By connecting with their local communities, business owners are able to create a lasting relationship with customers.
Although they are a part of a system of small businesses, franchises often face difficulty when it comes to connecting to their community. Many customers have the notion that franchises are a doing a large corporate mogul’s bidding within hyper-local communities. The customer then feels more inclined to support other locally owned businesses. Community members need to realize that the majority of franchise owners – franchisees – are community members themselves. But, this is a two-way street.
In order to be successful, franchisees need to make themselves and their businesses part of the community. Whether it is hiring from the high school down the street, or getting involved a sponsoring a town’s little league team, franchise’s connection with the community is a large part of the success of the business.
1. Hiring. A very simple and common way franchises can be a part of their local communities is by the people they hire. It’s a normality for a franchisee to begin hiring community members. We tend to see this within the restaurant franchise. For example, a Checkers & Rally’s restaurant brings 25 to 30 jobs to the market. Some may think that is a small number, but franchisees must see the potential within that group. Instead of outsourcing those jobs to prospective employees from other communities down the road, a franchisee should focus on hiring hyper-locally for future benefits.
“One of the reasons we got involved with The Cleaning Authority is because of our area,” said Brian Holder. Brian and his wife, Marsha, recently purchased the Northwest Arkansas territory. Not only was there a great business opportunity, but the two “were also looking to employ within the area as well.” They saw that there were portions of their territory which not only needed cleaning, but also needed jobs.
Franchisees can utilize their employee’s networks, making it easier to get involved within the community. If an employee is a part of a local group or school, that provides a simple way for a franchisee to become involved. For example, Trevor and Scott Lewis are new to the Beef O’Brady’s franchise system. Their new restaurant is set to open in the new year. One of the reasons the father-son duo is opening a Beef O’Brady’s franchise is due to the brand’s community involvement. Scott Lewis serves as the Beaver Dam community schools superintendent. His connection with the community’s school will allow his restaurant to connect with the surrounding area.
2. Giving Back. Another way a franchisee can get involved with their community is by simply giving back. Justin Tangeman and Tyler Whalen, own the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK franchise in Omaha. Back in November, they gave back to the Veteran community by taking Vietnam Veteran Al Miller on a hunting trip. “With Veterans Day coming up, we knew we had to do something to show our respect and appreciation for Veteran Community. This started out as just a simple idea but eventually grew into something that we knew had to be done.” Not only did they give back, but a friendship was created and the crew has gone on several hunting trips since then.
Knowing someone’s name is also one of the most important parts of human interaction when owning a business. Ben Midgley, CEO of Crunch Franchises, explains that franchisees must encourage their teams and employees to learn their customer names all the time, “or at the very least, urge them to involve names when saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’.” This will aid remembering faces creating a domino effect into a personal connection for the next interaction. When a franchisee can personalize a customer’s experience, it not only strengthens community bonds, but allows for an individual connection to a community member.
A franchise that connects to its own community breaks the stigma, notion and connection to the corporate big brother. It also individualizes the location differentiating the franchise from one that the customer visits down the street or in the past. Individual connections are what drive good business and what keep people coming back for more.