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Stefania Sigurdson Forbes

Global Franchise Magazine: How strong franchisee relationships bolster franchise development

By | Franchise Development, News
Global Franchise Logo

We are pleased to have our Sr. Marketing Director, Stefania Sigurdson Forbes featured in Global Franchise Magazine.

Article: How strong franchisee relationships bolster franchise development

Advocating collaboration and creativity across your franchise network can not only produce results but a more productive environment among your organization

Traditionally, franchise development and franchise operations had a certain degree of separation between them. There was a permeable wall between the two, ensuring that they could both do business without getting in each other’s way.

Read More…



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COVID-19 Checklists

By | Polling, Self-Assessments

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve, we are responding to requests for checklists from our customers. As a result we have created a collection of resources for free for anyone to download.

We have prepared checklists to help you navigate the Coronavirus in your franchise. This includes:

  • American: Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA).
  • Canadian: Government of Canada and the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.

These are available in Excel, PDF and within the FranchiseBlast library. Download now.

USA

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Author: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Key Sections
  • For Managers
  • How to clean and disinfect
  • Soft surfaces
  • Electronics
  • Laundry
Sample Recommendations
  • Educate workers performing cleaning, laundry, and trash pick-up to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus.

Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
Author: Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

Key Sections

  • Steps all employers can take to reduce worker’s risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2
  • Classifying Worker Exposure to SARS-CoV-2

Sample Recommendations

  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible
  • Prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting workers, customers, visitors, and others at a worksite.

Canada

Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces (COVID-19)
Author: Government of Canada

Key Sections
  • Choose a product that cleans and disinfects
  • Create a cleaning procedure

Sample Recommendations:

  • Surfaces frequently touched with hands are most likely to be contaminated. These include doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons, light switches, cabinet handles, faucet handles, tables, countertops and electronics.
  • Use damp cleaning methods such as damp clean cloths, and/or a wet mop. Do not dust or sweep which can distribute virus droplets into the air.

OHS Fact Sheet on Coronavirus

Author: Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety

Key Sections
  • What can a workplace do?
  • What are the recommendations to prevent transmission of a coronavirus?
Sample Recommendations
  • Removing magazines and papers from waiting areas or common rooms (such as tea rooms and kitchens).
  • Making sure ventilation systems are working properly.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.

Webinar: How FranchiseBlast Can Help in Changing Times

By | Events
franchiseblast help

Date: Tuesday, March 31st at 2:00 PM
Free Registration Link: Access Webinar

In this webinar, you will learn how to:

  • Still comply with Food Safety legislation with drive-through or take-out only.
  • Roll-out new operational procedures related to COVID-19
  • Provide support on a remote-basis.
  • Enable franchisees to enhance cleaning procedures.
  • Do audits without using air travel.

Register here to grab your seat.



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Bringing Your Work Home While Supporting Franchisees

By | Franchise Coaching, Franchise Engagement
bringing work home

We are in a time of unprecedented change. There is no simple guidebook on what to do next. Even the most dedicated Franchise Home Office Teams and Franchise Business Coaches (FBCs) are wondering how to keep supporting franchisees. The first priority is to respond and be there to help franchisees as they are coping with changes in their stores or regions or complying with new regulations such as going delivery and take-out only. There are also some things that you can do to help ease concerns:

Check In More

As human beings, we are social by nature. Increase number of one-on-one video or phone check-ins with franchisees to increase morale. Even if they have temporarily closed down their location, or have changed their operations, checking in will help them feel motivated, and part of an extended group.

Build Chat Communities

In a time of social isolation, connecting in the digital space can be a welcome substitute. Create a chat community with your franchisees, region or training group using Slack or Facebook Groups. This helps strengthen connections, and some franchisors pursuing this find that the franchisees may already have an informal one. While you can chat about business, you can also take a break and chat about your families, share pictures, humor, or even share heartwarming stories of people coming together. This also helps facilitate franchisees supporting each other.

Get Creative

When we are afraid, it is easy to get tunnel vision but sometimes opening up a bit can help you in supporting franchisees. Get creative on keeping spirits up. Some  are trying to instill a sense of camaraderie, such as setting up virtual pizza parties or remote happy hours, where people share a cocktail on Skype or Slack. It may feel a little weird, but everyone feeling weird together can be a way to bond.

Provide the right tools

In a time where it may not be possible to send FBCs on field visits, creating self-assessments or polls with images and videos can help franchisees be prepared. Please see our COVID-19 post for more information.



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COVID-19 Franchise Preparedness

By | Self-Assessments

Update: Since we published this post, we have created a collection of publicly-available checklists. Though the resources below are helpful, they may be enhanced by the use of these checklists. View and download free checklists here.

We are all finding ways to cope with COVID-19 and to protect our businesses and communities. In response to questions we have received,we put together some helpful information describing how FranchiseBlast can assist in your franchisee preparedness efforts.

