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Battle Tested Strategies

How Driverseat’s Flat Rate Royalty System Advances Franchisee Profitability and Fosters Trust

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Franchise Coaching

The Driverseat franchise is cruising to lead emerging brands offering chauffeur, assisted transport and designated driver services. Founded by brothers Brian and Luke Bazely, in Waterloo, Ontario the franchise currently has 24 units in Canada, with several more poised to open in the next 12 months.

Driverseat, which has been in business for six years, and has been franchising for only five, charges a flat-rate for royalties. This system creates an environment of trust and openness with the franchisees. Learn about how CEO, Brian Bazely, uses this approach combined with authentic coaching to set franchisees up for success.    

What is your role?

Brian: “I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of Driverseat and my brother, Luke is in the role of Co-Founder and President. I focus on Franchise Development, and growing the businesses of the Driverseat franchise owners. Luke focuses on our corporate location, as well as developing the technology.”

Brian Bazely from DriverseatWhat did you do before-hand?

Brian: “I spent a significant portion of my career in executive management roles with retail companies such as Toys R Us and The Beer Store, a province-wide beer retailer in Ontario. About ten years ago, I became a franchisee of Anytime Fitness. Through that process, I fell in love with the whole franchising concept.”

What do you like about working at Driverseat and how has the company developed over time?  

Brian: “Every day feels like we’re either as passionate or more passionate about the business. The excitement surrounding Driverseat is quite something. My focus is far more centered on the franchise owners; my experience tells me that this strategy is the best way to create a great experience for our customers. I know that when I truly care for my franchise owners that they’re going to have their coachmen, which is our term for drivers, provide amazing service for the customers.

Our franchise system and the supporting technology provides a great deal of flexibility.  I find it very rewarding when we have a new franchisee who joins our organization and as is able to travel more, experience life more, or as an example, is able to coach their daughter’s soccer team because of the freedom that the business provides for them. That’s the part that gets me super-excited every day. My passion is for them and for what they can experience in being part of the Driverseat brand.”

Driverseat Annual ConferenceWhat is different about how you collect royalties compared to other franchise systems?

Brian: “When we designed the business, we decided to charge a flat-rate royalty versus a percentage. We elevate that flat rate each year for new franchisees coming into the system but “freeze” it for existing units. As the business gets larger and more sophisticated, we feel justified and qualified in being able to charge just a little bit more. Currently, it’s a $419 flat rate per month.

It’s a different system and there is a lot of debate with our accountants and other franchisors regarding this topic. They ask: “Why would you continue to use a system like this?” The answer comes down to why we wanted to launch a franchise in the first place. We are passionate about our franchise partners and we want to spend our time helping them develop themselves and their businesses. We don’t want to spend a lot of time on things with negative energy, like auditing their books.”

What did you want to avoid when you selected this system?

Brian: “There’s a natural friction point that exists in franchising that industry veterans are very familiar with. When a percentage royalty is charged, a franchisee can spend some of their day finding ways to hide money or sales results so they can pay less overall. This is not a moral failing on the franchisees’ part, it is simply human nature. The franchisor is then forced, as a result, to spend their energy on trying to audit or find that money.

We looked at that and said, “That’s a lot of negative energy on something that actually doesn’t really gel with our governance.” When you’re a flat-rate system, there’s never a doubt in the franchisees’ mind. They do not suspect an “ulterior motive” on behalf of the franchisor when we are trying to help them grow their sales.

If we spend a little bit more time on a business quote that they need to put together for a large sale, for example, there’s never the thought that we might be doing it because we’re trying to increase our own royalties – they know that we are in it for them. We spend our day doing what energizes our corporate office team – creating success for our franchise partners.

driverseat olympicsWould you be able to provide me with some concrete examples of this strategy in action?

Brian: A pretty significant portion of our business is B2B where we provide chauffeur and shuttle services for employees – moving them between production plants or warehousing plants for example. Landing these accounts represents more work in terms of sales, but the revenue opportunities are also far greater.

