Monthly Archives

May 2020

Virtual Visits in Franchising

By | COVID-19
Virtual Visits in Franchising

FranchiseBlast works with over 100 franchisors, and many are facing the same dilemma:

  • Franchise Business Coaches (FBCs) Can no longer travel due to governmental restrictions.
  • Fewer FBCs to support the network overall.

Virtual visits have been helping franchisors meet this challenge. In this post, we will go through some options for the virtual visit, and how it can benefit your franchise system.

Rethinking the Field Audit

FranchiseBlast is known as a tool for field audits across the franchising community.  With this app, coaches go through the compliance checklist that you’ve developed.  With this powerful system in place, one thing you can do is identify what your system-wide weaknesses are.

You can also discover activities that are a weakness across the system, such as “suggesting promo items”, for example. As a result, you will coach your network more effectively as a whole and train them on upselling skills to address the global weakness.

In the new environment, these compliance checklists may not apply as directly.  As a result, franchisors are creating questionnaires that are coaching-driven and are easily executed remotely. For example, franchisors can have a check to see if franchisees have completed a specific training or are following through on a specific marketing campaigns.  With this kind of audit, the coaches do not need to be in the field and, if applicable, franchisees can upload relevant pictures.

Franchisee-Driven Actions

For compliance specifically, franchisors are training franchisees on self-assessments – which is a way for a franchisee to audit themselves. If the franchisee uploads pictures, such as signage around physical distancing, franchisors can easily browse photos all at once to save time using the picture feed feature.

The challenge with self-assessments, is that they are passive in nature in that the franchisor is waiting on individual units to launch an audit. Conversely, with polling, you can say:

“Have this questionnaire filled out by everybody.”

The system then pushes out the survey. The franchisees and crew don’t need to be logged into the platform to fill it out and you can track who’s filled it out and who has not.

Data-Based Decisions

The information above helps with the compliance aspect of the FBC’s work but there is an ongoing trend towards coaching. All coaches know that you need to inspect what you expect. The franchisee scorecard, helps franchisees make data-driven decisions.  You can measure elements such as:

  • Sales
  • Percentage of online orders,
  • NPS scores
  • Google Reviews
  • Labor costs
  • Food costs

Franchisors define these indicators and can develop leaderboards, and coach franchisees where they are struggling.  By looking at this dashboard of the holistic view of the health of that unit, you can develop an action plan.

Adapting to the New Operating Environment

To pivot to the new operating environment, some franchisors are creating business plans. Imagine that you want to define a plan with the franchisees to adjust, including the goal:

“You need to keep your labor costs under 20%”.

Together, you define relevant initiatives at the start of the quarter, or start of the year. On your future calls, or on those virtual visits, go in and perform a check-in. This brings back up that plan to say:

“Okay, we need to pivot to the new operating environment.  Here are the things we said you would do, did you implement the new workflows?”

This is a straightforward example, but it an be as simple or sophisticated as you want it to be.

Conclusion

So overall, FranchiseBlast has a suite of tools that help with both compliance and coaching while performing the virtual visit.  The FranchiseBlast team is happy to discuss the best set of modules for you and your unique environment.



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Objectives and Key Results (OKR) in Franchising

By | Sample OKRs
OKRs in Franchising Intro

Forward-thinking franchisors are now embracing Objectives and Key Results or OKR .The framework was originally developed by Andy Grove at Intel and has been used by organizations such as Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While the framework has documentation in the form of videos, bestselling books, and worksheets, the three main concepts will help you through their use, for the purpose of Business Plans.

Objectives and Key Results Key Terms

Objective (O)

The Objective is your goal which aligns everyone in simple terms.

Example: Grow business with sales and marketing.

Key Results (KR)

Key Results is how you measure success, which you cannot control 100%.

Example: Add 250 new customers to our loyalty mailing list.

Initiatives (I)

Initiatives are activities trying to achieve objectives, which you can control 100%.

Example: Perform three marketing campaigns on Social Media.

How to Use OKRs in Franchising

The birthplace of OKRs was in the technology sector. Today, OKRs are used across different industries and business models. Franchising has some unique elements to it that matter when it comes to business planning.

