What’s your franchise loyalty strategy?

What’s your franchise loyalty strategy?

Franchise loyalty is the glue which sticks franchise systems together, argues Christy Wilson Delk

I opened my Kids ‘R’ Kids Academy franchise in 1998 in a very culturally diverse area of Orlando, Florida. Although many friends reacted as if I had planted my franchise flag in a different country, this was an aspect of opening my business that I had not given much thought to. The area was booming, my franchisor approved my site plan, and I was eager and anxious to get this dream started.

This business was going to work. No matter where it was. It had to. Everything was on the line. A year earlier, I had sold my house and cashed out my retirement plan for the down payment on the $1.67 million loan needed to finance the franchise construction and get the doors open.

Thankfully, with the help of many loyal clients, staff and others, I did succeed and after 15 years of very profitable ownership, I sold my franchise. Now, as a business professor teaching management and organizational behavior, I know that things could have turned out even better and probably sooner had I planned my franchise ownership adventure more strategically.

Why cultural intelligence matters
Your adventure, as a prospective or current global franchise will be different from mine. And so, with my professor spectacles wiped clean and entrepreneur hat on straight, I have some strategic and cautionary advice for you. Omnipotent thinking and a lack of cultural intelligence have left a lot of smart people and successful organizations scratching their heads. Let that not be you or your franchisor.

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, had to re-think his European expansion when he learned that the British drink their coffee take-away (to-go) style and so prefer drive-through service over going inside. The company also learned that classic coffee-sipping cities like Paris and Vienna actually desired the “Starbucks experience” rather than having the company adapting to the host country’s traditional coffee houses. Having learned from previous mistakes, Schultz did his homework before making cultural assumptions. Good on him.

Walmart was not so lucky. Years ago, the largest retailer in the United States failed miserably when it expanded into Germany. Assumptions were made about German consumers and workforce that were flat wrong. This oversight of cultural differences cost Walmart billions of dollars. Franchisors and franchisees cannot afford to make these kinds of mistakes. That’s why, as a franchisee considering ownership of a multi-national franchise, it is vitally important that you quickly build a strong ‘loyalty pillar’.

The Four Pillars Approach
A ‘loyalty pillar’ is one part of the Four Pillars Approach which I relied on as a franchise owner. I developed this approach over the first few years of ownership when I realized that my job was more challenging than I initially thought it would be. This approach simplifies your planning, leadership and management tasks while keeping you fully aligned to your franchisor’s brand and processes. I’ve been told that the Four Pillars Approach represents everything a franchisee needs to know and do that is probably not found in the Owner’s Manual. The approach also helps you maintain a healthy work/life balance and done correctly, enables you to grow your revenue and profits every year. It definitely did for me.

If you own a multi-national franchise or are considering buying one, I strongly encourage you to start building your Loyalty Pillar. I believe it’s even more important for you than for domestic franchises. This is why:

How building loyalty will strengthen your business
Owning a franchise is hard. For me, it was the unforeseen challenges that I struggled with the most. Recessions and competitors are two examples. But like me, you will learn from them as your business becomes stronger and your revenue and margins grow. I slept very well at night during the 2008 U.S. recession and ensuing global economic slowdown. Even with several competitors opening in my local market.

I attribute that in large part to the loyalty-building strategies and programs I had in place. I believe it will be even more important for you because of your unique global franchise structure, regardless of the strength of the franchise brand in the home country. If you need convincing, consider what loyalty can do.

Why building loyalty is the foundational pillar
Think about it this way: It’s your loyal clients and customers who keep your cash flowing while you work on bringing in new ones in order to grow your revenue or even open a second unit. It’s your loyal supervisors and staff that helps you attract and retain great employees thereby keeping your expenses down and your level of service high. It’s community loyalty you earn over time through your solid reputation, good acts and local engagement that protects and strengthens your business that will carry you through the unexpected challenges. And for you, it will be Franchisor Loyalty that will help you best navigate cultural differences that may arise between your business, your brand and your local market.

Franchisor loyalty is crucial for your success
Loyalty is defined as your feelings of support or duty towards someone or something. Like communication, it is a two-way street. My loyalty towards my franchisor was expressed by my words; such as objecting to negative comments expressed by other franchisees and by telephoning periodically just to ‘check-in’. My loyalty was also expressed by my behaviors. I mentored new franchisees, hosted area training sessions and paid close attention when quality issues were pointed out.

