Over 3,600 franchised stores were operating under the DIA banners worldwide at year-end 2015, 47.9% of all of the group’s establishments and 61.1% of the DIA network. The group believes that its franchisees are the brand’s best ambassadors and the professionals best qualified to deliver customer satisfaction thanks to their local market knowledge. In 2015, the company tried to address their needs by putting the entire organisation at their disposal to help them make their businesses more profitable and to transfer its know-how, brand equity and unbeatable price image to them.
DIA fosters the franchise model because it believes it is the best operating model for excelling in the neighbourhood shopping segment. Over the course of the year, DIA added 612 stores run by local entrepreneurs to its network, bringing the total to 3,697 and generating work in its local communities in the process: at year-end, these franchised establishments employed 24,000 people. 2015 was in fact a record year for franchise openings.
NO. OF FRANCHISES
The channels for communicating with potential franchisees include websites informing candidates all about the company and its franchise model. Last year the company launched one of these information sites in Portugal and Argentina.
Trade fair attendance is another way of attracting new entrepreneurs. In 2015, DIA participated in more than 10 such trade fairs in Spain, interviewing over 300 interested parties, including the Franquishop fairs in Seville, Zaragoza, Barcelona and Madrid, Franquiatlántico in Vigo, Expofranquicia in Madrid; the Andalusia Franchise Trade Fair in Granada; Frankinorte in Bilbao, and the International Franchise Expo in Valencia.
In Argentina, the firm participated in the International Franchise Expo organised by the Argentine Brand and Franchise Association in Argentina, at which 180 interested parties visited the company’s stand; in Portugal, Minipreço attended the International Franchising Fair in Lisbon for the first time; and in Brazil, DIA attended the all-important trade fair sponsored by the Brazilian Franchising Association, among others.
At these trade fairs, the company provides interested candidates with the documentation they need for starting up a franchise and informs them of the benefits afforded by the model.
DIA has other programmes specifically designed to attract potential franchisees, such as the Referral Programme in Argentina, under which DIA employees and existing franchisees recommend the franchise formula to potential entrepreneurs; these programmes are delivering excellent results. Referring employees propose candidates for operating a store; in the event a franchise agreement is signed they receive a specific number of points for exchange for gifts from a catalogue (they can accumulate points to qualify for better gifts, including trips).
International DIA Franchisee Satisfaction Survey
The relationship between DIA and its franchisees is based on mutual trust and benefits. To this end, DIA has set up several channels for tracking its franchisees’ satisfaction, transmitting relevant business information and listening to their experiences and suggestions.
This unwavering effort to gather feedback from its franchisees crystallises in the annual International DIA Franchisee Satisfaction Survey. In 2015, this barometer, in its fourth edition, confirmed that the most highly-rated attributes remain the sales and supervisory aspects, notably including the quality and competitiveness of the DIA brand, the advertising campaigns and the Club DIA loyalty programme. Moreover, 58% of franchisees said they would repeat the experience and 54% would recommend it to another person.
The franchisee satisfaction survey is an exceptionally useful tool for tracking franchisee expectations
The survey has emerged as an exceptionally good way of learning about the entrepreneurs’ expectations and suggestions. Notably, over 95% of franchisees answered the following open-ended question: “What else could DIA do to help you manage your business?”
In order to respond to their concerns, keep them satisfied and fuel ongoing sharp growth in the franchise format, DIA went to lengths to improve communication with its entrepreneurs, help them make more money from their businesses and generally lend them its support in 2015.
Regular meetings to enhance communication
In 2015, the organisation focused on servicing its franchisees, setting up meetings to serve as forums for dialogue between the entrepreneurs and representatives from different areas of the company to listen to their proposals and improve the way things are done by establishing agreed-upon procedures.
Over the course of the year, franchisees visited the Spanish warehouses, nurturing a strong bond between franchisees and management at the various regional centres. Meetings were also organised at the company’s head offices with the department heads who are involved in everyday franchise activities. These meetings essentially unearthed issues that affect the franchisees’ business, such as administration and logistics. Meetings of this kind also take place on a recurring basis in Portugal and China.
In Brazil and Argentina, the company organised Franchise Week, marked by activities designed to make DIA employees familiar with the franchise business model and its strategic importance for the company. It also organised an Integration Day with franchisees. This event included meetings with professionals from the logistics, operations, finance and sales areas at which executives and leaders from DIA Argentina shared their experiences with the firm’s entrepreneurs.
In addition to communicating with its franchisees by means of these regular meetings, DIA has other internal channels for helping its entrepreneurs, the most notable being the Franchisee Portal. This platform, created in 2014, provides the entrepreneurs with key business information–covering range, orders and sales information, etc. Franchisees can use this online channel to access databases containing information about their own performance as well as comparative information; it is also configured with a messaging system for getting in contact with DIA.
