Building and protecting brand equity is essential to your business in order to grow your bottom line and keep a competitive edge in your market. In light of that, it’s important to understand what brand equity is and how you can build and protect it with your quality assurance, corporate social responsibility, and supplier quality management programs.
What Exactly Is Positive Brand Equity?
People often are under the impression that equity equals reputation — and it does, but that’s only part of the package. Brand equity as reputation is about consistency with quality and safety, and it can be broken down into four stages in the customer journey: experience, recognition, preference, and loyalty. Let’s take a closer look.
Brand Experience: First, as customers become familiar with your product or services, they will begin to form expectations around your brand name.
Brand Recognition: As your company becomes increasingly known and recognized by consumers, your brand will be at the front of their minds as they use it more if they are repeatedly satisfied with the quality of your brand.
Brand Preference: If your product or services remain consistently reliable, consumers will begin to prefer your product and seek it out — this means your base of repeat customers increases.
Brand Loyalty: Finally, customers developed a trust and attachment to your brand’s products or services, and they will go out of their way to purchase it.
This journey is the “golden ticket” to increasing your customer base and thus your bottom line, and using RizePoint’s quality management system to manage your quality programs can help you protect your brand equity.
The Benefits of Improving Brand Equity with RizePoint
Brand equity is a crucial component to creating a solid customer base, but it’s also important to strengthening, protecting, and building that same base. Using RizePoint’s quality management software to maintain brand equity through your quality programs makes it easier to scale up your efforts during business growth. And ultimately, the ability to maintain consistent products or services during growth means only good things for your reputation and your bottom line.
RizePoint’s quality management software includes built-in functionality that helps you build and maintain quality programs so you can protect your brand equity. We empower quality leaders like you to quickly collect and analyze meaningful data so you can spot trends and drive improvement. Here are some a few key functionalities that will help you gather data better so you can see issues earlier and act faster before those issues become problems:
Gather Better Quality-Related Data
Mobile audits, audits, inspections, and evaluations
Instant leave-behind reports
Outside data integration
See More Insights and Gain Visibility
Permissions-based report access
Act Faster and Be Proactive
Expiration and due date alerts
Automated noncompliance alerts
In-system approvals and signoffs
To learn more about protecting your brand equity using your quality assurance, supplier quality management, and corporate social responsibility programs, request a free demo today at RizePoint.com.
Quality management has become increasingly focused on data. More specifically, industries are focusing on gathering meaningful data that helps leaders spot trends and drive improvement. But when it comes to quality programs, gathering and analyzing quality data can involve hundreds of thousands of data points. It can quickly turn into to an overwhelming amount of information gathered from several different sources. The trick is finding ways to centralize your data and finding tools to help you analyze it so you can drive improvement to reach your ultimate goal of brand protection.
Centralize Your Data
“Use the data to help you understand really what the full picture is…and to help you optimize your actions.” – Andrew Joiner, CEO of InMoment*
The first step to climbing out from under all of the numbers and paperwork is to bring you data together in a central location. This creates a single source of truth that is more accessible. Plus, if you choose a digital solution, your data can also be searchable. Better visibility of your data lets you spot trends, prevent issues, and tackle problems at their source. Fixing the root of a problem leads to better brand protection, which means customers have a better brand experience. Not only do you increase transparency, but more visibility provides new ways to see and use the data, enabling you to prioritize information that helps you move toward your organizational goals.
Use Tech for Better Insights
“Create a single source of truth by combining different data sets and having a machine learning and giving people specific recommendations to focus on.” – Sean McDade, People Metrics*
With your data stored in a central location, it is possible to leverage the voices of your customers and employees to build a better brand experience. It is no longer enough for businesses to rely solely on quality data. To stand out companies need to start listening to and using the voices of the customers and employees in conjunction with quality data to shape brand experiences. When you understand how your employees and customers interact with your brand across locations you can see the full picture of your brand experience.
As an example, when issues arise, it’s tempting fix the problem without finding the root cause. But if your information is stored in a single location, and you have a robust way to analyze your data, you can combine the brand experience with the Voice of Customer and the Voice of Employee to your quality data and pinpoint the cause of the problem and prevent it from repeating.
