Why Most Businesses and Their Franchises Aren’t Ready For Social Media and the Web

February 2nd, 2010 by

We all know that businesses are taking the web more seriously thanks to social media and the ability to interact with customers and product fans, but more and more I am finding that while their web presence is successful their infrastructure, or more specifically their franchises, aren’t quite ready for the change.

You might remember last March when Quizno’s Subs launched the million subs campaign which gave away free sandwiches.  The campaign was a huge success and drove over 2 million visits to millionsubs.com.  However, customers were outraged when they found that most of their local sub shops wouldn’t accept the coupons.

I recently ran into a similar issue with Subway’s My Sub My Way promotion which offers a free 6 inch sub with the purchase of a 6 inch sub with a drink.  I understand the whole franchise aspect of things and that many of these businesses are simply not honoring the coupons because the independent owners don’t want to front the loss.  However, in my personal experience it seems that more and more of these businesses are completely unaware that the online promotions even exist.

With an online presence and social media comes responsibility

If your company allows independent owners to opt out of your national online campaigns then go a step further and help your customers by establishing who has opted out before launching the campaign and giving your customers the opportunity to search for a location near them that is honoring the promotion.  There is nothing worse than handing someone a coupon or promotional print out just to have the employee look at you as though you were trying to pay with foreign money.

If you’re a local franchise or independently owned business get with the times and stop fighting so vigorously against these online campaigns. I understand it may take a little off the top, but in the long run your customers will thank you and probably return to your location again in the future.  The overall value of a satisfied customer is three fold that of a customer who shows up just to be told you won’t honor the promotion.  If you can’t afford to honor the promotion, then at least make sure your locations are familiar with the promotion so that customers aren’t treated like they are in the wrong for participating in these campaigns.  I can’t count how many times I have personally been looked at like a fool or seen someone ridiculed for trying to use some of these coupons or participate in these promotions.

As online business evolves companies need to start looking at how their infrastructure and business strategy is going to evolve with the change. You may have to revisit policies and processes that have been in place for ages, but in the end the time invested in this change is time invested in your customer.

One Response to “Why Most Businesses and Their Franchises Aren’t Ready For Social Media and the Web”

  1. I experienced a similar problem when KFC premiered it’s “Grilled side” to the world. After how poorly that franchise handled the situation, I have to say I’m glad to see that Chik-fil-et replaced that location 😛

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