Trends & Challenges from the Emerging Franchisor Conference 2023

GatherUp was a sponsor at this year’s Emerging Franchise Conference hosted by the International Franchise Association (IFA). From a fun happy hour to a roundtable discussion to one-on-one conversations, we loved meeting and talking with growing franchisors and their partners.  

"GatherUp was thrilled to contribute to this year's Emerging Franchise Conference. The event underscored the focus that successful franchise owners and operators have on building their online reputation, listening to customer feedback, and engaging customers with personalized experiences. We're committed to keeping GatherUp at the forefront of this through our software solution for franchise owners and their dedicated digital marketing agencies."

If you were unable to attend, or you’re curious as to our take on the conference and the topics discussed there, we’ve summarized our thoughts below! 

Service is a key differentiator for customer loyalty

One major topic of discussion that came up in our roundtable discussion on Paving a Path to Customer Loyalty was customer service. 

It’s no surprise that in the world of local businesses and franchises that service is paramount. Creating amazing customer experiences and providing reliable service is what sets many businesses apart from their competitors. 

Exceptional customer service can create a strong and lasting impression on customers, making them more likely to choose your business over others. Secondly, it fosters customer loyalty and repeat business. When customers have positive interactions with friendly and attentive staff, they are more likely to return for future purchases.

Examples from franchises that are driving better service with personalized touches 

Good customer service is one thing, but a delightful customer experience takes it a step further. And the key to delighting customers and driving customer loyalty usually comes from personalized touches. 

One attendee of our roundtable discussion, Robert from Home360 mentioned recalling a unique experience at a car wash that showed his name and said hello as he entered and good-bye as he left. Even small gestures like that can make you feel seen and valued as a customer. Think little things that can go a long way. 

Another roundtable attendee, Lauren, talked about how Millie’s homemade ice cream has a franchisee who is building a lighting system that will turn the lights to the favorite color of the person buying ice cream using their loyalty system. Talk about a fun way to combine technology with personalization in a way that brightens your customer’s day!

Balancing brand standards with local customization is challenging 

Another frequently discussed topic at many IFA conferences is localization. And this conference was no different. Franchising can be tough for emerging franchisors as it requires you to relinquish control of some aspects of your brand. But franchisees have to have a certain amount of flexibility at the local level. 

Localization of franchises involves adapting a franchise’s products, services, and operations to meet the specific needs and preferences of a local or regional market. This strategy is essential for franchise businesses looking to succeed in diverse markets and different geographical locations.

Localization can encompass various aspects, such as tailoring the menu or product offerings to cater to local tastes and dietary preferences without compromising on food quality or safety. Additionally, franchisors can adjust their marketing and advertising strategies to resonate with the cultural nuances and language of the local community, ensuring that their messaging is relatable and relevant.

One of the key benefits of localization is that it can help you build a stronger connection with the local customer base. By demonstrating an understanding of local culture and a commitment to supporting the community, you can establish a positive reputation and gain a competitive edge over non-local competitors.

Best practices for allowing localization

In one discussion we heard an approach that you can use to manage your brand standards while still allowing for localization. The approach uses three levels similar to the following: 

  • Require: These are your brand standards that are non-negotiable and must be followed as part of the franchise agreement as they define who your brand is. 
  • Recommend: These can be branding aspects that the franchise has had success with in the past that you recommend as a starting point. 
  • Relinquish: These are certain branding aspects or materials that you give control to the franchisee to make customizations in order to allow for localization. 

As one attendee, Saunda put it in regards to franchisees and collaboration in general, “facilitate, don’t dictate.” 

Above all else though, effective localization requires thorough market research and a deep understanding of the target region to ensure that the adaptations are authentic and well-received. This is where reputation management at the local level can come in handy. 

The Solution: Reputation Management 

It shouldn’t be a surprise that our recommended solution to the trends and challenges above is reputation management. 

Reviews have always been front and center when it comes to the success of franchise businesses.

And in case you didn’t know — GatherUp is about more than just reviews. In today’s world, we see reviews as a starting point. We believe the customer journey isn’t a straight line. Our mission is to help businesses transform every customer into a loyal advocate. Reviews are just the beginning of this loyalty loop.

GatherUp is a reputation management solution that can inform your business in a way that helps you improve your customer service, personalize your offerings, identify localization opportunities, and drive customer loyalty. 

How does it work? 

Customer feedback serves as a catalyst for business improvement. Positive feedback drives marketing efforts to attract new customers, while negative feedback triggers operational enhancements. These ongoing improvements contribute to a better overall customer experience. 

What’s more, satisfied customers are then rewarded with customized text message campaigns, fostering loyalty. Increased loyalty results in higher visit frequency, greater lifetime customer value, and a higher likelihood of referrals.

GatherUp is a platform where you can centralize all locations of a franchise in one platform to make it easier to manage the reputation management process with top-down visibility while allowing for localized control. Want to see how it looks? Schedule time with one of our product experts! 



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