Brand protection is more than sticking a Band-Aid on the problem (e.g. a one-time fix or one-off solutions) — it is a continuous process, aiming for long-term solutions. By incorporating the voices of your employees and customers with your quality data metrics, you can find meaningful insights giving you more visibility so you can pinpoint and solve problems at their source.*Content and quotes in this article were taken from the CEO panel discussion at RizePoint’s 2018 Engage user conference.
Turn metrics into meaningful insights that ultimately support your brand protection goals. RizePoint’s quality management software can help you integrate many data sets so you can visualize quality data with the voices of your employees and customers to find the meaning within your metrics.
In recent years, a large donut brand found itself in court, seeking to compel several of its franchisees to meet the company’s brand standards as required under the franchise agreement. Eventually, the court sided with the company, but only after years of uncertainty and the expense of employee hours and attorney hours.
The decision is significant because it demonstrates that a franchisor has the right to enforce compliance with the company’s standards beyond health and safety requirements. However, even though the courts can give protection to franchisors and their brands, lawsuits are an extreme and costly “solution” that everyone would like to avoid.
There is a better way for franchisors and franchisees to ensure brand standards compliance. Here are a few solutions that will save you time and money along the way:
Better Policy Access Means Better Compliance
As a franchisor, you probably have a quality management plan and processes in place for franchisees. In the very least, you should make sure everyone has access to your standards and policies, perhaps in the form of binders or other paper documents. Access to these documents is key to basic transparency. But finding policies and standards amidst stacks of papers puts a large and unnecessary burden on everyone. Making your regulatory policies and brand standards available digitally is a great first step. Searchable PDFs will help, but a comprehensive quality management software offers several ways to manage documents as well as other tools that help manage franchisees.
Franchisor’s Brand Protects Franchisee’s Bottom Line
As a franchisee, you are putting your hard-earned dollars into purchasing a franchise license. The franchisor sets the standards, but it’s up to you, the local franchise owner, to implement their standards. Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to keep your locations in compliance.
The cost of a single incident in one of your stores could have a long-term, negative impact on your business. Aside from failing brand compliance audits, your customers may start looking at your local brand differently and stop spending their money with you. The cost of implementing the right systems to manage and control your food, health, and safety compliance is small compared to the cost of litigation and lost business.
Old Problems Solved with New Solutions
“We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
— Albert Einstein
Going through the motions and using the same tools you’ve been using for years will not solve compliance problems. It’s dollar to donuts that most franchisees want to follow regulatory and brand standards, but both franchisors and franchisees need better communication and more effective tools to get there.
Traditional pen-and-paper checklists and Excel spreadsheets only measure a single assessment at a single location. It’s difficult to compile manually gathered data and turn it into meaningful reporting, which means it’s difficult to get a “big picture” view of one location or your entire business. However, with the right quality management software, each assessment can supply new insights for your business. Whether you’re a franchisor or franchisee, meaningful analytics and reporting are just a few clicks away. Additionally, you can automate corrective action and follow-up, and you can create a “single source of truth” that is accessible from the corporate office to the newest store location with comprehensive document management.
More than 80% of people surveyed in a 2013 Stratecast study said they used SaaS for work that hadn’t been approved by I.T. The motive of those surveyed was not to be secretive or sneaky; they simply wanted tools to help them be more efficient and productive.
However, no matter how pure the motives may be, and no matter the increase in productivity, an app not vetted by I.T. can make companies vulnerable to a number of issues, including the following:
Malware from bogus programs
Difficulty analyzing information from several disconnected sources
Unauthorized access and dissemination of data
The solution isn’t banning employees from trying to solve workflow problems — the solution is to position I.T. as a business strategy driver so employees can work with I.T. to solve problems while protecting sensitive information.
Pros of Shadow I.T.
When employees use systems and programs inside an organization without the approval of I.T. it’s called “shadow I.T.” This may seem like a “dirty term” or a practice you want to avoid at all costs, but there are some pros when employees try to solve their own production problems.
Ralph Loura, CTO of Rodan + Fields, sees shadow I.T. as an “opportunity to leverage employees to identify the applications they want to use so that I.T. can enable the ones that have gained traction and are enterprise-ready.” In other words, when employees seek out solutions to their operational problems, they are easing part of I.T.’s burden.
