Online stores continue to flourish, but the importance of brick-and-mortar stores remains. Many adopt the franchise model to exponentially grow their brand image and establish a foothold in several locations simultaneously. The problem with this strategy, though, is that it gets tougher to maintain quality across branches.
The retail and food industries benefit the most from franchise models. We see Subway, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and Dunkin Donuts almost everywhere we go. Retail convenience stores like 7-Eleven also swarm the market and are showcased on almost every corner of the street. Yet many still face the challenge of delivering a quality customer experience and exceeding customer expectations.
This is where a brand standard comes in handy. With one guide that details how each branch and employee should act, look and use the brand logo and messaging, franchisees everywhere can better manage their overall brand image.
Uniforms, menus, design, layouts, operating hours and protocols can be taxing to inspect by yourself, especially when you’ve branched out to a hundred different locations. But with the help of a mystery shopping agency like SeeLevel HX, assessments can be efficiently conducted without wasting too much of your resources. Not only your brand will benefit from the advantages of conducting a mystery shopping program for your franchise model but also the franchisee who wants to ensure their investment bears fruit.
The Franchise Model and Mystery Shopping
Surely you have a preliminary background check in choosing which franchisee is a good fit for your brand. However, this is not always enough to ensure they will consistently comply with brand standards as the operation commences and continues. Without a way to properly assess the performance of each branch, you risk the chance of your business crumbling before you enjoy the fruits of your labor. By employing the services of mystery shoppers, you can keep an eye on each branch and ensure they perform well.
Here are some tips on how to efficiently implement a mystery shopping program for your franchise business plan.
1. Know more about the location of each branch.
Each location is different from the other. It has a different market share, consumer demographic, customer preference and even environmental factors that can affect the quality of the product or service being offered.
Mystery shoppers collect as much information as they can on assigned branches when they fulfill a mystery shopping program. No matter if your company is a retail chain or a franchise restaurant, some categories are consistent for any business structure like employee performance, shop location, ambiance and customer service that a mystery shopper can look into during the assessment process.
By understanding the unique parameters that contribute to a branch’s success, franchisees and franchisors will be able to trace the root cause of any issue and come up with a better franchise business plan to help improve the brand’s reputation.
2. Have a brand standard and make sure everyone complies to it.
For a mystery shopping program to be successful in assessing a business using a franchise model, they must know what the brand aims to achieve. The purpose of the actions and the objective of any business must be aligned in order for it to succeed.
Having a brand guideline is a must-have for any business, whether or not they’re running a franchise model. Only with this can they make sure that the whole franchise is operating under one standard and working toward the same business goal.
In a typical mystery shopping program, the retail owner analyzes their customer service to gauge the customer experience they offer and identify pain points that need attention. When conducting a mystery shopping program on a franchise model, however, the objective is more focused on brand auditing.
If branches vary in design, feel and quality from location to location, the brand perception will be skewed, making it more difficult to resolve business issues. Instead of focusing your attention on keeping franchise restaurants or retail outlets in line, you need to work on mending any areas with a damaged brand reputation. With the insights and assessments mystery shoppers can provide, this situation can be avoided.
The marketing and operations of franchise restaurants or retail shops should be checked closely to ensure they’re sending out the expected brand message to customers. It’s challenging to inspect each branch in a franchise model because the franchisees may have a different interpretation of the franchisor’s expectations.
Retail branches and franchise restaurants selling alcohol or tobacco must ensure all employees are checking IDs for age compliance. Highly-regulated commodities like these are closely monitored by law enforcement agencies, and a slight misstep can cause your brand its reputation.
Businesses operating on a franchise model, especially franchise restaurants, can also benefit from mystery shopping programs conducted on online channels. Mystery shoppers can go through the online ordering process and see whether these branches are delivering the goods according to brand standards and customer expectations. They can also offer insights on the online user experience as a whole.
Brand awareness and perception are more significant than ever in a franchise model. What franchisees are buying is your brand and the license to operate it under the rules you enforce as a franchisor.
By requiring each branch to implement a mystery shopping program, you’ll have a constant stream of information regarding the performance of each franchise. You’ll see those who follow brand standards and those who are deviating from the qualities you want your brand to be known for.
3. Choose the appropriate mystery shopping provider.
Choosing the right mystery shopping agency also plays a factor in assessing a franchise model. Some companies only have a small number of mystery shoppers at their disposal, which limits your option for variety. You should also take into account the shopper panel’s demographics, as different locations likely have different target markets.
With SeeLevel HX, you can choose from over 600,000 mystery shoppers and achieve true diversity without veering away from a specific demographic representing your target market. We’ve served Fortune 1000 companies with branches spanning across the United States and Canada, so you can rest assured we’re the right fit for implementing your franchise business plan.
You might think that the capabilities of mystery shopping are limited to retail shops directly operated by one big company. However, mystery shopping programs can be implemented regardless of the business structure.
Every business owner running a franchise model wants to deliver quality products and services across all locations. By implementing a restaurant mystery shopping program, you can ensure each branch delivers the same level of customer experience you expect your brand to present.
SeeLevel HX has the full capability to evaluate any business from any industry, whether or not they’re operating a franchise model. Our mystery shoppers are professionally trained to evaluate branches from different locations to ensure brand compliance on each of them.