May 2013

What to Do When the Customer Is Wrong

Every franchisee has likely heard the expression “the customer is always right.” Well, what if the customer is wrong? After all, if a customer walks into a shoe store and asks to be served a plate of pasta, he or she is certainly not “right” when the shoe store can’t fulfill the ludicrous request. Of course, it is crucial to keep your customers happy. But the bottom line is that not every request a customer makes is a reasonable request. New entrepreneurs, including new franchisees, often make the mistake of bending over backward to accommodate every single customer request, no matter how outlandish. Meeting every request can cause your company to lose focus and can confuse your team. In some situations, it is much better to just say “no.”

Know when to say “no.” You should say “no” to a customer request if A) the customer is asking for something that your company doesn’t offer, or B) the customer is asking for something that isn’t essential. If you don’t offer a product or service, there is a good chance that providing what the customer is asking for simply wouldn’t make economic sense for your business or that it falls outside of your business’s area of expertise. In either case, providing things your company isn’t equipped to offer will likely waste valuable time and resources. Similarly, if a customer is pushing for something that isn’t essential, you need to explain why providing it isn’t a good use of your company’s time or resources.

If a customer is being picky about prices, it can also be a good idea to say “no.” Establish firm prices for your services based on industry standards, and stick to them.

Know how to say “no.” When a customer is adamant that you provide a product or service that you simply can’t provide, you need to know how to say “no.” The first step is to politely convey to the customer that you do fully understand his or her request and that you understand why he or she is making the request. This gesture will show that you do genuinely care and that you are listening. Next, explain why you simply can’t meet the request. If needed, refer the customer to another provider.

Put your company first. Remember, losing focus isn’t just a matter of branding. When you constantly say “yes” to every request, even if it doesn’t fit in with what you already offer, you confuse your team, making your employees’ jobs harder and undermining their ability to serve customers as a whole. When deciding what services or products to offer, keep your company, and its ability to serve clients, first.

But this advice does come with a caveat. If a customer is asking for a better product than you currently have or you notice that multiple customers are making the same kind of request, you might need to reevaluate what you are offering. Always keep the focus on how your company can best serve customers.

Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

Animal Abuse Scandal Rocks the Franchise World

An animal welfare group recently released video footage of workers at a New Mexico dairy farm abusing cows. The consequences of the shocking footage of animal cruelty are reverberating throughout the franchise world as the New Mexico farm, Winchester Dairy, is a major milk supplier of Leprino Foods, the world’s largest mozzarella cheese provider with a number of big-name customers. Leprino Food patrons include major food franchises, such as Domino’s, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut.

The level of atrocity is truly horrendous — workers are shown violently kicking, whipping, and hitting cows, as well as dragging the animals around using heavy machinery and stabbing them with screwdrivers. The video, recently shared by animal rights organization Mercy for Animals, has caused the New Mexico Livestock Board to launch an investigation.

In response to the footage, Leprino Foods has terminated its shipments from Winchester Dairy. “We take these situations extremely seriously and are extremely repulsed by these events,” a statement released by the company last Wednesday read. “This isolated incident does not reflect the daily care and comfort that New Mexico dairy farmers provide their cows.”

Many of the franchises that Leprino Food supplies were also quick to denounce the abuse. “The individual family dairy farms throughout the country — 47,000 of them — and the brands who buy and sell cheese are being painted in a horrible light due to the horrendous acts of a small group of individuals,” Time McIntyre, Domino’s spokesperson, implored in a recent statement. “A few sick people — whom we hope are prosecuted — do not represent the thousands of innocent people earning a living for their families, whether they work on farms, in cheese production, or in pizza shops.”

Still, many speculate that the incident could have long-lasting implications. While Leprino and many of the franchises that it supplies have attempted to portray this incident as a truly horrendous anomaly in the dairy industry, animal rights activists argue that this reflects the plight of cows across the industry, arguing that dairy farms across the board tend to be abusive and exploitative, depriving cows of basic rights.

“Treated as mere milk-producing machines, cows exploited and killed for milk and cheese endure lives of near constant misery and deprivation,” a Mercy for Animals website reads. “Some spend their entire lives standing on concrete floors; others are crammed into massive mud lots … These highly intelligent and social animals suffer unimaginable abuse.” The website urges consumers to boycott all restaurants supplied by Leprino, including Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s. The group argues that these companies need to adopt improved animal welfare policies in order to mitigate the risk of future abuse.

It should be noted here that it is highly unlikely that individual franchises such as Dominos or Papa John’s were aware of the abuse occurring at this specific farm. They were in all likelihood, as their statements suggest, truly troubled by the abuse. Still, the incident raises questions about how much responsibility these mega-chains should take for their suppliers’ actions. Do they have a responsibility to choose suppliers with a commitment to animal welfare? Should they establish animal welfare guidelines for suppliers? Should they take legal action against suppliers that violate these policies?

The bottom line is that abuse scandals like this can cut into company profits, and they can cut into them quite deeply. For example, when McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and KFC were discovered to be using suppliers selling expired meat, sales plunged for all companies involved, in spite of claims that the exposed violations were an isolated incident. Only time will reveal the full implications of this latest scandal.



Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.