Power of the brand
Franchise Consultant Gordon Patterson is often called upon to address the franchise owner networks of the franchise brands he has assisted. Here he relates the thoughts he shared with the Caremark network at their recent franchise owner convention
In any given business sector, the reputation of a brand travels. An excellent reputation developed by the brand in any area readily travel to another area. It is also the basis whereby repeat business can be enjoyed.
A franchise owner benefits from an established reputation in the company owned operation and other areas currently trading. With everyone's commitment to building the reputation, the brand can become increasingly strong. The presence of a network of franchise owners throughout the UK can create a reputation that is fundamental to both obtaining new business through referral and repeat business with existing clients.
A product or service associated with a brand that engenders a high degree of trust is a strong foundation from which to build the business. Association with professionalism, dependability, reliability and credibility builds trust. As confidence develops through the provision of good services, trust is further enhanced. People would rather pay a premium price for the services associated with a brand they can trust than risk doing business with a new brand where the trust factor has not been established.
Very few people associate best value with the cheapest price. Woolworths has gone. We all must ask ourselves: what can we do to continue enhancing the quality of the service provision? The better the quality delivered the less question there is about price and the more assurances felt about the value for money received from a high quality service deliverable.
More than ever in today's world the customer is looking for an 'experience'. For example, when we consult for a restaurant we are not just judging the brand by the corporate image, the décor, the food on the plate - but rather the dining experience delivered and felt by the customer. This includes ambience, atmosphere and how the waiter/waitress attends the customer. People will return to a restaurant where they have had a good dining experience. Think of the dentist. It is never pleasant being the customer, but what a difference when the demeanour, approach and smile of the dentist is such as to give one a better 'experience'.
Good franchising is about the entire franchise network delivering consistency of high quality services. We have come to associate a known standard of service deliverable from such franchise brands as Hilton Hotels, Coca Cola, Budget Rent-a-Car, The Bodyshop and Dyno-Rod Drain Cleaning. It is to the advantage of everyone to have the brand associated with high standards of uniform service delivery.
A good question to ask is what relationship you feel with certain brands. I feel a very positive and strong relationship with the shop where I buy clothes. It is primarily not because of the products stocked and the range available, but the personalised service. It is a shop called McCalls in Lisburn in Northern Ireland. If I am over in the province with my mother she comes with me to the shop. The service is highly personalised and my mother is given a comfortable chair, treated as very important and brought a cup of tea. Time and attention is then given to clarifying my requirement. Before I try on any new suit, I already feel good and have confidence. My relationship with the brand feels excellent.
I could then repeat that story in other ways with certain restaurants, car dealerships, shoe-shops or, to name a local franchise supplier, Cookerburra who cleans our kitchen oven. When positive relationships are established, the brand becomes premium in one's mind and repeat business with willingness to pay a premium price becomes automatic. The key question is: What kind of relationship are people having with your brand? A business that builds positive relationships at every level is laying the strongest foundation for future growth and development.
To achieve greatness, in the service deliverable, is a very worthy mission to aspire to. No one franchise owner can fulfil the mission as it has a nationwide objective. All franchise owners working as a team to ensure that the brand is associated with a high reputation, confident trust, excellent quality, positive experience, dependable uniformity, good relationships - together with commitment to the stated values/philosophy will ensure that the mission is achieved to the rich reward of everyone.
Therefore the strength of a brand depends on the degree to which every franchise owner grasps the brand's values and beliefs, wholly commits to them and seeks to establish their business maintaining those values throughout every aspect of the business activity.