Recently we welcomed Brian Hodge to the Account Experience Podcast. Brian is a Leadership Consultant at Dame Management Strategies but also just happened to be the previous champion at Soccer Shots, one of our customers. While at Soccer Shots Brian was the Director of Franchise Operations and he ran their NPS program for the entire brand across the United States. This talk was a killer example of a champion using data and tying it to financial outcomes. He literally correlated profitability and growth to hitting a specific NPS score and figured out certain segments of families buy 50% more once they hit a certain net promoter score.
It's a fascinating episode and it's a great example of a company in the franchise space utilizing Net Promoter and Account Experience to monetize their customer's experience and grow the company's bottom line in the process. Below you'll find links to the podcast episode and the full transcript. Enjoy!
Full Video w/ Slides:
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of "The Account Experience Podcast". I'm here, as always, with my cohost, Cary T. Self. Say hello, Cary.
And today, we have a, a special guest. So, Brian Hodge, he's the Leadership Consultant at Dame Management Strategies. He's a former director of Franchise Operations Specialist at Soccer Shots, one of our customers. And we're really excited to have him on here. He's gonna be talking about The Path to 80 NPS, which is a crazy number, and he did it with data. So we're really excited to have him here. Welcome, Brian.
Thanks, great to be here.
Of course, and I'm really excited to pair you two together, Brian and Cary, because you have some previous, kind of, co-experience running a franchise, experience, operations, things like that. So Cary, I know you're really pumped about having Brian here, so I'm glad we can make this happen.
Yeah, well, you know, Brian and I have had a chance to talk in the past, and the similarities in our backgrounds always gets me excited to, kinda, hear Brian's story. And did I hear 80? Eight, zero? Was that right, Ian?
Yeah, 80. Eight, zero.
So let's use that as our, as our hook. Let's keep people interested, and we'll tell them how we got there in a minute, but. Brian, what I thought would be great is why don't we, for us to understand a little bit, what is Soccer Shots? I think, by us understanding the dynamic of that business, and what you did there, will, kinda, help us with this story we're gonna tell today.
Sure, Soccer Shots is a franchise system. It's offering intro to soccer programming for children aged two to eight. The franchise system has about 140 owners operating 200 territories across North America. They've been doing this for about 15 years now, experienced incredible growth. Really great business model, and they attract people who are passionate about working with and impacting the lives of small children. And they're passionate about sports and soccer. And, so it's a really amazing community of franchisees.
Yeah, I think anyone that has a child playing a sport, especially, soccer. I mean, you used the word passion, I think, like three times in there. And I think you nailed it. And I think that's a natural connection to net promoter and, and adopting that and using that. I know we're gonna get to that 80 score, but Brian, tell us a little bit about why net promoter? And, and, and, you know, what were some of the reasons you brought it in? And why did you think it was a good fit for Soccer Shots?
Yeah, I can't take credit for it. The owners, the founders of the company, kinda, initiated the idea. As they grew, they recognized that they had these franchisees spreading across the country. And they wanted to have a good gauge of what the customer experience was. And, so somebody read a book, "The Ultimate Question 2.0". And that, kind of, started our journey. I think we might've even started with, you know, SurveyMonkey or something like that to get it going, and to, like, test the, the questions. And then we had a partner, official partner one, which led us to CustomerGauge. And it was the series of events of like, "Hey, let's try this out. Hey, we're seeing this work. Let's try it in more locations. Let's double down on this. Let's go from this being here's something to test to here's something we recommend, to here's something that we're gonna make this official and automated and every parent's gonna get a survey with this cadence." And that kinda thing. And, so along that progression, I was in that tail end that we were just moving towards, really standardizing the timing and approach, making sure all, all parents got one, and that kinda thing.
I'm kinda curious. Were you there when you guys were doing, like, the manual SurveyMonkey-type surveying and reporting and all that stuff?
No, I got there soon after we had adopted CustomerGauge as a platform.
