It’s Time to Rethink The Role of Franchise CMO

we had a discussion about this evolution of a marketing leader in a franchise system and this is true outside of franchising as well but I think there's some complexities inside franchising that really add some level of difficulty that might not exist in a non-franchise world and if you'll allow me to simplify and perhaps dramatize just a little bit it was 15 20 years ago where if you were leading Marketing in a franchise you had this thing called the national ad fund everybody knew you had to spend it they said go sit in your Silo and spend it and come back and try to convince us it worked because we all know you're going to come back and say well you can't document what the ROI is from advertising so go spend the money in your Silo and come back to us once or twice a year and tell us what you did and try to convince us and we're going to go run the business over here then you had this thing come along called technology and you might remember that it was maybe 10 years ago that there was a study out that talked about how by 2025 the CMOS technology budget was going to be larger than the cios technology budget in the typical company so all of a sudden marketing was no longer advertising it was advertising with a heavy emphasis on technology and as marketers we were forced to begin making Technology Solutions signing up for software as a service figuring out what our stack needed to be to be able to monetize the customer journey and all of those different things became part of who we were and we got a little more attention because of all the work we had to do with technology and partnering with our technology partners and signing large agreements that weren't necessarily advertising driven when that happened of course what that meant was that the CFO wanted to talk to us a little bit more about what is the business case for the investment that you're making where are we going to get a return on the investment how are we going to monetize this is this capex or is this Opex and what is the ongoing carrying cost going to be and those are conversations that honestly a lot of CMOS had never had before and then as we start to get into building Brands we've seen this Evolution over the last 15 to 20 years that is a marketer we no longer really build our brand it's the experience we deliver that builds our brand it used to be that we could run a couple million dollars in advertising and really Define what our brand was and what what our brand meant and to a certain extent we can still do that but if we're not delivering an experience that reflects that our brand will never become what we want it to become so now all of a sudden the marketing leaders are delving into the operations role who typically used to own customer Journey customer satisfaction but now because it's such a key component in branding what role does the marketing leader play in driving the customer journey and customer satisfaction and then last but not least we all know that a lot of marketing now has become local and so we're asking our franchise owners to say how do you do more boots on the ground local marketing and ultimately what that comes down to is training so how do we train our franchise owners to become local marketers or to build their teams to become local marketers and we're now integrating with our l d or our Learning and Development or our training department as well so those are the four things that we really wanted to lean into and as you heard Danielle said we have some really good people to give us their opinion Abby Lee from Re Max absolutely brilliant uh obviously leads marketing for a major nationally known brand with lots of different types of franchises and then we also have Casey Scala who's from a little bit smaller concept who can look at it from a little bit of a smaller perspective and how do they view this but at the end of the day what we're focused on is very quickly diving into those four areas number one what do we do when it comes to customer journey to finding defining the brand marketing and Technology how do those fit together what about l d to get our franchise owners to prepare their teams and themselves to do the local marketing necessary for us to be successful and from a finance perspective how do we begin to better integrate with our finance Partners at the franchisor side to make sure that we're making not only the proper Investments but that we're getting the capital we need to be able to effectively grow revenue for our franchise owners so that's really what our agenda is I've done enough talking I'm gonna kick it off and Abby we're going to come right to you let's talk about customer experience in most organizations customer experience resides or has resided in the operational area of responsibility what role does the CMO play in that in today's world and what role should the CMO play in that five ten years down the road very very interesting question because this is actually something that is happening in my organization now where as we talk about customer experience you know especially in franchise world right we can suggest customer experience to our franchisees but we're not the ones that are actually delivering it right and that makes it a very complex situation because we can't really carry through that brand promise if we're not really the ones delivering it at the end so I do think it goes into this world of CMOS marketing folks working with technology folks working with operation it's more of a holistic um team effort I believe more so than anything what I found it at Re Max what we're doing more and more to deliver that customer experience is combining marketing and Technology you know getting our Mark Tech stack um mostly of training tools right so mostly of things that um either we can help with education that we're helping develop with our with our learning department or it might be tools that we can put in the hands um of the franchisees to make their marketing easier um to get that experience across to the customer and provide the content that's going to be so you know so important to deliver so I think that the CMO role has definitely you know creeped into customer experience creeped into operations I don't know if about all of you but