The Brand Consistency Problem: Policing vs. Promoting

The Brand Consistency Problem:  Policing vs. Promoting

   

Once upon a time, Pete could do it all.  The year was 2002 and he had just launched Pete’s Bar & Grill in downtown Atlanta. With only 8 employees under his wing, there wasn’t much he didn’t see or do.  Who handled marketing?  That was Pete.  Accounting?  Pete did that too. Design?  Pete was no designer himself, but he oversaw design as well.

 

In Pete’s mind, he had set himself up for success. He knew his food was really good, that his branding was on-point, and that no one would be able to pass up Tuesday night “Karaoke & Kabobs”.  Pete’s Bar & Grill was his pride and joy, and so long as he was in charge, not one thing was going to mess it up.

 

But that was back in 2002 – the good ol’ days when Pete could do it all.  Fast forward 15 years to the present. Instead of managing 8 employees at a single location, Pete now managed a small kingdom of 30 franchised locations.  From the outside, it would appear that Pete was living the franchise-owner’s dream.  In reality, Pete had a big problem.

‘Close Enough’ Is Good Enough

 

When Pete’s Bar & Grill first expanded into the hands of franchisees, everyone was gung ho and had no problem adhering to brand standards and design guidelines. They understood how important it was for the brand to look consistent across every marketing medium so that customers would know without a doubt that they were at the one and only Pete’s Bar & Grill.

 

But as the success of the brand grew, so did the pressure.  In the hustle and bustle of feeding hungry customers, keeping the bars clean, placing orders, managing inventory, and keeping up with food safety regulations, spending time and energy on the ‘proper’ use of logos and colors seemed less important – especially since sales were going so well at all of their locations.

 

Rachel, Pete’s corporate designer of six years, began to notice the company’s branding was slipping.  Franchisees were just too busy to dot the ‘I’ of every font choice or cross the ‘t’ of every color option and began throwing together hodge-podge variations of Pete’s Bar & Grill branding just so they could get some semblance of marketing in front of customers.  Rachel tried pushing brand regulations with the franchisees, but the more she persisted, the less his franchisees seemed to care. You could cut the tension with a knife.

Good vs. Great

Now, Pete was a smart man. He’d done the research and knew that the difference between a good brand and a great brand was consistency.  After all, consistency is the cornerstone of franchising and was one of the key reasons that Pete decided to franchise in the first place.  Consistent food, consistent service, a consistent experience, and a consistent ‘look’ is exactly why he chose the franchise model.  Clearly the franchisees were delivering consistent food, service, and a consistent customer experience.  But how could he achieve branding consistency without either policing his franchisees or bogging down his creative team?  That seemed to be the question of the day.

 

Desperate for a solution, Rachel began to do some research.  She jumped on Youtube and did a search for brand consistency and found a quick two-minute video by Lucidpress that was exactly on point with the growing pains that were happening at Pete’s Bar & Grill.  Rachel couldn’t wait to share her huge find with Pete!  

 

“Hey Pete… ever heard of Lucidpress?” Rachel greeted him at the office the next morning with a surprisingly hopeful disposition. They sat down and took a look together.

The Evolution of Brand Management

“Wow, Rachel, you are a genius – this is fantastic!”  Pete couldn’t have designed a better solution himself He discovered that Lucidpress is a cloud-based brand management tool that:

  • Streamlines marketing by allowing any franchisee to customize marketing collateral on their own without waiting on the help of a designer.
  • Protects franchisees from going off-brand with custom, lockable templates — that way “close enough” variations are never a possibility
  • Reduces the custom collateral request turnaround process from weeks to minutes.
  • Provides publishing and printing services, delivered right to everyone’s door.

 

So they gave Lucidpress a try.  Rachel began designing flyer, menu, and business card templates based on Pete’s Bar & Grill brand guidelines.  From there, she locked down the logo, colors, and other branded elements that should never be altered, and then she shared the templates with Pete’s franchisees.  The franchisees loved it and immediately began dropping in the local details for their individual locations.  After all, that was much easier and less time-consuming than the hodge-podge creations they had been doing on their own – and Rachel was now a valued part of Pete’s franchisor support team instead of the adversarial ‘branding police’.  Franchisees were excited to send their finished projects to the printer, to publish them online, and to post them to social media.

Light at The End of The Tunnel

Pete wasn’t fully aware of how well the new solution was working until two months later when he stepped inside the building of his most frequent brand offender.  When he couldn’t tell the difference between his franchisee’s designs and Rachel’s, he knew he had finally struck brand-building gold.

Pete recognized that he — like a lot of other franchisors — had been unintentionally wasting precious time and resources policing brand standards instead of promoting them.  What a relief it was to know that now he could encourage everyone to get back to doing what they do best…build their businesses! 

 

This article was contributed to the National Franchise Institute by Nick Hatch with Lucidpress  (385) 557-5117


Inventory: Up In Smoke!

