Monthly Archives

September 2019

Community Marketing Tips for Franchisees

By | Marketing

Community Marketing is a Mindset, Not a Department

Community Marketing is the one thing you want to get right for your franchisees. While you may have a Marketing team, branding agency or even a vendor that updates your social media, you can never outsource it completely.

For the 12 years that I have worked as a Franchise Marketing professional, I have seen dozens of vendors try to sell the “magic bullet” of marketing. And, just like a sales professional trying to sell an “easy” weight loss program, or a “fast” way to make money, they position it as a cake-walk once you make a hefty investment.

The truth is, Marketing IS just like getting to a healthier weight or making a more satisfying income; it is a step-by-step journey, where you learn along the way with true rewards at the end. But, it is certainly not a cake-walk – no matter how many people try to sell it that way. Take a look at the tips below, on how you can build community marketing into your franchisee’s day-to-day.

Build Meaningful Connections

“Within a 3-5 mile radius of every store or restaurant there are dozens of other businesses, hundred of homes and thousands of potential new customers,” said Jim Sullivan, in helpful his book Multi Unit Leadership. “Connect with community ‘influentials’. One American in every ten tells the other nine where to eat, what to buy and how to vote.”

Connecting with the movers and shakers of your community whether they are in local government, businesses, schools or community organizations can make a huge difference. And – you don’t always have to go straight to the top. Think of people who talk to others on a regular basis, Sullivan suggests: “hairdressers, hotel bartenders, receptionists, concierges, religious and civic leaders.”

Sometimes, the best opportunities are right before your eyes, and you can’t even see them. Every week, you have dozens of “invisible” customers walking through your doors – Amazon delivery people, wine merchants and event promoters to name a few. Do they get hungry or thirsty? Do they have any friends or family with upcoming events? Thinking of your own team can also be a potential revenue generator. The mean person had 200 Facebook friends. If they just recommend 5, that can have a meaningful impact on your business.

Always Be Marketing

Marketing is something that you want to have as part of every person’s day-to-day whether they are servers, managers, trainers or hosts. Jay Conrad Levinson, author of Guerilla Marketing said “Marketing is not an event, but a process. It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop it completely.” Every business is sales-controlled, but few have a true sales culture which plants marketing as the first step. Event-based “big deal” marketing programs still have a place, but they are nestled within regular, consistent programs.

Training Solidifies Marketing

According to Sullivan, “the more that you invest in training, the less that you spend on Marketing.” If your team provides superior service, the customer will come back, an even better, they will leave a positive review which has more credibility among customers than any marketing piece you have.  Additionally, you want training to enhance your marketing campaigns. The old advertising saying of “there is nothing that will kill a bad product like good marketing,” comes to mind. Now, more than ever, you want to make sure you follow through on the promises that marketing makes. With the speed of information, if you fall short, it may end up as a Twitter or Instagram #fail damaging the franchisees, their region and even the system as a whole.

Manage Moments of Truth

Jan Carlzon, in his game changing book Moments of Truth defined the term “as anytime that a customer comes in contact with a company’s brand, people, or services and forms an impression of the quality of service that they provide.” So take a step back and ask yourself, “what is marketing”? More and more, Brand is a verb, not a noun, so marketing is cleanliness, service and teamwork. It is every single touchpoint. As you are doing a Field Audit, see the store from the customer’s standpoint and think about what their impression would be. If you are looking for field audit questions, check out our popular eBook.

Last Word

The truth is, Marketing is a core part of any successful team’s DNA. Never outsource it, thinking of it as someone else’s job. It is a mindset that can change your business and life.



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Crucial Elements of Franchise TLC (Teaching, Leading, Coaching)

By | Franchise Coaching

Veterans of the franchise community know that the franchisee dynamic is different than that in the corporate environment. Rules are not followed automatically as a matter of course. There is a need to convince and find agreement.