About a year ago, one of our franchise owners had one of these B2B opportunities and we were passionate about helping him land it. We pushed him to do a better job with mapping, and explaining the services and technology. We helped him put a significant effort into the presentation package. As a result of the group effort, he landed the sale. They still provide service today to that same customer and it sparked other sales from there.

When working with franchisees, we talk to them about their personal goals as well as their professional goals. A personal goal of one of our franchisees was to do a better job at handling herself in meetings and to be more comfortable in public speaking.

We created a plan to help her do two things:

  • Present to a B2B prospect with her husband and business partner.
  • Have her build enough confidence to showcase her expertise in front of our franchise group at an annual conference.

I was able to really push her on this and hold her accountable to the goals that she set. It resulted in her doing more business meetings, and it resulted in them building an additional revenue line. Both their profit and revenue increased – on top of that, she was able to develop as an individual.

How does this system foster a sense of trust between you and the franchisees?

Brian: “There are only two things that we really focus on:

  1. Top-line revenue and profitability for the franchise owner
  2. Trust between home-office and the franchisees.

When we have profitable sites and they trust us, that becomes the magical mix. Everything that we do is focused around those two very important factors.”

How does this strategy affect unit sales?

Brian: “We’re attracting higher-quality individuals because they are seeing terrific things happening within Driverseat franchise locations.”

What would you say the biggest challenge of operating this way is?

Brian: “It comes down to the lifecycle of a franchise system. Percentage royalties feed a corporate office. That allows you to purchase additional talent, resources, and better technology. When you charge a flat rate, in the early days, there are times you’d like to have higher revenue at the franchisor level to drive higher performance.

It has forced us to be extraordinarily smart in how we spend money and how we develop programs. The first couple years we ran the franchise system with just Luke and me.  We literally managed tech development, marketing, franchise support, and franchise development with just the two of us.

But not once in any day that we’ve been in business for five years of franchising, have we said, “I wonder if this stuff’s being reported correctly. I wonder if we need to create an audit and find out if this information is accurate”. There is no incentive for a franchise owner to misrepresent their dollars.”

What advice would you give someone who wants to try a structure like this?

Brian: “You have to be focused on the long game to do this. If you’re focused on the short game and you believe that you’re going to have a small number of franchise locations that you need to rely on, then it might not work.

We look at this from a long-game perspective and say, “It really doesn’t matter what happens in the first handful of years. This is really about, how do you get to between 2,000 and 3,000 locations?” And we believe this is the single best source for doing it. If you are going to commit, don’t look back. It’s perfectly acceptable to increase the dollar royalties each year for new locations coming in. But, don’t look back and don’t get fixated on what “could have been”.


With everyone we interview, we ask a series of fun questions! Here is Brian’s Q&A!

What new belief, behavior, or habits adopted within the last five years have most positively impacted your life?

I’ve embraced the belief that entrepreneurs today should really be part of the new rich as described by author, Tim Ferriss. We should look to create financial wealth but not just chasing the dollar every single day. Instead, we should create enough wealth that supports a lifestyle that we want to live. The new rich, for me, is about the ability to earn revenue, which then supports time with my daughters and my wife, and time travelling.

For franchise owners, I try and bring this to the surface with them. It’s about going out and having a strong business that’s very healthy financially, but not for the purpose of upgrading the Lexus car from this model to that model, (you can certainly go and do that as well).  Instead, it is for the purpose of being able to enjoy life, enjoy your family, and enjoy time which is one of our most valuable assets.

What purchase of less than $100 has improved your life?

I really love being able to pleasantly surprise somebody that works with us with small things such as a lovely meal with loved ones. For me to purchase a $50 gift card to a brilliant local Italian place that’s right around the corner from our office is a fantastic gift for someone who has gone above and beyond. For $50, you can have an amazing lunch there.

What would you put on a billboard?

Brian:  “Spend your life purchasing experiences, not products –  experiences with friends, experiences over dinner, experiences in social settings and experiences in travel.”

What books have you most gifted?