Okay. I was just curious, 'cause Cary and I did an episode about our, I also used to do that. So I was there when we did, like, manual analysis, and so as Cary, initially, so we have horror stories. I was just kinda curious if you had your own, but, yeah, good for you .
I think Ian and I had the same question lined up there. Well, I wanted to hear about it too, like.
But it's interesting because, you know, we've talked about, kind of, wanting our own programs and piecing it together, kind of, you know, scotch tape and, and a piece of gum kinda thing, but. It sounds like you already had a tool in place, so. So let me jump to that then. So what were some of the challenges of automating this? And you said something that really stood out. A survey for every parent.
I mean, that's bold. That's bold to say,
"We're gonna ask everyone how they feel."
So talk to us.
Yeah. a little bit about how, you know, how did you accomplish that? And what were some of the things you ran into around that?
Yeah, it was, it was a progression, and I think we're on the path to that. And I think it was a series of validations. And it was a series of building confidence. And it was a progression from, we're just doing it with one or two franchisees to we're doing it with a bunch of franchisees. But then we had, and as we looked at, I think I did the math, I think only about two thirds, at the time, did a parent get a survey at its highest point. And we knew we wanted a true 80 NPS system wide. And the only way to get there, in fairness, is to make sure we were surveying all of our parents after each season. And as we built more and more data, we could see the, the business case. We could see that indeed, like you can read all the books you want, right? But until you see your high NPS customers buying more and referring more, more parents, and until you see the franchisees who have higher NPS growing and being more profitable that you need to build that business case to be able to make the determination that, yes, we're going to, in the future, do two things, automate it, so that it's no longer just, you know, up to franchisees to get the survey list together, upload them into the system, and that kind of thing. It's just automatic. Now, there's some technical things there that CustomerGauge was super helpful with, and working with what was a brand new system, backend system for us.
We did IT migration. And that, you know, was a bit of a challenge for us to work through, but much bigger because we were changing our whole, whole online ordering platform. But we, we built the business case. We started to round out the, the technical requirements to make it automated. And we were also backing it up with data that we found the response rates were higher when the survey came out at a particular point. And the spoiler alert there was, the sooner that survey could hit after the last session of the, what we call season, which is several weeks of Soccer Shots, the response rate was higher. We also tuned the subject line, the text of the email, and the CustomerGauge support team was super helpful in helping us build those things out, so that we could look at our franchisees, and say, "Listen, we've proven that higher NPS is good for you. It's good for your families. It's great for the brand, overall. Automating it makes it easier for you, and a lot less headaches for you to worry about. And it just, it makes sense. It's important to do." Now, I think, the other thing that, that's really key here is our CEO was the champion of like, you know, it was a very much a Kennedy-ask, you know, put a man on the moon. We're going to hit 80 NPS overall. Now, it's a crazy high number, but that was only established after we had seen several franchisees consistently hit it. And so we, we started digging into how they do that.
That's a lot to unpack. Okay, so lemme. First off , I love the fact that you talked about starting with a few and then growing from there, you know? And I think you, one of the questions I had was what were the things that you were seeing that made you wanna go, okay, this works, this we have to fix. Is there anything that stood out to you in that? I'm gonna have like a hundred questions after that. I'm so sorry .
No, it's okay But for me, let's start with that franchise piece, starting small and growing and scaling. What were some of the things that you saw that really excited you like, okay, we have to replicate that and scale it up.
But also, what were some of the things you were like, "Oh, what?" You know, you talked about right timing-
And tweaking the subject line. Was there anything else that really stood out to you in that, in that process and that exercise?