All of the group’s franchisees receive a newsletter outlining the latest corporate news and best management practices. There are also country-specific publications, such as the new bi-monthly magazine, Partners, in Argentina, as well as bi-monthly newsletters for franchisees in Spain (with a print run of 1,900) and Portugal.
The company also has a series of franchisee-specific feedback channels. These were expanded in 2015 with the creation of the Franchisee Ombudsman figure in Portugal. There is also a Strategic Partner Service Centre (CASE for its acronym in Spanish) in Argentina which operates by phone and e-mail and is similar to the phone line in operation in China. In Portugal there is also a postal feedback channel, while the equivalent platform in Brazil, dubbed ‘DIA is listening’, handles queries and resolves potential business management issues.
Helping franchisees become more profitable
In response to franchisee demands, in 2015, the group worked to help them make their stores more profitable. To this end, DIA worked on definition of their product ranges, factoring in the entrepreneurs’ experience by listening to their suggestions about product assortment and special offers.
The company gives its franchisees tools for driving sales and its specialists provide expert advice in a number of areas. In addition, each franchisee receives a print run of advertising brochures tailored for his or her catchment area. DIA’s entrepreneurs also benefit from DIA’s mass media advertising campaigns. Lastly, DIA also negotiates special initiatives with its suppliers for its franchisees.
This year, over 100 franchisees won trips and gifts as part of the sales incentive competitions organised in collaboration with suppliers.
The unwavering support extended its franchisees is one of DIA’s strong suits. Before signing a franchise agreement, DIA analyses each project, helps with the premises search and prepares a specific business plan.
The DIA teams provide support with the technical aspects necessary to start up an establishment, specifically furnishing them with the management tools they require: in-house software, PoS terminals, the Club DIA loyalty programme, etc., all of which are adapted to individual country needs.
In some cases, DIA provides applicants with financial assistance so they can start up their businesses and draw on financing agreements with partner banks as required.
The continuous training and assistance received through a network of store supervisors who visit the franchised establishments frequently are among the aspects most highly valued by the franchisees. Against this backdrop, in Spain there are 18 Franchise Coaches, while DIA Argentina has established a Store Head Coach role, a person who accompanies the entrepreneur during the first 45 days managing his or her store to facilitate the initial learning process.
In Spain there are dedicated coaches specialised in franchisee training who provide: the welcome and initial training–comprising the academic and practical courses imparted in the training centres; theory taught via the online training platform (DIAtraining); and work practice in actual stores. The specialist franchisee coaches receive annual refresher training themselves on various topics of interest such as management of bread and fruit counters, the franchise websites, etc.
More than 800 people from the franchise unit received training in Spain in 2015, including franchisees and DIA support staff (supervisors, franchise marketings), accounting for over 30,000 hours of in-situ training. The online training model associated with the upfront franchisee training plan entailed the provision of over 3,500 hours of training in total.
DIA, benchmark franchisor
The transfer of its know-how, coupled with its sheer number of franchised stores, innovation capabilities, support for entrepreneurs and sensitivity to environmental problems, earned DIA a spot among international consultant Franchise Direct’s ranking of the world’s top 20 franchisors in 2015.
Worthy of special mention is the Franchise Excellence Seal awarded by the Brazilian Franchise Association (ABF for its acronym in Portuguese), which helped to consolidate its image as franchisor in this market. This accolade was awarded after interviewing 70 franchisees who were asked to answer 35 questions designed to measure their satisfaction as franchisees and their companies’ performance.
Similarly, in Argentina, the franchises received the Quality Seal granted by the Argentine Brand and Franchise Association (AAMF for its acronym in Spanish) in conjunction with Bureau Veritas-BVQI, the world-leading quality certification provider.
DIA received the Franchise Excellence Seal awarded by the Brazilian Franchise Association after interviewing 70 franchisees
Acknowledging franchisee performance
In 2015, DIA sought to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of its franchisees with the second edition of its DIA Franchisee Awards in April 2015, celebrated in conjunction with the Expofranquicia trade fair. The company awards these accolades to recognise its franchisees’ efforts in five different categories representing its corporate values: efficiency, initiative, respect, teamwork and customer-focus.
Josefa Miguelina, from Dos Hermanas (Seville), received the Customer-focus award; the prize for best representing the corporate value ‘Efficiency’ went to Adrián Paredes; Gabriel Hernández, from Mérida, received the award for showing the most ‘Initiative’; the prize for ‘Respect’ went to Jordi Viva and María del Carmen Palacios; and the ‘Teamwork’ prize was awarded to the work performed by Teodora Molina, José García, María Teresa Pérez and Robustiano García, two couples from Manises (Valencia).
In April, DIA organised the second edition of the DIA Franchisee Awards to thank franchisees for their hard work and dedication
DIA Argentina also sought to reward the franchisees best representing DIA’s values by naming them ‘DIA Ambassadors’.