  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is a terrific book for prioritizing your time.
  • The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton is great to help give people financial independence.
  • Love Work by Chuck Runyon who is the founder of Self Esteem Brands. He’s a really outstanding leader. And the “Love Work” book really talks about passion and the culture he built within Anytime Fitness.
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins which is a factual study of how certain companies overperformed.

Ready to learn more about Driverseat? Read more here on their Franchise Opportunities page!

Download our Cheat Sheet: 24 Ways to Motivate Team Members and Franchisees with Experiences!

Experiences as Reward

How a Founder Can be a Great “First Coach” to Early Franchisees

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Franchise Coaching

Angela Cote Franchise Coach LogoIn the early days of franchising, the owner often becomes the first coach. How do you drive results with early franchisees when you are an emerging franchisor?

There is a lot to learn from Angela Coté, who grew up with M&M Food Market, an iconic Canadian frozen food retail chain that grew to almost 500 stores across the country. We sat down with former franchisor, current multi-unit franchisee and Franchise Growth Catalyst, Angela Coté, to hear her thoughts.

Tell us about how you got into franchising?

Angela: My father founded M&M and having grown up with it, I have done everything from dressing up as our mascot, “Kelly Kabob” in the mid-80’s for grand openings, to running around Western Canada helping develop the chain in the late ‘90’s. This included opening stores, training franchisees, and getting them up and running.  Eventually this informal role changed into a field consultant one and I worked with franchisees on engagement and profitability.

Angela Cote Meeting

What stands out for you most about the early days of M&M?

Angela: I was a 20-year-old female field consultant and the franchisee was often a 60-year-old male who had just spent his life savings to be a part of the brand. I am certain that some of them were asking themselves “She is the boss’s daughter –  what does she know about taking a risk? What does she know about investing all this money in a business?  How could she possibly help me?” But I worked hard to help them understand the importance of following the operational system, which drove their results and eventually earned their respect.

In that role, I had to learn a lot by trial and error.  As their support person, I started to understand what they were going through, as they experienced a lot of ups and downs emotionally. They were tired and had invested a significant amount of money, making it a really big deal for them. I came out on the other end with some hands-on direct experience – in franchisee relations!

In 2000, I became a multi-unit franchisee which, reflecting back, helps me really understand the franchisees and their concerns – now it is my life-savings at stake!  As a result, I’ve got both sides of the ‘franchise coin’. I understand what it’s like to be an early-stage and established franchisor, and to actually live life as a franchisee as well.

Today, I help businesses with franchise strategy and I coach their franchise business coaches; profitability is the number driver of growth in a franchise, and it is something I am extremely passionate about.  I am super-excited to have had the ability to create the angela COTE Inc. brand, which enables me to tap into what drives me and what I’m truly passionate about.

Spray Squad TeamWhen a franchise first starts, the founders are often the first coaches. Based on your experience, what tips would you give to a founder or coach with these early franchisees?

Angela: Showing early franchisees that you appreciate them is critical. I think that people take them for granted. In the early days, acknowledging that, “Hey, thanks for believing in this when no one else does.  Thanks for understanding that we’re not a well-oiled machine yet”. Here are four tips for franchisors regarding their early adopter franchisees:

  1. Get clear on expectations: When an emerging franchisor first starts, there is frequently a lack of clear expectations on both parties. When I say expectations, I mean, for example, what support the franchisees are going to get because it hasn’t even been built yet. Franchisees are expecting support because they bought into a system and they have pre-conceived thoughts based on popular perceptions of more established franchisors. Setting clear expectations up-front is a great first step.
  2. Recognize early adopters: Recognize that these first franchisees are early adopters according to the Rogers diffusion of innovation bell curve, and ensure that they know the systems are not set up yet. Clarifying that is huge in the early days. Often the early adopters are clients.  For example, maybe it’s a fitness studio and they love being a member, love the culture and think “I want one of these for myself.”

rogers diffusion curveIn response, a great way to put it is: “We would love to have you but know that we are still working towards building out our systems and processes for optimal efficiencies and profitability.  and you’re going to be part of creating that with us. Don’t expect it to be built. On the flip-side, you get to help us build it by telling us what you need and getting a lot of say in what is created.”