Yeah, there was because when we had these, you know, when we had enough to say, "Yeah it's doable, these 80 NPS." But not everybody was hitting it. We were just like, "Why?" How is that possible? And so I'm a bit of a nerd and an Excel geek, so I started downloading, you know, transactions, and, and taking a look at it. The quick thing about Soccer Shots is that you can take Soccer Shots' programs, and put them into two categories. One category is in childcare centers. So the coach goes to childcare center or the school, performs the Soccer Shots session for children at that school, and rinse and repeat for eight to 10 weeks. The other program is what we call the public program. This is in a park, or in some other public space on a weekend, in a weekday, evening. And the parents are standing around watching. Now, the public program is actually the minority of the business in the business model, at least, up until COVID. So what we found, and it was the most exciting thing in the world, is I started plotting a correlation between the park program, the public program, and the overall data. And what we saw is that there was a huge correlation. And that franchisees who had a higher public program were, generally, able to achieve a higher NPS. Even though we were looking at a minority of the customers involved. If you want, I got a slide that I geek out on.
Yeah, pop it up.
Okay, so. Sorry, lemme get back to here. Share our little screen.
For those of you listening, we'll, we'll describe it for you.
Yeah, we'll, we'll describe it here. So it's, people laugh at me 'cause I get so excited about it, but it's just, you know, a bunch of dots on a screen. But what you can see if, if you were able to see the slide, is you would see a cluster moving from the lower-left to the upper-right. And on the y-axis, we have the public program, NPS. And on the x-axis, an overall NPS. And I get, and I get really excited about this because there is this blank area, where there's no dots. And it's on the far right. And basically, what this shows is no one was able to get their overall NPS over 80 without having their park program, their public programming, above that 80 mark. And then, so this is my mic drop moment when I'm talking to franchisees about, how do you get to 80 NPS? You gotta get your park programs up. And, you know, we get some other fellow nerds in the presentations, and they say, "Ah, well, you've shown correlation. You have not shown causality." And, so the next slide here, I actually plotted these little movements of these franchisees' scores. And I can show that they went from lower than overall 80 NPS to above it only by getting their public program over NPS, 80 NPS first. It's like a salmon ladder.
And that 80 NPS for a public program is the thing that they had to leap over. And so, I need, I always have to remind myself to shut up 'cause I can babble on about this slide. But this was one of the huge aha moments. And, so we get the question, like, "Okay, how do I get my public program that high?" Two things. First of all, the quality of the coach. Second thing is the communication with the parents. And so what we were able to show is that that coach who's on the field has got to be great with children, but also good with adults. Has to be able to do that adult-adult dialog, greet the parents warmly, check in with them throughout the season. In addition to the huge challenge of managing eight to 10 two-year-olds in an open space on a Saturday morning. Not easy to do, but when you can get that coaching quality up for, when you've built the training program to get the coaching quality up, for a few coaches, that floats the boats of all the coaches in your system. And it just proves you've got your hiring down, you've got your training down, you've got your coach management down. So coaching quality is number one. Communication's number two. That rapid response when the, when the, whether it's a director of a childcare center, whether it's a parent inquiry, the ability to quickly get back to that parent, get them their answers, communicate schedule changes when there is weather delays. Those two things, coaching quality, communications with customers are the keys to getting that, that up.
Cary, you know what I love about this thing, is that it's data-driven. I mean, you ,literally, pulled up a chart with scatter plots. I love that. Because I think that's, honestly, we talked to a good amount of CX professionals, and I think, this is the type of thing that people have when they're, when they're crushing the game. So if they're really growing their program, they're growing their business, they have this type of supporting documentation. Because data-driven is really the, the X factor that I think I've found. When you were talking about testing subject lines, you were testing, it sounds like you tested one to send the survey. I mean that's-
That's very, very important. I mean, it's all about data. I don't.
Cary, what are your thoughts on that?
Well, first off, bravo. You got a couple of geeks on-
On this with you too. So we get excited about on data and, and, and tables. But the thing I loved, really loved that you said, Brian, 'cause in my next follow-up question was, okay, we get this argument on NPS all the time. It's too simple. There's no way you could take action on it. What's really going on? And you know, you, you spoke to that so perfectly, and then you took it a step further. These are the drivers behind the score.
You have no doubt the top three things that your franchisees need to act on to improve that score. And, you know, to me, that was the biggest takeaway from what you said. It's you giving people actionable data, something that they can-
Do with, and go out and make a change for their business. Because at the end of the day, how well they do, is how much they get returned on that investment, right?