According to Jim Sullivan’s practical book Multi-Unit Leadership, “Excellent companies don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement, constant change and constant training.” With this in mind, franchisee leadership is a thinking job, not a doing job. It is not an autocratic role for what food service Toni Quist calls “Inspect, Direct and Correct”.

The role of a Franchisor is to be a teacher, trainer and motivator. People come to the role with natural strengths, so as you read the below, keep those in mind, and see how you can strengthen them. Otherwise, you may come to the role with a need to learn. These tips on Franchise TLC should help you fill the gaps.

Teaching

A franchise leader has opportunities to teach franchisees every day, and every communication, including text, e-mail, store visits and e-mails can represent a potential training opportunity. That is why the “T” is for training in Franchise TLC.

Engage in Blended Learning

For every training objective that you have, it is a good idea to have three learning activities to support it. Sullivan calls it the “three-to-one rule of teaching.” For example, if you want people to get better at Online Marketing, you can ask them to watch a video from Google, do an exercise on managing vendors and answer question after reading through a case-study. To learn more about financials, working through a spreadsheet, doing a quiz then coaching with someone on your finance team is much more powerful than a monologue-style lecture.

Subject Matter Expertise Round Robin

Are you looking for a simple way to be a learning organization without wasting a lot of time? With just one hour a week on Fridays, your team can spend independent time growing the organization’s learning and connect that with the rest of the team. Each quarter, you can assign a key subject area to a franchisee in a given region such as hiring, retention, training, safety, marketing or service, for example. Once a quarter, hold a group webinar where the results are shared among each other. As the expertise rotates, different people will bring different perspectives, creating an interesting learning organization.

Leading

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things,” said Ronald Reagan. “He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Let’s walk through the “L” in Franchise TLC, Leading.

Define Symbols and Rituals

How does your franchise organization recognize achievements in terms of sales, service or teamwork? Whether it is certificate, pins, mentions at group meetings or even awards at the annual convention, it is a good idea to make a big deal out of achievement. After all, the more that you reinforce a behavior, the more of it you will get.

Getting unique symbols from your franchise’s own history  can also be an interesting exercise. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure social media pictures are also saved to a shared drive. In 5-10 years, those will be “history”!
  • Archive old menu editions, franchisee manuals, employee newsletters and other documentation.
  • Do a “call out” to franchisees to share the unique stories going on at their location. This can turn into classic tales of selfless service later.
  • Do a photo collage at head office showing key milestones such as first franchise, first recognition of diversity, 1,000th truck, first master franchise etc. This gives the feeling of being part of something bigger.
  • For key awards at conference, such as “franchisee of the year”, create a photo collage. It can be fun, if someone is a multiple winner, to show them going through life’s natural passages of time (though they may not always love the “crow’s feet” decorating the corners of their eyes, they will love the memories.)

Remember “SWAWC”

“When does somebody finally ‘get it’”, says Sullivan. “It all depends on how self-motivated they are to learn whatever it is you want them to “get.” Although, as a leader, you feel the pressure to motivate others, the hard truth is that people are self-motivated. That is why the acronym So What Who Cares (SWAWC) matters. When working with a group, imagine a cynical member asking that question, and find the answer. Once you determine the SWAWC, you can “meet your people where they are” and create positive change.

franchise knowledge gap

Coaching

Planting seeds of knowledge in the future is much more efficient than living in “reaction mode” and fixing problems from the past. Coaching is the “C” in Franchise TLC.

Assess Knowledge Gaps

Sullivan says, “Head Coaches start by assessing and clearly defining what their team already knows, what their team doesn’t know and what their team doesn’t know what they don’t know.” Assessing these knowledge gaps, the coach can create a game plan to realistically prioritize development needs and focus.

Tough on Standards, Easy on People

“Don’t confuse being disciplined with being a jerk,” Sullivan says wisely. A franchisor staff does not compromise on brand standards but is kind to the people involved. It is also a good idea not to focus exclusively on the weaknesses of your franchisees – you want to help them enhance their strengths as well, so they can be “the best of the best”.