The early franchisees get the opportunity to scratch their “entrepreneurial itch” more, but still have to understand and balance the fact that it’s still a system.

  1. Set up systems through trial and error: Regarding setting up the systems, I think people feel as though to coach their franchisees, they need to have very formal systems established. I think it works best to do it as trial and error. I’m a big believer in the “lean start-up”, or the “minimum viable product”.

At the beginning of being an emerging franchisor, you don’t know what the franchisees want so don’t go out and create this massive “support system” that you use to coach your franchisees without asking them. Instead, work with them, try it. If it didn’t work, don’t “freak out”. That’s fine. We’re going to adjust this. We’re going to tweak that.

You really want to wow them, so that they talk highly about you, so you can grow the brand.

  1. Under-promise and over-deliver. It may sound cliché, but it needs to be said – under-promise and over-deliver to your first franchisees when you are an emerging franchisor. You really want to wow them, so that they talk highly about you, so you can grow the brand. So that when other people come and say, “What’s it like here?” they reply with, “it’s awesome!”

What are common pitfalls for coaches and founders?

Angela: The other pitfalls that a first early coach and founder is losing touch with your corporate location. This isn’t good for profitability and business growth. Additionally, from a perspective of a franchise coach, franchisees will think that you can’t relate anymore because you’re not working in the business.

The way to avoid that pitfall is to have a general manager at your corporate location who really understands how to grow the business. Be in touch with that person, communicate regularly with what’s going on in that corporate location so that when you’re talking to franchisees, you can say things like, “Yeah, we’re going through that same problem at our corporate location.”


With everyone we interview, we ask a series of fun questions! Here is Angela’s Q&A!

What new beliefs, behaviors, or habits adopted in the last five years have most positively impacted your life?

Angela: Getting a coach!  I hired a career coach three years ago to help me tap into my passion and figure out how to make that into a career. That was the best decision I made in my entire life. Later, I got an amazing performance coach. No matter what your income level is, it is super valuable to have someone with experience help you stay on track.

Purchase of less than $100 that’s improved your life.

Angela: My monthly membership to my local floating franchise, The Float House. You float in a tank with high level of salt. Sensory deprivation is a dark, warm and relaxing experience and is great for those stressful days.

What would you want to put on a billboard?

Angela: “Contrary to popular belief, franchising is NOT turnkey. Franchising a business requires someone with expertise who understand the complexity of the model. Buying into a franchise as a franchisee requires hard work, leadership skills and true grit.”

What books have you most gifted to other people?

Angela: It is a bit embarrassing, but it is a business book: Traction by Gino Wickman. This helps clients with vision, short-term and long-term plans.

More Info:

  • To learn more about Angela, you can go to her website at angela COTE Inc.
  • To learn more about FranchiseBlast field audit and scorecard software, go to our website.
  • Would you like a PDF of this article? Download PDF here.

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How Focusing on Better-Performing Franchisees Helps Maximize Franchisee Performance Region-Wide

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Field Audits, Franchise Operations

Which franchisees have the highest potential for growth? In this battle tested strategy, we discuss how Amy Perkins, Senior Business Consultant from Ben & Jerry’s, focused on “middle-to-top” franchisees helping lift results across her region.

It is easy for franchise coaches to focus on the weakest performers, since they are in need of the most help, and are often the squeakiest wheels. But, it is the top performers who have the most potential impact. We sat down with Amy to discuss what she did, and what other coaches can learn.

How did you get into coaching, and franchising in general?

Amy: I started at Ben & Jerry’s right out of college and was in the trenches from the ground up. I did all kinds of roles –  I started as a scooper then moved up to assistant manager, manager, regional manager and area manager for all of Vermont. Later I moved my way out West and became a business consultant and have been doing that for 12 years based out of the San Francisco Bay area.

amy perkins scoop shop

What do you like about working at Ben & Jerry’s?

Amy: Like most coaches, I spend the majority of my time talking about sales and improving business operations. Because Ben & Jerry’s focuses on so much more than that, I also get to have really unique and interesting conversations with our franchisees.