And empowering them with that simple NPS question. It's not so simple, is it? Highly dynamic.
Love this table.
Yeah, yeah, this is-
Yeah, no, it's awesome. It was, one point, I downloaded 1.3 million transactions of Soccer Shots orders.
Over a, a multiyear time period. And so I tracked the results of, you know, parents of franchisees who had higher NPSs, higher NPS scores than the average system. And what we found is that the families of high NPS franchisees bought 50% more orders per family than other franchisees. I mean, that's massive. When you talk about, like the ability for a parent to maybe participate in two seasons, and they ended up doing three seasons, and you apply that across 10,000 families that you're serving, it's a big deal. But, you know, when I carried your point about arguing the case for NPS, I've heard all of it, right? I've heard, you know, oh, NPS doesn't reflect my business. I have a slide for that. You know, and I think it comes down to like, you gotta get familiar with, like, cognitive biases because these are where most of the objections to doing NPS. And I think it just results at a fear, like a, I don't understand how to get, I'm fearful of how do I get my score up. I'm fearful of those low scores coming in. I'm terrified, I mean, I got into this to positively impact kids. I don't wanna hear complaints . So it's easy to, kind of, stick your head in the sand. And one of the things I try to explain to people is that, you know, the Net Promoter Score question does have an Achilles heel. And it's called sample bias.
And what that means is that you can't, you can't extrapolate the, the mix of responses that you get in the response rate to people who don't respond. So in other words, and I have a slide up here for people who aren't, like, able to see it. And it just shows, you know, a pretty basic NPS score. You get 60% promoters, 30% passives, 10% detractors. And it's showing this is what the response, a 20% response rate looks like. Now, in traditional marketing research, right, we would say, "Oh, okay, well, that's a good representation of our population." And that, when we, we can, we can assume that the non-responders look just like the responders. And that's the thing that you can't do with NPS. And that's because it's sample bias, and the net-net there is that the, the person who responds has a different perspective, generally, than someone who doesn't respond. And it's that emotive interaction that causes this next slide. And this is what reality really looks like. And this is why it's so scary is that your population of detractors is generally much higher in the non-respondents. So people who don't give you a response, you've got a higher concentration of detractors, which is, which means it's all the more important to find the detractors that you can get a response from, study those sentiments, so you can have a larger impact across those that haven't given you a response rate.
Just to paint the picture real quick, guys. We're looking at a slide that basically had, before you tracked down all of those non-respondents, you had a 55, I think it was, NPS. And what Brian's showing right now. Yeah, it was a 50 NPS, sorry. And once you got that remaining group of people to respond to you, it's basically saying the detractor amount is much higher in that group 'cause they didn't necessarily respond initially.
And your actual overall NPS may take the whole picture into account as a minus 22 NPS. That's quite the swing from 50 to minus 22. And that, thank you for bringing that up, Brian. We've talked about this a lot at length. We talked about account coverage. We talked about revenue coverage. So making sure that you get respondents from a large portion of your revenue. This is one of the most misunderstood things in the NPS period. I think you are spot on with bringing this up. What do you think, Cary?
I love the visual of it too.
Absence of signal we talk about all the time. And we say it's, it's probably, and you said it well, Brian, it's the most dangerous part of a program. Those that you're not hearing from that in itself is a statistic that, that should scare you a little bit. That non-response rate. But, look, so lemme ask you this then, Brian. What did you guys do to overcome this? If, if you're, if you have an absence of signal, you're not getting a response rate from x number of your audience. What did you guys do to, kind of, pull them in, to entice them? What did you do to increase that number?
Well, we, we tried some things that were helpful, and some things that, that, that, we found didn't really help the needle, move the needle, overall. But, I mean, you go back to, like, answer the quick question for anybody who's wondering, why is that so far off? In the net, why are there so many detractors and non-responders. And it's just easy. I mean, if you think about it, what's the opposite of love? It's not hate, it's apathy, okay? So if I really can't stand you, and you've ticked me off, I'm not even gonna open your survey, let alone help you by giving you constructive feedback 'cause I can't stand you. Anyways, to get back to your question about how to get, you know, ensure that we were getting the, the responses. So we do, we did use a reminder survey that went out.
