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Stefania Sigurdson Forbes

Meet the Team: Patrice Boulet, Product Influencer

By | Meet the Team
Patrice Boulet, Product Manager at FranchiseBlast

We love hearing from our customers about the usability of our product. Patrice Boulet, Product Influencer at FranchiseBlast is a big part of making usability a big part of the franchise field audit and performance apps. He has been with FranchiseBlast for almost 5 years, and works as the Product Manager.

In that role, he ensures that the FranchiseBlast development team builds the right thing at the right time and provides an outstanding experience to customers.
Here is a special Q&A with Patrice.

What do you do from day to day?
Patrice:
“As a customer-centric organization, we try to gather as much feedback as possible from our users everyday to understand their needs. I ensure that we take into consideration their feedback in prioritizing features we’re going to roll out within our products roadmap. I translate my passion for into human-machine interaction into designing engaging user experiences to help people accomplish more with less while having fun.”

How did you get involved at FranchiseBlast?
Patrice: “I joined the company as a software engineer in 2014 based on a recommendation from an awesome research supervisor that also happened to be the supervisor of Jason Kealey, the President of FranchiseBlast.”

How do you think your colleagues would describe you?
Patrice: “A good listener and a dynamic individual who brings people together to solve problems..”

Patrice Boulet, Product Manager at FranchiseBlast

What are some causes that you care about?
Patrice:  “As a surf enthusiast, I care about cleaning our oceans and making the planet a better place to live.  While traveling around the world, I have personally experienced a few natural disasters in South East Asia. As a result, I try my best to help the people affected through disaster relief funds.”

What are you happiest doing when you are not working?
Patrice: “Surfing a shallow reef break in tropical waters on big swell makes my day. I have a passion for traveling and learning about new cultures which also translated into learning Muay Thai. I really enjoy practicing that sport.”

If we went to happy hour, what would you order?
Patrice: “I really appreciate well brewed triple IPA craft beer.”

If you could be anywhere in the world other than here, where would it be?
Patrice: “Follow the surf seasons in tropical weather and move from one coast to the other chasing the best surf breaks in the world.”



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4 Reasons Why Usability Is the Most Important Factor in Franchise Technology

By | Franchise Audits, Franchise Scorecard, Franchising Trends
Why usability is important in franchise technology

Franchises across many verticals have made significant investments in franchise technology from point-of-sale systems to cloud computing. However, many times these investments fall short of their potential because franchisees, or even head office, do not use them. Franchisors then are on the hook for expensive annual agreements while the technology sits unused. One of the top reasons the investment is wasted? The lack of usability.

What is Usability?

According to Simple Usability A satisfied user…
• Achieves their goal
• Enjoys their experience
• Tells others
• Comes back again

Basically, if the franchisee were to use the franchise technology provided and actually return to it and use it again – multiple times, they are a satisfied user.

A usability expert would say that the ultimate application would not even need a manual. It would be a matter of pressing the start button, and the rest would be intuitive. Kind of like how simple it is to order your Friday night pizza online.

Unfortunately, many users blame themselves for not being able to use the franchise technology easily. But the truth is, it’s the software engineers and developers themselves who have it wrong if it is not intuitive for people to use.

So why is usability so important? Let’s find out more below.

1) We are All Multitasking

In a busy franchising environment such as a restaurant, health club or doggy daycare everyone is multitasking. Tasks need to remain simple so that when you are, for example, checking in a client and accepting payment, you can still be 100% with your customer. Being distracted and fiddling with technology when you should be engaging your client can have a negative impact on your business.

This is so important that some of your best franchisees will choose their customers over technology – after all, their customers are why their business is successful!

2) Mobile Rules

Have you ever gotten annoyed while trying to select that tiny type in a menu while using your mobile device to navigate a website?

It’s frustrating!

It’s enough to make many people exit and not return and is the reason why Google rates usability so highly in their Search Engine algorithm.

With so many things from audits to taking customer payments happening on mobile devices from the size of an iPad to phone screen, having a simplified, mobile responsive design to reduce “big thumb” syndrome is crucial to ensuring a satisfactory experience.

3) Not Usable = Lost Users

With the expansion of mobile devices and the online marketplace, the number of competitors for just about everything has exploded.

There are so many apps on the market that can solve your problem in one way or another. If your franchise technology isn’t simple to use, your franchisees (or their staff) will turn to something else. You then, as the Franchisor, will lose control of important data.

Losing control of data can not only slow the growth of your business by restricting what the information you have to make important decisions, you also will be unable to take advantage of big data applications since everything is not all in one place.

4) We Have No Time to Waste

It’s like Mario Karts out here – it’s an increasingly competitive world. You slip on a banana peel just in time to have to avoid a Koopa shell. You don’t have time to waste with software your franchisees will not use.

Wasting time on double-data entry or using a workflow that does not make sense is a waste of time, time that could be spent adding to the bottom line. And as we all know, time is money. Time is value.

Lawyers talk about “billable hours”. How many hours are actually adding to your bottom line, and how much of it is simply “busy work”?

Looking for something more usable?

FranchiseBlast is widely recognized as the most usable audit app available to Franchisees. Our workflows match those of the Franchise Business Consultant.

