Yearly Archives

2019

How to Become a Continuous Learning Franchise Rockstar

By | Franchise Growth, Franchising Trends
continuouse learning franchise

Do you want to be a continuous learning franchise? Doing so isn’t natural or organic – it is something to be created and can go against your instincts. Newton’s first law of motion tends to be true in franchising organization – an object that is set in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an external source.

But, if you are committed to serving your community with your franchise, whether it be through ice cream for families or staffing needs for HR professionals, continuous learning will serve you.

Henry Ford said “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether they at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Building a continuous learning organization also helps you stay competitive in this fast-changing world.

For example, mobile has come up very recently and marketing professionals know that more people now access the web through a mobile device than a traditional desktop, and young people are doing away with e-mail altogether, using just a phone number instead. Dealing with this shift takes the ability to build on what you have, while adapting it for the modern world.

What is a learning organization?

A learning culture was defined as “a set of organizational values, conventions, processes, and practices that encourage individuals—and the organization as a whole—to increase knowledge, competence, and performance” by a contributor to Oracle. When learning is a habit, workers are constantly upping their games in terms of learning, skills and performance.

The benefits are staggering. According to Pinnacle a learning organization has the following benefits:

  • Increases efficiency, productivity, and profit
  • Improves employee morale
  • Decreases turnover and boosts employee satisfaction
  • Promotes a sense of ownership and accountability
  • Helps workers adapt to change
  • Eases transitions

Einstein said “once you stop learning you start dying” – so, if you want your business to thrive, start now! How can you transform into a continuous learning franchise?

1. Develop Information Sharing Processes

At the heart of the continuous learning experience is to lean through experience. So – having information sharing processes such as the following can be very helpful:

Your organization can complement these technological tools with connections. The annual conference is of course a fantastic way for you to spotlight up and coming initiatives, along with a regular webinar program. According to INC, strategic sharing sessions take one training initiative, and spread it across the team. According to the article:

“When an employee wanted to attend a training program outside the office, they had to complete a continuous education request form. Part of this form required them to present a business case explaining how the desired training aligned to the company’s overall mission and how it would enhance the employee’s ability to do their job.
In addition, they had to agree to schedule a sharing session with the rest of the company so that the knowledge they acquired didn’t reside only with them. This allowed the information to cascade through the company, and benefit everyone.”

2. Shine the Spotlight on Learning

Learning paths developed by Human Resources are a great way to               emphasize learning. Additionally, offering formal training beyond what happens when you are onboarding franchisees is a fantastic way to keep your training fresh.

You can also share the success that works within the franchising environment. According to INC, sharing learnings on projects are fantastic:

“Each quarter, we selected a project team to present on a recently completed project. They had full creative license to present however they chose. Not only did this educate the rest of the company on our skill sets and achievements, it empowered the project managers to look for similar opportunities in their own customer environments.” 

In franchising, this could be shining the spotlight on franchisees who have added a new location, or a new service such as off-premise by allowing them to do a webinar, or creating a “step-by-step” manual on how other franchisees can follow suit. Others will be inspired to make it their own, or franchisees will get curious and try something else that will build on the profitability of their business.  

3. Recruit Franchisees Who Love to Learn

Our last recommendation is to recruit those who are curious. In franchising, you quickly learn that it is all about having those motivated and energized people as franchisees. Having those who are committed to ongoing education is even better. I have personally witnessed franchisees who were over 70-years-old still taking books worth of notes at the annual convention. If you recruit people who are committed to lifelong learning, creating a learning organization will be that much easier.

The Learning Network Effect

Committing to learning is one of those initiatives that touches everyone in your organization, and the effects can stretch to your customers and suppliers as well.  While being a continuous learning organization can go against momentum, it will create a competitive advantage that is uniquely yours.



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Is your Franchisee Audit Too Generous?

By | Field Audits, Franchise Coaching

Over the years, we have seen hundreds of franchise field audit questionnaires. They come in all shapes and sizes and cover many different aspects – in fact we wrote a field audit benchmarks article comprising of just this.

A number of systems have approached us and asked us for ways to improve their audit questionnaire, which they thought was too generous. More specifically, they were seeing all of their franchisees receive 90%+ scores when in fact they sensed that the system average should be more around a 70% or 80%. In fact, the average across all franchise systems we work with is 80% of audits pass and 20% fail.

John Doerr, author of bestseller Measure What Matters famously said “if you always hit 100% of your goals, you are not shooting high enough.” Conversely, if you’re hitting too few of them, you get demotivated. If it is at around 80%, and the goals are meaningful, people will sit up and take notice of those initiatives, and the people in charge of them.

Franchisors have told us that the problem with such high scores is that franchisees who receive them tend to ignore the recommendations that are made because they’re already doing exceptionally well.  This article lists out a collection of strategies you can employ to balance out your audit scoring.

Ineffective Strategy: Changing Question Weights

The natural first first reflex is to change the number of points allocated to each question. A critical question will be given more weight than a low impact one. At it’s base, this is a sound strategy when used appropriately.