Ben & Jerry’s isn’t just the name of our brand – the guys that give it their name are two very colorful people with a lot to say. Ben once said, “business has a responsibility to give back to the community.” I love that I can go into a franchise business consultation and talk about social mission and what the franchisees are doing to change the world within their community.

And something that I think about every single day – Jerry said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?” and I’m pretty lucky that that’s how I get to live my day-to-day life – it’s a pretty awesome experience!

Which franchisees do you focus on when coaching?

Amy: I tend to focus on the group of franchisees that hovers above the middle, but not quite at the top. Results don’t often come from the folks that are already at the top because those franchisees are typically already doing what it takes to be there. But if you can focus on this middle-to-top pack, you can see some spectacular results.

Normal Curve for FranchiseesWhy does that make a difference? 

Amy: I think that those franchisees have a higher opportunity to move the needle; they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get themselves to the top – they‘re both hungry and thirsty -they have the drive and the desire. They’re the ones that are usually the most adaptable and willing to take on new strategies or ideas. You’ll see them putting their necks out more.

They just know that the harder they work, the more they’re going to see the results.  So, these folks are not necessarily comfortable just sitting at the middle of the pack since they can see what top performers can do. They want to be a top performer and they strive to be up there. They want to be at the top as much as they think they deserve it. Of course I support all of my franchisees, but I put a special focus on this group.

What do you think is a common pitfall for other franchise coaches?

Amy: I think we’re all guilty of this, but a lot of franchise business consultants and coaches spend way too much of their time focusing their efforts on the bottom 20%. It’s easy to get sucked into this. You get stuck focusing on that bottom 20% and they don’t really go anywhere. They’re not necessarily detrimental to the business, they’re just kind of comfortable living in a space that isn’t really affecting any sort of real change.

Can you tell us about some concrete examples of when this strategy has worked for you?

Amy: As part of my yearly plan, I chose three franchisees that I knew lived in this middle-to top space that I thought I could make the most direct impact on. I knew that they already had the drive and the desire, and I knew that with a little bit of extra support, they could really have an incredible year.

For the whole year I was hyper-focused on sales and trying to get as many touches in as possible. I called them more. I reached out to them more and asked them more questions. My favorite question – especially at my first consultation of the year is “what is your goal” followed up with “how are we going to make it happen”. I do this because it’s easy to create the goals, it’s much, much harder to figure out the execution plan. I made my field visits with them super-focused and direct, and I wanted them to know that I was rooting for them.

I also didn’t necessarily need them to know that they were on my top 3 list, they were simply getting additional support from me, and even though they didn’t know it, their results were pretty incredible.

Amy Perkins Ben and Jerry'sTell us about the results…

Amy: So, of the three, “Shop #1” off-premise sales, which includes business catering and events, were up 25%. Her scoop shop was also up 5%. Her staff was happier than ever. They were selling more of the right product mix, which resulted in a higher average check, a lower cost of goods sold. She also won one of our biggest awards at our annual meeting this year. She was completely shocked, but she deserved it!

For “Shop #2”, their off-premise sales were actually up over 100%. We tier all of our franchisees in our off-premise world, ranging from “Tier 1” if they’re just starting out, to “Tier 4” if they are the best of the best. Shop 2 actually hopped tiers – from Tier 2 to Tier 3. That’s not easily accomplished so I was really proud of them.

For Shop #3, she was a multi-unit operator, and she’d been in a unique situation in that she has three very different types of operations:  one neighborhood scoop shop, one that’s a high-volume tourist shop, and thirdly she has a strong off-premise program. She managed to grow all three, which is pretty amazing.  In doing this she really had to execute three different strategic marketing plans simultaneously.

Shop sales grew, transaction counts were up, average check was up, and off-premise was up. Their P&L was the tightest I’ve ever seen it. They were able to invest in their staff and grow a manager as well. She found herself putting out less fires and was able to focus more on driving business results. A whirlwind year for her!

What was your biggest challenge in terms of implementing this strategy?

