As we’ve discussed in this blog space before, the discerning consumer is evolving and companies—including franchises—need to evolve as well. One aspect that has been repeatedly discussed is how brands humanize themselves into cause-centric organizations. If your brand has a reputation as a never-ending profit, expansion and bottom-line purveyor, you may end up suffering for it in the long run. At least among our younger and more dynamic generation of consumers.
It’s kind of a phenomenon, really. A shift possibly decades in the making, which was carved out of the bedrock of the go-go 80s capitalism, yuppies and, of course, greed. We all know how that story ended, almost 30 years ago to the day with Black Monday, a stock market correction nobody could have predicted and a financial event which shook the country to its core. It was in the aftermath that people began to question how we got there. And a lot of focus shifted to who, exactly, are these faceless corporations and brands? What was their ultimate goal? To get rich? Conquer and lay waste, damn the collateral damage?
Now more than ever, companies and brands have put a lot of stock into their consumer-facing outreach. Because survey after survey shows that what consumers are searching for—at least in this decade—is some form of accountability. Hey, we love that you’re turning record profits and keeping the shareholders happy, but what exactly have you done for others? For your community? For the environment? For humanity? Let’s look at what a few respectable and well-known franchise brands are doing to showcase their own cause-centric initiatives.
Just last month, the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) Franchise Education & Research Foundation announced the winners of its third annual Franchising Gives Back Awards. Direct from the organization’s website, www.franchisinggivesback.org, here are a couple of great examples:
Spirit of Franchising Award: McDonald’s
In 2015, McDonald’s launched Archways to Opportunity, an education program that allows U.S.-based restaurant employees the chance to earn a high school diploma, receive tuition assistance, access free education advising services, and learn English as a second language. Nearly 17,000 people have enrolled over the last two years and McDonald’s has awarded more than $14 million in tuition assistance. Additionally, there have been almost 200 graduates from the Career Online High School and 5,200 graduates of the English Under the Arches program.
Support Our Veterans Award: Dream Vacations
Since 2012, Dream Vacations (a CruiseOne company) has awarded 25 military veterans free franchises through its “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” annual contest. The goal is to ease veterans’ transition back into civilian life with a career opportunity that combines their military skills and travel experiences. To date, Dream Vacations’ in-kind donation exceeds $317,000 and, moreover, the contest has evolved into a broader veterans program for Dream Vacations, allowing the franchisor to increase the number of veterans in their system by 15 percent.
The Newcomer Award: Planet Fitness
Last year, Planet Fitness launched a national cause initiative called The Judgment Free Generation™, a pro-kindness, anti-bullying movement, with a mission to encourage a generation to grow up contributing to a more judgement free planet. Planet Fitness partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and STOMP Out Bullying, raising over $1.5 million in its inaugural year by donating the $10 new-member enrollment fee during the weeklong national cause-marketing program, in addition to contributing over $100,000 in in-kind donations and more than 1,300 volunteer hours.
As a franchisor, you might be seeing the handwriting on the wall. Consumers are hungry for stories such as these, knowing that if they spend their hard-earned money with these brands, there is a reciprocal factor on the back end. It’s a satisfying and fulfilling feeling to know that you’ll shop and support brands such as these. There are perhaps thousands of other examples, but the point is this. Your brand needs to find broader and more emotional ways to connect with the consumers who support you. Becoming a cause-centric organization is a great way to initiate and maintain that connection.
As a franchisor, you’ll want to know which existing and potential franchisees best fit your business concept. Proven Match is the proven solution in determining those factors. Through our proven behavioral assessment techniques, predictive analysis becomes a predictive success for your franchise concept. If you’re ready to show your leadership by getting started, give us a call and we’ll put you on the path to a more productive year in 2017.