This year’s annual STAR Award winners and finalists represent the best practices of 2021 in franchise recruitment, as well as the resilience and strength of the franchise model. Tested not only by Franchise Update’s mystery shoppers, but also by the continued stress of the Covid-19 pandemic, these franchise brands show how well business can be sustained during tough times. Each winner faced unique circumstances, but all shared certain qualities of determination, endurance and ingenuity.
Best Overall Performance: Payroll Vault
Payroll Vault’s win for Best Overall Performance put the franchise “on a cloud nine,” said Marilyn Manning, director of franchise development. “Last year we were in constant reaction mode. It wasn’t day to day or week to week, it was hour by hour.
Payroll is a staple in any type of business, and as the economy battles the impact of the pandemic, brand activity has taken off. One of its benefits was built in, says Manning. While many businesses struggled to adapt to telecommuting, Payroll Vault was already here. “Everything we do is completely remote,” she says. This perk was just one of the strengths of Payroll Vault that elevated the brand to the top of this year’s STAR Awards competition.
When it comes to assessing candidates, Manning prides itself on being a quick and passionate reader, tailoring her approach to the individual circumstances of each potential franchisee, and being realistic about the needs of the business, even if that means a candidate might not go. forward with a contract.
“Recently we had a great candidate getting ready for a Discovery Day. His wife was expecting their first child. I said, “Are you sure? He called me back to tell me they were going to delay.
As Payroll Vault nears its 10th anniversary with 67 locations in 33 states, the past year has been one of the biggest in history.
Finalist: Powered brands
Best telephone follow-up for prospects: Teriyaki Madness
It’s easy to see one of the main reasons Teriyaki Madness won this award: The franchise sets a standard for inquiries. To achieve this, the brand has several redundant communication layers, says Tyler DeMuth, director of franchise growth. “We also have a handful of people, including the CEO, on board to respond to inquiries.”
The brand asks prospects about their preferred form of communication and verifies those preferences by researching who responds best, when, and to what type of communication. The team also tracks which forms of communication produce the most productive leads, which allows them to increase the chances that they can repeat successful lead conversions. DeMuth says this type of tracking increased the brand’s conversion rate.
The pandemic has changed the way prospects approach franchisors, making the process “part of the art and part of the science,” he says. But Teriyaki Madness already had a profile that made it ripe for survival: a focus on take-out, smaller physical footprints, a menu that offers a break between burgers, fries, and pizza, and a selection of entrees. who “travels well”.
The brand is seeing a record number of inquiries, DeMuth says, perhaps because of its customizable menu and “a delicious concept that just happens to be healthy for a date or a marathon,” he says. Teriyaki Madness has 103 locations open in 28 states and plans to open 45 to 55 more by the end of 2022.
Finalist: N-Hance Wood Refinition
Website Best Practices: Smoothie King
Website Best Practices # 1 winner Smoothie King worked with marketing and technology company Scorpion to kick off a website redesign in 2018. This redesign resulted in a significant increase in traffic and time spent on the website, said Elise Ganucheau, franchise marketing manager. for the growing brand. These improvements have led to more engagement and more qualified candidates, helping the brand to grow in more than 1,300 locations around the world.
“We make sure to incorporate dynamic content where we can deliver the most important information to our candidates on the homepage and educate them about Smoothie King in a concise manner,” she says. “The website is interactive and has a call to action in multiple places, making it as easy for a candidate to get ahead as possible. “
Plus, she says, Smoothie King is constantly optimizing the website to make sure it communicates key points and stays fresh when applicants revisit the site for more. “We are honored to have received this award,” she said, “and would like to thank our partner Scorpio for helping us communicate our benefits and what sets us apart. “
Finalist: US Lawns
Best Online Sales Tracker: First Light Home Care
Jamie Davis, Executive Director of Franchise Development, knows that understanding the myriad communication methods used by prospects is fundamental to connecting with them quickly. This is why the brand has revised and redesigned its messaging and added texting to its panoply of communication tools. “It’s so important to be responsive, with a sense of urgency,” he says. “It sets you apart and sets the tone for the relationship. It creates good expectations.
As First Light provides its services to people’s homes, the pandemic has hampered the growth of the system. Despite this, some existing owners have reached historic highs during the pandemic. The award, he says, “shows you what’s important: talking to people. “
Finalist: Payroll Chest
Best social networks: Ziebart International
“We are very honored to have received this STAR 2021 award,” said Larisa Walega, vice president of marketing. Her team has taken a step back this year to reconnect with their best target prospects “to better understand who they are, where they are and what’s important to them,” she says.
They also took a close look at Ziebart’s prospect journey to better tailor the brand’s social media efforts and campaigns to that journey. This review, explains Walega, “has helped our team to better align our strategy with our social platforms to deliver the right message to the right audience and to reach prospects in our identified markets that will enable the best growth opportunity. “
This process also helped set realistic expectations and KPIs for social media outcomes. “Once each of these key areas was redesigned, we gave our team a creative brief to make sure the work delivered met the strategic goals of franchise development,” she says. “Our entire marketing team works hand in hand with franchise development to monitor and optimize these campaigns to ensure the best support for annual franchise development goals.
Finalist: Ultra Pool Care Squad
Best Franchisee Satisfaction: Wild Birds Unlimited
Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) is a familiar face at the STAR Awards winner’s booth. After 32 years with the brand, Director of Development Paul Pickett has acquired a long-term perspective on franchisee satisfaction, an important element in the success and sustainability of the brand.
“We’re looking at the different perspectives, the needs of franchise owners, the needs of customers and the needs of vendors,” he says. “Our foundation is what we call our ‘How did we do it?’ nature.”
WBU’s comprehensive needs assessment, combined with an ongoing ‘do better’ approach, is evident at the company’s three-day annual meeting, where the entire management team and franchisees examine the strengths and weaknesses of the brand with an eye on what can be resolved. and improved, he said. “We want everyone to win, but we all have to meet in the middle.” And always at the top of the agenda are the fundamental values of communication and transparency of the brand.
The pandemic has been horrific, affecting everyone, he says, even as WBU has seen sales spike as more people stay at home. This increase, brought on by Covid, has resulted in several changes, including the introduction of a collection service and the rapid development of a more powerful e-commerce platform to handle increased customer usage. Record sales led to a dramatic increase in integrations, putting everyone under pressure, and supply chain issues quickly arose.
“It was a little scary and a little difficult,” says Pickett, and the franchisees were exhausted. Through it all, he said, he remembered to focus on empathy… and the part of communication that is just listening.