It’s late afternoon and John is in need of a sugar rush. He is at the till in his local grocers and a small box selling sweets catches his eye. He buys a couple and walks off munching away, not aware of how the money he spent has made a positive impact on the world. The point is that the franchise behind these boxes donates a portion of the sales to a children’s hospice. This is a socially responsible franchise in action! You see, franchising is not all about the bottom line. Many franchises make a profit and benefit their communities and charities at the same time. This ‘double bottom line’ is at the heart of corporate social responsibility in franchising.
How Franchises Can Be Socially Responsible Businesses
The concept of corporate social responsibility refers to activities that businesses do to connect with or give back to their communities. The term originates in the late 1960s but has only come to prominence in the last few years.
We are proud to offer many franchises that make a difference!
In our sweet box example, the franchise in question is Snak Appeal. They support 25 children’s hospices throughout the UK and Ireland. The franchise distributes and collects ‘honesty boxes’ of sweets, with a proportion of the profits going to charity. They have raised over £100,000 for Keech Hospice Care in the four years since they launched. They do not cap the amount that they give to charities and the more they earn, the more they give!
There are several others in the Franchise Direct stable that are socially responsible franchises.
Subway is a well-known example of a franchise that bases its business on principles of social responsibility. As one of the largest franchises in the world, it’s no surprise that they have a comprehensive responsibility plan. They aim to be environmentally, socially and nutritionally responsible through different initiatives.
Take nutrition for example. They reduced the salt content on average 33% across their product range and are a partner of the Department of Health's Responsibility Deal. In 2011, they ran a ‘Food for Food’ initiative in which customers were encouraged to exchange cans of food for their Subs. These cans of food were then donated to the Salvation Army. At a broader lever, they ensure that their products and operations are sustainable. Manufacturing plants and distribution centres are located to reduce fuel costs, carbon emissions and transportation. In the UK they have saved 400,000 road miles – the equivalent of driving an incredible sixteen times around the world! They go as far as optimising how ingredients are packaged – saving 650 tonnes of cardboard in the process.
A Symbiotic Relationship
Broadly speaking, socially responsible activities range from employee volunteering schemes and fundraising campaigns to sponsoring of local community groups, and often involve management and staff.
From a franchisor's point of view, social responsibility has several benefits for things like brand awareness and increased market opportunities. The franchisor can raise brand awareness at a national level by undertaking these initiatives and individual franchises who take part can help raise brand awareness at a regional level. Brand awareness is created because when a franchise gets involved with a community or social cause it becomes newsworthy and attractive to journalists and other media.
It is a symbiotic relationship: more exposure for the franchise means greater exposure for the charity or cause they support. It also creates a positive opinion of the franchise in the public eye.
So if you are thinking about starting a franchise, why not consider choosing one that will benefit your community as well as your pocket?