With a mobile-first design your franchisees will be able to easily use the application from whichever device they prefer. And with our simple design, they can give easily multitask between using the franchise technology and giving their customers and employees the attention they need.
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IFA: 5 Ways to Make Your Franchise Field Audits More Effective

By | Events, Field Audits

Date: Monday, February 25th, 2019
Time: 3:15
Location: International Franchise Association Convention, Las Vegas, NV

Moderator: Steve White, President & COO, PuroClean, Inc
Panelists: Jason Kealey, CFE, President, FranchiseBlast; Amy Perkins, CFE, Senior Business Consultant, Ben & Jerry’s; Melinda Thrasher, Manager, Client Services and Operations, IFX
Register: IFA Convention Registration

Whether you are performing self-audits or sending inspectors out into the field, conducting effective audits can make all the difference. Panelists will draw on insights gleaned from working with thousands of units across more than one hundred systems, and will do a deep dive on 5 key ways field consultants can boost the impact of their audits. Combining both technical and operational expertise, this session will provide a well-rounded, statistics-filled presentation relevant to both restaurant and service concepts alike.

CFA: 5 Ways to Boost Your Franchise Field Audit

By | Events, Franchise Coaching

Date: January 30, 2019
Time: 12:00-1:00 EST
Price: Free
Register: CFA Website

Traditional field audits and performance reviews can be outdated, onerous and ineffective, leaving the franchisees and franchisors frustrated with little in the way of improvement. Yet, when done the right way, these evaluations are optimal for franchisees’ development and can help highlight needed improvements to your business.

Learning takeaways:

  • How to make visits more efficient and maximize the time allotted to coaches
  • How to automate mundane parts of the performance review and increase productivity
  • How to expand franchisee coaching outside of the visit via self-improvement processes

How Sport Clips Brings a Successful Franchise Brand to a New Country

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Spa and Salon

Sport Clips, started in Austin, Texas by former U.S. Airforce Aircraft Commander, Gordon Logan, is a hair salon specializing in hair cuts for boys and men. Franchising since 1993, this dynamic system has over 1,800 locations in North America.  Sport Clips has been in Canada since 2012. Sara, who is going into her fifth year with the company, works with franchisees from sea to shining sea.

What does it take to extend a successful franchise brand to a new country without spending too many resources? Sara Belanger, Director of Operations for Sport Clips Canada works with franchisees from coast to coast to set them up for success using franchise coaching and processes adapted to their needs.

We sat down with Sara and she shared how she uses smart processes and tools. 

A Day in the Life at Sport Clips 

What is your role?
Sara: “I am the Director of Operations for Canada. Our focus here is to put the processes that are already established in the United States into Canada. My responsibilities include system-wide software launches and roll-outs such as POS or core operational software shared with franchisees. I also take care of national recruitment strategies, campaigns and platforms. I wear many hats, but I would be bored if I had the same tasks day after day. The diversity in the role keeps it interesting.

“Management of all new store build-outs is also key to my role here at Sport Clips. That means taking the new franchisees through ‘day one’ in the field in terms of starting their new business after they have been on-boarded through their initial training. I navigate them through the entire build-out process task-by-task and we have regular calls to get that done. Once they are up and running, I do the ongoing coaching on operational strategies to grow their businesses. A big part of our franchise coaching is strategies to manage store teams in terms of development and engagement.”

What interested you in the franchising community?
Sara: “It was a great opportunity to work along-side entrepreneurs – I have always had a huge respect for them. A lot of our franchisees have interesting backgrounds and are real “go-getters”. We are a manager-run store with a team leader, so most of the owners of Sport Clips have day-jobs. At the same time, I get to work with the hairstylists who are creative, passionate and fun.”

What do you like about working at Sport Clips?
Sara: “The culture is very positive and respectful. Our team works closely together, and we are all working towards the same goal. We are all helping our stores become successful; it is nice to be part of a team that is willing to go above and beyond.”

Building on the Success of an Iconic Brand

What strategy do you employ to set your franchisees up for success
Sara: “Sport Clips started franchising in the early-90s, so they have over 25 years of experience building systems and processes. To make sure that our store owners are successful, we take them through every element of each process. We want to make sure that they are armed with the tools and information that they need.”

What tools keep you on track?  
Sara: “In terms of staying organized, FranchiseBlast is a great help. It is an opportunity to get back into the system and have task-oriented items there that you can check off. We have processes in place for every development point including:

  • Onboarding training
  • Grand opening
  • Store build-out
  • Ongoing plans

“This is something we can build into a process, and we use FranchiseBlast to ensure that we are hitting every point on the checklist. After that, communication is key. We make sure that we are reaching out to franchisees on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, depending on where they are at in the lifecycle. We have a call with an agenda and create follow-up items to ensure that we are getting traction on our shared goals.”

How do you use tasks specifically?
Sara: “We do ‘Success Checks’ which is what we call our Store Audits. Using FranchiseBlast, we can store and track relevant follow-up tasks. We also use the Action Plans function when we are doing a store transfer or grand opening – all the associated tasks are there. We have it broken down by department and we are able to follow-up on that. If I see a task that hasn’t been marked as complete, it is easy for me to see who needs a follow-up communication. It ensures that nothing gets missed.

“There is also a function to edit plans for ongoing enhancements. If we go through a process and find that there is something missing, we can build a stronger process for the next time.  We don’t need to rebuild the same tool over and over – it is a huge bonus for us.”

Managing Unique Challenges

What was the biggest challenge?
Sara: “Across Canada, I would say that recruitment is an ongoing challenge. We want to make sure that each store manager is not taking his or her foot off the gas in terms of finding those awesome new stylists. Having great stylists is the best way to ensure that our brand is the premium one that we all work towards as an organization.

“Once they are hired on, one of our first steps is to take them through a tool called “Magic Notebook” which is done at 3 full days of training. “Magic Notebook” is a full checklist of what that new hire must go through to ensure that we are setting them up for success. Do they have the tools that they need to function in our environment? Do they know what to do? We want everyone to be successful and they can only be successful if they have the tools and training.”

