Thinking about becoming a franchisee? Excited about the opportunities out there but overwhelmed with what you need to know? Here’s the next part in our series of informational posts about how franchising works.
The focus of this blog post is communications—specifically, how franchisors communicate with franchisees, and how they help their franchisees communicate with their customers. As you can imagine, in this ever-changing world of communication channels, franchisors are using more and more methods and formats to deliver their messages.
In this blog post, Tammy Nienaber, Director of Communication for Great Clips, Inc., shares how the Great Clips communications group supports its franchisees by reaching out to their communities.
At Great Clips, we want to make sure our franchisees know the best ways to attract customers, train employees, deliver great service, sell product, support and promote the brand, find new locations, and anything else that will help grow their business. One way we do that is through internal communications, which I described in Pt. 1 of this blog: Talk Amongst Yourselves. Another way is through external communication, including public relations, social media and cause branding.
We have a couple of different approaches in creating and using public relations messages—PR for the company and PR for individual markets.
For our corporate and brand PR, we work with an agency to help us develop public relations programs that reinforce our brand messages, such as partnerships or philanthropic efforts. The benefit of this kind of PR to individual franchisees is increased brand recognition—customers in their markets are more likely to recognize the Great Clips name and connect positively to the brand.
In addition, we work with a media relations agency to provide market-level PR support. The agency connects local salons with local media about a relevant topic. For example, a television show may need someone to talk about seasonal hair care, and the agency would suggest a stylist from the area to be the expert. This service is an option for markets, and they only pay when there’s a resulting “hit.”
We also provide media tools that each franchisee can customize, such as templates for press releases or charitable activity flyers, and guides for working with the media, such as how to give a successful news interview.
We use several social media channels, but primarily focus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Because these channels can also be used for marketing, we partner very closely with our marketing team to assure that our messages are aligned with what they’re doing through traditional marketing (advertising, promotional partners, etc.).
One of the greatest advantages of social media to our franchisees is being able to target specific markets. For example, if the salons in St. Louis are doing a Great Haircut Sale, we can target a message to Facebook users in that market.
Overall, social media tools help the Great Clips brand connect with customers on a global scale. But more importantly, social media allows us to listen to them, gather feedback and manage our brand reputation. On a daily basis, we use social media to monitor and track online mentions about Great Clips. These are great opportunities to engage with customers who like us. And, when a customer’s experience is less than great, we do our best to make things right by connecting them to the appropriate franchisee through our customer feedback process.
A big part of the culture at Great Clips is giving back to our communities. It’s important to everyone at the home office, our franchisees and salon staff, and our customers. We recently updated our cause-branding efforts under the name, Great Deeds: Sharing great to do good. While this is a systemwide initiative, we encourage our franchisees to participate in fundraising activities that are relevant to their customers and their market.
To help them do this, we provide a couple of turn-key cause-branding programs to franchisees throughout the system, including our annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals balloon campaign that raises money for local hospitals.
“Local” is a key word here. Whenever possible, we believe it’s important that the dollars raised in each market stay in that market.
That philosophy is reflected in a recent cause-branding program with our franchisees in Arizona who want to do something to help the families of the 19 firefighters who lost their lives battling the wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz. Working together within their market co-ops, all 123 Great Clips salons in Arizona will donate $1 for each haircut on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, to a fund set up to help the families of those firefighters.
This is a great example of how our franchisees band together to support causes that really affect their communities. We will back them up with PR support and additional resources, but this is an idea that came from the franchisees, and it’s an indication of how our larger brand works so well on a local level.
That’s the big picture of how Great Clips supports its franchisees with internal and external communications. I’d love to hear about your experience with franchisors. If you’re an established franchisee, leave a comment below about how your company communicates with you and helps you reach out to customers; if you’re a new franchisee (or still investigating), tell me what you think would be important to your business.