In business terms, there’s no denying the power of franchising. Franchises foster trust by creating highly recognizable brands so that customers know that they can count on a certain type of product and experience – no matter where in the world they are. Franchises make entrepreneurs’ dreams come true by making business ownership easier. And franchises offer economic stability to communities and the nation by creating thousands of jobs.
But franchising’s power extends beyond the world of business. Franchises have the power to make a difference – whether it’s by joining forces behind a global issue, reaching out to support to franchisees in a time of need, or taking up a cause because it’s deeply personal to one franchisee and therefore matters to the whole brand.
Yum! Brands is the parent company to some of the largest names in franchising, including KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. But Yum! does more than just sell chicken, pizzas, and tacos. In 2007, it launched a large-scale initiative to combat world hunger. With the organized help of more than 1.4 million company employees, franchisees, and their families at 36,000 franchise locations spanning 110 countries, Yum! is making a powerful impact. In three years, the company has raised nearly $60 million for hunger relief organizations.
In 2005, many small-business owners were paralyzed by the devastating effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. However, thanks to the structure of a franchise system, Burger King franchisees had a very strong support to lean on. Corporate delivered more than 50,000 bottles of water, more than 40,000 pounds of non-perishable goods, and more than 16,000 pounds of ice to areas in need and even set up a program to hire displaced employees into positions at Burger King locations in more than 13 U.S. cities. “Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, the Burger King system rallied together to get restaurants up and running again,” says Michelle Miguelez, a Burger King Corp. spokesperson. “By providing resources, logistical support, and manpower, our franchisees could rest assured that their restaurants were taken care of and they could focus on their family and friends.”
And, most recently, when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, many franchisors immediately went into action to help with the relief effort, including Robeks, a fruit smoothie and healthy eats franchise. As part of a special promotion, Robeks’ 100 franchisees donated $1 from the sale of every 24-ounce Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie to Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation. “One of our franchisees has family in Haiti, so it was very close to home for us,” says Steve Davidson, CEO. “With some investigation, we discovered that many of our franchisees and customers either have family and friends there or know someone who does. We spoke with the franchisees about it and they were uniformly in favor of doing something to help.”
The power of franchising extends beyond simple brand recognition and sales figures and touches on something far more powerful. By acting as a whole, franchises are changing lives and making the world a better place.
Sara Wilson is a freelance writer who specializes in issues related to small businesses. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org