Canada is a diverse country – how do you manage that?
Sara: “Challenges are very store-specific. Factors such as:

  • Where is the location?
  • Is there a brand presence in that region already?
  • How mature is the team leader?
  • How established is the team?

“Each store has its own unique personality, and a different opportunity. The good thing is that for each challenge that we encounter, we do have the tools. We know what works and we can build those plans for them. They are going to be at different stages of the lifecycle.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take an established system and make it successful in a new market?
Sara: “Take a look at the processes in your system and adapt them where needed. We have taken some and broken them down further, so that they are more digestible chunks that will get quicker results. Look at your overall processes and where they would fit in that store’s development. Every team leader who comes on has a different set of experiences and different specialties. You may not train one team leader the same way that you train another one, for example.

“When you look at them on an individual basis, you may want to simplify the training content to ensure that it is meaningful. Also having your actionable items created as tasks, helps you track and see progress. I would also advise to “never assume anything”. Don’t assume that the franchisee knows something without being sure. Instead, ensure that the touch-points and ongoing communication is there. This helps you get in front of an issue as opposed to reacting to it because an assumption has been made.”

Key Take-Away

The key takeaway from this story is that you do not need a lot of resources to expand to a new country if you have the right technology and tools. 

Interesting Questions

For every interview, we ask some concluding questions to learn more about our guest. Check out the below to learn more!

What new belief, behaviors or habits, adopted within the last 5 years, have most positively impacted your life?
Sara: “My perception of business, based on the Sport Clips culture, has changed significantly. ‘Do your best; do what is right; treat others the way that you want to be treated,’ are some of the main parts of the culture. It was a nice environment to come into. In this company, there is a lot of focus on what is going in the right direction and celebrating that. The challenges are really seen as opportunities, and everything can be accomplished. It is a great perspective that I have applied professionally day-to-day and it has also had a positive impact on my personal life.”

Purchases of less than $100 that have improved your life?
Sara: “I have a mouse pad that is like an agenda. I was a collector of agendas and different pieces of paper, trying to keep things on track before. Keeping my day on just one piece of paper has been life-changing.”

What books have you gifted the most to other people?
Sara: “I love light reads that I can get at the department store, then I pass those on to other people. I find it helps me re-set and relax and I like to share that positive energy with others.”

How Moe’s Southwest Grill Enhanced Franchisee Engagement by Sharing Performance Data Openly

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Restaurants
Moe's Southwest Grill Enhances franchisee transparency

How can you increase franchise engagement in today’s world where information is power? One smart and simple way is by making operations more transparent to the franchisees themselves.

Chris Hammond, the Regional Franchise Director at Focus Brands did just this, while making the store auditing system more effective. Moe’s Southwest Grill, affectionately known as Moe’s, offers a variety of Mexican dishes, and was dubbed by the Harris Poll Equitrend Survey as “Fast Casual Restaurant of the Year” in 2016. The name “Moe’s” originated as an acronym for “Musicians, Outlaws and Entertainers” and anyone experiencing a location will witness their music-themed decor. The company was founded in 2000, in Atlanta Georgia, and has over 650 locations. 

Moe’s is now owned by Focus Brands based in Sandy Springs, Georgia with over 5,000 stores. We sat down with Chris and talked about how he engaged his franchisees in a unique way using technology. 

How has your audit process evolved over time at Moe’s?

Chris: “I’ve been here for 12 years now. We started off with pen and paper – it was literally a yellow notebook and a Bic pen, and we took notes on what was working and what was not for each franchise. Later it evolved into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet where we would print a document off and fill it out with a pen on a clipboard. Afterwards, we would sit in front of our computer and type everything in. In terms of process – it was awful. 

“Then we moved to a software tool that was very ‘bare-bones’. We created a report, saved it as a PDF and then we emailed it to the store. That was fine, but we could not get anything else out of it and there was no way to measure analytics or KPIs for the unit or as a system.” 

How did that compare to using the FranchiseBlast audit tool?

Chris: “With FranchiseBlast we have the ability to look at analytics to see trends and averages.  We can see how we’re doing and what we need to focus on per category. We never had that before and it is a big help. The intuitive report platform takes our data and puts it into a powerful analytical report that shows our progress overall, scores on key indicators in the company, and on areas of focus.” 

Do you have certain analytics that are your favorite or things that you look at on a regular basis?

Chris: “The year-to-date score averages; we like to compare the first half of the year year-to-date score averages by Franchise Business Consultant (FBC) and by region. Secondly, the top deficiencies which shows what are they getting marked the most for; it tells us what we need to be focused on. We also like to give credit for what are they doing the best.” 

How do you use the tool in terms of store openings?

Chris: “We do a scoring on a location before it opens to see if it is ready for the trainers. We’ll do a walk-through of that stores and do a digital checklist. They’ll send it over to the corporate office and we will get back to the franchise and ask for updates based on the deficiencies that we found. That is a scorecard that is very valuable as well.” 

How do you communicate scores to franchisees?

Chris: “We do a ‘rack and stack’. My FBC team sends rankings on a weekly or monthly basis, where they will rank how a store performs on a report. They communicate both the top-ranking franchisees and the ones that are at the bottom. We use a snapshot of that dashboard report. We’ll share these scores openly so there is no secret there.” 

Okay so that’s good so then they see where they are and that is some transparency then.

Chris: “There is a lot of competition in the franchise world; you have to be careful with what you share but we communicate this information pretty openly. It is a very powerful tool. It doesn’t matter what concept you’re in, there are always going to be franchisees who are critical of the corporate office, while their operations are below par. With the transparency, I can respond to a franchisee who is performing poorly in a direct manner, because everyone knows the numbers.” 

