Capture What the Customer Wants!

Distinguish your franchise by knowing what creates steadfast customer loyalty to your brand. Franchisees profit from this consumer connection, which drives repeat business. At American Advertising Distributors I capitalized on our point of differentiation by arming our retail clients with marketing intelligence that was superior to any other service at the time, producing more successful campaigns for their businesses. I bragged to prospective franchisees about our powerful corporate research and development, which was instrumental in our 82 percent customer retention rate. Our retail market craved expertise for building their businesses, and our system delivered the goods beyond their expectations. We had raving customers who championed our brand because we provided them what they wanted.

Does your brand's culture cater to your customers? If it doesn't, your concept, franchise partners, and their employees will suffer. Young franchisors may say they can't afford to hire a mystery shopping service, research firm, or conduct consumer focus groups. If so, then implement this low-cost solution: provide questionnaires in your locations for customer feedback, or have field operations staff conduct random interviews at your franchise locations. Here's a simple survey used by a bootstrap haircutting franchise to gain insights into their customers' wants, needs, and experiences:

  • As a customer, what attracted you to this salon?
  • Are there any other reasons you go to the salon?
  • What characteristics make this salon stand out from other haircutting shops?
  • What services do you receive here?
  • Would you rate the quality of their service as fair, good, very good, or excellent? Please tell me why.
  • How would you rate the quality of your hairstylist, and why?
  • What is the atmosphere and environment like?
  • In a sentence, how would you describe your experience in this salon?
  • Have you been to any other salons that compare with this salon? Please explain:
  • What improvements in service or products would you like to see in this salon?
  • What two suggestions do you have that can help the owner, who is sincerely interested in knowing how to make their salon even more appealing to you?
  • If someone thinking about going to this salon asked you about its service, what would you say to them?

Customer surveys are critical, especially for monitoring whether customers will refer friends or associates to use your business products or services. Some years ago I had an aggravating experience with a national franchise car rental agency. (Of course, it wasn't with my heroes, Enterprise Rent-A-Car!) After the rental fiasco, I received their customer satisfaction form from corporate headquarters. I filled it out, wailing about melting in the Florida heat with no airport pickup service for 45 minutes and other frustrations.

Venting on the customer satisfaction form cleansed some of my anger. Will they read and respond to my complaint? Will they apologize for their unacceptable service and perhaps pay me off with a free rental day or other gesture of goodwill? Whether I use their Orlando airport location again (or any other facility of theirs) was totally in their hands. Because they chose not to respond, they lost me as a customer and referral forever.

This is an excerpt from my book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.

Published: May 12th, 2011

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