2013 Topfranchise Awards winners announced

New trend data from market research house 10 THOUSAND FEET into the Australian franchise sector shows the best performing franchises are implementing franchisee communication strategies with a focus on online platforms.

In a study of over 1000 Australian franchisees, the top three companies in 10 THOUSAND FEET’s latest Topfranchise Awards, Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisers, Kwik Kopy and Car Care have all excelled in the area of franchisee communication with a new focus on online communication platforms including Yammer and other online sales and marketing portals. The online focus has also extended to franchise companies shifting their local area marketing budgets to search engine optimisation.

Head of Intelligence at 10 THOUSAND FEET Ian Krawitz (pictured) said the new findings showed that face to face communications are still critical, but it is online collaboration tools that are allowing franchisors to take the quality of their communications to the next level.

“The benefits of transformative technologies allowing digital communication can’t be underestimated for anyone that relies on going to market through a distribution channel. We have seen a direct correlation between franchisors embracing online communication platforms and stronger satisfaction levels among franchisees. Sitting down one on one with a franchisee is vital, but what online platforms are doing is enabling the most experienced people in the business to share the most up to date advice with franchisees that they wouldn’t ordinarily get to meet with,” Krawitz said.

One of the biggest jumps up in the top 10 list comes from print and design firm Kwik Kopy with 104 franchised locations, moving from number 10 in the rankings to number two off the back of a new internal communications strategy including sales and marketing portals with online dashboards to share best practice tips and document case studies of success among Kwik Kopy’s franchisees.

Kwik Kopy CEO David Bell said the key has been in execution, “It's all very well having a strategy, however, unless it is executed properly it will not work. We have had the right resourcing and internal team to drive these changes over the last couple of years, and their commitment is paying dividends.”

Number one ranked franchisor, Smartline’s use of social media platform, Yammer, where 90 percent of Smartline’s 250 franchisees are sharing knowledge amongst their peers, is generating 1200 posts a month. This cross pollination of knowledge is also occurring through the use of webinars where different state managers are sharing their knowledge country wide rather than just to franchisees in their state.

While online platforms are being harnessed for internal communications, franchisees are also going digital with their local area marketing budgets. Embracing digital communications isn’t just achievable for heavily resourced franchise organisations. Car Care Australia, with 90 man in van operators came in at number three in the rankings, with its online communications strategy and the way they have explained it to their franchisees helping it to punch well above its weight in the rankings.

Managing Director of Car Care Australia, Mike Stringer said with big changes to the media environment over the last few years they had decided to get more active online and get more strategic in communicating about it with franchisees. “In the past we could just put the largest advert we could afford in their local yellow pages. Search Engine Optimisation, use of Google Adwords and making the most of a web presence are a fair bit more complex than putting an ad in the yellow pages and far less visual. Getting face to face time with our franchise owners has allowed us to better communicate what the new mediums are all about and get buy in to their use.”

Other 2013 topfranchise award winners included key cutting, shoe and watch repairer Mister Minit with over 200 locations in Australia who took out fourth place. Snap-On Tools with over 150 trucks selling tools to mechanics improved three places to take out fifth place. Sixth place went to new comer Wet-Seal, whose 55 franchisees specialise in water-proofing in the building Industry. Seventh place went to design and print business, Worldwide Online Printing. Eighth Place was taken out by corporate promotional products company Embroidme. Anytime Fitness now with over 250 open gyms took out ninth place and Bright Eyes part of the market leader in eyewear, Luxottica, were a first time entrant coming in at number 10.