Being a loyal franchisee pays off with big dividends. My financial success is proof of that. Without franchisor loyalty, I probably would not have had the opportunity to expand twice; both of which were not standard franchise models. Nor would I have been granted the ‘forgiveness’ when I ended up on the local news (not in a good way) or when I occasionally veered from the manual to try something new.

As a loyal global franchise owner, there will be many opportunities over the years to connect with your franchisor. No doubt, you will need to discuss big and small cultural differences, work through potential divides that impact your business and share your ideas for service or product enhancements that make sense for your local market. As a loyal global franchise owner, you will have earned the right for that type of trust and meaningful communication. It’s never too soon - or too late- to build your loyalty pillar today.


Christy Wilson Delk is a business professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, as well as a contributing franchise industry writer. With over 15 years of successful franchise ownership, Christy uses her cumulative business and franchise experience, as well as her new book, Adventures in Franchise Ownership, to consult, lead workshops and speaking engagements to teach others how to implement their own 4 Pillars approach to motivate and lead them to higher performance and success. You can learn more at christywilsondelk.com.

you may be interested in

franchise directory

  • TaxAssist Accountants

    Business & Professional Services, Financial Services, <100K, Featured

  • Cafe2U

    Food & Catering, Coffee, Take-away, <100K, Featured

  • 800 Pizza

    Food & Catering, Fastfood, Pizza, Take-away, Featured

view more
Connect with Linkedin Logo
Global White Logo Click Here
Close button


Any of the information we collect from you may be used in one of the following ways: To personalize your experience (your information helps us to better respond to your individual needs) To improve our website (we continually strive to improve our website offerings based on the information and feedback we receive from you) To improve customer service (your information helps us to more effectively respond to your customer service requests and support needs) To process transactions your information, whether public or private, will not be sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any other company for any reason whatsoever, without your consent, other than for the express purpose of delivering the purchased product or service requested. To administer a contest, promotion, survey or other site feature To send periodic emails The email address you provide for order processing, will only be used to send you information and updates pertaining to your order. Note: If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.


We implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you place an order or enter, submit, or access your personal information We offer the use of a secure server. All supplied sensitive/credit information is transmitted via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and then encrypted into our Payment gateway providers database only to be accessible by those authorized with special access rights to such systems, and are required to keep the information confidential. After a transaction, your private information (credit cards, social security numbers, financials, etc.) will not be stored on our servers.


Yes (Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider transfers to your computers hard drive through your Web browser (if you allow) that enables the sites or service providers systems to recognize your browser and capture and remember certain information. We use cookies to help us remember and process the items in your shopping cart, understand and save your preferences for future visits, keep track of advertisements and compile aggregate data about site traffic and site interaction so that we can offer better site experiences and tools in the future. We may contract with third-party service providers to assist us in better understanding our site visitors. These service providers are not permitted to use the information collected on our behalf except to help us conduct and improve our business.


We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information. This does not include trusted third parties who assist us in operating our website, conducting our business, or servicing you, so long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect ours or others rights, property, or safety. However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.


Occasionally, at our discretion, we may include or offer third party products or services on our website. These third party sites have separate and independent privacy policies. We therefore have no responsibility or liability for the content and activities of these linked sites. Nonetheless, we seek to protect the integrity of our site and welcome any feedback about these sites.


We are in compliance with the requirements of COPPA (Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act), we do not collect any information from anyone under 13 years of age. Our website, products and services are all directed to people who are at least 13 years old or older.


This online privacy policy applies only to information collected through our website and not to information collected offline.


Please also visit our Terms and Conditions section establishing the use, disclaimers, and limitations of liability governing the use of our website at globalfranchisemagazine.com/terms-conditions


By using our site, you consent to our online privacy policy.


If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes on this page


If there are any questions regarding this privacy policy you may contact us using the information below. All correspondence relating to the Website should be sent to: Global Franchise 21/23 Phoenix Court Hawkins Road Colchester Essex CO2 8JY Email: subscriptions@aceville.co.uk