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How to Leverage Community Connections for Franchise Success

In franchising, community engagement isn't just an optional add-on; it's a crucial ingredient for success.

By Victoria CampisiStaff Writer
5:17PM 02/26/24

Community engagement is vital for franchise success. Establishing genuine connections with local communities not only fosters brand loyalty but also drives organic growth through word-of-mouth marketing. 

Here’s a closer look at some effective strategies that franchise owners can use to not only build community connections, but parlay them into success for their business.

Why Community Engagement is Important in Franchising 

“Being involved in our communities shows that we care about more than the transaction, we also invest in relationships,” said Cliff Kennedy, CEO of Frios Gourmet Pops. “It is like the secret ingredients in our pops — it’s what sets us apart and keeps our customers coming back over and over.” 

Kennedy added that, while each franchise location is part of a larger brand, they must resonate with the local communities in which they operate. Being engaged can help franchisees adapt to their individual community’s preferences — to know what their customers are looking for and to be able to adapt their messages accordingly. When customers start to notice this, they get the word out there. 

“Engaging with the community turns our customers into ambassadors for the Frios brand,” Kennedy said. “They tell friends about their great experience, those friends tell other friends. This organic buzz is marketing gold — and it’s free!

Additionally, by supporting local causes and events, a franchisee actively demonstrates a commitment to growing the community they live in. The community will respond and help them grow their business in return. 

Leveraging Community Connections to Enhance Engagement

There are several ways franchise owners can actively engage with their communities. Philanthropy work, for example, is one way to do so. 

“At Frios we partner with local nonprofits and schools to offer giveback and fundraising opportunities,” said Kennedy. “We will sell pops and offer a portion of the proceeds back to specific groups. This not only generates goodwill, but it opens the doors to new events and partnership opportunities.” 

Kennedy added that Frios also tailors the experiences to the group they are working with to make things feel more personal. For example, if they work with a school, Frios may temporarily “rename” one of its pop flavors to match the school mascot.  

Social media is another great tool for getting involved with the community. Kennedy noted that Frios franchisees are trained to engage with local pages and groups online. This allows them to get to know what their customers want and identify missed opportunities. 

Franchise owners can also engage with their local chambers of commerce to connect with other businesses in the community. Building these relationships may be beneficial for partnerships down the road. 

Building Sincere Community Ties

When getting involved in the community, it is important that franchisees do so in an authentic way. Today, people want to build sincere relationships and can often sniff out phony connections. Rather than casting a wide net over the whole community, franchise owners can avoid spreading their efforts too thin by focusing on select areas. 

“One piece of advice I always give our franchisees is to find something they are passionate about in their community and focus on that,” said Kennedy. “With a business like ours we are always asked for donations and it can be tempting to donate yourself to death. It’s hard to say no to a good cause. We like to focus on one or two major causes that we give back to on a regular basis.”

Kennedy added that choosing something personal allows franchises to be authentic in their philanthropy. When additional opportunities arise, he encourages franchisees to be honest about their giving capabilities, but also offer alternatives, like fundraisers.

By integrating into their communities in a sincere way, franchise owners can build lasting relationships, foster brand loyalty and position themselves as integral parts of the local fabric.  

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