sometimes I feel like marketing is running the entire company um because we touch absolutely everything um that goes on um and I think that's just going to continue to evolve um you know whether 10 years down the road I don't know if our titles will be CMOS anymore you know they're I don't know what it will be I don't have that Crystal crystal ball but um I definitely think that it's going to be an enhanced role in maybe even getting to to more of a you know a CEO kind of level not not quite there but um you know bringing that much to the table yeah that's awesome man and I like that I mean you've already kind of started to see some of those title changes you know Chief growth officer was something that kind of came on the scene about 10 years ago I think more recently Chief strategy officer and if you look at who are filling those roles probably a disproportionate number of them are people who came from a marketing or a revgen background and so absolutely I think you see these changes in titles you're a hundred percent right um Casey you've had a ton of success in this area and I'd love for you to add anything that you would like to add to what Abby said but then also specifically dig into one or two maybe even three of the things that you feel have been most impactful in creating the level of success that you've experienced with regard to influencing customer experience in a positive way to build the brand yeah you know it's an interesting question and I agree with with Abby's um statement on this you know I look back at uh you know my time at Great Clips when we brought technology into you know the Forefront of our business and you know traditionally it's been a customer stops into your unit as a transaction goes home and that's that experience and today obviously with digital Leading The Way of Discovery decision making uh follow-up experience really that whole bucket really lives in the marketing realm right so it's no longer just the experience that they may have inside of a unit that that you own so um marketing is really the only area that's equipped or hopefully is equipped to handle that experience 24 7 365 whether it's inside your own domains or if it's outside domains that that you are leveraging so having someone um having that relationship with technology having that relationship with uh your data intelligence team I think is is vital to today's uh businesses succeeding you know here at Citywide you know we have a little different business model where B2B business in in the facility maintenance area so our experience we've actually broken customer experience out of operations it was historically with operations we've broken it out into its own area Service delivery and Innovation that between that role uh our chief technology officer and then myself we kind of have that triangular collaboration approach of delivering Innovation delivering service delivery to our customers and whether it's building whether it's executing whether it's communicating with our franchisee and training them all of that communication and strategy lives within marketing and we've also brought Learning and Development under marketing we've brought our business development under marketing and so you know really the traditional operations tasks are no longer operations and they're focused on you know franchisee profitability and franchisee success and you know the customer experience now solely lives within marketing with a hand in technology and delivery yeah I love it Casey and I'm going to follow up and ask you to dig into that a little a little more and then Abby I'm going to come to you for your perspective on this as well but but Casey you got a lot of people that are watching right now going wait a minute did you just say Learning and Development is under marketing did you just say Biz Dev is under marketing did you just say nobody really owns customer experience it's three different people that work together on it your organization obviously is what I would say based on my experience a little bit ahead of the curve in making this transition give us some insights into what those discussions were like when you were deciding to make this transition and did they happen organically or was there something that you or someone else on the team did to start those discussions and if so give us some insights on how we can start those discussions in our organizations yeah so really the discussion happened internally uh with technology and with marketing of you know if we evaluate our business and again it might be unique to us because of our business model where we don't actually provide the service you know we that is outside of our hands we we work with independent contractors so it was almost a an opportunity for us to get ahead of the curve and um you know taking an experience that we don't technically control uh and finding ways where we can bring that experience and enhance that experience in ways that are ultimately our client is going to understand because again at the end of the day right we're in front of our client it doesn't matter uh who's sweeping the floors and cleaning the toilets right they think it's our brand regardless of whether it's us doing it or a third party contractor so for us the conversation was if you look at technology and the way Innovation is going we can't Excel you can only sweep a floor so many ways right you can only clean a toilet so many ways you can bring in products and things like that but uh The Innovation within commercial cleaning and janitorial is is fairly non-existent so how do we set ourselves up for success to deliver that experience with our client with their employees with our independent contractors how do we bring technology into uh the picture to make that experience more seamless to our franchisees uh aren't losing business so it started internally uh and you know we force started the system we forced our franchisees to it was you know get on board or be left behind this is the way we're going we need to adapt uh and and bring out technology and then internally it wasn't that difficult of a conversation because I think that um bringing in uh technology and having that relationship with our technology team before we started this transition uh and understanding and building that