Even before we all gathered in this big global village, reputation was an integral component of any successful company. The internet multiplied its significance enormously. Franchise businesses are no different.
In the ever-more digital business world of today, one small incident can quickly grow large and create a full-blown reputation crisis. Viral bad reviews can make you lose customers, slow your revenue stream, and even stagnate your business completely.
The philosophy “Move fast and break things” has its foundation in the entrepreneurship world. As in don’t wait until everything is ready, start now and fix it later. For many parts of a business, this process has its place. Glitches get repaired, tweaks are made on the move, and every issue eventually gets solved.
But for a franchise’s online reputation, particularly one that leans toward being global, this approach can harm everything. As a franchise manager, you have to adopt a proactive approach to managing your franchise’s online reputation before any permanent damage happens.
Here are a few things that you can do to protect your franchise’s reputation before anything bad happens.
Develop Strong Restrictions
Even after providing all franchisees with very clear instructions on training, hiring, and other practices, they will and should be allowed a certain degree of freedom. After all, they are small business owners, and as the franchisor starts stepping back from day-to-day operations, they will have to rely on the business sense of the franchise’s owner to explore new opportunities. Give them a space to think and lead, but keep it narrow.
Various franchises have different ideas about the boundaries they want to set for their franchisees. It is a struggle between how to harmonize preserving brand identity with the business sense of individual franchise owners.
Understand each individual that wants to join your franchise. If you believe that the rules and requirements will be too stringent for him, tell him that. Since growing the brand will always be the ultimate goal, all franchisees must have a minimum amount they have to spend on marketing, whether offline or online. For instance, you can set a rule that they have to reinvest in their market ten percent of their gross revenue.
Reputation Management And Confidentiality Guidelines
For starters, incorporate reputation management guidelines into your franchise agreement. This way, everyone becomes involved and understands how important brand reputation management is. From the beginning, you lay a foundation in black and white about the exact standards and strategies you expect your franchisees to adhere to.
Many top franchises implement such principles into their overall strategy. Make it clear that these rules will be enforced universally. No one likes to see someone else receive special treatment. Therefore, make sure you’re monitoring and supporting these rules across all networks. The monitoring of your franchise’s reputation on social media and the Internet needs to be built into your systems and explained in the guidelines.
The same things apply to confidentiality guidelines and for an internal support network. The advent of online mediums means that any kind of interaction, even internal company emails, and memos, can go public fast. Acting beforehand can protect you from such troubles.
To avoid a potential crisis or embarrassment you must be sure that there is no dissonance between the private and public faces of your brand. Writing guidelines and rules relating to confidentiality and the use of the brand image in all aspects of your operations in your franchise contract is the first step towards it.
Reviews That Drive Additional Conversions And Visits
Local equals global. Many searches on Google have a local aspect. Therefore, a franchise must think and act locally. It doesn’t matter how many franchisees are in your franchise. Integrating a local element in any marketing strategy is crucial for attracting new clients.
Online review management is a tool that we can use to create an effective local marketing strategy for franchises, as it creates a local presence and motivation for customers to actually come to a store. Google is the first place consumers find reviews about a business, as reported by ReviewTrackers. Online reviews also impact your franchise’s SEO ranking, making you come on top in search results, according to Moz.
There are a few things to think about when developing a workflow and responsibilities of online review management. Firstly, you have to decide whether or not you want the franchise to manage its own review site pages:
- Yes – provide educational tools to the franchisees for review management. A webinar that explains how to respond to negative or positive reviews works wonders here.
- No – claim all review pages for each franchise. Or develop a process to manage all franchisee reviews. It must include responses, generating new reviews from clients, and looking for insights into the customer experience.
Whatever your decision may be, remember to aggregate all reviews from review pages in an Excel spreadsheet or use a review management solution, or you might miss important feedback. If the franchise is taking responsibility for its review management, it should respond to every single review – both negative and positive. It can also ask for them. For instance, by sending emails to customers asking for a review.
Here is another pro tip. Update your online profiles regularly. When people search for your company online and don’t find it, what do you think they will do? Surely, they won’t keep searching. It is of critical importance to have cohesive and correct information available online.
Raul Harman is the editor-in-chief of the Technivorz blog. He has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. You can chat with Raul about all things digital marketing on Twitter.