Found that the reminder survey did give us a big bump in response rate. We talked about testing some of the subject line, the timing, to get that response rate up. We actually did an experiment to see if we did a midseason NPS, if that would help us catch families that were not having an awesome experience, and convert them before the end of the season. And, and while we did see that the end-of-season survey was much higher than the midseason, we also, I would, looked at all the data, and I was able to see that the midseasons, overall, were a lot lower than they usually are for any particular franchisee. And so, you know, it was a question of like, is the parent not able to give us a full evaluation because they've only seen half the product, half of the program? Maybe. I think we were, legitimately, catching some issues before they can be, became issues, but. One thing that was definitely clear is the response rate of our end-of-season survey was lower when we were doing that midseason. And so we, we counted that as like, that was evidence of a little bit of survey fatigue. And, so we didn't, we didn't wanna perpetuate that. So we found that that's, that was not a good way of raising the, the response rate.
That's interesting. Just, I love that it was almost a transactional approach midway through, you know, a check-in to, kind of, figure that out, but I liked the model of using the survey itself to figure out what's, what's good and what's bad about the survey.
It's a smart model.
Yeah, we also moved from a progression of, we didn't have drivers installed, at first, and, and Justin was a, Justin, the CEO of Soccer Shots was a proponent of like, let's get drivers in there. We had loads of comments. Like we are, the Soccer Shots customer comments, more than average. I think we were getting somewhere around, 60% of responses came with comments.
And, and, so I would try to analyze those. But when we got drivers in, that was a way of really qualifying and quantifying the feedback in a much more reliable way than reading through hundreds, thousands of comments. And then, also took a look at the text analytics tools that you guys have, which I, you know, I think are absolutely phenomenal and super insightful for that question of, like, when you're running a franchise system, and you've got 140 owners and probably 120 different pricing schemes across, you know, various demographics across North America, it's tough to answer the question, is our pricing correct? Is the pricing too low, too high?
And that kinda thing. And the, the new text analytics capabilities helped us zero in on that, so that we could show a, any franchisee, how, for example, passive comments regarding pricing were positive, negative compared to nationwide. And, so when I could look at a franchisee and say, "You are not getting the complaints or the negative feedback around your pricing, that we're seeing the rest of the system." That's dollars, man. Like that's data-based, direct sentiments from your customers, and how they compare it to the nation, which tells you, you've got a lot of room to increase prices before, and you can get some more complaints and still be better than the rest of the country, so.
I like that you segwayed into it, 'cause that, that was my next big question. Now, that we've got this campaign, we're engaged with these parents, and the franchisees are bought in, the next step is, kind of, okay, so now what do you do with all that information, strategically? And so I liked the pricing explanation. Most people would say, "Hey, we're getting negative feedback here. We need to lower our prices." You used it as a catalyst to say, "We've got more room here to grow. Like, we are underselling our solution. They love us so much. We, you know, we can do more with that." What other things, strategically, were you guys pulling from this, that as an organization, you guys were able to leverage and use?
I think we were in the beautiful seat of just being able to look, and, kinda, dispel myths, you know, of like, "Oh, well, you know, the people and, you know, filling the blank region are just tougher to please." I'm like, "No, not, not so much." That, that's, that's not true. I think another thing that we did is we used it to celebrate. I mean, the comments that we get are just amazing. And Justin asked me, at one point, he said, "Why do you think it is that our customers comment so much more than, than the average?" I was like, "Well, you know, no offense to like the greatest coffee in the world, but your barista gives you an awesome latte." That really did make your morning, but it's not gonna have the impact of a coach making your three-year-old come out of their shell, smile and giggle and talk for the next three days about totally different things. So the emotional impact we had got those comments, we were able to use those in a bunch of different ways. First of all, the, at the franchisee level, they were using that to recognize and reward their coaches and their staff. And really, you know, it's just, forget the marketing play on it. Just for staff engagement, and to recognize them internally did that. Yes, there's a marketing side for using the, the promoter comments. There's also opportunity at the corporate level. I mean, there was this one part of, of what we call operator training for kinda new franchisees. I was able to, like, print out a full page of comments for every person. And sometimes we had 20 people in the room, so I got 20 pages just from the last 30 days of these promoter comments. And every page is different. And we would have people sit down, read the comments, and just highlight a couple that stuck out to them, and we talk about as, as part of the, part of the exercise. But that is, that was like highly inspirational. It was informative. And a great reminder of, like, I'm the trainer, but forget what I tell you is important about running your program.