relationship with with him uh and his team around how we're going to be a data-driven organization and how we're gonna bring in uh this new uh way that uh of operation um having that buy-in at the top uh again made that communication with the franchisees made the communication with our vendors that much easier and it also made that conversation with our CFO of uh from an investment standpoint it's going to be a lot easier for me to go to him and say hey traditionally like you mentioned uh Mark traditionally you know the dollars were over here well now we're bringing over the dollars uh to marketing to technology uh and here's how we're going to have that conversation around being fiscally responsible and how it's actually driving value to the brand Beyond just I spent a dollar and I got two dollars back from a sale so having that conversation up front um and building those relationships then also just diving in and going um and bringing along the the adopters uh the innovators early on in the process uh was key for us awesome um Abby I'd love for you to add anything that you want to add to that but I also want to go one step further um because what Casey said kind of uh triggered something in my mind and I'm gonna put you a little bit on the spot but everybody I'm imagining um here today looks at their organization and can identify 1 2 10 15 areas where they feel like something out of their control is ultimately diluting the impact they're able to have on the organization when you have that one two ten twenty areas talk us through advice on what conversation how do you have that conversation with someone in the organization whether they're the person directly responsible for the area that might be diluting your Effectiveness or someone who oversees that area or can have influence on that area interesting I was just thinking back probably two years ago I had a conversation um regarding our intranet which I you know is a technology product but obviously is the first thing that our franchisees our broker owners and then our and our agents go to to get our value right that's where our value prop lives and we're going through a process of talking about redesigning it with product and um my VP of marketing James Schwartz and I had all these ideas in our head and a drawn out you know things like here's what we're envisioning and I got a call from our senior VP of product at the time who said marketing is not going to tell product what to do and that was like at this moment right because I was getting directed by this the CEO and president of our brand of the Re Max brand that he wanted XYZ product was over here saying marketing's not gonna tell me what to do um I didn't really have to solve the issue because we did have a restructuring and and so that we now have a new VPO product who is lockstep with us like nothing that he wants to do to create product or anything is without our you know input advice um going hand in hand with him along the process which has been fantastic as of late um I think if you don't have that kind of relationship or can't build those within the organization it you got to figure out a way to to do that because you're never going to be successful if you're not partnering um with those individuals or those departments who are going to have a direct impact on your success and that ultimately the organization's success um I was thinking about this as Casey was speaking and all of this the business development and Leadership Learning development doesn't live within my org but probably one of my best friends who I consider my brother has those things over in his area so we also work very collaboratively together um so I think if you don't have them in that in that organization again that relationship with your with your co-workers who do have an impact um is is vital but I also think too like I said in the beginning marketing touches absolutely everything within our organizations and so um they should want to be partnering with you as well because they know that ultimately um your success is their success and vice versa so um I'm a big relationship person on that side to get things done but that's just my kind of two cents on that love it all right let's shift the technology both of you mentioned technology specifically in your last answers um talk to us real quickly uh Abby we'll start with you Casey then we'll go to you what does your relationship look like either with the technology colleague the technology leader in your organization and or the technology function or team within your organization what does that relationship look like today well as I just mentioned it's it's fantastic right now it's just totally moving in the right direction hasn't always been that way and I think um you know traditionally wasn't I think for us especially you know we really took a transition from being a marketing franchise sales company to being a technology company uh we purchased a technology company back in 2018 um and it was very obvious that we were going trying to become a technology company that that worked in the real estate space as as opposed to a franchise company that happened to be in the real estate space so that was a huge change um for the company it didn't fare well for us we've actually kind of gotten rid of that technology and and gone with it with a partner on it as opposed to building it ourselves um and I think that you know depending on what the mindset of what your company is and who you are if the CTO has a thought that their techno we're a technology company and the marketing CMO has you know we're franchise sales that's how we make money we make money by selling franchises by our franchises being profitable um there's always going to be this riff between the two and so I think that that is where um you know CEOs the c-suite really needs to come together and really identify clearly for the entire organization who are we and what and I think once you identify who you are you know what's super important because I think a lot of times especially in economies like this we can be squirrels all over the place just chasing the thing that we think is going to be quick success um and without a Clear Vision from the top no you know doesn't matter no one's going to be driving in the same direction