When your coaches are using it what do you think is the biggest benefit is?

Chris: “The efficiency of how the reporting flows on the platform; it’s a very intuitive program and it’s easy for them to understand. It helps them to document and keep tabs on the scoring as well as they walk through and evaluation with a restaurant or an operator. “The coaches also like the other reports that we have made available such as a general food safety evaluation integrated with Steritech. We also use one for site surveys; if a franchisee is looking at going into a new area, we can do a site survey to assess if it will be a good area to build a new store or not.” 

How have your franchisees and multi-unit operators benefited?

Chris: “We recently made FranchiseBlast available for franchisees to use as well so their multi-unit managers can do self-evaluations. That’s something that we’ve always wanted to do since the beginning to time. We wanted something that can be monitored from our end that the franchisees are using. We’re finally able to do that and we are really pleased with what the future has in store.”

To learn more about Moe’s and the location nearest you, go here. To learn about their current franchise opportunities, go here

Are you ready to try FranchiseBlast’s audit tool? You can see more here

The Ultimate Guide to Franchisee Scorecards

By | Franchisee Scorecards

A franchisee scorecard is an all-in-one resource for franchisee engagement, operational efficiency, brand consistency and system compliance. Due to popular demand, we created this step-by-step guide including:

  • How can scorecards improve franchisee engagement?
  • What risks will scorecards reduce?
  • What sections should be included?

There is also a scorecard library, including samples across different verticals including restaurant, home care and more.

Download the Ultimate Guide to Franchisee Scorecards now.

 

Tips on Building an Effective Quarterly Franchise Business Plan

By | Franchise Business Plans, Franchise Coaching, Uncategorized

A good proportion of franchisors utilizing our franchisee field audit app also use FranchiseBlast for business planning purposes. We’ve had a few franchisors reach out and ask us what we thought was the best format for a business plan and, as such, created this guide!

To give you a bit of context, we’re not talking about the proforma business plan a franchisee would create to secure bank funding to open up their location. We’re talking about ongoing action plans or business plans defined by the franchisor’s franchise business coach during their field visits or phone coaching sessions. These are typically quarterly business plans in the context of a franchisor-franchisee relationship but their duration can vary greatly. One could create an annual business plan with their goals for the year and decompose this plan into quarterly business plans and then to very specific as monthly or even weekly action plans.

Before we explain what quarterly business plans typically looking like, let’s revisit the concept of SMART goals.

SMART Goals

Everyone has a slightly different definition of what the acronym SMART means in the context of a goal. Here are a few different interpretations from a project management site. You’ve most likely been introduced to this concept on a few occasions.

  • S: specific, significant, stretching
  • M: measurable, meaningful, motivational
  • A: agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
  • R: realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
  • T: time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, traceable

At FranchiseBlast, we favor the following interpretation and have included examples for each.

Specific: Be clear about what you want achieve do to improve your business.

Example: We want to increase off premise business or online ordering.

Measurable: You’ll need to be able to quantify progress or success. How do you define your goal in a way that is easy to calculate?

Example: Online orders should compose at least 10% of our total orders. (The key performance metric of “# of online transactions” / “# of total transactions” should exceed 10%).

Actionable: If you have this goal, you must be able to do something concrete to achieve it. This ties into it being attainable.

Example: It’s actionable because we can train staff to mention the program during every transaction or phone order. It’s attainable because we know over half of the units in our territory have achieved this goal.

Relevant: This helps you realize if you’re working towards the most impactful elements of your business, not just busywork that does not add to the bottom line.

Example: Our strategic initiatives this year have us working towards a 5% same store sales increase and we have a number of marketing initiatives in place to support this, including the launch in January of our online ordering program. It’s new in our location and we know it helps improve sales and kitchen efficiency.

Time-Based: Giving yourself a deadline to accomplish the goal makes sure something gets done.

Example: We want to achieve 10% of online orders by October 31st.

Overall, a SMART goal is something specific that is well-aligned with strategy, can be measured over the course of a time period and, at the target date, it can be determined if our action plan succeeded or failed.

Corrective Action Plans are not Franchise Business Plans

Users of our franchisee field audit app will know that the app lets you create a corrective action plan for any anomalies highlighted during a field visit. For any question within the field audit questionnaire, you can define a task that must be completed by a certain person by a certain date. While effective for course corrections such as the need to replace a chair they aren’t necessarily a great fit for business plans where you want to be more strategic.

A strong business plan elevates the discussion to key drivers in the business.

A Simple Action Plan

Now that we’ve established the context, let’s talk about what action plans can look like in the real world. The simplest pattern you can use when defining a business plan is to have two simple free form text questions:

  1. “What area of opportunity did you observe?”
  2. “Which activities are recommended to address this area of opportunity?”

This form is extremely simple but a great addition to any standard field audit questionnaire performed by the franchisor. Be sure to balance out areas of opportunity with congratulations for this unit’s strengths.

Although simplicity is key, there are better ways to help your franchisees think strategically. This is a good first step from moving from a cop to a coach relationship with your franchisee, but the value provided to the franchisee is highly dependent on the coach and their unique point of view on the business.

The SMART plan

If we’re willing to put a bit more work and become more strategic with our quarterly business plans, the next level up is the SMART plan, referencing the goals-setting strategy mentioned above.

This questionnaire will include the following elements:

What is your SMART goal?

You would write out a goal that matches SMART criteria above.

Example: Increase the % of online orders to 10% by October 31st.

Is there more information relevant to your goal?

When applicable, complement this with additional information about why it’s relevant or what the current standard is within the franchise. This goes deeper into the area of opportunity.