Listen to our customers. And it was also really important, you know, for how we use the data, going back to the comments and the sentiments. We, we, we have this challenge in providing instruction to young children that the doctors who tell you about early childhood development will say, "You gotta have repetition." For the parents sitting on the sideline, they have a different perspective on that repetition. They're like, "It's just the same thing over and over again." And we're like, "Well, but the PhDs say it's this." And the parents are like, "I want more variety." So we were caught in this, how do we deliver excellent programming that's based on all the best research on early childhood development? And make sure that the, what is being shown to childcare center directors, to a park program officials, and to parents is, is appealing. And, so the feedback that we were getting about session length, about variety, about the different games that we put in all went into the product development side. So sorry, went on a little bit there, but you've got marketing, you've got internal staff inspiration, you've got product development things. And I just, I think it's so key, I, again, I credit the, the owner and leadership team because they've read the detractor comments. They've read the promoter comments to really make sure we had a good pulse on how is Soccer Shots being delivered out there across the, the continent.
So, Cary, I'm gonna jump in. You keep talking about Justin, which is, I'm assuming, the, the founder and CEO, right?
So how do you get, it sounds like Justin read the book, which is great, so he understand is the concept, but how do you communicate and manage the program with Justin, and keep his ear to make sure he's bought in to all of this? And getting that honest, brutal feedback from your clients? I mean, how did that go? I'm just, kind of, curious from your side.
Yeah, I mean, I give Justin credit for this being high on his priority list. And clearly, you know, you know, he got it from the, the intellectual side. But I think it also hit his heart too. And that's why experience ended up in the vision statement that he crafted. And 80 NPS overall became, you know, a long-term goal for the organization, and, you know, and, so he had his own internal drivers, and I think, and Cary will probably back me up on this, but when you're when you're managing a, a system of franchisees. I just gotta take a moment, and explain for anybody who's not familiar with franchising. It is a totally different animal, okay? In other industries, you've got employees, and you hire them and you fire them. And, you know, in most states, it's at will. You've got clients who, you know, there's this exchange for money. You're gonna give me money. I'm gonna give you this thing. And we're gonna try to keep that going as long as we can. Then you've got weird things like suppliers and the service providers and distributors and that kinda thing. Franchisees look a little bit like each one of those groups, but they are none of those groups. And, so there's a certain amount of influence that you do have with franchisees where you can say, "This is what our orange is. This is what our product is. You're not allowed to make up your own flavors, okay? You gotta use our flavors." On one hand.
On the other hand, there's certain things that, by law, you can't go anywhere near. You touch with a 10-foot pole. Things like staffing decisions, and hiring decisions. So it's, it's this very interesting thing where the franchisee has a certain amount of autonomy. And as you're rolling out new systems, even in cases where you can, you know, kind of, come down the mountain with, here's the new system, there's a certain amount of selling, and a certain amount of objection overcoming that you have to work through, so you can keep your team cohesive, and, and everybody on the same page. So I'd say, that's where our challenge, not just with NPS, but with any C change that we were looking to accomplish, was advocating and, and selling the, the new thing throughout the franchisees. And that that, that was always, and that's why it took years for us to go from, you know, SurveyMonkey to embarking on game, ready to make it standardized.
