It’s been almost a year since Burger King had to deal with a franchise location that was caught dumping fryer grease down a storm drain, proving that no matter how larger your franchise is, a crisis can happen at any moment. This particular incident quickly went viral, earning national news and plenty of negative feedback – even when Burger King tried to move forward with their regular social media postings.
Even if you can’t prevent a crisis from happening, it’s critical that your franchise be prepared for one in order to avoid a revenue-damaging blow to your reputation. The best way to prepare is to take a page from the franchise public relations play book and develop a crisis communication plan. Here are a few things to consider:
- Timing: With a franchise crisis, timing is everything as the longer you wait to address the problem, the worse off your business will be. You need to understand that your franchise system serves a wide public audience, from your individual franchisees’ customers, to their local media and national media. If you don’t issue a statement quickly, you’ll lose your chances of controlling the messaging.
- Messaging: Navigating a crisis with dignity means controlling the messaging during the situation. Doing this takes experience and strategy but generally, telling the truth can help save your reputation and maintain your customer base. It’s best to issue an official statement so that reporting media can publish your side of the story.
- Franchisee Management: Even if the crisis wasn’t caused by an individual franchisee, it’s important to work closely with your owners so that you can better control the situation. Regional media will likely look for an official statement and turn to your franchisees as a source. Having a system-wide media policy in place can direct media inquiries to corporate spokespeople in order to keep your company’s statements uniform.
Managing a franchise crisis may seem daunting, but ignoring it can seriously hurt your brand’s reputation. At Ripley PR, we work with franchises to create and implement strategic crisis plans for any situation. To find out more, contact us today.