Bolstering Your Brand Strategy Through Franchise Consistency

By: Shawn Russell
blue triangle pattern representing brand strategy
In the world of franchise brand consistency, Hamburger University is as Ivy League as it gets.
It might sound like a made-up college, but Hamburger U is a huge part of McDonald’s success. The global restaurant chain invests millions in the “school,” which serves as its internal training academy, and hosts more than 7,500 managers and franchisees from around the globe every year.
From service to signage to store standards, Hamburger U lays down the up-to-the-minute expectations each store needs to follow. That’s why their restaurants around the globe, from Tallahassee to Tokyo to Tallinn, are pretty much the same.
But why is franchise brand consistency so important, and is it worth the investment?

Franchise Brand Consistency Spells Success

As corporate owners know full well, franchise branding standards are important to success.
"Twenty years from their start, less than 20% of the franchisers will still be around," said Scott Shane, an economics and entrepreneurship professor at Case Western Reserve, in a Wall Street Journal article.
And a big reason for those failures, says the article, is the inability to follow the rules and keep their franchise consistent with corporate directives. Making sure employees are properly trained and executing according to the rules is vital to profitability.
Your business doesn’t necessarily need an institute of higher learning to keep your people in line. Just follow these four tried-and-true tactics to reinforce overall brand strategy using franchise consistency.      

1. On-Brand Communications

If franchise owners don’t know what is expected of them, they can’t live up to those expectations. It’s that simple.
Clear, consistent, constant and engaging communication from corporate is crucial. There needs to be an open, two-way communication path between corporate and the franchisee.
Case in point: Dunkin’ Donuts.
As an article in Digiday details, the company needed its 2,000 franchisees to start checking email that headquarters would send with important updates.
“We’re lucky if we got them to open a memo,” said Glen Schwartz, director of global corporate communications at Dunkin’ Brands. “We’re even luckier if they click on a link.”
To solve that problem, the company developed engaging, high-quality two-minute videos that people really want to watch. Now, the majority of its franchisees view its videos, and the message comes across loud and clear.
More than simply hammering your directives, help franchise owners understand why these processes and procedures exist. When franchisees understand how corporate directives can help their business become more successful, you’re more likely to get their full buy-in and participation.
Also important are strategic events, which provide the franchisee an excellent opportunity to get their voice heard, give candid feedback to corporate, network with executives, understand corporate-wide branding guidelines and more.      

2. Training

Front-line employees, whether they’re on the other end of a phone line or the other side of the service counter, are often the customer’s first and only touchpoint with your company.
Sometimes, if a customer has a poor experience on account of one of these employees, it could be their last touchpoint.
But, with a strategic and well-executed personnel training plan that keeps people engaged, franchisees and corporate alike can rest easy. According to a benchmark study from Cvent, customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged.
Diligent and effective training allows corporate the opportunity to ensure their franchises are operating in just the way they want them to—smoothly, profitably and professionally.   

3. Extrinsic Incentives

From signage down to the shirts people wear, corporate can ask a lot of franchise owners. And many of those directives trickle down to their employees, too.
With countless directives both big and small, franchise owners and their employees tend to respond the same way to these mandates: “What’s in it for me?”
That’s why companies sweeten the deal with incentives. Bringing an impressive awards catalog into the picture for both franchisees and their people is a proven way of enticing everyone to take part in initiatives.
Just as branding serves to attract customers to your company, branding your incentive program is a must to get your people involved in your program. It provides consistency, drives engagement and drives ROI.     

4. Intrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic incentives are only half of the story.
While getting an award motivates some people, tangible items aren't the best motivator for everyone. Intrinsic motivators—praise, autonomy, belonging and others—might not be something an employee can touch, but it’s definitely something they feel.
To get the best results from your people, take a balanced approach between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, and let your people choose what motivates them.
Enforcing and ensuring franchise brand consistency isn’t rocket science. It takes the right strategy and approach.
As a customer loyalty and satisfaction partner for more than 50 years, we know just the right thing to get your company, your franchisees and employees on the same page.
Shawn Russell
Shawn Russell

Shawn Russell is a results-driven marketing and communications professional with a proven record of accomplishment in developing and leading comprehensive marketing strategies to attain business goals and objectives. She’s excited about exceeding expectations, building advocacy and driving business—but she’s just as passionate about being a soccer mom and baking.