  • Shared Risk: An advantage of the franchise model is shared risk – since the franchisee signs the lease and commits to various contracts. This shared responsibility matters when thinking of many aspects of the business, from profitability to marketing expenses.
  • Motivation: No one is more motivated than a person who has invested their money into the business. But, when engaging in planning activities, you want to remember that the person standing before you is not an employee, they are a business owner. With that, including some set objectives from a franchisor level of reasonable. At the same time, franchisees who set some of their own Objectives, Key Results or Initiatives will ultimately be more engaged.
  • New Markets: Franchising allows brands to expand to new markets, where customs and tastes are not necessarily understood by the franchisor. So when setting OKRs with your Master Franchise, or franchises in markets that have significant differences from your own, you may want to keep those in mind in terms of what to keep consistent, and what to change.

At the heart of these considerations is to include collaboration when building your plans.  OKRs are also loved for their transparency, which will further accountability and engagement.

Getting Started with OKRs

Setting OKRs together with your Franchise Advisory Committee (FAC) and other key stakeholders from the franchisor level is key. Some choose to have an OKR workshop including collaborative documents if online, and whiteboards if off. At the end of the session, you want to have agreement on what you want achieved by the beginning of the following year.

How to Set Objectives

When sitting down to write objectives, the first question you want to have in mind is “what challenge am I trying to solve?” John Doerr, who famously implemented OKR at Google, and wrote the authoritative book on the subject, Measure What Matters, had the following formula:

I will (Objective) as measured by (this set of Key Results).

Objectives should be aligned, high-impact and time-bound. They don’t necessarily need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Results-Oriented and Timely). In fact, they can be more of a big picture. If you think of yourself steering a boat, the Objective is the place where you are aiming to go.

How to Set Key Results Aligned with Objectives

Creating key results can be tough to untangle from initiatives. A simple rule of thumb is to think “how can I measure it”. For example, if your objective is to Create an Extraordinary Customer Experience, then your key results could include: Receive a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 30 for the Year.

Notice that this is not telling you the “how” it is telling you how you will measure it. Similarly, a Marketing objectives may be measured by conversions, but it does not get into specifics around “how”.  Key results should be high impact, specific and within influence.

How to Set Initiatives Aligned with Objectives

Initiatives are in the form of tasks or projects. For the NPS objective above, for example, you can have the tasks that will make your customers happier. Related to that Objective, you could have a new Customer Service training to improve that experience.

An example of a Marketing initiative is a Facebook Campaign. Initiatives are just a “best guess” or a “hypothesis” on what may deliver the highest impact because a veteran marketer knows that a campaign will not always get the results that you are looking for, since ultimately the control lies with the prospect (and tastes can be fickle).  Initiatives should be specific and within control.

Reviews

Franchise-Wide planning for OKRs usually happens annually. On the location-level, frachisors can choose Annual Objectives or Quarterly Objectives. Finding the right rhythm depends on how quickly your target market changes or if your business deals with more uncertainty than most.

If you are new to the process, setting an Annual rhythm can be a good start. Either way, engaging in monthly or quarterly reviews of goals with franchisees is helpful.

Tracking

Having OKRs in a central location is key to the process as is tracking them every step of the way. This way, you can see a history of check-ins, and understand what was discussed in previous meetings. FranchiseBlast’s Business Plan application is a fantastic tool to further this goal. Click here to learn more about Business Plans in FranchiseBlast.



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Franchise Business Planning and Strategy

By | Business Plans
Business Planning and Strategy

We hear the words “strategy” and “planning” together all of the time. But, the truth in many franchise organizations is that the franchise business planning process, on the franchisee level, stands on its own, rather than being part of a larger whole. But having a plan isolated in its own silo will not help the company since business planning is part of a larger ecosystem. You can see elements of that system in the graphic below.

business planning and strategy

Vision

A vision statement is a declaration of where the company wants to go and is intended to be a guide for the company’s decision-making. Vision statements tend not to shift much over the life of the business. They are the “where” of strategic planning. According to the Corporate Finance Institute, Vision Statements should have the following characteristics:

  • Forward-looking
  • Motivating and inspirational
  • Reflective of a company’s culture and core values
  • Aimed at bringing benefits and improvements to the organization in the future
  • Defines a company’s reason for existence and where it is heading

The Vision Statement should then be connected to the objectives set in the franchise business planning process. Objectives will change from quarter to quarter and year to year, but the Vision will be consistent.