Imagine you had a questionnaire with 100 questions, worth one point each. If a franchisee fails a critical question due to having rats taking over the kitchen, then they still end up having 99%. Sure, maybe the whole audit fails due to severity rules around such critical questions but when seeing that score, they’ll think they still did very well, and will be popping the champagne bottles, when in reality, the brand would be in grave danger. 

When faced with this, the reflex is to increase the point value of this question. Let’s say we make it 10 points. The questionnaire total is now 109, having moved that question from 1 to 10 points. Fail that question and you get 99 out of 109, or just under 91%. That’s a big jump and you’re making progress on being less generous.

The problem with this strategy is you can’t do it too often. If you do, then you end up with a similar problem because the critical questions rarely fail. As an example, imagine that you want the top ten questions to be worth ten points, and you leave the other 90 questions at their standard one-point value. Your total point value is now 190. Fail one critical and you’re back to almost 95%. In other words, you just halved your gains in the context of improving the questionnaire to be less generous.

Additionally, because your critical questions rarely fail, you’ve made things worse for the other regular questions. Fail a regular question and now you have 99.5% instead of 99%.  As you can see, this drives average audit scores up and reduces failure rates.

Don’t misinterpret the comments above as saying you should never change question weights. We believe questions should be weighted based on their importance. The lesson we are communicating here is that it isn’t typically the solution to this particular problem.

Strategy #1: Calibrate Your Coaches

Before making any changes to your questionnaire, you need to make sure that your coaches are evaluating the questions properly according to the same guidelines. This may imply having a meeting with the whole team and defining much more specific documentation about each question to quantify the criteria for a passing value. 

If you balance this with real data, you can ask people if they think that it’s normal that a certain question is passing 95% of the time. Perhaps the team will discover that certain standards were simply too easy to attain, and the bar can be moved up.  

A simple conversation with the team to be stricter may be a very easy way to get started on this problem.

Strategy #2: Add Questions that Will Fail Often

Sometimes auditors will sense that the questionnaire is dated and overlooks certain areas that would normally be failing often. In Strategy #1, you defined stricter standards; now you are expressing those standards as new questions instead of different evaluation criteria. This is a good start, though it’s not as effective as the next idea.

Strategy #3: Prune Questions

Another data-driven initiative revolves around pruning questions that never fail from your audit. If you run a report and see that a certain question has rarely failed across hundreds of audits, perhaps it’s time to consider retiring this question completely. Not only does this reduce the point total but it makes the coach’s visit faster. We are naturally driven to add more to a questionnaire, but it is good practice to review what you can remove once per year so the whole process becomes both manageable and meaningful.

This is usually easier said than done as it is very difficult to remove completely valid questions from a questionnaire. After all, questions in an audit come to symbolize the priorities of the organization such as quality and customer satisfaction.  

Strategy #4: Create Specific Questionnaires for Areas of Concern

Most franchise systems have two main questionnaires, one for a thorough annual review and a shorter one for more frequent visits. However, we’ve seen the average franchise has 6 questionnaires in our platform and that is because they have started utilizing the tool in various other use cases from store openings to limited time offer validation for the Marketing team.

In the context of our discussion, imagine a franchise has a lengthy questionnaire featuring 400 questions on quality, service, cleanliness, marketing, food safety and franchise coaching. Now imagine it has identified a large weakness or risk around food safety and their annual field audits are not helping drive the scores up, even if there are 100 questions on this specific matter in the audit questionnaire.

One initiative could be to create a new questionnaire, focused exclusively on food safety. This signals the message that food safety is so important that you’re doing audits exclusively on this matter. Additionally, because this was your main weakness, it usually implies scores will be lower. They aren’t brought back up by passing questions in other sections.

Strategy #5: Implement Penalty Scoring

There is probably no better technique to reduce scores quickly than making use of penalty scoring. It unfortunately comes with the trade-off of being more confusing to explain to the franchisees, especially when they are accustomed to receiving high scores.

The way penalty scoring works is as follows: Imagine you have a questionnaire or a section that has 100 questions worth 1 point each. Instead of subtracting failures from the maximum total of points (100), remove them from an arbitrary other number, such as 50.  If you fail one question worth one point, you get 98% (49/50). You’ve just made your questionnaire 2x stricter. If you fail 10, you get 80% instead of 90%.

If you chose to deduct points from 25 instead, you’ve doubled it again. If you fail 20 questions worth one point, you lose 20 points out of 25, leaving you with 5/25 or 20%. Compare this to the original situation where failing 20 questions would leave you with 80%. If you are going to roll out such a drastic change, it must be accompanied with change management and buy in from the franchisees.

Most Important Lesson: Get your Franchisee Advisory Council (FAC) Involved

When making changes to the questionnaire like this, it’s important to get the FAC involved. They need to understand there’s a problem with the status quo and that problem can negatively impact their bottom line if it’s not addressed. If people are ignoring food safety because the audit scores are too high, they risk getting people sick and that will damage the brand.  Involve them in the questionnaire design process and do a few test runs with them to ensure you have their buy-in.



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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, Franchisee 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