From marketing to improving communication, how an FAC breaks down the barrier between corporate and franchisees.
In 2010, the media landscape was ever shifting. TV and newspaper marketing was starting to become more expensive and muddled as the digital sphere was quickly expanding. However, navigating the digital space and finding the right opportunities to invest in took both time and money.
That was the feedback corporate received seven years ago from the marketing advisory council made up of a handful of Sylvan Learning franchisees. In response, the supplemental tutoring company shifted away from each franchisee handling local marketing to a more centralized marketing plan that’s still in effect today.
“As a franchisor, you’re always trying to incorporate a mix of voices and opinions, but fairness doesn’t always equal efficiency. We track all of the data and make sense of it, but the anecdotal observation of the marketing plan, the human behavior of how customers are reacting to the marketing is vital to the overall success of our marketing. Having franchisees from our advisory council chime in with their firsthand perspective before we roll out a new process to the entire system is extremely valuable” says Amy Przywara, Chief Marketing Officer at Sylvan Learning.
A franchise advisory council is typically comprised of a small group of franchisees that vary in market size, number of locations, region, etc. By bringing together a diverse variety of franchisees, corporate is able to leverage their ground level input and work hand in hand to improve policies and systems.
Sylvan’s marketing advisory council started back in the early 90’s and is now made of up eight franchisees. The selected group has a monthly call with corporate to express concerns, provide feedback, propose new ideas and keep an open line of communication. For Mosquito Joe, a nationwide mosquito control company, the creation of specific franchise advisory council’s for certain subjects ranging from IT to marketing has been imperative in prioritizing corporate initiatives throughout the year.
“Our FAC provides consistent insight into the challenges and stresses our franchisees are facing in the day-to-day operations of their business - whether that relate to IT systems, marketing programs, hiring, etc.,” says Angela Zerde Paules, VP of Marketing at Mosquito Joe.
Stephanie Simon, a Mosquito Joe franchisee in Arkansas, has been a part of the franchise advisory council for roughly three years and takes part in quarterly conference calls with corporate and an in-person meeting at headquarters in Virginia Beach at the end of each year to review and see what can be improved upon.
"One of the systems we’ve created is the formation of smaller communities of franchisees. By having people specialize in certain areas of focus, we’re able to dive in deeper with improvements and input,” says Simon. “It is very beneficial to have a franchise advisory council because it allows someone in the day-to-day to act as an advocate for franchisees and come to corporate with solutions that better the company as a whole.”