Charity begins at home
GETTING INVOLVED IN RELEVANT CAUSES MAKES SENSE FOR FRANCHISES, SAYS SIMON LORD.
AT THE recent Franchise Conference in Taupo, one morning session was opened up to pupils from a couple of local schools who were doing business studies. The students heard presentations from a couple of inspiring leaders, one from the US and one from Australia, who talked about the challenges and rewards of building careers in franchising and the excitement of working with franchisees to create sustainable and profitable businesses at an international level.
Talking with a number of the students about the projects they had developed as part of their course, I was struck by the fact that one thing their business ideas had in common was an element of helping others: endangered species, Starship Hospital and at-risk bees.
A charity angle has obvious benefits for a school project, but these days it’s also an important business tool. That’s especially true in franchising, where the combination of national brand and local ownership means that companies not only benefit from being seen to be a part of the various communities they serve, but can use their reach to do some real good, whether by supporting local schools with prizes or banding together on larger projects.
Perhaps that’s why, according to the 2017 Franchising New Zealand Survey, some 25 percent of franchises each raise over $100,000 a year for charity.
Shortly after the Conference, I received an eye-catching reminder of this via a press release from the Hell pizza franchise about its intention to raise $75,000 for the RainbowYOUTH charity by selling 3,000 limited-edition T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘The Only HELL I’m Going To’.
The timing of the campaign was hardly co-incidental. Australian rugby player Israel Folau had said on Instagram that gay people would go to hell ‘unless they repent of their sins.’
Folau was expected to play a big part in the Bledisloe Cup matches which were about to start, so his use of the word ‘hell’ was a gift to the company. But they took the idea and ran with it to do some good with a charity which has a particular focus on youth suicide.
As The Body Shop found out in the days of Anita Roddick, activism can be risky in a franchise, because franchisees not only have to buy into the campaigns but be prepared to defend them. However, it’s fair to say that if a franchisee joins a brand called Hell, they are unlikely to be religious fundamentalists in the first place.
The T-shirt campaign is a continuation of Hell’s traditionally edgy marketing strategies by more acceptable means. In their early days, they took pride in having the most complained-about campaigns in the Advertising Standards Authority’s league table every year. They courted controversy by doing condom drops to letterboxes and creating offensive billboards. But they have since learned to use the power of outrage to good effect. For a number of years now, their ‘Satan’s Little Helper’ campaign has helped young New Zealanders going through hell, while their involvement with the Tourette’s Association has seen them bring attention to a misunderstood condition and resulted in a couple of television specials.
It’s an inspired collaboration which has done much good over and beyond the mere raising of funds.
APPEALING TO CORE MARKETS
Many other franchises do their good work in a less controversial way. The Coffee Club does a great job supporting the SPCA and other charities including KidsCan – the former via specially-designed cupcakes and the latter with a Christmas artwork competition that sees winners’ drawings printed on cups and napkins. These are approaches that appeal to the company’s core market in a truly relevant way that engages not just customers but franchisees, too.
The same is true of Caci, the appearance enhancement franchise which offers free facials in return for handbags donated to the Dress for Success charity helping women back into the workplace.
The grand-daddy of all the franchise charities, of course, is Ronald McDonald House, where the inspiration of a single franchisee in 1974 turned into an international movement.
So let’s celebrate the good that New Zealand franchisors and franchisees do on a local and national level every day. Let’s applaud their efforts to be truly involved in the communities they serve, to take on small or minority causes and set out to make a difference.
And, as we did at the Conference, let’s welcome the next generation eager to learn how business works and put their ideas to use to make the world around them a better place.
SIMON LORD IS PUBLISHER OF FRANCHISE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA, WHICH PROVIDE FRANCHISE INFORMATION AND DETAILS OF BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES AND PROFESSIONAL ADVISORS NATION WIDE. A FREE PRINT OR DIGITAL COPY OF FRANCHISE NEW ZEALAND MAGAZINE IS AVAILABLE FROM WWW.FRANCHISE.CO.NZ “Let’s celebrate the good that New Zealand franchisors and franchisees do on a local and national level every day.”