How Fibrenew Harnesses the Power of Third-Party Validation
Why FBR’s data is the “ultimate scorecard” for candidates and franchisees
Jesse Johnstone, president of Fibrenew, an award-winning brand since 2017, sat down with Nicole Dudley, FBR’s director of client relations, to share how they use their recognition as an FBR award-winner to grab the attention of candidates and, in turn, how they use that third-party validation as a powerful tool to educate candidates about what to expect as a Fibrenew franchisee. He points out, “It’s good just to show the track record for candidates as well that it’s important that franchisors are paying attention to how they are doing in the eyes of their franchisees. That’s the ultimate scorecard.” Watch the full interview to hear more from Jesse.
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What It Means to Fibrenew to Be an FBR Award Winner
Nicole Dudley: I’m here today with Jesse Johnstone at Fibrenew. They’ve been working with us for four years now and have consecutively been named a top franchise in that same amount of time, which is awesome.
Additionally, we’ve seen them featured on our Top Franchises for Veterans, Home‑Based, Culture, and the most recent Low‑Cost and Recession‑Proof lists. It’s been nice to see you guys throughout the years make those features and be able to promote that. What does it mean from your standpoint to be an FBR award winner?
Jesse Johnstone: Well, Nicole, there’s a feel‑good aspect every time we get those emails from you guys saying, “Hey, you’re now this. You’re now that.” [laughs] It does a lot just for internal validation on some of the efforts that we make here.
In turn, it becomes great marketing collateral and campaign content for finding new franchise candidates. It’s good rah‑rah internally and then great marketing content externally.
Using Data to Attract Candidates
Nicole: You talked about validating and being super excited. How else do you feel that working with us and the data has changed how you guys do business?
Jesse: There are some key things that we’ve found every year where we’ve been able to say, ”OK. We need to up our game on this particular area of the business.” Or, ”Hey, we’ve been doing great on this other spot.”
It does help guide some decisions internally in terms of where we’re going to put our efforts every year. We’re in a flow where we do the survey in the fall. You guys usually crunch everything for us by the end of the year, and then that just gives us a fresh perspective heading into that new year.
We can draw some conclusions from the survey results and put it right into our business plan and some of our thoughts for that year ahead. It’s always meant a lot to just know where we need improvement at the beginning of the year and pick some key areas to focus on.
Then, on the validation side of things, we’ve created a page on our website in the franchising section with some of the key results from you guys. There’s that link to download the full report.
We’ve been able to pull out some of those key findings. Like you said, how you rank us on culture and innovation and training. Some of the key areas make mention of them on the page. People like to see that. They want to know that, ”Hey, these guys are validated third‑party‑wise.” Then, if you want more information, download the full report. It’s been a winning combination for us.
People like to see that. They want to know that, ”Hey, these guys are validated third‑party‑wise.” Then, if you want more information, download the full report. It’s been a winning combination for us.
The Power of Validation for Candidates and Franchisees
Nicole: That ties into how beyond the operational use of the data, you’ve got that page on your site. You’re able to promote that and share that to help with validating the brand. What has been your overall experience through all of that? Was that the big reason for choosing to work with us?
Jesse: Twofold loop. It was the validation components, and it was also to guide decisions internally. You guys have been able to serve perfectly on both of those streams for us. That’s why we’ve just gotten into the habit with you guys. Year over year it just becomes a bit of a motivator for us. “Okay. How did we do last year on these areas we needed to work on based on the survey results? Let’s see if we’re going up the ladder.” Which, thankfully, we have been thanks to you guys in terms of the scoring.
It’s good just to show the track record for candidates as well that it’s important that franchisors are paying attention to how they are doing in the eyes of their franchisees. That’s the ultimate scorecard. Franchisees are talking about the brand confidently. They like what they are doing. They are in support of all the systems we put in place. What you guys become is just an ultimate scorecard for us before they start talking directly to franchisees.
Maybe, that’s the other thing that I’m just coming to now, Nicole. It’s a bit of a primer for the validation calls that candidates make to our franchisees after seeing the results from your survey. They maybe have a clear picture of what questions to ask and conversations to have.
It’s a bit of a primer for the validation calls that candidates make to our franchisees after seeing the results from your survey.
Nicole: That’s one of the hopes. I do hope that it makes it easier on your franchisees when they do those calls because that candidate is more educated, and they have a better understanding of what to expect before they go into asking those questions.
