Community Outreach in Franchising

Recent studies are showing that volunteer rates in America are on the rise. A 2012 study by the U.S. Corporation for National and Community Service found that two-out-of-three citizens serve their communities today and those numbers are increasing each year. Sociologists believe we are seeing a shift in many parts of the country where people are returning to focusing on their smaller communities, through supporting local goods and services, as well their local nonprofits.

Why is this important to national franchises? Any smart business should follow sociological trends. Therefore, national franchise systems are challenged to create a local presence in their community. People want their neighbor Doug running the shop down the road, contributing to the local economy, and therefore national franchises should encourage their independent locations to run as such. The way to do this is through community outreach.

Community outreach shows the public that you ARE a part of the community. While you may be part of a large national company, you are living, working, and investing in the individual communities you serve. By franchise systems partnering with local charities, they show the community that they care about the individual communities they operate within.

“Building a Company Culture for Community Outreach” a recent article in Franchising World, by Robert A. Funk, gives guidelines for how to go about making community relations an important part of your business’s culture. Here are a few I especially liked:

1)      Communicate Core Values

First and foremost, you have to set direction, with both a mission and a vision. Market yourself as a philanthropic company, and use social media to show what you’re doing for your local charities.


2)      Financial Contributions

At the corporate level, franchises can supply grants to community projects, as well as local initiatives and programs that support their charitable mission.


3)      Engage Your Customers

People want to purchase from a business that is sincere and authentic about giving. Franchises can ask customers to directly donate to the cause, making them feel just as much a part of the giving as the franchise itself.

How Creative Initiatives Can Fuel Growth

Through challenging economic times, franchisors have developed new ways to fuel growth and development in their business. When it comes to finding qualified, well-funded prospects for franchising, usually portals, franchise consultants, and advertising & networking all are strong factors in growing a franchise. Lead-generation sites, like Franchise Clique, play a huge role in connecting qualified clients to franchisors and consultants. Beyond these necessary tactics, franchisors are branching out further, and bringing creative ideas to development.

From the patterns I’ve observed, this is happening in several ways. Parent companies of franchising brands are now taking new approaches to their stores – in locations that offer opportunities for food-court style eating, such as hospitals, malls, and airports where normally one brand would be placed in a store, developers are bringing three or four of their brands to the same location. Both dual-brand storefronts and co-branded store partnerships are certainly on the rise in the franchising market. Providing two goods or services in one location offers customers more of a variety, and targets a wider range of customers altogether.

In addition to multi-brand locations, I continue to see a growth in social enterprise within the franchise industry. Non-profit organizations such as Affordable Homes of South Texas, Inc., Dale Rogers Training Center, and the National Christian Foundation are all teaming up with major franchises like Great Clips, Papa Murphy’s, and Blimpie, bringing franchisee profits straight to these organizations.

These partnerships are doing well because they solve fundamental issues that both franchisors and non-profits face. On one hand, franchisors benefit because they are launching a new location, which is owned and managed by a non-profit group that possesses strong and favorable community reputation, while on the other,  the non-profit benefits because it is buying into proven concepts and corporate office teams who are invested in their success. It truly is a win-win.

What are other ways you have seen franchisors creatively fuel growth? Leave your comments below!

Three Tips for Growth in a Sluggish Economy

    Any growing business needs a strong leader. This holds true especially when a business is struggling. Senior management should play on the strengths of other team members to reinvent old ways and pull from outside sources to evaluate what is and what is not working. As a leader, it’s important to be transparent and honest about the financial stability of the system, yet remain optimistic that positive changes can be made to face economic conditions head on.

National and global goals are certainly something to aspire to; however, market share is won at the local level. A successful and motivated franchisor helps franchisees get active with local businesses, schools, and charitable       organizations. Having a strong brand in a local market can build reputation and lead to potential growth opportunities.

Customer loyalty is crucial during tough financial times. Along with a high-quality product, it is just as necessary to give your customers an awesome experience, consistently. To provide loyalty incentives to your customers is a win, win. For example, this year, the Marco’s Pizza franchise received more than 27 percent of new restaurant applications from Marco’s Pizza customers. Additionally, 30 percent of applications came from referrals of existing owners who sought to share franchise opportunities with ambitious entrepreneurs.

Thanks to Franchising World Magazine‘s January issue for some of this week’s content! Check out more here!