Amy: It was hard to determine who to pick. Every organization has really strong franchisees and management teams and determining who you really want to put high amounts of effort into can be a bit of a challenge. But if you can determine the the middle-to-top performers, you’re going to see the most return.

ben and jerry's truck outside

What advice would you give another coach who’d want to try this strategy

Amy: At the beginning of the year, choose three to five franchisees and their management teams that you know are invested in their business and have what it takes to move that needle. Depending on your work load, this could represent from 5-10% of your franchisees.

Determine what your goals are for each, and then formulate your plan. Track the plan and check in regularly on the goals. Make as many touches with these franchisees as you possibly can, and watch their results play out. Don’t feel like it’s ever too late to start this process – it can be started at any point in the year!

What is the biggest benefit to you as a coach?

Amy: I think it also allows you to control the conversation from a field rep position. Sometimes franchisees think the role of their business coach is solely compliance and I think that’s short-sighted.  I think it’s part of my job, and I think it’s an important part of my job, but I don’t want to focus exclusively on that.

To the contrary I want to say to the franchisee: “if you’ll let me be your business coach, we can do something pretty magical here.” This strategy allowed me to support each of the franchisees in my region, but by focusing on these high-potential franchisees –   see the results!  I could not be happier and I am much more fulfilled as a coach. It just felt good.

With everyone we interview, we ask a series of fun questions! Here is Amy’s Q&A!

What new beliefs, behaviors, or habits adopted in the last five years have most positively impacted your life?

I have been a pretty die-hard Orangetheory Fitness fan for almost two years now. I’m healthier, I’m lighter, I’m stronger, I’m happier, I have more energy and all of those things are great. But I feel like it’s changed who I am – it just keeps me in check and it makes me a better person. Since they are a franchise with locations across my region, I always have a little piece of home when I’m on the road.

Purchase of less than $100 that’s improved your life.
Melatonin. It’s changed my life – because I sleep a whole lot better than I used to!

What would you want to put on a billboard?
“Buy the plane ticket.”

What books have you most gifted to other people?

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris

Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler

To learn more about Ben and Jerry’s, and about catering Ice Cream to your next business event, go to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Catering page! To learn more about Amy Perkins, go to her LinkedIn page.

Want to download this Battle-Tested Strategy? You can get it here.

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Franchisee Involvement for Franchisee Engagement

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Franchise Engagement

Franchisee Engagement FranchiseBlastIn the first article of our series “Battle-Tested Strategies”, we are going to take a look at franchisee involvement for franchisee engagement. We are focusing in on “battle-tested” since we want to make sure that we are discussing what really matters. Instead of talking theory or ideas, we want to highlight what happens in the field, when you roll up your sleeves and do the work.

There is strong evidence in favor of involving many different stakeholders in decisions but sometimes it is tough to put into practice.

Franchisee Involvement: The Evidence

According to the Center for Human Resources Effectiveness in Berkeley, California, there are several reasons why including others in decision makers work which extend naturally to the franchise model. I am putting a list of the most relevant ones below:

  • Participation may result in better decisions. Workers often have information that higher management lacks. Furthermore, participation permits a variety of different views to be aired.
  • People are more likely to implement decisions they have made themselves.(2) They know better what is expected of them, and helping make a decision commits one to it.(3) Participation may lower the disutility of effort, by providing intrinsic motivation.
  • Participation enhances people’s sense of power and dignity, thus reducing the need to show power through fighting management and restricting production.

Although most of the research is conducted in corporate environments, this can easily be extended to franchising.

Franchisee Engagement: The Challenge

Stefania Sigurdson Forbes at Shred-it Office

In the mid-2000s, Shred-it, a document destruction franchise system with over 150 units and 1,000 trucks in North America, the UK and Europe,  was at a crossroads. They had a Flash-based website which was getting few leads. The site, though attractive,  had issues with both SEO and usability and was a source of frustration for the franchisees. As one American franchisee said:

“This website deserves to be in a history museum for websites it is so old!”

