Franchising has several distinct advantages: easy access to expansion capital with minimal risk and talented, motivated business people running your stores among them. However, as many advantages as the model holds, it comes with (at least) one distinct challenge: maintaining consistent customer experience across hundreds of individually owned and geographically diverse locations.

Most brands recognize the need to cater to their local markets — even the corporate-owned Starbucks chain in my neighborhood has a crunchier vibe than the one in the upscale shopping center a few miles away. And, sometimes, allowing local owners to adjust their services can innovate a new product or service like the Bahamas Jamba Juice franchisee who proposed introducing a health-centric food menu at the smoothie-centric chain, a move that landed the Bahamas store a place as one of the brand’s top-grossing stores that year and eventually led to the addition of a light menu across the entire chain.

Consumers expect a consistent experience from franchises

For consumers, however, one of the main values chains offer is a consistent product and brand experience from location to location, and too much deviation from brand messaging can lead to a misalignment of expectation and experience. How can brands balance giving their franchisees the leeway they need to be successful with the need to maintain a consistent brand experience?

First, brands need to create and convey clear expectations to their franchisees. If brands don’t ensure a clear understanding of the brand mission, marketing and customer engagement strategies franchisees should present to customers, there’s a risk of franchisees misrepresenting the brand.

Franchise brands need to participate in customer engagement

Second, it’s important for brands to monitor and participate in customer engagement at the brand level. Partnering with third-party review sites like ConsumerAffairs makes it easy to spot the elevated concentrations of complaints around a particular store or restaurant characteristic of a customer experience other than what consumers expect. By monitoring the brand conversation at the higher level, franchises can pinpoint issues and communicate expectations directly while making sure no customer voice is ignored.

Want to know more about how our partners use ConsumerAffairs for Brands to monitor and pinpoint customer experience issues with independent franchisees or contractors? Find out how Easy Rest Adjustable Sleep Systems uses their partnership to centralize their brand voice and improve customer engagement by reading the case study.