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An excellent way for small businesses to demonstrate socially responsiblebusiness practices is by working alongside local voluntary groups,not-for-profit organisations or charities, thus demonstrating how they canadd value to the communities they serve. A key selling point of franchisingis the ability to for local franchisees to select partnerships andassociations that really matter to their own communities.

Franchising offers, on the one hand, a recognised brand that customers knowand can trust and, on the other, a very local and personal touch that isincreasingly in demand.

Andy Cooke, franchise sales manager at Domino's Pizza comments, 'Businessesshould never underestimate how closely their behaviour is observed in thelocal community. Leading franchisors will invest in managing the reputationof the brand nationally but should also give their franchisees the scope andencouragement to represent the brand in a way that matters locally. A goodfranchisor must arm franchisees with the tactics to build a strong communityrelations programme and the power to make small adjustments that suit localcustomers and employees. At Domino's, for instance, franchisees can adapttheir menus, within reason, and can tailor prices and pay rates to suit thelocal market. What's more, although we have a national charity, franchiseesalso have total autonomy when it come choosing which good causes they wishto support. We take community integration so seriously that we evaluatefranchisees who wish to open extra stores on the basis of the contributionsthey make to their local community, among other criteria.'

Pizza People

Nigel Hall is a multi-unit franchisee with three stores in CardiffNigel believes that responsible business practice is a determining factor inthe success of any small business and has worked hard to build up strongrelationships with the local community since buying his first Domino's storein Cardiff in 1997.

Nigel comments, 'Since opening my first store I have learnt that strongcommunity relations is not just about one-off gestures but, instead, it'sabout offering consistent and relevant support. One way we do this is bysponsoring local sports teams. For instance, our cleaner asked if we wouldsponsor her son's football team - the Splott Albion Under 11's - and fiveyears later we are still sponsoring them. It paid off in many ways -- theircoach started working for us as a delivery driver!'

Nigel is also something of a local hero at Cardiff University. His storesprovide free pizza to the student newspaper's weekly editorial meetings aswell as offering discounts to keep up the energy of the student Nightlineteam. The whole team at Domino's in Cardiff is right behind Nigel in hisefforts to support local activities and regularly come up with pro-activesuggestions. Last Summer one of the store managers arranged a sponsoredabseil in aid of Cancer Research UK and Nigel provided free pizza to thefifty people that took part.

He concludes: 'Integrating responsible business practice into our day-to-dayoperations helps us to market the company positively and ultimately sets usapart from our competitors. Domino's provides marketing and PR support,including template press releases and best practices, which we wouldn'totherwise have access to.'


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