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March 20, 2018

5 Ways a Center of Excellence Benefits Local Franchisees

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All franchisees want to be successful. However, many haven't got a ton of marketing expertise they know they need, so they look to their parent brand for support. The best franchises build positive relationships with their local affiliates through continual marketing support. This kind of collaborative relationship is great for the franchisee, the brand and local marketing performance.

The importance of this working relationship is widely known. There are even case studies done in business schools just to figure out what makes it work. In fact, a report by Cornell University identified the importance of a strong franchisor-franchisee relationship as a leading indicator of whether hotel brands could sustain growth. The study indicates that "effective relationships between hotel franchisors and their franchised hotels are really partnerships — relationships that benefit both parties, not just one."

Franchise brands depend on their franchisees to be successful. If the franchisees are having a bad quarter, so is the brand. That's why successful companies like Chick-fil-A always prioritize their relationship with local affiliates. The result? Chick-fil-A currently experiences a fantastically low 5-percent franchisee turnover rate and they've managed to become one of the fastest-growing franchises.

For brands with hundreds or even thousands of locations spread across multiple time zones, giving marketing support to local affiliates can be quite a challenge. Some brands are starting to employ the Center of Excellence (CoE) model that has worked so well at a corporate level with their franchisees. If pulled off correctly, a CoE can help brands deploy effective local marketing while strengthening their relationship with franchisees at the same time. Let's dig into what a Center of Excellence for your franchisees could look like, and how brands can approach building one of their own.

How a Center of Excellence Improves Franchisee Marketing

What is the Center of Excellence?

A Center of Excellence is a special team whose focus is on delivering a superior service to the rest of the company in any specific area. In franchise marketing, a Center of Excellence is a way for brands to provide unique value to their franchisees and even reward top performers with special benefits. Essentially, by providing local affiliates with some extra marketing support through a dedicated team, the franchisees are able to execute more effective marketing for their stores. Additionally, the CoE can allow corporate teams to try out new campaigns and get experimental in a way that can help the brand long term. New marketing materials can be shared just with select affiliates who are chosen by the CoE team before deploying them across the franchised network.

To create a CoE like this, brands must first have to identify their top performing franchisees. Then, the corporate marketing team members who will lead the CoE effort should create a collection of high-impact marketing materials. These could be things like exclusive offers, high-impact promotions and specialty items that the team comes up with. In this phase, many distributed brands leverage the power of a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system to effectively organize and manage this bonus marketing collateral.

The CoE helps local affiliates to deliver more powerful marketing. Is your local affiliate's marketing underperforming? Learn more in 5 Reasons Your Distributed Brand isn't Growing Fast Enough.

Building a Center of Excellence at a Distributed Brand

What challenges do brands face when building this kind of team structure? First, it can be challenging to find a stable way to identify which franchisees who should have access to the CoE. To determine top-performing local partners, brands must have a consistent and clear way to analyze marketing campaign performance at the local level. But don't stop with vanity metrics. How does this marketing activity translate into sales performance? You want the Center of Excellence to focus on franchisees who are performing above the average.

Secondly, brands also need to determine what kinds of benefits the CoE should provide to local partners. With any additional promotion or piece of marketing collateral, it gets more difficult to maintain the brand identity. In order for the Center of Excellence to be successful, franchisees have to understand and appreciate the perks they get, while gaining the confidence that they won't have anything added to their workload.

Finally, the CoE could complicate processes at the corporate level. Who is responsible for overseeing the CoE? Does the CoE impose extra requirements on other teams on top of their existing jobs? How will brands deploy and organize this bonus material? In this instance, many distributed brands lean on marketing technology to support the development and management of marketing collateral. With this type of technology, corporate marketing and design teams can stay more focused and organized.

With the right tools in place, even the most complex enterprise organizations can pull off spectacular local marketing. Learn more in How Enterprise Brands Execute Effective Local Marketing.

How a Center of Excellence Improves Local Marketing Results

While the Center of Excellence rewards top performers in the field with more tools, trust and support, it also benefits HQ. In fact, the CoE is mutually beneficial for both corporate teams and local affiliates. Here's how:

  • Maximized ROI: Corporate teams know that their highest performing local affiliates can run and manage marketing activities successfully. When corporate marketers entrust special marketing materials to their top-performers, they know it will be used properly.
  • Retention: When brands supply top-performers with additional marketing coverage, subconsciously, the brand is developing a relationship with the local affiliate. When the local marketer feels valued and appreciated, they will feel more connected to the brand. These satisfied affiliates are more likely to continue working with the brand in the future.
  • Testing: Before deploying specific offers, promotions or materials to every franchisee, brands can test the impact of specific marketing activities in the highest performing markets.
  • Optimization: As brands deploy exclusive offers, promotions and marketing materials in high-performing markets, brands can analyze the results that come back and optimize activities to create additional engagement.

When corporate teams show local affiliates trust and reward top-performing franchisees, the whole field network knows that the brand has their best interests at heart. This mutually beneficial partnership is what helps brands scale.

Improving local marketing results is a top concern for most brand managers. Help your local partners deliver exceptional local marketing results with The Top 5 Areas CMOs are Investing in For Better Local Marketing ROI.

Getting Started with a Center of Excellence

The best franchise organizations invest in a Center of Excellence for local marketing to help a few of their best local affiliates achieve even greater marketing results. With access to special marketing materials, all-new social media campaigns, or the latest and greatest marketing tools, franchisees are empowered to deliver next-level marketing. Meanwhile, corporate teams can use these performance metrics to gauge a particular marketing campaign, tactic, or tool's effectiveness. With this valuable data, corporate partners are given the directional insight needed to deploy these special offerings across the franchised network.

Are you ready to establish a Center of Excellence within your own franchised network? Start by identifying your top performers and give them the extra tools and marketing collateral needed to take their local marketing into the stratosphere. With access to the latest and greatest marketing resources, these affiliates are empowered to initiate more impactful local marketing.

Is your brand ready to launch a local marketing Center of Excellence? Get your CoE program rolling with the Local Marketing Playbook. Download The Local Marketing Playbook

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