Bright Spots Amid the Pandemic
Nicole: Looking back through the last year, like I said, you guys have been doing the survey for four years in a row, so that means you surveyed through 2020. It was not necessarily the easiest year for people. Can you share any success story out of 2020 from your group?
Jesse: It’s amazing thinking back to the spring of 2020 and trying to rejig the business plan. We didn’t know exactly how it was going to play out. A lot of figuring things out on the fly. Some success stories out of things on the fly were that we saw a closer banding together of the franchise community.
People looked inward at their own business and the concept as a whole. We were able to bring people together online more often. If we couldn’t get together face‑to‑face, as many franchisors did, we just switched to online training, online seminars.
As a result, we were seeing each other more than we were previous to the pandemic. That’s been a positive effect in that we’ve now got weekly huddle calls. We get together and all of our training every single month is done online.
Last week we had our second seminar of the year. It’s still online at this point, but that’s now 160 franchisees that we’ve seen on Zoom through seminars so far this year. We have another 160 booked in the fall. That’s what I mean by we’re coming together more even though we’re not face‑to‑face and in the same four walls together.
We’re talking to our franchisees more as a result. Business‑wise, the pandemic shifted a lot of things, spending habit‑wise with consumers. That played very well into the way that we operate. They are spending more on keeping things looking great rather than replacing them.
That’s, of course, what we do. We’re a restoration service, so it plays very well for us. We also saw franchisees just retool their business and refocus their own business plans. When you have a shakeup like this in the economy and in society, it refocuses everything you do on a daily basis.
When you have a shakeup like this in the economy and in society, it refocuses everything you do on a daily basis.
That was another positive effect that people just bear down and retooled and refocused, and you’re always going to find the bright shiny spots. [laughs] Those are a handful of them for us.
Emphasizing Stability and Control Kept Recruitment Numbers Strong
Nicole: From a recruitment standpoint, how did it impact how you guys approached those strategies?
Jesse: We did have a few franchisees come on in late 2020, and then definitely into 2021 as a result of losing their jobs. It’s an unfortunate effect of what we just went through. People in hospitality, we had a couple of pilots come on board, things of that nature. A couple of people from manufacturing whose jobs were affected as well.
I’m sure they were looking at the data from you guys in terms of the survey results.
From a recruitment standpoint through the pandemic, we’re in our 36th year of operation. We’re able to confidently say at this point we’ve been through so many ups and downs of the economy. This period of COVID was just another cycle in our history.
We started speaking more to the fact that we’ve always grown and thrived no matter what the economy’s doing, and 2020 was no exception to that. We did still grow. We did still push forward. Messaging‑wise, we were able to just speak confidently to the stability and the control that Fibrenew offers.
The fact that we were deemed an essential service in many states because we worked so much in automotive and automotive had to keep rolling. Our franchisees were able to find work even through the dark steps of the lockdown. When everybody was at home, we were still able to work. That was really good.
Themes of stability, control, and the fact that we’re always needed, no matter what’s going on. We’ve always talked about that, Nicole, but there was more focus on it over the last year or so.
Themes of stability, control, and the fact that we’re always needed, no matter what’s going on.
FBR Brings Transparency and Communication with Franchisees
Nicole: My last question, just to wrap it all up… if someone was to call you and they said, “Why should I do business with FBR?” What would you tell them?
Jesse: I would say if you are just looking for transparency from your franchisees, FBR is an excellent way to do that. You can have phone calls. You can have face‑to‑face meetings. You can have Zoom calls directly with your franchisees.
There seems to be something about the third‑party aspect that you guys bring in that opens up clear communication and opens up even things that you couldn’t unearth on your own. Transparency is the key for a successful business. You guys definitely can bring that.
There seems to be something about the third‑party aspect that you guys bring in that opens up clear communication and opens up even things that you couldn’t unearth on your own.
The team at FBR is great to work with. They’ll get to know you on a first‑name basis. Nicole, you and I haven’t met face‑to‑face, but I feel like we have such a great business relationship that we can just have a chat like this that we’re doing right now and unscripted conversation, and it just feels natural.
Personally, I appreciate that you guys immerse yourself into our business and our ecosystem. You take the time to understand what we’re looking for. That makes for better results at the end of the survey, so thanks. It’s been great working with you guys.
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As the Marketing Director, Ali’s role is to educate franchise companies about and inspire them to participate in FBR’s research in order to grow and improve their brands. Ali's previous experience includes senior marketing communications roles in the employee benefits, data privacy, and publishing sectors. She lives in Maine with her husband and two sons.
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