Example: Increase the % of online orders to 10% by October 31st. As you know, the franchise’s move to digital is a critical strategic objective & differentiator. The network average is already 20% and we’ve seen stores go from 0% to 10% in 2 months after properly marketing the initiative.

What activities/tactics will you perform to achieve this goal?

Example: Add post on restaurant Instagram channel with the hashtag #instagood 

What is the due date for the goal and each of the activities?

Due date to achieve target: Oct 31.
Due date for first Instagram post on online ordering: Sept 1. 

Who is accountable for the goal and each of the activities?

Target: GM of Restaurant 
Instagram: Supervisor 

When applicable, what is the budget for this initiative?

Target: $1,000 
Instagram: No budget 

Recommended Patterns

At FranchiseBlast, we see a number of different layouts for the above.  Here are some patterns to give you some ideas:

Pattern 1

  • Goal
  • Activities
  • Due Date
  • Done By

Pattern 2

  • What is your SMARTgoal?
  • How will you measure success?
  • Why is this an attainable goal?
  • Why is this goal relevant?
  • What’s your due date?
  • What activities will you do?
  • Who will be accountable for this?

Pattern 3

  • What is the area of opportunity, compared to our standards?
  • What is the SMART goal and related activity?
  • Activity 1
    • What is the activity?
    • By whom?
    • Due date?
    • Budget?
  • Activity 2
    • What is the activity?
    • By whom?
    • Due date?
    • Budget?
  • Activity 3
    • What is the activity?
    • By whom?
    • Due date?
    • Budget?

Overall, these are pretty much the same pattern of having a SMART goal.

Pattern 1 is the simplest approach.

Pattern 2 breaks down the goal to ensure they’re following a SMART philosophy.

Pattern 3 breaks down each individual activity so that it can easily be delegated to different individuals. We’ll often observe that Pattern 3 is interesting when you have a longer-term plan (say quarterly), and the activities break down that plan into more granular pieces (Month 1, 2,3).

Quarterly Business Plans in FranchiseBlast

Overall, the breakdowns that we have already presented in this article focus on a single goal at a time. Let’s bring the sophistication level up and move from Action Plans to Franchise Business Plans and talk about the broader process, not just the questionnaire.

Step 1: Review Data & Find Actionable Insights

The first step in the process is to acquire and analyze the data you have about this unit and discover where their weaknesses lie, which are the most impactful and how those align with the franchise’s strategic objectives. Tools like our Franchisee Scorecards simplify this process greatly helping the coach evaluate the business from a holistic perspective from a single dashboard view to decide if they should drill down on financials, customer satisfaction, food safety risks, etc.

You could execute flawlessly on your business plan, but if you haven’t properly analyzed the situation and determined the appropriate root causes of any issues, the intervention will not be as impactful.

To help determine root causes of staff behavior, some people go through a workflow such as:

What’s the problem?

Describe the problem in as much detail as necessary.

Is it important?

If not, ignore.

Is it a skill deficiency?

If the problem is based on skill, arrange different forms of training based on if training has occurred before and how often the task is performed.

If skill is not the challenge, is it a knowledge deficiency?

If so, they’ll provide different forms of information/feedback.

If not, then they’ll drill down to the root cause which could be removing obstacles or adding incentives/consequences.

Step 2: Define the Business Plan (Goals & Activities)

Now, pick a limited subset of areas of opportunity to focus on in the next quarter. If you try to focus on too many things at once, you’ll fail at all of them. For each area of opportunity, you’ll define an action plan for a single goal as defined previously in this article. There are a few different patterns to accomplish this but here we outline the main two.

Pattern 1: Pick Three

Some franchises will say: “pick three areas of opportunity and focus one those”. This forces you to make hard choices about what’s the most important for this unit’s future. Although we say “three” in this example, we have seen anything between one and six. If it starts getting larger than that, we start considering it an “anti-pattern”: that’s just too much to focus on. Personally, we believe that 3 is a good number.

The standard way most franchises do it is to have free form options where the coach enumerates the top three options he or she believes to be the most impactful. However, some franchises resort to using the concept of a checklist.  This checklist is a common list of ‘buckets’ under which areas of opportunity fall under. The coach and the franchisee talk about each bucket and jot down some quick notes and collaboratively define which ones they should be focusing on. See the checklist as just a guideline for the conversation.  For example, pick three out of the following list:

Team
  • Training
  • Staffing
  • Turnover/Tenure
  • Development
  • Bench Strength
  • Diversity
 Sales
  • Service Scores
  • Marketing/Events
  • Customer Traffic
  • Comp Sales
  • Salesmanship
  • Incentives
  • Contests
Product
  • Food Safety
  • Food Quality
  • Waste
  • Line Checks
  • /Receiving
  • Compliance
  • Best Practices
Profit
  • Food Costs
  • Labor Costs
  • Overtime
  • Misc Cost of Goods
  • Supplies
Facility
  • Cleanliness
  • Repair & Maintenance (R&M)
  • Inspections

You’ll notice that many of the items on this checklist are frequently found in field audit scores or franchisee scorecards. A few, however, require deeper conversations with the franchisees about their personnel and long-term vision.  We find this concept of a checklist interesting as it forces the stakeholders to, at least briefly, consider various elements that they may have forgotten about while in the heat of the conversation.