um and I think that that's that's the key of the first step in building those relationships Casey what about you what's your relationship with the technology leader slash function slash team in in your organization look like yeah so I have a great relationship with with our technology head of Technology working with him on a project right now around with our meet the team day so when we bring prospective franchisees in on how we communicate and tell the story of our Tech stack and he sat down a few weeks ago and he's like Casey you know we have we have a lot of technology that I don't think the system is aware of and I said absolutely we do you know traditionally you look at technology and you think CRM maybe you think of uh any sort of you know data and analytics you know we use power bi right and then you know maybe a few other marketing has you know we have an email platform we have some other technology platforms but you sit down and say okay so what's finance using what's accounting using you know HR and payroll right and they have a tech stack and these are traditional platforms that franchisee uh internally the franchisee staff doesn't think about from a from a technology standpoint but it's critical for us to tell our story so whether it's franchise development whether it's onboarding new franchisees or whether it's working with existing uh mature locations to help grow their brand we have a story that we need to tell and that story doesn't just live in technology or I.T right that story lives uh across the board and that was one of the reasons why I brought l d over to marketing is you know when we're training our franchisees when we're training their sales staff that story needs to be consistent and that story needs to be holistic around the entire brand that Citywide has not just solely here's what a tool or here's how you input a quote into to CRM right so having that centralized and having that relationship with our technology team and I meet with with his team on a weekly basis around updates to power bi and different projects that they're working on and it's largely driven from a marketing angle of how do we tell our story to our franchisees so we can get them into the systems leveraging the data let's eliminate the the phrase uh I bet you and let's lead with no we have facts and data that are going to tell our story so you don't have to betcha on anything um and that's just a powerful tool that we have um that we feel is an advantage for us when we're selling franchisees to other Concepts uh and then how we operate and differentiate ourselves from others in our space yeah love the I bet you one of my favorite quotes I picked up from Google where they said in God we trust everyone else bring data and uh that's exactly the the right way to look at it I've never heard that I bet you before but I love that great work um real quick in literally 10 seconds for both of you let's narrow this down and talk specifically about the martech your your marketing technology stack and it's almost hard to do it now because I heard you mentioned bi and we talked about the internet which I wouldn't necessarily consider to be martech martech I would say just those technologies that you use on a daily basis to drive Revenue who owns that in your organization does the marketing team own it and support it or does the technology team own it and support it um Abby why don't you start then Casey will go to you we own it however our product team does help us support it so it is we make the decisions we set the strategy um just determine whether we're going to do it it ourselves or find a partner to do it with but then ultimately we have a partner on the product team who will support that for us all right Casey uh same as Abby marketing owns it and then we work with it to maintain all right we'll shift gears to the next one then when we talk about owning any kind of stack and it has technology that means there's a lot of dollars associated with it which means we're having different conversations with our CFOs and in some cases our board of directors than we've ever had before it's not about impression share it's not about um you know return on marketing investment or return on ad spend it's about making a business case for a three-year five-year agreement for a technology platform that's going to require uh immense ongoing carrying costs continued development likely support people training for the franchise owners talk a little bit about those conversations and how do you have those conversations what have you done as a marketing leader to make yourself better at having those conversations which are a little different than we've historically had Casey why don't we start with you yes I think this is probably the the most difficult part of my role is is managing expectations across the system here so I think and again that's it was same here same with Great Clips regardless of the size of of the business uh you know how you spend that ad fund is is always a contentious topic you know for us what we went back to our system with is um in the agreement right we always go back to the the franchise agreement right the franchisee agreement says that we can spend dollars wherever we want to spend those dollars if I want to take out a Super Bowl ad I can if I want to go jet off to Tahiti I can uh but I'm going to make the best strategic decision for the business um so that has helped eliminate some of the discussion with our franchisees of why are we spending our dollars here why are we have fees here we're paying for it with our ad fund and having some of those discussions our CFO has been uh on board you know from the start he and I started around the same time so I think coming on in and sitting down with him and uh talking to him about my strategy and and what my strategic initiatives were for the business early on allowed me to have those conversations and and it worked well in my favor um but I think it's it's an ongoing dilemma that we have as marketers to communicate to the system that we are spending their dollars effectively uh and it may not on the surface look like a one-to-one or a dollar goes out two dollars comes into your budget or comes into your Revenue uh perspective but setting those expectations around uh here's