In franchising, the most valuable asset you have is your brand. Brand consistency leads to satisfied customers and loyalty that can spread across the country and even internationally. Field audits that check local franchisees for brand compliance are a key way for franchisors to keep their brand aligned across a distributed network. Here are 7 steps to ensure your brand compliance program is successful:
- Set Up Franchisees for Success at the Start
Before you start a brand audit program, do a gut check. Do franchisees have the proper branding guidance from corporate that they need? Headquarters should provide a brand style guide that has the do’s and don’ts of representing the brand. Policies and procedures should also be in place with regular training on brand standards.
- Assess the Big Picture and the Little Details
A brand audit should provide a comprehensive review of the franchise appearance and communication channels. This includes:
- Visuals/Signage and environmental graphics
- Brand color usage and accuracy
- Printed collateral
- Menus with pricing info
- Visit Local Stores Regularly
If your franchise offers seasonal programs and promotions, ideally you should be field auditing on site whenever the promotion changes, whether that is semi-annually or quarterly. In-store signage, special displays, seasonal pricing and labels all need to be checked.
- Review the Digital Footprint Along with the Physical
Don’t forget about the virtual representation of every local franchise. This review can be completed before an on-site visit, but you should bring along a brand review of digital assets for each franchise including their website, social media handles, and local directory listings with opportunities for improvement.
- Provide Action Plans for Those Who Miss the Mark
If a franchisee is not representing the brand right, make sure you help them understand the value of course correction to their bottom line. Give them clear steps to take to remedy the misalignment, along with consequences if they are not followed.
- Collect Feedback and Ideas
Use this on-site opportunity to collect feedback on the national brand and advertising fund usage. Find out what is working for franchisees and what they feel is not working. Collect and record this feedback at each visit and see if there are any national trends among your stores. If you do or do not take action on this feedback, make sure to communicate back to the franchisee afterwards to close the loop.
- Spread Success Stories
If you have a franchisee that is a huge brand advocate and is knocking it out of the park, find a way to document and share their success. Video can be a great tool to show other franchisees how to do it right. Successful marketing campaigns can be replicated and shared if the network is tapped in to a marketing resource management system.
It’s hard to take money out of the budget and time out of your busy schedule to leave the corporate office and conduct on-site reviews, but your brand is too valuable not to prioritize this kind of quality control activity. It can also go a long way in franchisor-franchisee relations to have a face-to-face on a regular basis beyond the annual meeting.
For more inspiration on brand marketing, I invite you to sign up for our new newsletter: Distributed Marketing Monthly. I plan to share ideas and best practices each month for corporate marketers who need to manage their brands at the national and local levels.