Queen Elizabeth II, The Crown
Published February 22, 2024

What Do Smart Franchises and the British Monarchy Have in Common? Surveys!

Spoiler Alert: Details from Season 6 (and a few from Season 5) of The Crown below

Living in Maine in February, as I do, is no fun. It’s cold, damp, and gray with any signs of spring still months away. But it does give one plenty of excuses to spend a weekend binge-watching Netflix. 

This past weekend I watched the sixth and final season of The Crown. Episode 6 features Queen Elizabeth II worrying about the rising popularity of the Prime Minister, what her subjects think about her leadership, and what that means for the future of the royal family and the monarchy.

Most monarchs might just carry on with business as usual, believing that as the head of state it doesn’t matter what the people think—the throne is her birthright. But, instead of carrying on with business as usual, the Queen speaks to her advisors, saying, “Perhaps now is the time to find out what seems to have gone wrong and how we could, I could, do better.” The advisors discourage her, telling her that it suggests a loss of confidence, but she disagrees and commissions polls to measure public sentiment about her popularity and the relevancy of the royal family. 

The Crown may be a dramatization, but we can draw some parallels between the Queen’s savvy move to gather feedback from the public and franchising. 


Three Franchising Lessons Learned from Queen Elizabeth (the TV version, anyway):

1. Surveys and strong leaders go hand in hand.

The show certainly doesn’t shy away from pointing out the faults of the queen, but in the drama, (and in real life) she is also seen as a smart, strong, and thoughtful leader who always wants what’s best for her country. 

As a leader, listening can be just as powerful as speaking. Effective leaders carefully consider the opinions of the people they lead. Earlier in season 5, the Queen’s staff attempt to hide the newspaper headlines reporting negative public opinion, yet she insists on reading them. The papers claim the public view her as “old” and “out of touch” and are losing faith in the institution of the royal family. And as we see throughout the series, she takes the feedback to heart. When Prince Charles asks her to allow him to marry Camilla, her immediate reaction is to say no, but we can infer that she has listened and, in an effort to position the monarchy as more modern and empathetic, she grants his request.

In franchising, the franchisees have bought into your system because they believe in the franchise business model, they believe in your leadership, and they believe in your product or service. But, they have invested a significant amount of time and money into their franchise, and they expect to have the opportunity to have their opinions heard and respected.

The feedback can be hard to swallow, but own your shortcomings. Rather than assigning blame (and fueling negativity), focus on strengthening relationships with your franchisees by laying out your plan for improvement, and most importantly, delivering on your promises. 

2. You don’t have to do everything the people demand, but you should explain the reasons behind your decisions.

While the public opinion suggests the Queen step aside in favor of Prince Charles, she struggles with the decision, and the show even suggests that she was prepared to announce her abdication at Charles and Camilla’s wedding. Yet, she doesn’t—and for valid reasons: She is determined to honor tradition and her duty to service. Stepping down would be a symbol of impermanence and instability—not in the best interests of the Commonwealth.

For franchisors, it’s more about transparency and open communication. In some cases, franchisees may be asking for something you can’t provide. But, if you can explain the WHY behind it (i.e., impact on the bottom line, increased royalties, etc.) franchisees are more likely to accept it. 

Once your franchisees realize you’re willing to listen (no matter how hard the feedback is to swallow) and using their feedback to improve, you’ll build loyalty, trust and get more buy-in. 

3. People want to know what they’re getting for their money.

In season 5, the people are questioning how much the institution of the monarchy costs. They compare it to the Queen’s aging yacht, once a symbol of Britain’s place in the world, but now outdated and in need of costly repairs. 

And then there’s the question in season 6 of the unwieldy number of staff employed by the family. The feedback from the polls showed that the public believe the royal family was wasterful of public money, and so we see a series of interviews with various staffers with titles like The Warden of the Swans, The Lord High Admiral of the Wash, and Yeoman of the Glass and China Pantry. What value do they really provide? 

Franchisees also want to know what value they’re getting from their franchisor. Where are their fees going and what are they getting in return? 

One of the questions we ask on our surveys is, “The fees I pay to my franchisor are fair.” Some of the most consistent feedback is franchisees questioning or dissatisfied with what they get in return for those fees. 

Dissatisfaction with fees is often tied to poor communication and transparency regarding what the fees are going toward. The more transparency you can provide around fees, the better. Communicate to franchisees on a regular basis about their fees, highlighting what they’ve been used for and ideally any positive results—what franchisees “gained” as a result. When franchisees can clearly see ROI on the fees they’re charged, they’ll be much happier about “investing” these dollars into the system to support growth. 

If you haven’t watched The Crown yet, I highly recommend it. And if you haven’t started surveying your franchisees for feedback, I recommend that too. 

Franchise Business Review has a standard set of survey questions that cover all the most important areas of franchisee satisfaction, and an online reporting platform so you can see feedback in real-time and segment it to focus on the areas and/or franchisee demographics that can make the biggest impact on the success of your system. We’re happy to give you a free demo anytime. Cheerio.

Related Resource: The 10 Biggest Roadblocks to Franchise Performance

increase franchise performanceWant to Grow Your System? Don’t let these common roadblocks slow you down!

Download our free guide to learn:

  • Why franchisees often have unrealistic expectations for their business
  • Why you could be wasting money on your development efforts
  • How to get actionable data to measure progress and drive growth


About the Author: Ali Forman

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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