Positively Memorable Experiences – They’re Not Just for Customers!
Certainly, validation and multi-unit ownership are strong indicators that positively memorable experiences exist within your franchise system.
By Paul R. Segreto, CFE
A recent Google search for the phrase, “positively memorable experience” revealed results that were exclusive to customer experiences, and TripAdvisor.com garnered one-half of all results with the phrase. So, what causes customers to be so emphatic about their experience that they deem them “positively memorable?” Further, what implores them to share their thoughts so openly within a public forum?
To answer these questions, we must first examine the definitions of the words that make up this phrase as shown on Google:
Positively: In a positive way, in particular; with certainty, so as to leave no room for doubt; used to emphasize that something is the case, even though it may seem surprising or unlikely.
Memorable: Worth remembering or easily remembered, especially because of being special or unusual.
Experience: Practical contact with and observation of facts or events.
Now that we fully understand the meaning of these words, their impact when joined together truly makes sense, not only as a powerful phrase, but as a compelling statement. Clearly, this is a statement we should strive to hear from customers at every location within our franchise systems; such a clear, concise message is something we want to share every chance we get. It speaks volumes of the relationship between customer and business, one that both sides can agree on as a benchmark for excellence.
Utilizing this phrase as a filter, ask yourself if your franchise relationships merit the same sentiment. Better yet, imagine if your franchise relationships were deemed as being “positively memorable experiences.” Is this possible or even practical to consider? Of course it is!
The Beginning of the Experience
Pick one franchisee and think back to the time when he first inquired about your franchise. What made him want to continue through the next steps of your franchise sales process? Now, think about what that franchisee must have been feeling along the way through the due diligence and validation processes. Imagine how he must have felt when he shared with family and friends what he was going to do. Then, after signing and remitting a check for the franchise fee and committing to the initial investment along with a five, 10- or 20-year term, imagine how he justified his decision to these same confidants.
Do you think this was all part of a positively memorable experience? I believe most within franchising would agree that this is the case or the franchise sale would not have occurred. Yet, too often the positively memorable experience diminishes from this point forward. Sure there are many happy, satisfied franchisees across many great franchise systems. But how many, during or after the fact, would actually say the experience was positively memorable?
Moving the Positively Memorable Experience Forward
Just like at many of the hotels mentioned in the search results on TripAdvisor.com, there must be clearly defined criteria — a filter of sorts — that every customer, and in this case, every franchisee, must go through at every stage of the relationship and on a daily basis. This is essential to creating positively memorable experiences. Here are five tips that will help move toward this end.
Understanding the true meaning and spirit of interdependent franchise relationships. This must be shared and exemplified at every point of contact with franchisees.
Developing the right culture at all levels. Be careful — culture is also defined as bacteria. This takes time and commitment, and is a reflection of how people, whether franchisees, employees, suppliers or others, are treated at all times.
Creating an environment of truth, trust and transparency based upon open, two-way communication — the cornerstone of creating the right culture. Think of a three-legged stool that could hold a great deal of weight when fully intact, yet would immediately fall under its own weight if one leg was compromised.
Establishing your franchise system as family. Treat them as such, but understand that this is not the typical type of family of yesteryear with subservience to the head of the household. Mutual respect is paramount.
Building an environment of bottom-up profitability and growth with all parties to the franchise agreement and other related agreements focused on mutual goals and objectives. All must sing from the same hymnal, and not just for dress rehearsal; be sure to give them the hymn book.
Certainly, validation and multi-unit ownership are strong indicators that positively memorable experiences exist within your franchise system. Another way to confirm the existence of these experiences is simply to ask your franchisees: Would you do it all over again? However, as a franchisor you must first earn the right to even be taken seriously if you ask this question. That starts and must continue by consistently working through the criteria identified above.
As you head down the path of creating positively memorable experiences with each franchisee, be sure to consider all touch points, even those beyond the obvious mediums of in-person, by phone and via email. Think digitally. How do you interact with franchisees on Facebook? How do you come across to your franchisees in LinkedIn discussion groups? Is there common courtesy? Are you proud of each other’s actions within these platforms?
Many will refer to all of this as being great in theory, and not really practical. But just think what could happen if every touch point were seen as another opportunity to create or enhance positively memorable experiences. How would that change the culture of your system? How would that lend credibility toward growing your brand? Think of the ripple effect.
Live it and breathe it every day for optimum results!
Paul R. Segreto, CFE, is CEO of Franchise Foundry and serves as a member of the IFA Franchise Relations Committee. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.