensuring that the brand colours are correct and the materials being used are of a consistent high quality. Remember that your image is everything and it’s essential that you look your best! The local price might also be for a limited period, so budgeting as well as quality control will be problematic. Think about the value of your time in organising anything locally and the potential false economy when things go wrong.
Objection: I want more flexibility with my local advertising.
A well thought out piece of franchise marketing will be market tested and designed to be regionalised, so there should be no reason for a franchisee to make further local adaptations. All marketing material should be designed and controlled centrally and made available to the franchisee digitally or in hard copy. With the smart use of brand management technology, you can give your franchisees everything they need to run their business quickly and cost effectively.
Your supply chain is also important, so choose a partner that understands your sector. The franchise sector is very unique in its requirements, with a supplier having to satisfy the requirements of the Franchisor and its network of franchisees. As any Franchisor will know, getting the balance right is often difficult and challenging and requires a level of understanding over and above a normal customer/supplier relationship. Both the franchisor and its franchisees are customers but with each requiring individual support approach.
Whether you are just starting out on your franchise journey or an established franchise business, consider reviewing your brand management and procurement procedures. We all fall into the trap of not being proactive when something is ‘ticking along’ but with your ambitious year-on-year growth strategy in place, it won’t be long before you have to tame the network brand ‘monster’ and that really is a challenge!