2022 Franchise Innovation Awards: Celebrating franchising's most innovative brands
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2022 Franchise Innovation Awards: Celebrating franchising's most innovative brands

2022 Franchise Innovation Awards: Celebrating franchising's most innovative brands

Four years ago, Franchise Update Media launched its annual Franchise Innovation Awards to celebrate the best and brightest innovation by franchise brands. This year’s winners were revealed at the new Franchise Customer Experience Conference (FCXC) in Atlanta in June.

The annual awards recognize the most creative and successful strategies and tactics introduced by franchise brands seeking ways to gain competitive advantage in their markets. More than 100 entrants from dozens of franchise brands entered this year. A select few rose to the top to earn coveted awards in each of the 22 subcategories, as well as in two overall categories.

An expert panel of judges reviewed entrants in four major categories: Marketing & Branding, Products & Services, Operations & Technology, and Human Resources. Scores were based on several criteria, including each entrant’s vision and goals, evidence-based impact and results, and uniqueness.

  • Marketing & Branding: This category asked brands what innovative solutions they employed to grow consumer awareness, engagement, and loyalty—everything from traditional advertising and PR campaigns to social media, rewards programs, new product launches, and local store marketing campaigns.
  • Products & Services: To meet the changed needs of today’s consumers, franchise systems must evolve along with them—not only in determining what customers want in products and services, but also in how they want them delivered. For many entrants, technology played a huge role in adapting to how customers preferred to order, pay for, and receive a brand’s products or services in this post-Covid environment.
  • Operations & Technology: Systems and processes, along with replicability and scalability, are essential for franchising success. Judges reviewed how franchising’s most forward-thinking operations teams improved and streamlined their brands’ processes and practices through innovation in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
  • Human Resources: Growing a great brand requires the best people at every level of the system, from the fry cook to the CEO. This category examined how brands employed unique, innovative strategies and tactics to attract, hire, train, and retain the employees who best suited their vision and culture.

And the winners are…

For this year’s 22 categories, judges evaluated each entry’s objective, the problem they sought to solve, and how they created an innovative solution that achieved measurable improvement.

Second, two overall winners were selected, with four finalists for each award: 1) the Franchise Marketing Leadership Award to the brand that entered the most innovative and successful marketing campaign; and 2) the Operations & Technology Leadership Award to the brand deemed to have employed the best use of technology in operations.

Wild Birds Unlimited received the 2022 Franchise Marketing Leadership Award for its innovative use of a programmatic CTV campaign. The other three finalists were Handyman Connection, Kiddie Academy, and Goldfish Swim School.

Checkers & Rally’s won the Operations & Technology Leadership Award for its innovative use of AI in its drive-thrus. The other three finalists were Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, Inspire Brands, and Smoothie King.

Marketing & Branding (8)

  • Best Big Budget Campaign: Uberrito Fresh Mex
  • Best Digital Campaign: Wild Birds Unlimited
  • Best Limited Budget Campaign (under $1 million): Wild Birds Unlimited
  • Best Loyalty App: Blaze Pizza
  • Best PR Campaign: Goldfish Swim School Franchising
  • Best Social Media Campaign: Camp Bow Wow
  • Cause Marketing Champion: Kiddie Academy
  • Local Marketing Leadership: Handyman Connection

Operations & Technology (7)

  • Most Innovative Building Design, Remodel, or Prototype: Inspire Brands
  • Most Innovative Consumer Self-Service Tools: Pillar To Post Home Inspectors
  • Most Innovative Franchisee Support: Wild Birds Unlimited
  • Most Innovative Operations Team: Smoothie King
  • Most Innovative Supply Chain Improvements: Shawarma Press
  • Most Innovative Use of Data: Blaze Pizza
  • Most Innovative Use of Technology: Checkers & Rally’s

Products & Services (5)

  • Most Innovative Product Introduction: Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa
  • Most Innovative Service Introduction: Plumbing Paramedics and Heating + Air Paramedics
  • Most Innovative Use of Customer-Facing Digital Tools: School of Rock
  • Most Innovative Use of Technology: Products: Xponential Fitness
  • Most Innovative Use of Technology: Services: Checkers & Rally’s

Human Resources (2)

  • Most Innovative Employee Hiring: Goldfish Swim School
  • Most Innovative Employee Retention: Handyman Connection
Published: September 23rd, 2022

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