One of the issues that franchises face is the need to balance national brand consistency with local consumer preferences. In franchising, the owner (or franchisor) of a product licenses the distribution of their goods to a franchisee (who is permitted to use the owner’s trademark) but it comes with a certain set of regulations. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for you to distinguish your business so that you can appeal to customers in your area. Here are a few tried and true techniques:
Offer Local Contact Information
Ever called a national number with concerns about a local situation and had the person on the other end have no idea what you’re talking about? It’s frustrating. Even if your company has a 1-800 contact number, offer customers the phone number of your local branch along with the name of the person they can reach. Having a name makes the call more personable for the customer.
Maintain Local Directory Listings
Local directories like Google My Business make it easier for people to find and visit your franchise in person. When setting up a business listing, make sure you accurately list important details like operating hours and your address that prospective customers will be looking for.
Tailor Offerings Based on Location
Obviously, franchises have to maintain a level of uniformity that reflects the overall brand. But that doesn’t mean you can’t let local flavor be a part of your franchise. Decorate your walls with artwork by local artists, or offer menu items with locally sourced ingredients. Celebrate the victories of local sports teams (perhaps by offering discounts to customers who are visiting on the same day as a game).
Give Back to the Community
Customers love companies that give back to the community. According to a Cone Communications report, 82% of U.S. consumers think about corporate social responsibility when choosing where to spend their money.
We’ve got a few ideas on how to get involved with the local community. For starters, to make sure you’re giving back in a meaningful way, pick an event or organization that fits with your company’s mandate, and offer time, money, or supplies to help out.
Throw Customer Appreciation Events
Let your customers know how much you enjoy their business by hosting a customer appreciation event. It can be something simple like a buffet dinner or barbecue, or you can add a fundraising component by having a silent auction and donate the earnings to a local charity.
Appoint Local Social Media Ambassadors
If your franchise is on social media, you can distinguish your accounts from other franchises by finding social media ambassadors to promote your business online. Reach out to local bloggers and users with a large following. Be sure to set up rules for what they can and cannot post, so that you protect not only your local reputation but your national brand as well. More people in the community will be drawn to your franchise due to your association with well-known locals.
Provide Great Customer Service
At the end of the day, nothing impresses customers more than businesses who make an effort to listen and address their concerns. If a product they’re looking for is out of stock, offer to order more and let them know when the next shipment will be in. You can also encourage your managers to interact with customers who visit your business in person. They can ask what products customers would like to see, and offer coupons for future visits.
With Customer Insights, you can get a better understanding of your customers so you can create special offers that relate to their interests. For example, if you’re running a restaurant and you know there’s a lot of families who visit, you can let them know about family/group discounts.
Even though you run a franchise, you can still contribute to the local community and build a relationship with customers nearby. This will not only set you apart from local competitors, but also help generate the results you’re looking for on a national level as well.
Top image credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
Alex is Connectivity’s VP of Marketing and Client Services.