Core Values

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of the organization. They are the “why” of strategic planning. Today 80% of Fortune 100 companies publicly display their public values, and many franchisors do the same. They adorn front entrances, HR materials and presentations given to franchise candidates.

If core values are properly defined, it will foster a certain culture across the organization as people with the same values will:

  • Follow the same rules
  • Establish the same norms
  • Develop mutual respect
  • Have similar tolerances

Linking core values to franchise business planning is an excellent tool for motivation, since the hardest part about strategic planning is not necessarily figuring out what to do, it is how to align your franchisees and home office team around it.

Strategic Initiatives

Franchise business planning is clear way to put strategic initiatives into motion. For example, if you are transitioning to do more business off-premise, there could objectives from the following perspectives:

  • Marketing to let local customers know of this option, online and in the community
  • Training to help store staff learn new process around delivery
  • New packaging to help food stay crispy during delivery
  • Tours of facilities via video instead of face-to-face

Planning on the franchisee level helps you be a more consistent organization as you encounter changes.

Collaboration and Relationships

Sitting down on a quarterly or monthly basis, can be one of the most valuable activities that you provide to your franchisees. Creating two-way communication, where you are talking about their goals, especially when some of those are created together is powerful. If you reach the goals, you did it together. If you don’t, you will have some insight together.

Of course, collaboration does not happen unless there is some humility and a genuine desire to connect. But if it is there, it will pay back many times over for the franchisor.

Focused Communication

A problem in many franchise systems is an over-communication from home office. When there is too many e-mails, webinars and trainings, franchisees can become ‘numb’ and stop listening. Setting up a proper business plan reminds franchisors to keep focused on a few important things, and not burden franchisees with more.

Last Word

Before completing this exploration of Franchise Business Planning, there is one more idea. Paradoxically, sometimes processes can get in the way of what you want to do. For example, getting every single marketing piece approved can create a bottleneck, if the Marketing team is not appropriately staffed. Business Planning can also create problems, such as the following:

  • Trying to reach goals, when an unforeseen event has occurred, like a Natural Disaster or a Pandemic.
  • Sticking to old goals when there has been a disruptive innovation in the marketplace, such technology facilitating off-premise.
  • High sales expectations, that go unmet, can lead to overspending on staff or inventory

None of the above is intended as an argument to eliminate planning, they are things to keep in mind as throughout the process. In general, the business plan is part of a unique ecosystem in the franchise model. It sits within that ecosystem and is influences by its shifting nature.



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Why is Franchise Business Planning so Important Today?

By | Business Plans

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And, never has that statement been more true. As the global landscape shifts rapidly, franchise leaders need to set a clear path in times of uncertainty. According to Harvard Business Review, “entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs”. As a franchisor, you want to be sure to lead that planning effort.

Industry veterans know that working hard alone is not going to put your franchisees ahead of the competition. There are many, both on the local level and nationally, who put forward a strong effort. But working on the right things will ensure that your franchisees have the best chance at success. In short, it is about working smart.

Additionally, a flexible process where the Franchise Business Consultant (FBC) and the franchisee co-creates the plan, and checks in at regular intervals, can help you have the discussions that you need to have, and make adjustments when needed. To distill the value down of what a franchisor offers a franchisee, it is a combination of:

  • Brand, as a noun and verb
  • Processes and support of them

If you are not planning, there are a few important questions. What processes are you supporting? Are you supporting ones that will actually foster growth, efficiency, and risk mitigation or is this a rudderless ship? A trip with no direction, could mean that no matter how talented or hard-working people are, they will not achieve results.