Last Word

To stay competitive today, it is critical to keep learning alive in order to stay on track. “Coaching is another way of serving,” says Sullivan. “It’s a way of listening, nurturing, of passing on the lessons learned from experience to those who look to us for leadership.” Continuous improvement is about maturing within the organization and letting that wisdom contribute to everyone involved, while enjoying the journey.



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Springboard Session: Early Phase of Brand Scalability: Actionable Insights

By | Events
Franchise Springboard

Event: Franchise Springboard
Dates: September 18-20
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Your brand has validated its model and begun selling franchises. It’s time to develop a strategy for building the necessary manpower, enhancing franchisee support systems and solidifying culture to support the coming growth. In this session, we will discuss the different stages of growth and related inflection points, focus areas and action plans to get to the next stage, identifying if and when capital is needed for sustaining new unit growth, and how to propagate your culture from corporate operations to the franchised units.

Moderator: Jason Kealey – President, FranchiseBlast
Panelists: Paul Steck – COO, Spread Bagelry; Bryon Stephens – Co-founder, Pivotal Growth Partners; Jeff Herr – President, St. Gregory Development Group; Ed Samane – CEO, Pro Martial Arts Franchise Corp; Mike Weinberger – COO, ONE Cannabis GroupLearn

Learn more about Franchise Springboard 2019.

12 Surprising Things You Can Do On Your Next Franchisee Visit

By | Field Audits, Franchise Coaching
Franchisee Visit

A visit from an Franchise Business Consultant (FBC) can stir up a lot for a franchisees. Some can see the FBC as a checklist-wielding intruder, while others may see it as a major disruption, like the Kool-Aid man bursting into the side of their operations when they are trying to get stuff done. While using your checklist is needed, why not provide them with some surprise value during the franchisee visit? Check out the tips below to learn more.

Your Next Franchisee Visit

It’s Not What You Think 

1. Recognize Good Performance

A powerful, but underutilized tool is recognition. During your visit, the franchise and their team may think you are going to “catch them doing something wrong.” What if instead… you “catch them doing something right”? Reading out an e-mail from a happy customer, or a nod of appreciation from the President or one of the Directors of the organization can go a long way. Some franchisors even send their FBCs on the road with travelling trophies. After your visit is over, a thoughtful and gracious e-mail, text or even some fun and memorable photos circulated on social media or on your internal message board can be powerful. You can also provide some recognition to the hourly team such as a verbal thank you, an Amazon gift card or a “shout out” on Social Media.

2. Teach to Fail Forward

“When challenges and problems occur, find a lesson,” says Jim Sullivan in his game-changing book Multi Unit Leadership. “Find the lesson, share it with your team and discuss how to prevent the problem from occurring again. Problems are opportunities to learn from not get upset about.” Taking this approach will get your franchisee and their team to step back, and hopefully realize that you are there to help, not judge.

3. Know Details Matter

Have you ever guessed on the cleanliness of the restaurant as a whole based on the standard of clean you see in the washroom? Reminding the franchisee that the details matter is a great message from an FBC when conducting an audit. It is easy to let things slide a bit as an operator, and having a different set of eyes can make a big difference. For example, when you walked in, did the first person you meet greet you with a welcoming smile, or were they focused in on their phone? A customer, who has driven 20-30 minutes, past dozens of restaurants, would have that same experience – whether good or bad.

4. Be a Thermostat, not a Thermometer

Jim Sullivan talks about the idea of controlling the temperature, instead of reflecting it. While you want to meet the franchisee where they are, you also want to be the voice of reason. If you are getting as “hot” or as “cold” they are, you are not going to help. Having some self control, and remembering professional boundaries creates a win-win all around.