It is one of those statements that is hard to forget… these many years later. As a result, we knew that we had to make changes. But, instead of fighting or refuting the franchisees, we decided to bring them into the fold.

Another challenge, was one of those unspoken ones, yet very real. I was a younger Marketing professional at the time in my 20s where the franchisees were mostly 50+. While there wasn’t really ageism going on perse, I was aware that I was the same age as many of their children, and I had to use the power of persuasion to get them to listen. I had to “lead from behind” to quote Nelson Mandela. According to Harvard Business Review:

Leaders can encourage breakthrough ideas not by cultivating followers who can execute but building communities that can innovate.

All of this set the right conditions to innovate together.

Meeting with Franchisees

A series of structured meetings was required to get the project going:

  1. We involved a group of vocal franchisees to be part of a special committee. We selected franchisees who were both vocal and constructive so we could focus in on the shared goal of having a great site, rather than the meetings devolving into “gripe sessions”. All meetings had a goal, an agenda and notes were set out afterwards.
  2. The first meeting was about brainstorming what sections of the main website, and the franchisee microsites they wanted to see. This was a “free for all” – and I let them know it was time to be creative. After the meeting was over, I sent the group a sample website navigation diagram, along with a microsite diagram. I gave them an extra week to provide more feedback, but none of them did.
  3. At the second meeting, we got sample SEO keyword from the volunteer group. We asked how other franchisees would like to provide these to us, and they said that it was through a survey.
  4. At the third meeting, we did a design review of the microsites. We took quite a bit of feedback here on what should be modifiable by the franchisees, and what should be modifiable by the home office team.

Overall, the tone of the meetings was creative and professional. It was all about completing the thing that the franchisees wanted us to complete as a Marketing team. I knew that the more I did that, the more they would be satisfied with the co-creation project.

Working with the Experts

While the meetings were going on, I also connected with experts. After all, they invested in the adfund for marketing expertise. As a result, I had the following experts in place:

  1. SEO
  2. PPC (this was the same gentleman as above in this case, but they could be separate)
  3. Usability
  4. Design

Working with all of these moving parts was a project unto itself! However, I want to be clear that I was not taking direction from the franchisees on expert areas. I was taking direction in terms of business and local marketing needs, and looked to the experts for the marketing expertise. The franchisees in this system were very professional, and were quite understanding. For example, you will note that they had a feedback opportunity on the microsite, but not the homepage or the other main sections of the site, where direction came from the Founder and President Greg Brophy.

The Results

As a result of this project, a number of incredibly exciting things happened:

  1. Traffic on the site increased 10x, from 500 visits/day to 5,000 visits/day.
  2. We got over 150 leads/week forwarded to franchisees, up from next to none.
  3. The website won an award from the industry association, the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID).
  4. Relationships between the Marketing team and the franchisees warmed up in part because of the website.
  5. We had a huge party at the home office with a screenshot of the website on top of the cake.
  6. As a result of the success of the site, I got to work on the #1 marketing tool for the company – the truck! I was very unprepared for this task, but it was a lot of fun eventually.

Key Takeaways

This project had many lessons for m, here are just a few:

  1. Think deeply about where the franchisees can add value, and where the experts can add value. If you have clear boundaries, they will not step on each other.
  2. Find great partners who understand the dynamics and give-and-take required in franchising. The design firm for example, understood that we needed to be down-to-earth and flexible, and they were recruited to the project partly because of this open-minded attitude.
  3. The best way to overcome people’s doubt in your leadership is to help them achieve their goals.
  4. Being organized (such as having agendas for meetings and a core project plan) is key. This helps you not get “caught off guard” if things go to the side.
  5. If there is someone who is very concerned, a 1:1 conversation is best. If you sense that there is going to be a “gripe session”, it is a good idea to talk to the people that you are concerned about 1:1 before-hand, so you can get aligned and on the same team.
  6. If you are a manager, believe in your young people! My Marketing VP, Bonnie Shettler, at the time believed in me, and without her support, this project would have never happened.

Do you have a Battle-Tested Strategy?

This is just the first of our series on Battle-Tested Strategies. If you have one, please contact us.



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