4 Ways Franchise CEOs Keep Their Franchisees Engaged Instill franchisee pride with these brand-building tips.
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In recent years, the importance of the CEO role has become far more complex. Sure, charisma and strong leadership traits are welcome characteristics, but companies are beginning to tie a portion of their intrinsic market value to their CEO's reputation and performance. A widely circulated Weber Shandwick and KRC Research survey of more than 1,700 global executives revealed that 44% of a company's market value is attributable to a CEO's reputation. These days, it also takes a strong personal brand for CEOs to develop an emotional connection with their respective workforce or, in this case, franchisees.
Developing that connection doesn't require you to build your own rocket ship like Bezos and Branson, but you can strengthen franchisee engagement with these four brand-building tips:
1. Make sure your value proposition is well-defined
If you want to strengthen your brand and shore up your franchisees, reexamining your concept's value proposition is a great place to start. As you review where things stand, ask if your company's vision and mission are clearly defined. It doesn't matter if your franchise is well-known or just getting started as an emerging brand. Can your franchisees easily demonstrate the brand's value proposition to consumers? Now, consider prospective candidates browsing for the right business opportunity – can they visualize what success might look like with the backing of your brand? Even if you have a strong value proposition, it may be time to tighten up your elevator pitch. It shouldn't be difficult to communicate who you are, what you have to offer and why your business model is better than the competition.
2. Start putting yourself out there
The CEO is the face of the organization, but they are even more important in the franchising industry. You have to appeal to the consumer base (B2C) who buy your product or service, but you also need to generate sales interest from prospective franchisees, investors and other stakeholders (B2B). To succeed in getting through to both of these audiences, CEOs would be well advised to spend more time building up their personal brand.
Your charm, intelligence and personality aren't visible from the sidelines. You need to get in the game, which can be accomplished by establishing yourself as an industry thought leader. The CEO title is one of influence and should be utilized in a public-facing manner. Authoring bylined articles and op-eds for your specific industry trade publications, booking a speaking engagement, videos, podcasts and award submissions will elevate your personal brand awareness. By extension, these efforts will ultimately benefit the franchisees in your system as well.
3. Spend (more) time on company culture
Franchise brands love to describe their system of franchisees as a family. But ask yourself this: Is your organization's corporate culture reflective of a closely-knit group? Or is your culture built on a foundation of stale platitudes? Culture is so much more than a "work hard, play hard" mantra. It represents your brand's personality, mission, values and beliefs. It impacts your strategy, your purpose and the brand's vision.
It may be time for a reassessment of your franchise system's culture. And if you accept this mission, make the process as transparent and inclusive as possible. You want your franchisees to buy into the brand's corporate culture. Work with them to develop that crucial sense of belonging. In turn, they'll welcome new franchisees into the system with the same level of pride you've instilled in them. Building a meaningful culture begins with effective and consistent communication between the franchisor and franchisee.
4. Keep the communication lines open 24/7
Communication is a two-way street. In any franchise operation, haughty pronouncements shouldn't flow downstream in one direction. Speaking is only one half of communicating. The other half is listening, but the key here is active listening. That means making a conscious effort to hear, understand, process and retain what you're told.
As the CEO, implement policies and procedures that call for regular and recurring opportunities to interface with your franchisees. The cadence is up to you, but a monthly check-in shouldn't be a bridge too far for any organization. Make these appointments a time for an open and honest discussion about a variety of issues. Solicit feedback. Hear and address concerns. A vulnerable and empathetic approach will a long way in keeping your employees engaged, motivated and content. The smooth operating procedures of franchise systems are wholly dependent upon a collective effort. When you harness the power of this collective effort, you'll eventually experience collective success.