Most franchisors’ marketing programs are completely consumer-facing. Marketing professionals develop brand themes and encourage franchisees to implement those themes in their local efforts. Unfortunately, many brands neglect an important audience—their own team members.
It’s important to first build a strong brand internally before you communicate the brand message to guests. This requires enthusiasm from corporate team members, franchise owners and in-store team members. When these individuals build a connection with the brand and understand their role in its growth, they become personally invested in the brand’s mission.
Team member interactions do more to cultivate guest trust than marketing campaigns, PR efforts or executive vision. Your team members communicate with guests on a daily basis and act as the face of your brand. Businesses should use this opportunity to make an excellent impression.
Through strategic hiring, training and strong team relationships, franchise owners can turn their team members into powerful brand ambassadors.
Build Your Team Strategically
Don’t underestimate the importance of the interview question, “Why do you want to work with us?”
A team member with experience is capable of performing necessary tasks, but this baseline requirement doesn’t provide any insight on his attitude toward the brand or his ability to serve as an advocate. Consider whether the team member uses the brand’s products and how his goals align with brand purpose.
When I train new Smoothie King franchisees, I encourage them to search for team members that truly understand the brand’s purpose and mission. Great team members not only enjoy smoothies, they integrate our purpose into their daily lives. That might mean pursuing a healthy and active lifestyle or helping others eat well and feel good. Consider hiring with this in mind, and your team members can build brand authenticity with each guest they serve.
Train with Purpose
It’s important to lead by example to build trust with your team. Model the type of guest service you’d like to see through your actions and training process. Team members need the right tools to succeed, and ill-equipped team members can lead to high turnover. Instead, set expectations and manage them. Clearly, communicate your standards for guest service, and then show team members how to meet those standards every time.
We devote significant time to training new franchisees – first at headquarters and then on-site. We want to properly prepare owners for every aspect of running the business – especially how to present the brand. We even train on how to train others. Go beyond preparing team members on operations and tasks and instead spend time on brand mission and purpose. When your team is educated on mission, they can better advocate for your brand during interactions with guests.
Satisfied Team Members Make Satisfied Guests
It’s important to develop a strong store culture. You can jumpstart this by weaving team members’ personal identities and goals into your team-building efforts. Encouraging team members to be themselves boosts team member satisfaction. When management promotes self-discovery, team members are more likely to feel invested in the brand. Help team members discover their strengths, and provide opportunities for growth. Positive reinforcement creates a healthy work environment and takes your team from merely selling product to focusing on guest experience.
I find it’s important to reward your team when they excel. I’ve seen managers implement “team member of the month” reward systems and treat team members to parties. These social events create necessary comradery on a smoothie bar team. They also help part-time team members feel more invested in the brand. I can tell when I enter a store that has an exceptional team environment. I’m greeted with enthusiasm, and I feel welcome.
If you want team members that act as brand ambassadors, you need to foster that attitude from the beginning. Take care in your hiring and training processes to seek out committed and enthusiastic team members, and reap the benefits of your hard work.
To learn about other initiatives that drive our franchise owners’ profitability, read our 3 Keys for Consistency of Operations and Systems in the Smoothie Industry.