CHICAGO — It requires adherence to well-defined corporate guidelines. It’s also a business model that can jump-start your expansion plans. I know because I transitioned from independent contractor to franchisee almost 10 years ago. Of all the challenges that make it worthwhile, building my own brand has been one of the most rewarding.
Other business owners often ask how I establish a brand identity under the umbrella of my ServiceMaster Chicago franchise. As a woman running my own water and damage restoration company, I compete in a male-dominated field, so maintaining my brand has always been a priority.
Running a Franchise: 7 Ways to Build Your Brand
If you’re thinking about buying a franchise, you also need to think in terms of growing your business identity. If you’re already a franchisee, you have plenty of room to expand your company’s profile. I make it work every day, and you can too with these seven tips for building your own brand.
1. Be Different by Being the Best
You can stay within corporate guidelines and still stand out. Other franchisees share your logo and deliver the same services and products, so distinguish yourself by being the very best. Going above and beyond customer expectations isn’t a cliché. It’s a proven strategy that builds a loyal client base and a strong business brand.
2. Really Know Your Customers
Don’t limit your involvement in the community to making contributions and sponsoring organizations. Participate in neighborhood activities, donate your services, and get the word out about who you are and how you can help. When you spend time off the clock with the people you serve, you really get to know your customers. Let them get to know you and your business in a context outside the franchise structure.
3. Play Well on Social Media
If you aren’t comfortable handling social media, I recommend hiring a professional. It’s an important part of doing business every day because it reaches an almost unlimited market. Distinguish yourself by maintaining a clean, crisp profile. Keep up a relevant presence, engage with a professional voice, and always play nice. Use it wisely, and social media keeps your brand in a positive spotlight 24/7.
4. Handle Confusion With Class
Once in a while, we get a call from a customer who has a complaint with another franchisee. We have to explain that our teams aren’t responsible for the problem. It’s important to handle these situations with respect for both the corporate office and the other franchisee while you do your best to make the customer happy. One bad experience can give everyone a bad reputation, and that hurts your brand.
5. Network When You Can’t Market
You have to respect the limitations your franchise agreement puts on advertising outside your territory. However, there aren’t any restrictions on networking. Expand your reach by becoming a regular at events and expos beyond your franchise’s area. Use every opportunity to showcase your brand and build relationships that lead to solid referrals.
6. Get Creative With Content
Your company’s online profile is vital, so you have to maintain a strong internet presence with a well-designed website. Make your brand stand out from other franchisees on the crowded digital landscape. Offer customers extra value through creative content that’s useful and user-friendly. Link to helpful sites, partner with other businesses online, and give customers a reason to stay on your page.
7. Stay High on Customers’ Radar
We send our customers small acknowledgements like thank-you notes, and we have a Christmas card list too. This kind of outreach helps us stay in touch with clients, and they appreciate knowing that we really care. After you complete a project or close a sale, finish with a follow-up call. Personalized service becomes a positive part of your brand and keeps you high on customers’ radar.
Your Brand Belongs to You
When our customers here in Chicago call ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, they’re calling me and my teams. They recognize our franchise name as a national leader in the field. They also know my business as a company that quickly responds to their needs and serves them on a personal level.
Growing your own business identity inside the franchise structure lets you take your services to the next level. It’s up to you to develop strategies that make it happen. Your professional success reflects well on the home office, but the personal satisfaction of building your own brand always belongs to you.
Diana Rodriguez-Zaba owns and operates ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, a woman and minority certified disaster restoration and cleaning company in Chicago, IL and the suburbs. With a dedication to skilled workmanship and a commitment to compassionate care, Diana and her teams strive to make a positive difference across the community on a daily basis.