Chances are the people working in your I.T. department are already researching SaaS that will facilitate collaborative processes inside your organization. But I.T. isn’t always aware of how any given SaaS will affect the day-to-day operations of a department. That’s why attacking a problem from both sides is important — it helps empower employees to solve their own workflow problems while I.T. identifies solutions that work across the company.
I.T. as a Strategy Driver for QMS
As data and processes become more sophisticated, there is no better driver to a business strategy than your existing I.T. department. Khalid Kark, managing director of the Deloitte CIO program, sees tremendous opportunities for the I.T. department as a business strategy driver. He says, “I.T. can be positioned not just as a delivery center but as a partner in the company’s new journey. I.T. has a necessarily cross-discipline, cross-functional, cross-business unit purview.”
In the context of food service, hospitality, and retail, there are several ways that I.T.-based guidance and strategies will benefit your company:
Operations and quality. An effective SaaS platform supporting quality, brand, and safety will help your operations and quality teams save time, money, and headache. The right solution will store the collective data and quickly provide real-time analytical information.
Legal and compliance. The right SaaS solution will conduct regular and thorough audits and assessments. This information will be readily available to your company’s legal team and managers. When the software identifies issues, stakeholders are immediately notified so they can resolve the issues quickly.
Marketing and branding. Brand is the heart and soul of any company. Given its significance, it is important you protect your company’s brand. Strong SaaS tools can facilitate brand management, which can help your company avoid potential PR nightmares in the future.
Overall value to the company. With careful planning, the I.T. department can identify key software tools and platforms that will fulfill the needs of multiple departments.
As you seek out SaaS programs to manage quality and operations in retail, hospitality, and food service, your technology department can help you identify a solution that will resonate with all departments. Click here to read more about making your Information Technology department a business strategy driver.
Quality and compliance management programs require a variety of tools: pen and paper, excel, checklists, PDFs, emails, fax machines, and more. If your auditing team is still using any of these methods for your quality assurance programs, you are losing money. You can run the exact numbers using our ROI calculator, but it’s safe to say that switching from a manual audit process to a mobile- and cloud-based solution will save your team time, energy, and money, while also improving your quality management program.
Before you invest in quality management software, it’s important to understand the functionality of the solution. I was curious about the must-have functionality of a quality management software and went to our product team to understand the key features used by the world’s top food, hospitality, and retail brands. Our product team has more than 20 years of experience working with quality management software.
In no particular order, here are the four must-have features to look for when considering what quality management software to adopt.
1. Simple Usability
When you need to put a solution in the hands of hundreds of employees with varying degrees of tech-savviness, you need something anyone can use. The trouble is, while some compliance solutions are smooth and seamless, others are more difficult to use, both in terms of the speed and ease of the workflow experience and the overall reliability.
The best way to learn more about a product’s usability is to schedule a demo to see for yourself how it works and whether it will be easy to implement company-wide. For usability, you’ll want to make sure the software has:
• Language translation capabilities • Automated corrective action • Single sign-on • Role-based permissions • Ability to schedule inspections and view group schedules
Forms are a great way to track details like whether franchise employees are following dress codes and observing brand messaging standards, but it’s not always easy to see the bigger picture. When you input audit data into a mobile app instead of a spreadsheet, the data is immediately available for analysis. By analyzing company-wide trends, it’s easy to see whether a certain location has issues with safety, or if an entire region is having trouble keeping menus updated.
Having this information makes it easier to identify which problems are local problems, and which affect a larger area or region and will thus require a bigger initiative to correct.
For trend analysis, you’ll want to make sure the software includes:
• RSS feeds that are easily configured to alert term members of trends • The ability to slice and dice the data based on different locations, time periods, regions, and districts
3. Real-Time Data Visibility
Trend analysis and real-time visibility are connected, but having both isn’t a given. While some compliance software solutions give you the ability to export the data you collect, reporting is often a frustrating, spreadsheet-heavy process.
If you’re a growing company, it’s critical to make data-driven decisions quickly.
Instead of building manual reports that may never actually be up-to-date, a solution like RizePoint automatically generates dashboards that give decision-makers timely insight into what’s
“Before RizePoint we had no real data or way to collect data,” said Bob Gremel, Operation Excellence Department for Buffalo Wild Wings. “Now we can see exactly why a location earned a specific score to make our business better. We can see how it affects our guests and how it affects our team members.”