5. Consciously Collaborate

Like it or not, with Social Media and our “always on” society, our world is more and more collaborative. Information does not flow from the top down anymore; instead it flows bottom-up and laterally. Instead of resisting this idea, roll with it. Consciously collaborating means that you help the crew be a team feel energized after your visit and there is a little more glue connecting them together. You can also create collaboration with their fellow franchisees or other people who can broaden their professional or personal expertise.

6. Put a Loudspeaker on Great Ideas

When you see great ideas at play on your field visit, why not amplify them, and share them with the rest of the system? Of course, you only want ideas that don’t go against brand standards but it can be surprising how creative great operators can be within them. Don’t forget that for McDonald’s, Ronald McDonald, the Big Mac and the Egg McMuffin were all franchisee ideas. From Marketing to operations, there are ideas you could take and run with.

7. Judge People on their Best Days

Have you ever felt unfairly judged by someone? It is a sinking feeling, which you may be unconsciously be creating for your franchisees. “Be balanced, be fair, observe often,” said Sullivan. “And consider all the grey areas before you make a decision in either black or white.”

8. Encourage Excellence

While you want to create an atmosphere of acceptance, at the same time, you want to follow the management precept of being “hard on issues, and soft on people.” That means that if you see food being prepared at a level 10/10, encourage that again. Don’t forget that being on a “dream team” feels much better than being considered second-rate.

9. Foster Financial Goals

Unit Level Economics is a hot issue at franchise conferences because it matters from both a franchisee and franchisor perspective. Franchisors are typically paid on revenue, which can create a perception among franchisees of even the most well-meaning of head office teams. Helping your franchisee meet or exceed profitability targets will show that you are there to help in the most meaningful way possible.

10. Create a Not-to-do List

Productivity experts such as Tim Ferriss talk about having a not-to-do list. In fact, these can raise performance more than adding more to your schedule.  That list will demonstrate that you are not there to put more on an already full plate. You are there to help them succeed.

11. See Service through the Customer’s Eyes

It helps to see the operation from a customer’s point of view, rather than through that of the manager’s or staff. After all, a great customer experience, may not be what you think it is.

“Not having to ask for anything,” says Sullivan. “Is the ultimate definition of customer service. Most customers don’t actually ‘want service’. Based on the thousands of customer we interview annually for the service projects we do for clients, what customers want first and foremost from business is to eliminate dissatisfaction. Yep, that’s right. They don’t want ‘excellence’, to be ‘wowed’, ‘delighted’, ‘blown away,’ or whatever the service buzzword du jour is. Customers want consistent positive experiences characterized by the absence of complaints.

12. Mind the Gap in Alignment

“Mind the Gap” is something you see at the subway station, but that advice is also good for FBCs. An exercise, suggested by Sullivan, may be exactly what you need for your next franchisee visit.

  1. Before your visit, answer the following questions: 1) what are my customer’s top ten complaints? 2) what are my customers top ten expectations? Be sure to write down your answers.
  2. Ask the franchisee, their managers and the hourly associates the same two questions.
  3. Your service challenges and opportunities will become crystal clear, comparing the synchronicity, overlap and/or disconnect among the different groups.

Last Word

Looking for more ways to enhance your service? Check out our 5 Boosts eBook on how to enhance your Franchise Audit at every phase.



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Recruit the Ultimate Franchise Business Coach (FBC)

By | Franchise Coaching, Human Resources
Recruit Franchise Business Coach

The Franchise Business Coach (FBC) can make or break a franchise organization. As Jim Sullivan says in his seminal book Multi Unit Leadership:

“The best multi unit managers work wonders, bringing consistency to chaos, building bottom lines, wringing good things from bad locations, and strengthening the span of control between the owner and operations. The worst can just as easily bring the company down through inattention, inexperience and ineptitude, forgetting that all operation problems boil down to people problems.”

Like Multi Unit Managers, Franchise Business Coaches are key to helping franchises succeed, but finding the right one, and training them appropriately is not an easy task. Check out the tips below on recruiting the ultimate FBC, and setting them up for success.

