Making a difference: serving common-interest groups.

Author:Scrivano, David

Awareness of today's societal issues, and the impact they can have on common-interest groups, should be considered as franchise systems and their leaders plan for growth. Beyond community involvement and charitable programs, awareness of the issues can lead to the creation of unique business opportunities for individual representatives of common-interest groups, and at the same time, positively affect corporate reputation.

An example of this approach can be found at Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc. which has successfully created a unique business opportunity for qualified, honorably-discharged military veterans who are transitioning to civilian life, or seeking a career change. Importantly, a growing number of extraordinary Americans who served their nation are realizing their professional dreams, and utilizing the skills they learned in the military.

While the financial benefits franchises provide military veterans to achieve those dreams can be generous, there are four other critical components that franchisors should embrace to successfully provide an exclusive business ownership opportunity to a common-interest group:

* First, create a program that reflects the franchise system's philosophy and operating principles.

* Second, establish a comprehensive internal support structure for the program.

* Third, align with established organizations that represent the common-interest group.

* Fourth, allocate appropriate resources and establish processes.

Creating a program focused on aiding a specific group can offer franchises benefits that outweigh the typical.

Create Ties to the Organization's Philosophy

Once a franchisor makes the decision to create a business opportunity for qualified members of a common-interest group, the first step in establishing a program is to identify a population segment with a link to the organization. This can be accomplished by finding a natural connection between the common-interest group and the company's roots, business principles, founder or current chief executive. This approach allows the organization's management team and staff to naturally and effectively relate to the program, generating enthusiasm and increasing their ability to embrace and support it. Additionally, other stakeholders, such as members of the targeted population segment, existing franchisees and current customers will have an easier time making the connection between the opportunity and the brand, and remembering it.

For example, an educational tutoring franchise that has built a competitive...

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