    Inventory:  Up in Smoke!

Inventory. That monthly, sometimes weekly, exercise that almost every operator dreads doing — especially if month-end falls on a weekend!  But it’s a necessary task to making sure that your cost of sales is in line and every good operator, GM and chef should appreciate knowing how their operation is performing.

There’s a Bigger Picture

But what are your reasons for completing inventory? Is it just so you know how your operation is performing? Is it to help discover missing inventory? Maybe you discover that one of the line cooks isn’t using a key ingredient in your signature dish…whatever the reason, let me add one more: Insurance claims…yep, insurance claims!

Recently, the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, one of the Crown Jewels on the “Strip”, caught fire! Imagine a luxury hotel with (guessing) a $100 Million budget, some of the best, most attentive staff in the world, and hearing that it caught fire!  How the..?  What the…?

When It Hits Close To Home!

Imagine you get the call. It’s 2 am and it’s the local fire department telling you that your restaurant is on fire! But you just left your restaurant after a great Saturday night dinner service, inventory completed, and it’s now on fire!?! Thank God no one was injured, but your business is your life!  Your only solace may be that you have your Agent’s personal cell phone number and you can start the claims process.

What does any of this have to do with inventory?  Remember we said that in this scenario, you had just completed inventory.  And because of that, the property coverage that you have built in your insurance policy should have a contingent for your inventory!  So why is this important? Because, if you have an extensive wine list with high-end wines, how would you prove that you had them?  How could you prove that the list of super-premium tequilas you’re so well known for was actually in the building?  Your inventory!

Inventory Coverage is Key!

Many carriers, albeit not highly advertised, will allow for a little-known coverage form that covers your inventory (i.e., wine, spirits, and high-end food products like saffron, truffles, and other exotic ingredients).  These items can add up, and quickly!  This coverage form is outside of your regularly scheduled property limits yet it allows you to recover inventory items in addition to your equipment costs, FF&E, and other business and personal property.

What happens if you don’t have this coverage form on your policy? Don’t worry, all is not lost! Your property coverage limits should be such to help replace the cost…but you’ll likely only recover up to the limits of the property listed – and only if you have business and personal property protection!

So, you see, keeping a proper inventory, when paired with the right insurance coverage forms, can save you from a major financial hit if a disaster should strike!  And believe me, if a fire can rock a Billion Dollar Hotel, it can happen to you, though we hope and pray it NEVER does.

Are You Covered?  Are You Sure?

Now ask yourself this question: Does my coverage include my inventory?  Are you sure?  Have you seen the coverage form specifically on your policy?  Have you asked your agent?   No, you say?  Call your Agent and specifically ask about this scenario. They should be able to tell you right away if your policy does or does not include coverage for inventory and if they’re not sure, well, it might be time to take a better look at your coverage and probably your Agent too.

 

This article was contributed to the National Franchise Institute by Tony Martinez with Cornerstone Insurance & Financial Group   (970) 370-7065

 


Inc. Magazine’s ‘Inc 5000’ List

   Franchisors & Franchisees:  Get The Recognition You Deserve!

The Inc 5000 list is the gold standard of business recognition and entrepreneurial achievement.  Now in its 36th year, the Inc 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies has given exposure — sometimes for the very first time — to many of America’s best known brands by appearing on the list!  The National Franchise Institute is excited to work with Inc. Magazine to help ensure the franchise industry is well represented in this  year’s list!
The application process for the 2017 Inc. 5000 list is currently open but the application deadline is fast approaching.  Franchisors and Franchisees are invited to apply for the opportunity to join the hundreds of franchise professionals — from the niche to the iconic — who appear on the list year in and year out.

The National Francbise Institute is pleased to partner with Inc. to offer  a 20% discount on your application.  Click here or visit Inc.com/Apply to submit your application by the May 1st deadline.  Applying is easy and, for all honorees, it is a great way to boost morale and gain broad exposure (customers, vendors, investors…).

 

Be Sure To Use Promo Code NFI5000


Profitable Turnkey Colorado Fitness Franchise FOR SALE

FRANCHISE BUSINESS FOR SALE

  • PROFITABLE Colorado Fitness Concept!  Achieved profitability in only 2 1/2 months (net income of $10K/month after all expenses)
  • Turnkey
  • Part-time commitment
  • Strong customer base
  • Trained staff
  • Includes one existing unit plus two additional territories to be developed
  • Asking price:  $600K
  • Franchisor is ranked by Entrepreneur Magazine and has a steady track record of growth

The owner is a self-proclaimed “solopreneur” and is selling because he has decided that he is better suited for an online business and is possibly leaving the state of Colorado.

This is a confidential offer since the current employees are not aware that the business is for sale.  Financials and other details can be shared with interested parties upon execution of a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

Request NDA Here