Pattern 2: Pick One or Two for Each Dimension

In a second case, some franchises choose to say that their business can be viewed in four different dimensions. For example, they could define themselves in the following way:

  1. People
  2. Product
  3. Service
  4. Marketing.

In the above example, it would be:

  1. Team
  2. Sales
  3. Product
  4. Profit
  5. Facility

The dimensions vary depending on the brand, but overall for each dimension the coach will choose one or two areas of opportunity Some will impose that there’s a maximum total of goals defined for all dimensions combined (say 1 or 2 per dimension, with maximum of 5 initiatives in all). This practice forces you to think a bit more about the business from a holistic view instead of always looking at attacking “improve sales” directly, but you have to be careful not to overwhelm the franchisee.

We find this an interesting approach as long as you keep the list to a minimum and identify what the real top three are.  It’s good to look at all facets of the business. Some franchisors address this in a different way by having some monthly calls with the franchisees where the ‘topic of the month’ is discussed. Each month, that topic varies from “Employees”, to “Marketing”, to “Food Safety”, etc. This is a nice complement to the more formal quarterly business plan.

Step 3: Continuous Review

During the quarter, it’s important to periodically review the plan and see if we’re performing the planned activities and if our goals are on their way to being met or if we need to course correct. This can be done over the phone, but it brings value to the fact that the business plan is a living document.

Step 4: Postmortem & New Plan

Once the quarter is done, it’s critical to review how you did against the plan. We won’t necessarily reach all our goals, but it’s great to learn from the activities we performed or didn’t perform. These lessons learned will help us guide the next quarterly business plan.

Final Example

If you don’t have a business plan template today, we’d recommend doing something as follows which we find simple enough to be easy to use yet extensive enough to be less dependent on the domain knowledge of each coach and easier to systematize.

Highlight of Successes

Area of Opportunity 1

  • Why it’s an area of opportunity and why it’s important (how it relates to sales or strategy, the franchise’s standards, your benchmark vs group, etc.).
  • SMART Goal around a measurable metric with a Due Date
  • List of activities with who’s accountable and due dates. (Breakdown into more granularity when appropriate.)

Area of Opportunity 2

  • Why it’s an area of opportunity and why it’s important (how it relates to sales or strategy, the franchise’s standards, your benchmark vs group, etc.).
  • SMART Goal around a measurable metric with a Due Date
  • List of activities with who’s accountable and due dates. (Breakdown into more granularity when appropriate.)

Area of Opportunity 3

  • Why it’s an area of opportunity and why it’s important (how it relates to sales or strategy, the franchise’s standards, your benchmark vs group, etc.).
  • SMART Goal around a measurable metric with a Due Date
  • List of activities with who’s accountable and due dates. (Breakdown into more granularity when appropriate.)

Postmortem (filled out at the end of the term)

When choosing your areas of opportunity, have a reference list of standard areas (as per the above breakdown in Team, Sales, Product, etc.) nearby to guide conversations and have your franchisee scorecard handy. If you don’t have a franchisee scorecard yet, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Franchisee Scorecards.

Conclusion

A franchisee business plan provides another “arrow in your quiver” when it comes to driving franchisee performance. Integrating some concepts from the world of Project Management and ideas from leaders in the franchising community, can help set you on a path for success.



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Top 5 Reasons Why Franchisees are not Using your Fancy Analytics or Dashboard Solution

By | Franchise Scorecard, Thought Leadership

In this information age, everyone talks about how you need to track everything in franchising. And you can! From click through rates (CTR) on your website to the cost per transaction, analytics are a great thing.

But even though we have the tools at our disposal and quite often even a dashboard with a summary of multiple facts of our business, we fail to really learn what they all mean. Sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees.

All this data is wasted.

As a franchise owner, you probably have invested both time and money into analytics and/or a dashboard solution to help your franchisees. You did this because you understand the positive impact they can have on any organization.

Done right, they can ultimately have a positive impact the bottom line.

So why aren’t your franchisees utilizing them?

There are five main reasons that may be holding your franchisees back from using data to really enhance their performance.

1.    Too Much Data

Have you ever driven by someone’s front lawn at Christmas where there are a huge amount of decorations and lights? While individually they look good, everything together is way too overwhelming.

That’s how many franchisees see their dashboards – information overload.

They don’t know where to focus. Experiencing “data overwhelm”, they choose to skip over it rather than try to make sense of it.

Take email for example. Workers spend 50% of their time just finding and reading emails. And with today’s inboxes getting overloaded with work emails and a large variety of ‘junk’ they get disorganized very quickly. In fact, 26% of all people want to delete their inbox and just start from scratch.

Just as we need to pare down the information that is received into our inbox, you need to reduce the amount of information shown on your franchisee’s dashboard.

For analytics to really be impactful, you need to narrow the data down to a few key pieces.

Choose information that they can act upon today. Think back to SMART goals:

  • Specific: it should be clear what you’re reviewing.
  • Measurable: if you can measure it, you can improve it.
  • Actionable: the scorecard should guide action; if you can’t impact it, don’t include it.
  • Relevant: if it’s not related to your objectives, it’s not important.
  • Time-specific: they should vary over time.

Narrowing the selection of analytics included on your Franchisee’s dashboard those that meet SMART requirements, can go a long way towards helping your Franchisees utilize them more frequently. They will see value in the data, not just numbers.

2.    It isn’t Actionable

How would you feel if your fitness coach said only tracked the number of pull-ups you could do?

It’s like telling your franchisee they had X number of customers last quarter. What is he supposed to take away from that? It’s not actionable.

Just as a coach needs to give his trainee advice that they can use to improve their performance, you need to do the same for your franchisees. Give them something they can focus on for the next period, otherwise the franchisees can experience “paralysis by analysis”.

One example of an actionable insight is the metric ‘discount percentage’. When benchmarked against other franchises, if yours is higher, you can take steps to decrease it.

