Clear, consistent brand messaging has always been important, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for it more urgent than ever. It’s been a longstanding best practice for brands to stand for something, and to communicate clearly to every stakeholder, from employees to customers, the culture and lifestyle that brand represents. But now, with the uncertainty and fear that some feel today, consistent brand messaging has taken on an even more vital role.
In the best of times, inconsistency in messaging and product between franchise locations makes customers feel uncomfortable. Especially now, customers are actively looking for something that feels normal, something that they can count on and enjoy. For the people within your organization, consistency gives them faith in your leadership and the courage to keep going.
A proactive, forward-thinking franchise leader will identify this need and work with their complete team to ensure consistency throughout the network. Here are some ways to rise to the challenge.
Identify the Needs
If there’s one thing that we’ve learned during this time, it’s that everyone in an organization handles a crisis differently. Some are pessimistic, focus on the negatives, and get scared about the future. Others want to move forward with business as usual. It may be harder to lead your franchise with these personalities amplified, but you have to get everyone on the same page.
Don’t forget, both of these perspectives are important to listen to. Both have valuable perspectives and can help you create a safe and prosperous path forward. Start by listening to your team, make them feel heard, and integrate their perspectives to find a clear message and even an upside to the situation.
Your customers also have unique needs during this time, and you have to carry a consistent brand message to all of them. Some just want to continue as usual. They want to buy things and have fun activities to keep occupied with. They want to see businesses proceeding without fear of the pandemic. Others are concerned about cleaning and social distancing, and patronizing businesses that go above and beyond to put into practice the latest recommendations from the CDC.
Remember that every market is different, so it’s important to tailor your message accordingly in a way that best resonates with them. Figure out the best way to communicate with all the types of people during the pandemic, making them feel safe, comfortable, and happy to do business with your franchise, no matter where they are in the country.
To ensure that your brand message stays consistent, go over the top with communication within your organization during this time. Use all communication channels: emails, phone calls, social media, video meetings, even field visits if you can. Weekly or even daily, get location owners in touch with headquarters staff, each other, and even the CEO. Inspire them to grow, be healthy and stick with the company’s values. Keep them focused on a future that will be brighter than today.
For your customers, make sure everyone can find the information they need easily on whatever platform they choose. Give them store updates, safety information and more on your website, on email lists and via social media. Ramp up e-commerce options. Keep making it easy to do business with you.
Invest in Consistency
Don’t make your location owners go it alone right now, or they will find their own way and possibly segment the brand message. Get a consistent playbook of processes together for use during the pandemic. Invest in branded signage, and make sure location owners have access to the right products and supplies. Continuity and constituency are key.
Take lessons learned from every location. Some locations are turning in record sales, and some may be struggling a little more. Share the success stories, not just what they’re doing, but how they’re doing it, so others can integrate those strategies.
In addition, this is a great time to add new products or services that fill a need during the pandemic. This will add a new revenue stream for those who might be struggling, letting them see a silver lining and focus on success.
Look to the Future
I don’t like the phrase “new normal,” even though it’s everywhere right now. The path ahead isn’t something that will just happen to us, it’s something that we will choose. Focus now on assessing the best practices you need to gear your team up for the growth you choose.
Figure out how to leverage what you have into a position of growth and project three months, six months, and a year down the road. Right now, create a playbook for your organization based on those goals. Get everyone on the same page and find the upside of the situation. Your organization might come out better than ever before.
Charles Bonfiglio is president and CEO of Tint World®, an award-winning franchised provider of automotive, residential, commercial and marine window tinting and security film services. With Automotive Styling Centers™ in the U.S. and abroad, each franchise location houses approximately 20 profit centers, ranging from in-store accessory installations, to off-site sales and installation of residential, commercial and marine window tinting and security films. To find out more, please visit www.tintworld.com and www.tintworldfranchise.com.
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