Zach Nolte, Kitchen Solvers
Published December 14, 2016

Zach Nolte

Zach Nolte
President, Kitchen Solvers

Did you use any type of survey before FBR’s? If so, was it internal or with another vendor?

We’ve used FBR since I joined Kitchen Solvers in 2013. Prior to that we did not do a survey specific to franchisee satisfaction.


Why did you decide to survey your franchisees with FBR?

Our company has gone through a number of changes since 2010. There have been a lot of ups and downs, and we want to be able to gauge how our franchisees were feeling and maintain some consistency. We want to continue to grow the system, but if we don’t have good validation, we really don’t have anything to sell.


Were you surprised at all by the results?

Over the last 2-3 years we’ve pretty much turned the corporate office upside down. We actually expected to see lower results, so we were pretty pleased. What the FBR results allowed us to do, however, was slice the data in different ways to see where and why we scored lower in certain areas. We were able to see that the age of the franchisee correlated to how happy they were. The franchisees who have been in the system longer than 8 years were less happy than those who had been with us 0-8 years. Being able to look at the data that way enabled us to focus on reaching out to the older franchisees and find ways to get them more engaged.


Do you share your survey results with your franchisees? If so, what reaction/feedback have you received?

We share all the results with our franchisees at convention via a Powerpoint-style presentation. We show every area where we increased and every area where we decreased, and share possible reasons why. We then hold an open discussion to allow franchisees to ask questions and talk about the results.


What do you do with the results (both from a marketing perspective and operationally)?

We use it on the marketing side on our website and in our development efforts. We point candidates to the site to review the results as part of the validation process. On the operational side, we use it to identify areas for improvement and set goals so we can gauge our progress year over year.


What are the top three ways you use your franchisee satisfaction data?

The number one reason is to get franchisee feedback. We spend a lot of time communicating with our franchisees, but they don’t always feel comfortable expressing some things face-to-face. They’re more likely to share via a survey where they can remain anonymous.

We also use it in our development efforts to show candidates the level of satisfaction of our existing franchisees. And we share the summaries with brokers. Most everyone in franchising is familiar with FBR, so it’s a great sales tool.


An area of our survey that is often rated low is top-down communication with franchisees. How do you ensure that franchisees feel “in the loop”?

Every week we hold a Friday Call. Everyone is invited to participate. We set the topic—for example, sales, financials, marketing—but it’s an open forum for franchisees to have a discussion about what’s going on in the system.

We actually found through the FBR survey that while the calls were useful, it was time for a change, so we’re working on tweaking the format to ensure that the calls continue to be worthwhile for everyone.


We tend to see higher dissatisfaction among franchisees at the 2-5 year tenure point. How do you ensure that your franchisees still feel supported down the road? What do you provide in the way of ongoing training once your franchisees are on board?

The FBR survey has made it clear to us that we need to find ways to keep our older franchisees engaged. They tend to start isolating themselves when they feel like they no longer need us to run their business.

We bring them in on more of a consultant-type basis, and assign new franchisees to them so they can share their experience. We also invite them to participate on committees and advisory councils to get them excited about new programs. We still have some work to do, and increasing communication and engagement with our longer-tenured franchisees is one of our goals for the coming year.


Some CEOs tell us that their franchisees are inundated with surveys and emails and they just don’t want to send them something else. What would you say to those CEOs when it comes to FBR’s survey?

More communication is better. It’s when the franchisees don’t see the benefit of the survey that they tend to disengage and you lose participation. If you can demonstrate what’s in it for them, that you’re acting on the feedback they provide, and how it benefits the system, they’ll view the survey as a positive, not just more work for them.


We’ve also had CEOs tell us that they’ve already got more data than they know what to do with. Why is franchisee satisfaction data still so important?

There’s a ton of information in the results and some of it you might never look at. But there come times when issues come up and you want to understand why they’re happening and what’s going on. With FBR’s platform you have all the data to go back to at any time so you can look at trends and see what you might have missed. My advice is to keep gathering as much data as you can.

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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