Chris Wootton, managing director of Poppies, explains the benefits of fostering brand heritage and the importance of longevity and a good reputation to help franchisees grow their businesses, even when weathering a pandemic
Heritage and history are two valuable commodities for franchise brands as they exhibit longevity, track record, long-standing core values and a story that is important to both customers and franchisees. Having early roots also add authenticity to brands and helps them to differentiate themselves from others, gaining a competitive edge.
Poppies is an example of a brand with a rich heritage and over four decades of experience. The UK’s first cleaning franchise has been able to use its legacy to create strong emotional connections with customers about its values, performance and service offering. Celebrating its 41st anniversary this year, the brand has evolved into a forward-thinking, industry-leading business.
The significance and power of a brand harnessing its heritage cannot be overplayed. A brand has the ability to take control of its own narrative, winning the hearts and minds of its stakeholders and reinforcing its reputation. For new franchise brands, it can sometimes be a struggle trying to establish credibility and authenticity with their target audience.
Chris Wootton, managing director of domestic cleaning franchise Poppies, explains the benefits of fostering brand heritage and the importance of longevity and a good reputation to help franchisees grow their businesses, even when weathering a pandemic.
Fostering brand heritage
In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for brand authenticity from consumers and franchises have learnt that they can’t just use brand positioning to tell their audience that they care - they need to show it too. It will be the brands that prove they’re willing to put their customers first and consistently deliver on their promises that will come out on top.
In the domestic cleaning sector, customers want to see that you are putting their needs first and you care about them, particularly when faced with a COVID-19 pandemic crisis and people’s safety and health is paramount. For instance, last May just as the UK was preparing to exit the first lockdown, we created a ‘clean and sanitise’ strategy to put our clients’ minds at rest and to reassure them how safe and secure our service was. Although the majority of our client base is extremely loyal, it was still our duty to provide them with a COVID-safe experience, so we developed and implemented a programme and introduced new protocols when arriving at clients’ homes.
This initiative was very well received and thanks to the resilience of our franchisees, the dedication of our cleaners and understanding from our clients, Poppies was able to return to smooth operation as soon as initial restrictions were lifted. As we’ve been part of the cleaning industry for so long, we know what actions are needed to ensure we consistently deliver a high standard of service. In return, our clients’ trust us to come into their homes.
In any economic or financial crisis, consumers tend to veer towards brands with heritage because they are perceived to be more credible, reliable and trustworthy. While storytelling remains critical, innovation around telling that story is essential for franchise brands to demonstrate relevance and build long-term strategic value, especially when using longevity to underline reliability in its core values and performance.
Business longevity is not only a matter of sales and customer satisfaction. It’s about being able to adapt to market changes in order to experience lasting growth and prosperity. By building up years of knowledge and proficiency operating in a sector, businesses are in a much better position to make assessments and decisions, particularly when working in a wide range of economic environments, such as a boom or a recession. Longevity naturally increases trust and can have a significant impact on your business. It’s being able to create a business that can survive in a change of ownership and/or management and still survive any challenges or problems that come your way.
Building the reputation of a brand takes time and effort. Heritage is more than a battle of ‘who has been around the longest’ despite many businesses proudly declaring they have a decade under their belt. Authenticity is what roots itself in the consumer’s mind, so it is not surprising that many businesses are chasing brand heritage and trying to discover their own engaging story.
Poppies started its franchise life in Northeast England in 1980 with founder Sue Rorstad. Today’s network has collectively over 260 years of franchise operations under their belt and more than half have been franchisees for over 15 years, with four just celebrating their 25-plus year anniversary. We have a great story to tell, and this gives us a platform to speak to customers on an emotional level.
I’m so proud of our heritage and I know it’s something that appeals to many when they’re looking for a robust and resilient business to invest in. We have certainly evolved over the years and this has partly been a result of the innovation and investment we have made in digital solutions and bespoke technology, which has enabled our franchisees to build scalable, profitable businesses. Something you would expect from any well-established, forwarding-thinking franchise.
Great brands have years of experience that prove that they deliver consistent quality, stand behind their products or service, bring new and innovative ideas to market, provide superior customer service and ultimately deliver on their brand promise. Past performance is a gauge of future success, particularly for those people who are looking to purchase a franchise brand they can trust. And most importantly, historical experiences are a unique differentiator that no other organisation can claim but you. There is no master key when it comes to unlocking the value of your heritage!