smith+henderson’s rebrand to WorkBuzz

Steven Frost (right), founder and CEO of smith+henderson, the organisers of The Best Franchise Awards, provides an insider-glimpse into its rebrand.

When I first came across franchising, I was blown away by the breadth of different franchise opportunities and market leading brands leveraging the business model to grow.

However, with almost every franchisor shouting about the quality of their support and franchise model, it was difficult to sort outstanding franchise opportunities from those with glossy marketing. In the world of TripAdvisor and Amazon Reviews, I craved more objective information.

When I founded smith+henderson I wanted to change this. My vision was to provide greater transparency in UK franchising by leveraging confidential feedback from thousands of actual franchisees, and help ‘good’ franchisors standout from those with the shiny marketing. We would then bring the industry together to share best practice and drive progress.

Seven years have passed and with 100 plus franchisors participating in the programme, Franchise World and Lloyds Bank supporting this, we are closer than ever to realising this vision. We have learned many lessons and I’m proud of what we have achieved.

‘Never stop being a start-up’
Although we’re seven years into our journey, we still talk about our business as a start-up and world-class company in the making. We have taken a leaf out of Jeff Bezos’ (the founder of Amazon) book. One of the reason Amazon has just become the world’s second trillion-dollar company (at the time of writing), is because of his obsession with ‘Day 1’.

This is a sort of mantra that Amazon will never stop being a start-up – having an obsessive focus on the customer, innovation, making decisions fast and generally exhibiting the best characteristics of a creative, entrepreneurial start-up. He argues ‘Day 2’ is stasis, followed by irrelevance, decline and death and that’s why it will always be ‘Day 1’ at Amazon.

I’m not interested in ‘Day 2’ either, and that’s why we’re rebranding. Over the last few years, we have been working with a growing list of franchisors (and non-franchised businesses) to help them gather confidential feedback from their employees, as well as franchisees, and leverage this to improve employee engagement and become better places to work.

We needed a new brand identity which better reflected this wider focus and fix a disconnect: prospective employees often fed back that they initially thought smith+henderson was a mature, slow moving company, whereas our colleagues and clients described us as dynamic, innovative and entrepreneurial.

Our new brand, WorkBuzz, reflects this and our renewed vision to help improve the working lives of one million people (employees and franchisees alike) by 2022. It’s much more than a facelift – we recently completed our first round of funding, opened up a new head office and have just launched the next generation of our feedback platform.

We are, however, the same people, committed to raising the profile of franchising and recognising outstanding franchisors.