what our strategic initiatives are we're very transparent in that up front so you know we involve our franchisees and in our uh franchise advisory Council early on with our mid-year planning and then our strategic planning on here's the initiatives for marketing here the initiatives for it here the initiatives for operations so across the system there's no question what our North Star is and what we're working towards and then from a budget perspective right it makes that conversation a little bit easier to say hey we're allocating x amount of dollars to this initiative and here's why so I think involving them up front being transparent with them but then also taking a step back and say hey look you can say whatever you want to but ultimately that budget's mind to spend how I want to spend it you need to trust me um and I'm going to communicate and be open and honest with you um along the way and again we we make our national ad fund we we post that to our internet on a quarterly basis so they see where the dollars go and where I'm spending those dollars so that transparency I think is is key but again that's always been a difficult conversation um because again our franchisees right they they think they're spending more money than they actually are spending there's always somebody who has a brother or sister or cousin who has the latest and greatest that we should probably look at um and there's always going to be franchisees who question you know our initiatives but having that open dialogue up front helps yeah and you could be number one on every search term possibly related to your business in four days if you just hire their brother-in-law I I've got a lot of those brother-in-laws in our system as well Abby what about you talk about this uh evolution in your career and your thinking where finances is a little bit different than it used to be yeah I mean I think I'm pretty fortunate um just in terms of my relationship with the CFO and you know I we've got the CFO and then we've got the brand president and CEO who is really you know who I report into and we really make decisions together um obviously we have to get the blessing of finance and things like that but you know I think fortunately for me I've been around long enough that with the franchisees at least we've we've built trust with them and so I think if you have that trust factor and you can always support your decisions with some data um that always helps and usually what I find is that then they have an aha moment and go oh my gosh I never knew that um you know we've moved just to give some examp we've moved very much from a um you know demo buying method to people-based marketing and a lot of times our franchisees will come to us to say I'm not seeing as much advertising as I was as I used to well that's very purposeful if you are seeing it probably we're not doing the right thing so um so that's one conversation that we have with franchisees the the the change for us really became when you know we have such great we're fortunate to have such great awareness we were able to start taking some of the ad fund dollars and we don't have we don't have like a minimum spend with our franchisees it's really whatever they want to so we have it within the marketing fund we have the national ad fund we've got the local dma funds um but we we started making a shift to finding and creating marketing tools that we would then be able to uh deploy to the network um and let our 140 000 brand ambassadors that our agents help them you know help them a market but also help the brand uh with their additional marketing um and so that's that's been really successful for us so I think that's that's built trust again with the franchisees but also with with our CFO and our finance department um and I find that they they don't they certainly want to know where the money goes but they don't ask a lot of questions um they they are there are questions but um usually it's specific to my mark you know what's what are you doing in my dma like where are my Billboards and and things like that it's really it's it's stop being a large conversation because of that um but I loved what Casey said about connecting the dots on the last one connecting the dots and everything I think that is also so important that's something we've been talking about um we have fall Retreats coming up and how do we do that with a cross-functional team that can really explain the benefit of the tools training and how it all comes together and really connect all those dots for um for the franchisees to understand um it may be the marketing fund it also may be their continuing franchise fee but how do those things come together so we're really trying to to partner on that as well yeah that's good stuff um so we've got about three minutes before we're gonna go to the breakouts and I want to do one more and I'm going to start with you Abby because because you mentioned that you've shifted a lot of your focus to developing tools so your agents could actually be Marketing in their community so in other words you're now in the business of training um your franchise owners your agents to be able to say how do we Market the business uh how have you done that what sort of advice do you have to work with the l d Learning and Development uh function in your business to to make that successful yeah well we're fortunate we've got a great training department and they're out in the field all the time and you know they they really train on the entire uh Tech stack as a company not just the the marketing Tech stack um but I'll go back to what we're talking about doing for for our our broker meetings is really asking them asking our regional operations team okay what are you hearing from the field from your owners what are they having challenges with as it relates to marketing um do they are they having challenges with content are they having challenges with deployment of of campaigns how is that work you know how is that challenge and then what we're thinking about doing is having that cross-functional team who really takes that challenge and breaks it down for them step by step live driving here's the tool that we would recommend you use here's some of the content and really take them step by step of here's where you find the