Franchising Just Became Smarter
The franchise community is starting to catch on to one of the best kept secrets in business. It's possible to run a company car for free and simultaneously take advantage of a brilliant new marketing medium. Doesn't that sound too good to be true? No - it's just smart!
The car in question is the smart, an extraordinary vehicle designed for urban use. Though always eye catching, its unique looks and size divide public opinion, though interestingly the vast majority of those who drive it become converts - amazed at how spacious if feels inside and how practical it is for town-driving.
The obvious benefits..? frugal on petrol and able to park where others can't are as equally appealing to the business community as they are to consumers but there are a number of other benefits for businesses, that not all have been quick to catch up on. There are some great financial benefits, shown opposite, but that's only part of the story.
The smart is unique in the automotive industry in terms of the bodywork design. The body panels are actually designed to be easily removed and over-branded making them ideal for branding with your company's logo, or even completely 'wrapping' the car in the design of your choice. This provides an excellent mobile marketing medium and for the franchise community it benefits both franchisee and franchisor.
To put this into context, one year of advertising on a London black cab would set you back around £3000 plus production costs.
If you are worried that detachable panels on a small car might have safety implications, think again. The smart is built around a unique tridium cell that acts as a body-strengthening safety cage. In a used-car crash test in Auto-Express August 2003, the smart was the only car not written off.
Individual franchisees have picked up on the benefits of smart and the streets are starting to see more 'branded' smarts. Franchisors are also starting to cotton on to the benefits to them by encouraging their franchisees to take advantage of smart's obvious appeal.
At the recent National Franchise Exhibition, Belvoir Lettings used one of their smarts on the stand and are encouraging their franchisees to sign up to smart.
Whether by recommendation or as an integral part of the contractual franchise relationship, it looks like smart will become a firm fixture within the British Franchise community.
If a two-seater isn't practical for your business, smart's big brother - smart forfour - will be introduced to the UK in 2004.