In a franchise context, planning can create a sense of unity and collaboration. For the benefit of the brand as a whole, it means that franchisees will make similar changes at once, enhancing consistency. From a collaboration standpoint, there is a flow between the franchisees, who see what is happening in the field, and the franchisor, who has more strategic expertise. This flow can create some exciting collaborative experiences that get results.

As we navigate this time of change together, it is important to put our best foot forward. To create value for the franchisees and help grow your system while keeping the pillars of brand consistency and collaboration strong, providing a plan which is worked on collaborative is one of the best resources that you can provide.



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Which Tool is Right for your Franchisee Comeback Plan?

By | COVID-19, Franchise Relationships

Much of the franchising world went on lockdown in the Spring of 2020. As franchisors set their sights on reopening the economy, we received a few requests on which of our modules (field audits, self-assessments, polls, projects, business plans, etc.) are the best to use for their scenarios in the new world.

Overview

Coach Interactions

If the coaches are driving a short interaction, call, audit or review with a franchisee, you should use a field audit. This is the baseline tool for coach-driven scenarios.

The exception is if you want to record an interaction and keep it confidential – meaning you do not want the franchisee to see it. In that case, you would use a comment in the info depot or on the franchisee’s record within your system. 

Franchisee Interactions

If the franchisee is the one who is initiating the interaction, then the baseline is a self-assessment – an audit where the franchisee is empowered to fill it out themselves.

Conversely, if the interaction is critically important and the franchisor needs to have visibility into the result for risk mitigation or other legal purposes, and you will be requiring all units to fill it out, you should launch the a poll. This adds accountability that everyone fills it out. It is especially helpful if there is an expectation to fill it out on a recurring basis.

Mixed Interactions

If you are doing an interaction that involves many stakeholders over a process that takes several months with a guaranteed outcome (such as a grand reopening), you should be doing a Project that creates tasks for accountability.

If the coach is defining a strategy collaboratively with the franchisee, and you can setup a process to review how they are doing versus this strategy over several months, you should use a Business Plan.

Sample Mini Case Studies

Protective Gear Installation

Problem: We want to make sure franchisees have installed new plexiglass and signage for reopening procedures. We are 100% sure that the franchisees can follow through with this.

Solution: A self-assessment if franchisees are self-starters and a poll if accountability is a top concern.

Operational Changes

Problem: I want to make sure franchisees are ready to follow the new operational procedures for online ordering and delivery.

Solution: A self-assessment if franchisees are self-starters and a poll if accountability is a top concern.

Remodelling to Support Online Ordering and Pick-up

Problem: Each unit will need to be remodelled to support online ordering.
Solutions: Self-assessment if your goal is check the completion of it. It could also be a Project if it is a lengthy complex process involving many teams.

Business Continuity

Problem: I want to make sure my franchisees survive the crisis. As a way to support them, we’ll be talking on a monthly basis.
Solution: If you just want to record the interactions and take the pulse of the franchisee, use a Field Audit. If you are willing to get more involved and formal, Business Plans are appropriate. The latter is a living document that is evolved as you progress through the various initiatives defined in the plan.

Last Word

Supporting franchisors and franchisees with different scenarios around opening in each system, and across region requires agility and flexibility. If this post has been supportive to your efforts, feel free to post on Social Media.



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Webinar: Franchising Toolkit to Win

By | COVID-19, Events

Date: Friday, May 8th, 2020 at 11:00 AM.
Registration: Get Your Seat Now

Join host Sally Facinelli, CFE, and other franchise experts to discuss the toolkit needed for businesses to re-engage their franchisees, employees, and customers.

Topics include:

  • Brand image and messaging
  • Marketing toolkit
  • PR and how to support franchisees in their local market
  • Loyalty programs: keeping loyal customers loyal
  • Plan for your franchisee come back objectives

Confirmed Speakers:

  • HotDish Advertising – Dawn Kane
  • 919 Marketing – Graham Chapman, CFE
  • Fishman PR – Sherri Fishman, CFE
  • POLN8 – Tom Epstein, CFE
  • FranchiseBlast – Jason Kealey, CFE

Register for the webinar here



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