For business intelligence, be sure the solution includes these features:
• Search-driven analytics so you can provide answers to ad-hoc business questions • Role-based reporting • Feedback reports for individual evaluation results
4. Industry-Specific Flexibility
Outside of data, it’s important to find compliance software that’s flexible enough to fit your company’s unique needs: hotels need to ensure clean rooms and pool safety; restaurants need to keep food at safe temperatures, and a burger franchise needs to ensure the same customer experience at every location, every time. Whether it’s an audit, evaluation, or checklist, you need a solution that meets the needs of your industry. Some solutions fit some industries better than others, and some are built with powerful options that allow them to fit the specific needs of whatever industry is using it.
For industry flexibility, ask yourselves these questions before purchasing:
• Do we plan to use the software across multiple departments? (Checkers and Rally’s utilizes RizePoint in 9 different departments if you need some inspiration) • Can we combine multiple audits into one form? • Will this software be able to store our regulatory documents? • Can we integrate IOT devices into the platform?
The Quality Management Solution Wrap-Up
Answering these questions will give you and your team a better understanding of the type of solution you need. A robust quality management software solution will add value beyond the quality assurance department and increase brand compliance company-wide.
Once you’ve evaluated the quality management solution in these four areas, it’s time to schedule a demo. That’s the best way to learn more about the software functionality and ensure that it’s a fit for your business goals.
A business is its brand reputation. This is especially important in an age of consumer demand for perfection. Every day I read another story about the power of the millennial buyer and how they are more loyal to companies with a #purposebeyondprofit. That is even true for B2B buyers, given that millennials have surpassed Generation X as the largest portion of the workforce. This ethical focus means that a brand must inspect every part of its business, not just because it makes financial sense, but also because it’s the right thing to do.
But how do you protect something you cannot see, touch, hear, taste, or smell? Given that any ethical scandal can devastate a brand’s reputation, I recommend business leaders do three things to protect themselves.
1. Choose Suppliers Carefully Choose suppliers that meet internal — and rigorous — codes of conduct in addition to third-party certifications such as Fair Trade or ISO 26000. Every business has a supply chain. A hair salon franchise sources shampoos, scissors, and those weird capes.
While those items might seem more benign than say an electronic device made with rare-earth minerals, they might not be. The bottle manufacturer of the shampoo could use forced labor. The shampoo ingredients could emit toxic fumes during production — fumes that harm workers’ health and break environmental laws. You get the idea. Every business has a supply chain, and the only way to prevent supply chain scandals is by implementing robust supplier qualifications.
2. Check Up on Your Suppliers Conduct regular inspections of those supplier standards. As W. Edwards Deming noted, “In God we trust; all others bring data.” Even the best supplier standards are meaningless if they’re not enforced. All brands — from Coca-Cola to Ace Hardware — need to monitor suppliers with routine inspections. This brings visibility into suppliers and makes it possible to correct issues before they become a scandal.
“It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet
Inspections can identify minimum wage violations, illegal use of a subcontractor, or improper use of fire safety equipment. Regular inspections also act as a form of insurance. Imagine a story breaks about an unethical T-shirt factory. If your inspection results show no violations of labor or safety standards, then you can sleep easy knowing that your company — and brand — is doing the right thing.
3. Use Data to Drive Decisions Make business decisions based on inspection results. This is where business ethics matter most. It can seem impossible to switch suppliers after they fail multiple workforce inspections. It’s tempting to justify staying when you tell yourself “They’ve worked with us for years” or “They’re great at building prototypes” or “They are cheaper than anyone in the region.” However, there is no excuse for child labor, forced labor, or corporal punishment. So my plea to business leaders is to act on inspection results. If you have a supplier that is unwilling to comply with your Code of Conduct and local laws, then it’s time to move on. It’s up to all of us to ensure a safe, healthy, and clean environment for all workers — even those we do not see in our break rooms.
Deloitte’s reputation risk study concludes, “[A] company’s reputation should be managed like a priceless asset and protected as if it’s a matter of life and death, because from a business and career perspective, that’s exactly what it is.”