content here's how you you know add the kind content into this marketing channel here's how you deploy it um we really are you know have tried to create so much content for them in our minds to make it so simplistic for them what we've kind of done is made it more complicated because they don't there's so much out there that they don't know what's going to be most beneficial and that's when it then goes back to the analytics and the data and teaching them how to um you know break down their um investments in marketing and see what's been most beneficial for them but really truly like we're going through and and really hand holding them on here's how to you know for them it's going to be more about recruiting agents retaining agents but we're hoping by doing this they'll be able to take it down to the agent level and train them on these tools how to then get to the consumer ultimately yeah good stuff Casey anything to add there and how you uh teach and train yeah this is an interesting thing for us because we have such we have such a wide span of Revenue we have locations that are just starting out and they're going to do about a hundred thousand a year and then our top locations are you know doing 40 50 million in Revenue so you know what we've developed is is some playbooks for our location saying okay years one through three this is really what you should be focusing on from a marketing perspective a lot of those efforts are going to be handled by my team for you so you can focus on sales you can focus on hiring and servicing your accounts once you hit you know a certain Revenue Milestone then you should probably start looking at investing additional dollars dollars outside of you know what we're doing from a system perspective uh in different channels and then that topic here hey you should probably start looking at other agencies and outside vendors that we can work with and help provide them the resources and the tools but my team just simply doesn't have the bandwidth to to manage those executions for you so here's what we would recommend focusing on and what we did from a process Improvement each of my departments um they have a process Improvement plan that they do each year and from an l d perspective we took a look at sales uh and training completion we're not a compliance based organization if you want to take the training great if you don't want to trade take it that's up to you but what we found on that and again it's no surprise but sometimes it just you know takes the franchise you see in the data is you know sales Executives that took the training within the first six months they were closer to hitting their sales quota at the end of the year and the turnover for those positions were a lot lower than the sales folks who did not complete the training right so you take that and then provide them the resources but then also setting Milestones of hey look you're new to the business you're in a different spot than a franchisee who's been around for 20 years we shouldn't be prescribing the same medication to you that we are to them and how do we start helping them and then empowering them to go out and say hey we're here for support but you're at a point now where we can't physically support you and hear the tools and resources that you should be using to leverage outside third party vendors at that we approve yeah good stuff thank you both and and for the the folks that are on we're going to go into breakout rooms but we're going to circle back and get some final thoughts from both Abby as well as Casey so they're they're not done yet but the next step I think I'm going to turn it over to Danielle we're going to go into breakout rooms uh I believe that Abby will be in one I will be in one Casey will be in one and I think Danielle will be in one and we've got about 10 minutes of Rapid Fire feedback based on everything you heard what do you think the biggest priority should be for us coming out of this session and then we'll come back and share that with a group as a whole and then we'll share our parting comments from Casey and Abby and then take any questions that we have time to get to so I would say there were a couple things and I won't necessarily limit it to our breakout room I would look at the whole thing my takeaways number one is the emphasis on the marketing leaders becoming even more business savvy um it used to be I think we were really respected for our ability ability to drive revenue and our ability to grow Brands but it's just going to be imperative in the coming years for us to understand how to build relationships and the realities of all the different components of an organization and I think Abby spoke to that that there's probably a new title somewhere along the road to represent that a second thing is the collaboration which is sort of tied to that it used to be that if you were a rock star marketer you could go out and and be successful and keep a job for a long time and become very wealthy I'm not so sure the future is like that anymore because I don't think you can be a rock star marketer without collaboration within internal audiences and external audiences and then one of my big ahas that that really I took away from in the discussion and I'll leave this with everybody just to Think Through on your own but are we seeing the end of a hierarchical organization in the business world because in all four of the topic that we addressed in the panel they all in some form or another talked about a business objective that had groups of people focused on the objective with no real decision-making responsibility and in a hierarchical organization it used to be who owns this and who owns that but in this world where it's all becoming muddled are we seeing the beginning of the end of hierarchical organizations and the successful CFO of the future CMO of the future will be the CMO who understands how to work in this non-hierarchical but rather circular organization rallying around the most important business objectives that would be my big one for everybody to take away and really think through is is that where organizations are headed and is that going to be the key to being a successful CMO or whatever the title may be in the future

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