Give your franchisees actionable data and show top weaknesses first, the first thing they need to address before moving onto something else.

Keep in mind that not all franchises are alike. If you are doing a comparison you, need to do so with an equivalent group. If some of your franchises are located in a food court and others are restaurant style, they shouldn’t be compared against each other. Try to keep comparisons fair, apples-to-apples. If it isn’t a fair comparison it will be ignored, and they may start to distrust the system.

3.    It Doesn’t Inspire Change

Everyone has a growing list of things to do, and as a business owner yours is possibly longer than most.

Because of this it’s easy to let your franchisees swim alone once they’ve had their training and are up and running. You assume that they’ll know how to use the information they get via analytics.

But they also have that ever-growing list.

And that information they want them to sift through? It just becomes another “job” on that list. Rather than helping them enhance their operations, it gets pushed aside for more pressing tasks because they don’t realize, or can’t interpret, the value it holds.

A bunch of facts and figures isn’t very inspiring to many.

To make it inspire change – keep the lines of communication open with the franchisees, and “shine the spotlight” on best practices.

  • 70% of workers said that they would work harder if their efforts were appreciated.
  • Engaged companies out-performed unengaged companies by 167%

The bottom line? Engage with your franchisees in more ways than just sharing numbers, show your appreciation of them with the entire Franchise. For example, instead of just displaying the franchises with the top sales numbers, remembering apples-to-apples, give the smaller franchises a chance to shine by also featuring the best young franchises, food court franchises etc.

4.    It’s not Timely

How many times have you heard “hindsight is 20/20”?

As a business owner you know how important it is to have up-to-date information as soon as it becomes available. You would get it yesterday if you could.

As a franchisee, getting information when it is too late is very discouraging. If their dashboard is full of old data, it does nothing for them. Even if it is ‘actionable’ if it’s outdated it won’t help them improve their business and therefore their bottom line.

This can make them feel powerless. And there is no point in communicating something when they are powerless to make change.

For a business to flourish you need the lines of communication open.

Data should be flowing both ways regularly to keep the motivation going. Give them the tools and information to make better informed decisions and the ability to see where they are at in relation to their peers.

5. They don’t Understand It

Remember Shakespeare in High School? Back then, you had time to do a deep dive into the meaning, and maybe not even then. You don’t want your Scorecard to be Shakespeare, you want it to be simple and straightforward – think of the headlines of the daily news, or even Twitter.

Complicated metrics, with multiple meanings, can cause this same confusion. Leading to debates and arguments rather than solving a problem, they have the opposite effect of what you want.

“Fuzzy” or vague interpretations can have just as negative effect. People will not take the information seriously. For example, if you have a “stated sales number” but rarely collect, the better metric can be revenue, or money in the bank.

In short, when pulling together data, remember that many Franchisees do not love numbers. Think KISS: keep it simple, stupid.

In a nutshell…

Franchising is all about relationships – and that extends to reporting. If you really want your franchisees to grow, clear and helpful analytics is a great place to start.

Proper reporting, when done right, enhances transparency and increases engagement.

But you can’t just share any numbers that sounds good. You need to deliver actionable data that your franchisees can use to improve their business. Also, keeping it true by only comparing apples to apples can help strengthen their trust. If they stop trusting it, you are not in a good place.

With Franchise Scorecards, franchisees can customize their dashboards to the information that is most relevant to them, and you can better share data that is relevant to all. Helping you all to grow together.

Keep is simple. Keep it SMART.



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Auditing Your Franchise Audit

By | Franchise Audits

Auditing your Franchise AuditLeadership author John Maxwell said:

“Good leaders ask great questions that inspire others to dream more, think more, learn more, and become more”

When it comes to your franchise audit, are you asking the right questions? After over a decade in the franchising community and working with hundreds of organizations and thousands of units, we came up with the following questions to make sure that your audit is the best that it can be – or to “audit your audit”. Outlined below, you can see sample items that we check, and what they all mean. Examples are given in many cases to enhance clarity.

The elements below shouldn’t be perceived as a complete list of potential issues but rather a simple checklist for a quick review of the health of your franchise field auditing process.

#1 Audit contains superfluous questions.

Having extra questions means unnecessary work for the auditor. In addition to obvious extra questions, you’ll find more subtle questions that are simply redundant.

Example: “Audit completed by” field then where the auditor manually enters their name when that that information is automatically added by your software tool.

#2 Some questions address multiple concerns.

A question that addresses multiple concerns makes it difficult for the franchisee to understand what needs fixing.

Example: “Walls and floors are clean and don’t feature any apparent damage and the marketing posters on the wall are recent and approved.” When faced with a failure on this question, the franchisee would not be sure what to fix.

#3 Inappropriate question type used.

Question type – such as multiple-choice or text-based or yes/no should be carefully considered when building an audit.

Example: Using a yes/no question when it comes to temperature meeting a standard instead of simply recording the temperature value itself. Another more subtle example is a yes/no question followed by a free-form text question to indicate the reason for failure, or simply a yes/no question phrased in way that asks to auditor to clarify the issue in the comments section of the question. In that case, a properly designed multiple-choice question should be considered.

#4 Some questions are not Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-Bound (SMART).

The questionnaire designer should review the characteristics of each question to ensure the audits are objective and impactful. If a question is vague or addresses too many concerns, it’s unclear what is evaluated. If it’s not measurable, then the audit becomes subjective. If it’s not actionable, then even if you find a problem there’s nothing you can do to fix it. If it’s not relevant, it’s extra work that isn’t impactful. Finally, questions which aren’t time-bound are unclear as to what time period is being evaluated.

Example: Using terms such as “a reasonable amount of time” instead of simply recording how quickly the franchisee should perform the service in terms of seconds or minutes.