So, yeah, I just broke out into sweats when you The franchisee thing. And you described it perfectly, it's, there's certain things you can influence. There's certain things you can dictate. And there's a whole lot of gray in between, sometimes, and. Making sure that you can trust your data, trust the feedback, get it in a timely manner. Those were all things that, kind of, empowered us, Brian, right?
To kind of, to kind of be the champion for that, but I'm interested 'cause, you know, Ian asked the question. Normally, when I ask this question I'm saying, "How do you impact the C-suite?"
But it sounded like you had that leadership buy-in. You, like myself, we had to impact a different group to be bought in. So I wanted to ask this question. Let's go beyond just NPS. Was there other metrics that you were using to influence? Were there other metrics that were giving you insight? And did you tie any of that to your NPS into your program?
I think there were some, certainly, we're, we were looking at growth. We're looking at size. We have really great demographic information for each one of the areas that we serve. Because when franchisees buy a, quote unquote, territory, they wanna know, you know, how many parents are in that territory? How many children within a range? What's the average median household income? Et cetera, et cetera, so. We studied that. I think one area is, kinda, answer to your question. One area that we didn't do, which I thought, which I think I would encourage anybody to do, is to start overlaying NPS with employee engagement, with the financial performance of the organization. Now, this is like, again, I didn't do it, but this is like, if I had more time, if I had more research on a long runway, I'd wanna do this to just paint the picture that you're high, you're more highly-engaged employee is gonna get you greater NPS, which is going to get you greater profit growth over time. And then, like, that's like, the ultimate Holy Grail of business metrics, of like really painting the picture of this holistic good. Like it's not just about growing profits.
It's not just about customers who are gonna refer you to friends. You're actually accomplishing a positive impact on the lives of the employees who are doing this. And when that they're more healthy, healthy and better-engaged, they're gonna drive customers in. I was sitting at lunch last week with a CEO of a staffing company who is a huge fan of culture, a huge fan of NPS. And he was just like, it was just obvious that highly-engaged employees delight customers, period. So he, he's got this whole strategy of driving culture in his organization with the expectation that it's gonna have this amazing NPS component. I think, one other thing to the organization, it was, it applies to his, his and also to the Soccer Shots organization, is, kind of like, this healthy rivalry, healthy competition that you can get between franchisees, between offices, between departments for how their, their, how their scores are coming in.
I, I, I did not prep Brian whatsoever on that, but I just, I love it. 'Cause I think a lot of us that do this and have done this for a long time, I think some of these things become very obvious, and, you know, happy employees, happy customer. We've all heard that. And just love hearing you speak to that, Brian, a little bit, you know.
Yep, one of our, our collaborators at MIT a few years ago, did a small one-page, or was that? It might've been two-pages paper that basically, they ran some data and they correlated the employee experience to the net promoter style, customer experience and growth of companies. So you're spot on, Brian, when you'd say, I mean, that's from a research side, right? So it's a different thing to do in real life, but.
The research definitely supports that if you create that amazing experience for your employees, it spills over to your customers, and then, it fuels growth for companies. And you, you mentioned that some of your franchisees, you knew that the ones that had a higher NPS score grew faster or had more profitability. Can you speak to that a little bit real quick?
Yes, so one of the, one of the founders, as I was keying down the NPS data, and getting all excited about it. It was, it was like, "Whoa, hold on, have we been able to show that." And I'm just getting the slide ready to show you. "Have we been able to show, like, higher NPS franchisees actually do grow more?" And I was like, "That's a great question. Lemme go validate that for us." And so, you know, here's the net-net of what it was. 78% of franchise partners that had a higher than average NPS. This was, the average NPS for the system was 73 a few years ago, at the time. It's grown since. But they had higher growth. And, so this is, like, the one stat that, yeah, they're, they are growing faster. And that was, you know, I mean, back to the earlier point, we can read books all we want, right? But until we show that these concepts in the book are manifesting with our customers, you know, it's just a book.
Well, then, think about new franchisees coming in. Not only are you selling them on the data from the past, but now, you have almost a magic crystal ball. And it's not even magic, right? It's, it's, it's data.
