Scooter's Coffee: "Amazing People, Amazing Drinks… Amazingly Fast," Part 2
This is part 2 of a Q&A with Bill Black, CMO at Scooter’s Coffee, the rapidly growing coffee franchise founded in 1998 in Bellevue, Nebraska. Find part 1 here.
Why is it so important for the marketing department to have a personal touch when it comes to helping the brand connect with franchise prospects? The personal touch is so important because that is our DNA. Our mission is to create an amazing experience for each life we touch. It accentuates our core values, especially love. This applies to everyone who is attached to the brand, from a customer to a vendor to a prospective franchisee.
How does this help your franchise sales and development effort? When our entire mission is centered on providing an amazing experience, that becomes part of our identity. From the development side, our prospective franchisees know that we are looking for people who embrace our core values as well. Family is incredibly important to Scooter’s. Our founders, Don and Linda Eckles and their family, are still very much involved in the business. That being said, there is nothing more important than the profitability of our franchisees – which starts at the top and permeates its way throughout the organization.
What ways or tools do you rely on to do this? It’s all about an amazing connection turning into a relationship. It starts from the first time a person fills out a form or makes a phone call to our brand. The development team immediately starts building a relationship with prospects. Once our prospective franchisees move into the stage where they come visit headquarters, they are ushered into the Be Amazing Day experience. This allows a prospective franchisee to meet the leadership team and see where and how the magic happens. They learn about every single aspect of our business including real estate, harvest roasting, marketing, supply chain etc. One of the most powerful parts of Be Amazing Day is the discussion about each prospect’s “Why.” To hear each story and dream starting to manifest itself is truly powerful for everyone involved.
Do today’s prospects expect more from the franchise marketing department? What, and how do you provide it? As with every business, marketing is important, and we ensure our franchisees are set up for success. However, we really make it clear right up front that marketing is more of a “top spin” to their business. They are not going to become successful based on marketing. They are going to be successful by picking great sites, having the best trained staff, and implementing operational excellence with consistent excellence in their customer experience. Then we provide that top spin or icing on the cake. We want to ensure they know that they create their own success.
To get them started right, we provide great support through a new store opening plan. In addition, there are portals they can use to order a plethora of materials. We also work with them on digital media, direct mail campaigns, etc. If the franchisee has a specific need, we will work to provide whatever they need, always staying within our brand. We will tailor our support to the needs of a specific store and help build customized plans.
How is today’s consumer and marketing data helping you fine-tune your marketing initiatives? Data is essential to knowing your customer – not just knowing who they are from a broad standpoint, but knowing them specifically and personally. You must look to see what about the data on the consumer differentiates them from other segments. For example, we have multiple segmented personas identified, and we know the sales and behavioral patterns of each. We know what they buy, how they buy it, how much they spend, how frequently they visit, etc. This is critical information in today’s tech-savvy world.
Describe the evolving role of social media in your brand’s marketing efforts. We focus on social media to create a conversation with our customers, rather than using it only to drive business to our stores. We want to have a conversation and build on the love of the brand our followers have. We have to make sure we are messaging in a way that creates that conversation. Going back to the transition we made during Covid, we found that the positivity messages we were putting out generated even more engagement than our typical messaging! You must know your audience and provide the opportunity to have them engage with the brand.
How do you work with other internal departments and does technology help? Collaboration is so important, no matter what level you are within the organization. Technology absolutely helps and has taken on a new role with the pandemic and the need for us all to be remote workers at some point. The pandemic created the need for us to be creative with how we work together. Zoom, Teams, etc. have become commonplace. However, while technology helps it does create some challenges with items like product tasting. This is where you have to become creative and put forth an intentional effort to create a collaborative environment. An example of this is how Scooter’s pivoted to continue to be able to hold Be Amazing Days for prospective franchisees. Using technology, we were able to continue to show prospects our headquarters, have them meet the team, and more. We found that prospects who went through Be Amazing Day virtually were incredibly impressed by the way we were able to pivot and continue to provide an amazing experience.
Do you see vendors as business partners? Why/why not? We absolutely view vendors as partners and specifically look for vendors who share our core values. This goes back to the root of our mission statement to create an amazing experience for each life we touch. This applies to every single person or vendor. Whether or not they become business partners or not, we want to ensure they are walking away from the experience positively. For those vendors who do become partners, we don’t look at them as “just vendors.” They become part of the family. Much of our flavor trend research comes from what our vendors are putting together. We rely on them to provide business insights and trends to go along with our own research.
How have marketing strategies/tools changed over the past decade? How have you adapted? The handheld device, along with the social and digital arena, have completely transformed. Today billions of people are walking around completely absorbed by the device in their hand, spending 8 to 10 hours a day on their screens. We have to recognize that and realize that this changes how we market to individuals and consumers. That being said, there is one thing that will never go away: the need for human connection. No matter how fancy we get with our phones and our ability to communicate, there will always be a need for human connection.
What advice would you offer to aspiring CMOs? Surround yourself with people smarter than you and then get out of their way. Be a continuous student of your craft. Be a servant leader and a cheerleader for your team. Lead with humility and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Never compromise on talent. Don’t be afraid to pay a little extra for really smart people. These are the people who will help propel you forward.
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