Decoding Your Customers: Franchisee 101

One of your main concerns as a new Canadian franchisee is your customers. For all the good customers can do--provide your profits, spread the word about your brand, and even keep you afloat during tough times--they can also cause some harm, too, as you are very likely aware. Everyone has seen or heard about a "bad" customer or experienced just how negatively customers may react to business changes.

Handling customers daily is just one of many small business challenges. You will want to please your customers, but you also need to make a living. Before you decide on your strategy, consider the tips to decode your customers below.


Identify your core customers

This is easier said than done in the early stages of your business, but you can still get an idea of who your key customer segment is today by looking at other successful franchises in your brand and area and the research materials provided by your franchisor. Discover what your customers need, and think about how this may change in the future. The answers to these questions can help you shape your customer-centric efforts.


Know the bad eggs

Using information from other franchisees, learn more about the "bad" customers you may encounter. What is the typical problem customer after in your business? In what ways do their needs line up or conflict with what your business offers? Is there anything you can do to avoid encouraging these problematic behaviors?


Classify the issue

Is there a trend with problematic customers across the franchise system? If there is, you may want to look into what the brand is doing to help stem this particular issue. It's one thing for you to have an occasional problem with a customer in your location and another to deal with the same issue over and over again.

It's important to know that customer relationships today are simply more personal than they were in the past, and consumers want a voice in the arena. They will use social media to highlight or damage a brand. Because of this new landscape, you must be mindful of how you handle customers from beginning to end, and know that sometimes, despite your best efforts, you will run into an issue. Knowing more about who your customers are and what type of issues may arise will help you to better plan for the future.