But once they hit this threshold of scoring, you can say, "This guy's gonna grow fast. You know, this group over here is gonna do phenomenal, and we have to worry about this group." But now, you've got that data to give you a prediction of where they're going, versus it being after the fact, the following datapoints. So I just, I love that.
Yeah, we reported the NPS scores on, on a monthly basis. And we're able to just really gauge, you know, movement. So if somebody's moving up, moving down. We always tracked, and this goes back to one of the earlier questions about, what do we track? We tracked responses and response rate. So we, we wanted to make sure that as many parents as possible were being surveyed. We also wanted to make sure that we were getting a good response rate from that. And, you know, it's just, it's interesting to watch the rivalry in, amongst franchisees, really, become like a healthy thing. Because in metro areas where there's multiple franchisees, you know, they don't wanna see, they wanna beat their neighbor, but they don't want to see their neighbor have a low NPS 'cause that's gonna hurt their brand, you know, eventually, if not immediately. And then, you would think I would, I would have franchisees call me up, and be like, "Listen, there's no way he only got like 200 responses. He's not surveying everybody." Like, and, so it was just like this really helpful accountability of like, "Hey, we're all in this together. We're all trying to achieve this thing. And we want a level playing field for, you know, comparing each other."
Yeah, I think that really speaks to creating champions in the field. And ironically, you know, you're in a very competitive industry when you talk about soccer. But you throw in there this, this, this other score that they can score on. And they compete with each other. But you wanna play against the best. I think true athletes, people that are truly competing don't wanna go in, and just crush the competition. They wanna go up against the best, so they can come out on top. And I think that plays really well into this.
It does. And, you know, again, it aligned with, you know, we pursue excellence, was one of the core values. And so you can just, when you can draw vision, core values, mission, engaged employees, and a product that lines up with that, it, it, it's powerful. I mean, going back to the engagement thing, I mean, just for anybody who's maybe heard the term, but not super familiar with it. You know, what is employee engagement? Employee engagement, very simply, is employees' emotional connection to the company, and their willingness to give discretionary effort. And, so it doesn't necessarily mean they're working late hours in the evening. 'Cause we got hourly employees. At discretionary effort is that little bit more of energy and enthusiasm to delight a customer when they could just get by with, with a little bit less energy. That little extra energy is that discretionary effort. And that's what we're talking about when we talk about employee engagement.
Wow, so, Ian, I don't know how much time we have left, or if we wanna wrap this up with a, with a big question. What was on your mind? I see your eyes dancing a little.
Yeah, so I think you've done a great job, Brian, of painting the path to 80 NPS with data. I think that's very, very clear from everything you presented. So thank you for that. It was really, really insightful. Tell us a little bit about Dame Management Solutions or Strategies.
Oh, thanks, yeah, so it's founded by John Dame who is a Management Leadership Consultant. He provides strategic planning, peer groups such as, Vistage Groups, which is a peer group for CEOs. It's an international organization. John chairs a couple of those. We help leaders with executive coaching. And then, we've got this other bucket of other services, like assessments and events and, and other customized engagements where, at the end of the day, we're looking to help leaders become better, and to leave their greatest legacy. And we do that through a bunch of different things. And every leader's situation is a little bit different. So sometimes, it's a blend of coaching and a peer group. Other times, it's a strategic planning session. But it's super exciting. I met John in 2011. I was on the client side. He was the, you know, the, the unknown consultant coming in who probably got a little bit too much of my critique. And then, I, I was on the client side for several years until joining the organization just a couple months ago.
That's another thing you have in common with Cary.
Previous customer, now a CG employee. But-
I like that.
Yeah, it was great. Brian, thank you so much. It's been, again, really, really amazing to have you on. I think the data, and just the, the strategies presented are invaluable to the audience. So thank you, again. Cary, thanks for being here, as well. And this is "The Account Experience Podcast". Please share with friends, subscribe, and we'll talk to you guys all soon. Thank you.