#5 Poor spelling or grammar.

Spelling and grammar errors can cause auditors and franchisees to lose faith in the system.

#6 The questionnaire is not structured to follow the flow of the auditor.

Matching the audit “flow”, starting outside the front door and ending with the coaching session at the back can save time and enhance the process.

#7 Documentation needs to be added to clarify the evaluation criteria for the question.

A question that refers back to standards should include a reference to the franchise manual or online standards guide.

Example: “Scheduling appropriate to sales volume” – the guideline outlining how many employees a franchisee needs for a given sales volume should be posted.

#8 Need to tag questions with the associated back-end process.

Audit scores are often represented by top-level section scores such as “Back of house: 80%” or “Cleanliness: 75%”. This is a good way to slice the information, but additional facets can be reviewed. It is a best practice to tag specific questions with the relevant process that drives that standard. When a set of standards fail and they’re all associated to the same back-end process, you can coach for the root cause rather than each standard.

Example: A standard such as “Smiling and welcoming guests” could be categorized as “Service” but a better way would be to tag it as “Training: Going above what’s required & wowing the guest”.

#9 The audit length is inadequate. 

The audit should only be as long, or as short as it needs to be in order to achieve its goals. Most long-form format audits in FranchiseBlast contain 2oo to 400 questions.

When shorter (ex: 50 questions), it could be perceived that the coach is performing a cursory visit and not going into detail. It’s normal (and desirable) to have short-form audits, but if your longest one is only 100 questions, you likely haven’t formalized your visit/coaching process.

When longer (ex: 600 questions), it could be perceived that the coach performing busywork and spending too much time filling out forms rather than coaching franchisees.  If you drill down into the data, you’ll normally notice a large cross-section of the audit never fails. These questions are candidates to be removed.

#10 Average scores are too high to drive change.

While at first it may seem like a good thing to have strong audit scores, scores that are too high will not drive change in the organization. An average score of over 90% will lead franchisees to lose motivation in terms of corrective actions as they see themselves as performing at an A+, where the franchisor’s view may be different.

Solutions to this issue are complex but include:

  • Calibrating coaches to be stricter
  • Changing the standards to be stricter
  • Shortening the audits by removing questions which always succeed
  • Changing weights of certain questions/sections/failures.
  • Adding new questions aligned with the system weaknesses you know are present but aren’t fully reflected

#11 Utilize question severity where applicable. 

There are some audit questions which are so core to the brand that they should have a “critical” marking – such as using unapproved suppliers. If questions are marked with severity, additional business rules such as “the audit should fail if any critical questions fail” can be easily put into place instead of a convoluted question weighting system.

#12 Use tasks when appropriate to define the corrective action plan.

When a weakness is recognized, it is a best practice to use a corrective action to get it followed-up on by the appropriate person. It’s typical to not start using the task system immediately when adopting a platform such as FranchiseBlast as it does require a bit of change management and expectation management with the franchisees. Once established, however, leveraging tasks can increase accountability.

Having a backlog of tasks indicates a lack of process or of training – it is a good idea to discuss expectations with the franchisees and coaches.

#13 Review processes and standards related to system-wide weaknesses.

When exploring system-wide weaknesses, sometimes there is a core process that is consistently not being followed.  To solve system-wide weaknesses it sometimes makes sense to include new practices such as recurring self-assessments.

Example: A consistent failure on exterior cleanliness may require a system-wide training or process reminder, perhaps complemented by daily self-assessments where pictures are submitted.

#14 Be a coach, not a cop. 

The franchise consultant role is evolving beyond simply being a “cop” who maintains standards. It is also a “coach” who helps the franchisee achieve their goals. The questionnaire should reflect this change.

Example: Having a “coaching” section in the audit is a fantastic first step towards creating at coaching culture.

#15 Use automatic KPI collection when possible to reduce the coach’s workload.  

We sometimes see questionnaires which include various number questions which need to be punched in by the coach. For example, what were last month’s sales, labour costs, etc. Automating this collection outside of the coaches visit, via an integration with the Point of Sale or other source system, can save the coach time plus enable them to have time to research ahead of the visit and prepare a proper action plan with the franchisee.

#16 Auditors are not well calibrated. 

When reviewing average scores among auditors, you may notice dramatically different scores. One root cause of this is an inconsistent understanding of what the standards are for each auditor.

#17 Completed audits have not been approved and/or incomplete audits are pending within the system. 

Having a backlog of pending audits could mean that completed work is not being used. Make sure to have an approval “rhythm” set up within the system and the appropriate auditor manager is aware of your expectations. Alternately, some questionnaires may benefit from being automatically approved.

#18 Not visiting all locations consistently 

Having locations “fall through the cracks” could be detrimental to the brand on many levels. Ensure that your visits are up to date as an important, but sometimes forgotten, check. We’ve often seen this in contexts where a franchisor expects each coach to visit each location quarterly but doesn’t effectively make the coaches accountable to do so.

#19 Consider adding new questionnaires.

The average franchisor in FranchiseBlast has 6 different questionnaires – is the set for your franchise complete? Sample questionnaires include:

  • Quarterly or Annual Business Plan
  • Weekly/monthly phone call business check-in
  • New store opening checklist
  • Food safety audit
  • Daily store logs self-assessments (openings/closings)
  • New marketing rollout assessment
  • New product readiness self-assessment

Conclusion

The “audit of the audit” is a fantastic way to assess your operations, and to ensure that you are using these audits to reach organizational goals. If you are ready to have one of our consultants look at your audit, click here and indicate that you would like to discuss auditing the audit.



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