Franchise Business Coach (FBC) Recruitment Process

Write a Killer Job Description

Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and beyond still dream about the “killer app” but, what does it take to have a “killer job description” for a Franchise Business Coach? It is all about people. In a nutshell, in 2020, fashion mavens may tell you that sage green is the new black. But business experts will say that marketing is the new recruiting. As a result, recruitment has surprising similarities to marketing copy. Here are some tips for a killer job description:

  • Do your research: According to Sullivan, “talk to people who have already ‘bought’ your product (your current team members). Find out why people want to work for your company; is it the culture, growth, people, pay?”
  • Be descriptive yet concise: As an employer, it is important for your employees to understand their role from day one. It is better to overcommunicate than undercommunicate.
  • Hire for culture: Are you a “sales first” culture? Then talk about that in your description. Are you driven by a deep entrepreneurial spirit at the office? Put that in there. You want to hire for culture, otherwise, the person could create some unwanted waves.
  • Focus on benefits: If there was one nugget of information from a career in Marketing, it is to focus on benefits instead of features. For example, Uber’s job description focuses on money, flexibility and “no boss”. When people are seeking work, they are looking for “what’s in it for me” so empathy is a good skill to draw on when building your description.

Screening Candidates

Now that you have your description, you can begin screening Franchise Business Coach candidates. Traditionally, this starts with a phone interview, then gets whittled down to face-to-face. Since candidates will be remote, some opt for video interviews either as the first or second stage. Creating a team is like crafting a meal – you want to have all of the elements balanced for it to be delicious. So – for a “dream team”, you want to think of how the skills of the FBC connect with the Director of Operations.

Some people opt putting this dream team on paper, sketching out the skills of each team member. FBC candidates can come from inside or outside of the organization. The ones from outside may bring in new skills and a broader perspective; they will also bring both good and bad habits.  So keep in mind that those outside hires may need less step-by-step guidance, but more indoctrination into the culture.

Selecting

According to Sullivan, “people are not your greatest asset, the right people are.” You can never be too picky – the franchising community has long held onto the axiom “hire slowly, fire quickly”. With 90% of candidates C and D players, you want that A or B player urgently. Because realistically, a C or D player does not surround themselves with A players so a FBC with recruitment responsibilities will have an exponential effect in either direction. After the selection is complete, you can offer employment.

Onboarding

A widely recognized challenge in the world of FBCs is the lack of formal training available. An FBC is part coach, part manager and part auditor. This multifaceted role means that already defined training program will not reach. The sad truth is, that often people new to the organization will get a one-day driving tour a training binder and an org chart as their orientation. Then, it is trial by fire. Alternately, here are some best practices when it comes to onboarding:

  • Assess both the knowledge base and the knowledge gaps of each new hire. Role plays, case studies, interviews and questionnaires can be used to test knowledge and motivation given the work setting.
  • Executives should share their long-term visions giving the new hire the same information as the current FBCs have. This will give them insight into their future responsibilities and assess their own physical, mental and emotional abilities in the new role.
  • Consider mentoring your FBC an ongoing process. The orientation process should start with a thoughtful 30, 60 and 90-day onboarding plan. Having both vertical (bosses) and horizontal mentors who have some coaching skills can also be a great help.
  • With the supervisor, the FBC can review the following:
    • Quarterly business plans: the good, the bad, and the difference between the two.
    • Sample visit: review how much time the FBC is expected to spend at their stores and conduct a sample site visit using your mobile operations field audit app. Time should be spent afterwards debriefing and deconstructing the visit.
    • Strategy: the supervisor and the new FBC should do a SWOT analysis on each location and discuss the idiosyncrasies of the location and the history of the surrounding market. Looking at analytics based on previous store visits is a great benefit, using your operations software.

According to Sullivan’s research, coaches that take outside training courses annually perform better, produce more and stay with their companies longer.

The Next Step

Are you ready to take the next step? Check out our eBook, 5 Ways to Boost the Impact of Your Franchise Field Audit.



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