Molly Maid of Wilmington, N.C. supports National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and shows it by wearing Ms. Molly t-shirts during October.
In the June 2010 edition of Franchising World Molly Maid President Kristi Mailloux wrote the following article on getting involved in a charitable cause.
Since 1996, Molly Maid has taken on the cause, nationally, of domestic-violence awareness. Our company has raised over $810,000 to date, and has supported more than 100 local domestic-violence shelters. Each year, more and more Molly Maid franchise owners participate in a month-long “Ms. Molly Making a Difference” drive. The 2009 fundraiser recorded a 20-percent increase in franchisee participation. In addition to raising much-needed funds for shelters and victims, educating customers and the public about domestic violence is one of our top priorities through this effort. This cause fits our business model since we go into thousands of homes every day, which is where domestic violence often occurs.
If there’s one way to rally a franchise system, it’s by finding a common cause. The secret to that great initiative might seem daunting, but if the company’s leader can identify that magic cause, it has the potential to become a huge benefit that not only builds positive brand image, but rallies customers, franchisees and employees alike.
In today’s economy, not only do potential franchise candidates want to invest in a business with community ties already built in, but customers are choosing to spend their money with companies that are giving back in some way.
How to Find the Cause?
Figuring out something that the customer, as well as your franchisees and employees, can relate to is the most important step. Making sure that customers are “on board” with your cause only helps to further the message. Customers who feel a connection to your charitable efforts are then more likely to help spread the word among their family and friends.
Make sure the cause is something that will differ between different cities, so that the franchisee can choose to build their own local relationships and figure out how to best serve their specific community. Taking a system-wide survey during a franchise convention might be a good place to start gathering this data.
Keeping the Franchise System Engaged, Excited
A good idea is only as great as the people who are tasked with its accomplishment. Once you decide on a national and local cause to support financially, keeping franchisees active and excited can be a challenge. Promoting those within who are excelling is something that should be done to increase participation.
Here are a few other tips:
• Recognition: Establish an award at the national franchise convention that spotlights the one franchisee who has made a difference in terms of the charitable partnership.
• Franchisee Involvement: Form a committee or board of directors for the cause. Include not only corporate staff, but franchisees who can share their success stories. Including franchisees on these governing bodies will likely increase participation.
• PR Power: Use public relations to your advantage. Work with your PR firm or communications department to promote what you’ve been able to accomplish. Seeing the company’s name in national headlines is sure to spark more interest from the franchise system.
What’s in it for us?
With massive layoffs and unemployment rates at an all-time high, social entrepreneurship is more important than ever. Potential franchise candidates are looking not only for a new business, but also a way to give back to their communities. Among a sea of franchise concepts, having a charity program in place helps you stand out. Franchisors with a national plan for giving back are providing franchisees a step-by-step instruction guide on how to raise money, awareness and credibility for local organizations of their choice. Customers also feel more comfortable spending their money with a business they know is doing something for the greater good of the community.
While any media attention or additional profits are certainly benefits of starting a program to nationally support a cause, it’s important to remember how this idea first came about. Molly Maid gives back to domestic violence victims because these crimes take place in the home. This is a natural fit for us, since we talk to people in their homes every day and our franchisees, employees and customers can all relate to someone who has dealt with domestic violence. It’s a cause dear to our hearts and that compassion continues to grow. Once you take on a cause for the right reason, everything else will eventually fall into place.
Kristi Mailloux is president of Molly Maid Inc. Before rising to this position, she served as vice president of operations of Service Brands International, the umbrella organization for Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman, 1-800-DryClean and ProTect Painters. She was named to the SBI Board of Advisors and her career path has included several executive positions at SBI including the president of 1-800-DryClean and vice president of operations for Molly Maid. She can be reached at 1-800-MM-HELPS.