Dorian Gonsalves reflects on how a collective goal can successfully unite brands within franchise networks.
Franchising is a highly successful business model, with franchises run by local owners greatly benefiting from the brand, support and training that their franchisor provides. Franchising provides the potential for entrepreneurs to achieve so much more than they could ever achieve as an independent trader. Importantly, however, not only can franchises succeed in a business sense, but it is also possible for them to make a hugely positive impact in their local communities.
A business that is respected and appreciated in its local community is always more likely to prosper than a business that never takes the time or trouble to get to know the people they would love to do business with. I think this philosophy is even more important in today’s post-pandemic world when the public appreciate the opportunity to put faces to names and connect and invest in companies that have views and strategies that align with their own. Charity work, fundraising and supporting local events are just some of the ways to achieve this, but with the cost-of-living crisis taking its toll, it doesn’t always seem appropriate to be perceived as always asking people to donate money to good causes. Donating time though, is another matter, and that’s where the Belvoir Group’s 365 Days of Giving came into its own.
Throughout 2023 all brands within the Belvoir Group were invited to support local charity schemes and projects of their choice. They were encouraged to actively get involved with those schemes and to then log details of the time they had donated rather than just the money they had raised. The idea was the brainchild of our Franchise Support Team, and it was hoped that as many people as possible would get behind it, so that the Group would reach its goal of achieving 365 Days of Giving. Thankfully the idea really did take off, with franchisees and team members throwing themselves into a multitude of projects such as swimarathons, marathons, litter picking groups, abseiling, fun runs, walks, bake sales, and cleaning up local parks to name a few activities. My own small contribution was to continue offering mentoring to young entrepreneurs through the Prince’s Trust, which is something I have enjoyed doing for many years. At the end of the year all the donated hours were added up, and I was delighted dto learn that the final number of days recorded by the Group was 409, meaning that we had smashed our target by 44 days!
Looking at this number in a little more detail, various charities of different sizes throughout the country received a total of 185 days of donated time. In addition, franchisees and team members donated a total of 132 days of voluntary work, supporting events and teams in their local areas. I think we are all aware of the fantastic work that local foodbanks do and how much they contribute to the people in their local communities. Thanks to the 365 Days of Giving scheme an incredible 92 days were donated to local foodbanks in 2023, with offices acting as collection hubs, and team members volunteering their time to deliver contributions and help out at distribution centres etc.
I think it is important to note that not only has the 365 Days of Giving project succeeded in supporting charities and local communities, it also successfully united all the different brands within the Group and brought team members together in a way that makes me very proud. Plans are now being developed for more innovative charity efforts in 2024 and I’m looking forward to details of these being announced.
If you are already part of a franchise, what are your plans to support your local community this year? It is definitely worth brainstorming ideas that will help your franchise to get recognised locally, and that will help you to connect with not only the people who are already your customers, but also those you would like to be your customers in the future. It is also a superb opportunity to get to know team members better, and to shine a spotlight on those of them who may already be quietly involved in local good causes.