As franchisors, we create models and systems that can be replicated over and over again by franchisees. We are constantly trying to hone and perfect those models into better versions of themselves. This is a double-edged sword. Many franchisors are guilty of becoming too introspective and failing to see larger categorical and industry-wide changes and challenges that will affect their brands and franchisees. And because of that, key opportunities are often missed to differentiate your brand.
Recently we re-launched one of our portfolio brands Alta Mere, Toys For Your Car as a result of one of those opportunities. Not only did we want to update our brand, but look at it through the eyes of our customers to see what additional opportunities we had. Alta Mere’s primary products are window tint and accessories; however, with the evolution of consumers’ needs, we felt that we needed to be more aggressive on the electronics side. We’ve also sold items such as alarms and remote starts but we never made those items situational for our customers.
With this in mind, we launched a complete rebrand, first updating our tagline to Alta Mere “Automotive Outfitters” and then our website. We did this because we saw an opportunity to reposition Alta Mere within a niche in the market; a space that we believe will have increasing demand based on technology that is emerging in new vehicles.
Below I’ll highlight some of the steps we took and show how these tips can be more generally applied to other franchise networks.
Keeping abreast of what your competition is doing may sound like Business 101; however, I challenge you to keep a more discerning eye on what they are doing. But most importantly, keep an eye on what your competition is not doing and look for ways to adapt.
For example, with our Alta Mere rebrand, we noticed that the market was not focusing on safety technology such as hands-free calling, rearview cameras or text blocking. So we decided that we could reposition our brand as a leader in this technology as laws on texting and phone use while driving become more stringent.
Do Not Stall Evolution Because Things Are Working Right Now
Adapting in business sometimes means being reactive, but it can also mean being proactive. Adapt to things that will or might change and act on it. Though your billing process may be working flawlessly or your advertising plan might still be returning a high ROI, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on the lookout for new ways of doing things. Staying ahead of the curve means that your competition may still be behind it, and that gives you an opportunity to further differentiate yourself.
Two of the other brands in our portfolio, Milex Complete Auto Care and Mr. Transmission, were operating well independently of each other, but we forecasted an upcoming move towards offering a one-stop shop for auto repair. The end result was us co-branding the two, which created a competitive advantage for our franchisees in the marketplace.
Feedback and Testing
Listen to your franchisees. Make sure they have an outlet for feedback, whether it’s a simple email address or it’s a quarterly town hall meeting. These are the people that have the ground-level experience that should be tapped into. This also goes one step further, make sure your franchisees are listening to their customers and clients and receiving feedback from them, it could be a simple customer survey or elaborate review technology platform. Your franchisees are your ears to the customers or clients. This is where you may hear that customers are unhappy with your payment process or overall service model.
With Alta Mere we recognized that we had the chance to be more relevant with our customers and help them better understand the products we carry. With this in mind we updated our tagline to better represented our new brand position. Our final decision was made after testing both on a consumer and franchisee level.
It’s important to involve both in the adapting process – as not to alienate these important parties.
Remember that change is hard but necessary. There’s the old saying ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken,’ well I’d say keep an eye out for what you can fix before it breaks. Preventative maintenance is a keystone of the automotive world, but also an idea that can be applied to franchising and business. Ultimately if you don’t adapt, you could find yourself playing catch up and that’s not an ideal position for a franchisor.
About Moran Family of Brands & Barbara Moran-Goodrich
Midlothian, Ill.-based Moran Family of Brands is one of the leading franchisors of general automotive repair, transmission repair and automotive accessory centers in the country. Moran Family of Brands provides specialty products and services in virtually every aspect of the automotive aftermarket through six franchise brands and more than 140 franchise brands nationwide including: Mr. Transmission, Alta Mere “The Automotive Outfitters”; and Milex Complete Auto Care centers and now SmartView Window Solutions.
Barb Moran-Goodrich is the President and Owner of Moran Family of Brands. Barb has been involved in the automotive repair and accessory business for more than 20 years and is committed to helping franchisees and small business owners grow their business.
For more information:
Website: visit www.MoranFamilyOfBrands.com