Consumers are attracted to franchise brands for their consistency. When a consumer encounters a franchised business, they expect to receive the same product or service, experience the same emotional connection and level of satisfaction, and receive the same high level of customer service regardless of the location. Successful franchise brands provide this consistency through their brand standards – the guidelines developed by the franchisor to ensure the brand experience is replicable throughout the entire chain.
A Familiar Experience
Consumers enjoy visiting franchise locations because they know what to expect. Whether they are ordering a hamburger from a quick-service restaurant brand in Boise, Idaho, or Miami, Florida, they assume the taste, quality, service, and look and feel of the restaurant to be the same. Brand standards provide the guidelines for allowing this to happen.
As an emerging franchisor, you want to set the stage for this immediately because it builds brand recognition and consistent customer satisfaction. For example, think about McDonald’s and how every one of their burgers and all its French fries tastes the same at its 15,000-plus locations throughout North America and why so many people associate the golden arches logo with the food. McDonald’s is the master at building brand recognition, but other franchise brands are successful at linking the experience they provide with their logo to develop brand recognition. Therefore, it’s imperative for the success of every franchisee and the entire brand that products are made and sold or services are performed consistently. If the quality becomes inconsistent, the customer experience will become less satisfying, and franchisee sales may suffer as well as the brand’s reputation
But, the consumer experience depends on so much more than just the quality of the product. It depends on familiarity, too. A franchise’s customer base relies on the brand being recognizable no matter where they are located in the world. When a brand’s customers spot the logo, they expect the interior of franchise locations to look similar. Color, font, imagery, as well as logo, contribute significantly to the appearance of every franchise brand, from fast casual restaurants to mobile, home-based service providers.
Being Brand Ambassadors
Your brand standards provide the guidelines for how franchisees and their employees represent your brand. Employees are recognizable by the brand uniforms they are required to wear. For example, the green apron with the siren logo on it is unmistakably Starbucks. Consumers know exactly who they’re dealing with when they see the uniform they recognize at every location – and they come to expect the same high level of service.
Your brand standards also protect the operations you developed to make serving customers as quickly as possible without compromising quality. Franchise concepts that adhere to the brand’s operations systems do better at maintaining high-quality control at optimal profit levels versus franchise concepts with franchisees who insist on doing things their own way. When franchisees operate differently and instruct their employees to perform their work according to his or her standards, consistency for the brand falls apart.
Brand standards can also provide guidelines for how employees should interact with customers, such as suggesting an appropriate greeting, how to end the transaction and more. However, standards for speaking with customers should be flexible and not rigid. Emerging franchisors should take into account that franchisees know their customers better than you do and that there are slight differences in how people greet each other in different parts of the country.
Ultimately, franchisees and their employees should act as ambassadors of the brand by putting their best foot forward, which will pay off for each location and the entire brand.
How to Create Brand Standards
When writing your brand standards, think about the mission, vision, quality control, operations, appearance and how the guidelines for the standards benefit the consumer, which will pay off well for franchisees and the brand as a whole.
For help creating brand standards for emerging franchisors, contact Winmark Franchise Partners. With more than 30 years of franchising experience and more than 800 franchise owners representing over 1,200 locations for five brands, Winmark Franchise Partners can help you realize the benefits of developing brand standards. Contact us here or at (844) 452-4600.