All it takes to ruin the reputation of a franchise company is one rogue franchisee who commits a grievous error that attracts media attention. The proverbial bad apple can indeed spoil the whole bunch. Franchisors need to reduce the risk of a crisis and be prepared for any eventuality, and a franchise public relations firm can be an effective partner.
Prevention is the first line of defense. Vetting potential franchisees – including their business, financial, criminal and personal backgrounds – is routine, and rightly so. Unlike an employee, the franchisee is an entrepreneur who operates with little direct supervision. A franchisor must have confidence in those to whom the brand is entrusted.
Training, too, is vital. Successful franchises have standardized policies and procedures that must become second nature to franchisees.
Once a new location is launched, franchisors must provide support and ongoing training to ensure the brand’s policies and procedures are being followed. The training should include instruction on crisis preparedness and crisis management. Quality control measures such as customer surveys can help identify problem areas at individual locations.
Sometimes, however, despite the best efforts of a franchisor, a franchisee creates a crisis situation. Franchise companies must be prepared to deal with unwanted attention, which is where a crisis plan, developed in partnership with a franchise public relations firm, can prove invaluable.
Crisis is any situation that threatens the integrity or reputation of an organization. It can take many forms – from a franchisee or employee running afoul of the law to data breaches to lawsuits. Without a plan in place, a crisis can sprawl out of control and harm the entire brand.
A strong crisis management plan can guide franchisors in dealing with unexpected situations. Forming a crisis communications team is essential. A public relations firm can help field questions from the media, help craft a compelling message and minimize bad publicity.
A firm also can help the crisis communications team’s designated spokesperson practice answering tough questions quickly, completely and honestly. Public relations professionals also can point out pitfalls to avoid – lying, omitting key information and being uncooperative with authorities, to name a few.
Predicting what crisis might erupt in the future is virtually impossible, but having a plan in place that is clear enough to be effective and flexible enough to adapt to any situation can shield a franchise company’s reputation from the worst.
If you’re a franchise that wants to take steps to protect your brand, call Ripley PR at 865.977.1973. We have the franchise public relations experience to help safeguard your company’s reputation.