(FS10) Maintaining Good Relationships as a Part of Franchise Business

There’s no better way to end a customer relation than to lie for your gain. If you’re looking to build your customer base and keep them coming back for more, be honest in every interaction. Don’t try to cheat your customers out for the money in the now as it can end in larger costs down the road with returned products and never-returning customers who will then tell their friends. In case you’re thinking that no one really talks about the poor service they receive at a business, think of how easy it is to tell the world how terrible something is thanks to the internet. In fact, websites like Google+, Yelp, and Foursquare are all about telling others about your experience somewhere and making a reputation for a location.


Customers expect consistency in a brand, which can be really difficult as part of a franchise. Your reputation can be directly affected by the failure or success of another store that you’ve never interacted with. One of the positives sides to review websites like Google+ and Yelp is that they allow users to review individual places which means if Customer A had a bad experience and ShopMart on Central, they can review that ShopMart specifically. If ShopMart on Main St. is run differently, they can review that shop as well and give it a different rating so word can spread that your shop isn’t the same as the bad one down the street. This is helpful for less consistent franchises, but it doesn’t mean consistency should be thrown out the window. Customers are twice as likely to tell about negative experiences vs. positive ones. That doesn’t mean you won’t get good reviews, but know that a poor performance will hurt you twice as bad and that you will have to work harder to coax customers into posting good reviews for your store.


When you introduce new products to an established business, you will need to be careful. Humans, by nature, hate change—even if it’s for the better. You might feel a lot of stress due to the changes you’re making internally. Think of consumers as children, watching their parents change, and stressing out about it as well. It’s confusing considering if you don’t offer new products or services, your consumers get bored, but if you do change things, they panic about it.


Mending a Poor Customer Experience

If your business is successful, it will meet with hundreds if not thousands of people every day (depending on the business, services offered, and size of community. Not all businesses have the same gauge for success). Your employees (and yourself) can have all the training in the world or be the most personable, friendly people you’ve ever met. That won’t stop a customer from having a bad experience. Many things factor into negative experiences with a franchise or business including:


  • Customer had a bad daystartup franchise cost
  • Customer met an employee with a belief that opposes their own strong belief
  • Hearing profanities from employees or other customers
  • Malfunctioning equipment that isn’t your fault at all
  • Opposing personalities like water and oil
  • Poor attitude or unhelpful employee
  • Stressed out prior to entering store


Responding to Unhappy Customers

These are just some reasons that an individual might have a negative customer experience. The first thing to do is wear a smile. Always. Be understanding and listen to the complaints the individual might have. Don’t jump to conclusions on either side. Most of the time, an angry person just wants to know they are being heard. That’s why it’s important to give all the attention necessary to your upset customer and respond appropriately. Here are some of the best ways to handle an upset customer and salvage the relationship:


  • Apologize multiple times for any errors.
  • Be polite and maintain eye contact.
  • Listen to what they have to say without interrupting or becoming defensive.
  • Promise to correct the problem.
  • Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: what would you expect and what would you want done to solve the problem (within reason)?
  • Stand by your word and prove yourself if you get a second chance.


Thank your customer for their response at the end of it all and as they’re seen out, you can approach the individual who might have had something to do with the issue and get their side. If it’s clearly their fault, recognize this as a training opportunity. For any other situation, this is an opportunity to evaluate your system and how it could be smoother. In a perfect world these mistakes wouldn’t happen. In a slightly less perfect world, all customers would come up to you if they had a problem and tell you. Sadly, we don’t live in either of those worlds and most customers won’t directly tell business owners about the trouble they suffered. They will simply stop coming and it will be up to you to play detective and figure out why that is. There are expensive and inexpensive ways to check up on the customer experience.understanding the franchise


Ways to Research You Customer’s Experience Within Your Franchise:


  • Check with your franchisor and other franchisees. Remember; franchisors want you to succeed because your success means their success and your failure looks bad on all of their brand.  
  • Hire a mystery shopper to visit and report what their experience was and how you could do better.
  • Make comment cards easily accessible for customers to give feedback when they visit your store. Encourage constructive criticism as much as praise.
  • Perform informal one-on-one surveys and random phone surveys.
  • Periodically talk to customers directly.
  • Read your mail (including online messages and reviews), the good and the bad.
  • Research the local market and how your franchise compares to the standard in the community, regionally, and nationally.
  • Use system tools to capture sales and customer information to find discrepancies.


Continue Reading More From the Franchise Series 10:

  • Creating an Effective Marketing Plan for Your Franchises
  • Methods to Keep Your Franchises in Front of Your Audience
  • Evaluating National and Local Franchise Advertising Strategies
  • If Your Franchise Doesn’t Have National Advertising
  • Franchise Advertisements Will Effect Your Public Relations
  • Respecting the Customer Base of Your Franchise Company
  • Franchise Impressions Set By Non-Products In Your Business