In the age of online reviews, your franchise brand may only be a few clicks away from unprecedented disaster or an outstanding upward trajectory. To this point, it’s not only customer experiences that can make or break your franchise brand – it’s how franchisees develop trust and confidence in the business. Franchisees are often investing their livelihoods to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and they’re not afraid to share tales of their journey with others. Thus, earning high satisfaction scores from your current set of franchisees is a key to pushing your brand forward.
So what can you do creatively to earn franchisee satisfaction beyond supplying them with a proven business model? Providing franchisees PR support to garner publicity for them is one way to gain positive franchisee sentiment. Here are three ways that PR support can ensure that your franchisees are brand advocates who are proud to be part of your system.
1) Drive sales and build foot traffic
When a franchisee has launched in a new, unfamiliar market where a concrete brand footprint has not yet been established, consider using a PR team to boost foot traffic and to get your message out. Whether you want to promote your services or a popular menu item, PR can help get people in the door to check you out.
For example, our company strategized and implemented a recent campaign on behalf of la Madeleine Country French Café called “Rompre le Pain,” or “breaking bread.” Playing into the authentic French roots of the brand and the smart, savvy, family-oriented clientele, we created “Rompre le Pain” as an in-store contest where, during the grand opening of a new café, the first 50 guests in line on opening day receive free fresh-baked bread for a year.
Using a combination of social media outreach, newspaper and magazine press placements and creative graphics to drum up interest in the community in the weeks prior to the opening. Garnering organic (unpaid) articles and mentions in local magazines, regional newspapers and influential blogs, we ensured that the area’s heavy hitters were well informed as the opening approached.
Incredibly popular and well received by new and longtime loyal la Madeleine fans, the first “Rompre le Pain” saw nearly 80 people standing outside before the doors opened at 6:30 a.m. waiting for their free bread. Thrilled by the outcome, la Madeleine provided everyone in line with coupons for free bread for a year as well as hot coffee, fresh-baked bread and homemade jam for their efforts.
Each participating café has since seen the long-lasting effects of the promotion – guests know firsthand that the food is delicious, the staff is welcoming and the ambiance is comfortable.
2) Increase brand awareness
PR results come in many shapes and sizes, from a front-page feature to a local TV segment and everything in between. Determining how to best increase brand awareness is critical to the success of your media outreach efforts. Sure, it’s great to have a picture of your best menu item in the newspaper, but consider going on a local morning show and demonstrating how to make it live. Not only will the audience get a tangible sense of what it is and what it looks like, they’re able to attach a face to the brand.
Our client Potbelly Sandwich Shop is a great example of the power of local TV. By getting a storeowner on air, we’re able to show the audience how mouthwatering the sandwiches look fresh out of the oven instead of simply reading that Potbelly sells toasted sandwiches. This creates brand identity.
By understanding your audience, you can decide if your PR team should pursue print, digital, radio or TV placements in order to earn greater brand awareness.
3) Build community connections and elevate prominence in local economy
Philanthropy is an important component of many businesses. Maybe your company volunteers together for a local organization, or part of your proceeds go to charity. Whatever your giveback, PR can help tell that story. By humanizing a business and showing the lives impacted, informing the media about your philanthropic efforts can be very positive.
Some businesses have philanthropy built into the model. Each of client Kona Ice’s shaved ice trucks gives back around 20 percent of its proceeds to the community, partnering with schools, sports teams and other organizations. To share this admirable and impressive effort, we designed a campaign called “National Chill Out Day,” which takes place the day after Tax Day. Designed to reward the hard-working adults in the community who sacrifice their time and energy to teach, coach and advise other members of the community, Kona Ice gave away free Kona Kups of shaved ice outside of schools, post offices and other businesses.
Working with Kona trucks in cities and neighborhoods across the country, we shared this effort in a targeted PR blitz locally, regionally and nationally. These markets now associate Kona Ice with giving back, a distinction that certainly sets it apart. Plus, giving back makes franchisees feel better about themselves and their work that, in turn, creates more opportunities for positive PR.
When considering ramping up franchisee satisfaction efforts with a proactive PR plan, remember that satisfied franchisees not only want to promote their own location, but also support the franchisor’s growth and development as well. This is truly a win-win for everyone.
This post was written by Jamie Izaks, president and founder of All Points Public Relations, a Chicago-area integrated public relations agency specializing in the franchise industry. The sole mission of All Points Public Relations is to support entrepreneurs and entrepreneurially spirited organizations through the persistent execution of effective integrated public relations, including media relations, social media, graphic design and content marketing programs. For more information visit www.allpointspr.com or e-mail Jamie at firstname.lastname@example.org.