1) Poll or Self-Assessment for Deep Cleaning Procedures

As part of health and safety procedures, franchisors are creating self-assessments and polls to make sure that locations have the proper set of steps required.

Until May 31st, 2020, we will activate self-assessments and polling at no cost to enable any franchise to setup COVID-19 preparedness assessments.

Sections of the assessment can include:

  • Crew member training (all crew members have reviewed proper hand-washing steps.)
  • Food contact surfaces (deep cleaning has been completed of food line, walk-in cooler and smallwares.)
  • Non-food contact surfaces (deep cleaning has been completed for areas such as the dining room and restrooms.)
  • Store hours (in some regions, hours have been affected based on local regulations.)

To help you during this time, you can access a sample poll by following this link.

2) Auditing & Coaching without Travel

As many franchisors are establishing non-essential travel bans, it may no longer be possible for the franchisor to visit the franchisee. Here are some tips to help you mitigate the impact of this crisis.

  • Self-assessments: Using self-assessments, beyond what was discussed above, can be a way to audit without having a live auditor there. Using pictures and videos throughout, can ensure that you have a “visual”.
  • Phone audits: Setting up a special phone coaching session is something your Franchise Business Consultants (FBCs) can do while at home. It also helps create some connections, and cope with unexpected issues as they arise.

Above all, it is not about fear, it is about creating a viable road map to navigate this situation.

If you have any further questions, we are here to help. Contact us using the form below for more information.

*Note: the sample poll is provided for illustrative purposes and does not constitute advice from FranchiseBlast. Please contact a Health and Safety specialist or epidemiologist to determine what is best for your franchise.

Top Franchisee Engagement Tools

By | Franchise Engagement, Franchise Technology
Franchisee Engagement Tools

Franchisee engagement is a term on everyone’s lips after the recent International Franchise Association (IFA) convention in Orlando. But, what does it truly mean?

Authentic franchisee engagement is about having your people truly feel like they are part of the organization. Not just on the piece of paper where they signed on the dotted line, but from deep inside of them.

But, it is easier said than done.

Below, are some tools and technology to help engage every person in your network.

Training

The first engagement touchpoint in the franchisee lifecycle is training. It starts with the road to opening, and then typically a live session at the Home Office. There are also sometimes certifications associated with the industry, such as a Certified Senior Advisor, for instance or franchisor staff may need to be trained as well. Many franchisors also find it worthwhile to pursue financial training such as Profit Mastery.

eLearning is also something that can be hugely helpful for ongoing training and even training around rollouts.

Providers

Program Rollout

Seasonal programs and rollouts are the bread and butter for franchisors. But finding a staff member who can do an effective rollout is like seeking out a unicorn.

Love it or hate it, e-mail is often the first go-to tool for franchisors to send out operations and marketing eBlasts. Measuring responses is a great way to determine engagement, when you are using the right tools.

On the other hand, franchisees “go numb” to communication when you bombard them with too many e-mails.

As a result, there are other ways to roll out programs, such as posting in the intranet, integrating in webinar and video communication and even adding in ratings system, for the brave among us. Having franchisees create their own articles on the intranet, or their own videos will go even further with the rest of the system.

Finally, to avoid one person in your office getting bogged down and overloaded with e-mail, you can invest in a ticketing system, with role-based responses.

Providers

Two-Way Support

We are in a collaborative world, nowadays. Today’s owners don’t want to sit back and passively receive information from Home Office. They want to connect back and forth. And, when you think about it, the franchisees wanting to roll up their sleeves and abandon the “employee mentality” is a positive thing.

At the heart of field support, is some of the following functions:

  • On-site training
  • Key Performance Indicator (KPI) review
  • Ongoing business coaching
  • Financial review
  • Field audit visits

Field Auditors have the hardest job in franchising, but the more two-way communication they have, the stronger the relationship will be.

Providers

Convention

The annual convention is the most fundamental investment any franchisor can make. There are the formal learning benefit, then the informal social benefits (which, if you are doing it right will be a highlight for everyone).

Generally, conventions are the glue that holds everyone together.

To level-up your event, include an app, or even add in a gamification element to it.

Providers

Collaboration

The evolutionary version of 1:1 communication, is a 1:many collaboration! Collaborating, by building projects together with franchisees will enhance engagement and grow trust.

Instead of creating things in the Home Office vacuum, and hoping they will stick, try to collaborate “on the fly” with franchisees using the latest tools.

Looking to have some fun while collaborating? You can also utilize crowdsourcing for an engaging and collaborative experience, have design contests with many designers, and get franchisees to vote.

You can connect with franchisees, regionally, or by a special interest group, via text, a form of communication up to 500x more powerful than e-mail.

Finally, you can create business plans collaboratively with franchisees, which has been shown to enhance engagement and ameliorate outcomes.

Providers

Last Word

Tools will never replace the human touch when it comes to franchisee engagement, but they do enhance the experience, and spark the imagination. We will be updating this article regularly, so come back soon to see our most recent recommendations.



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Duck Donuts to Open Over 100 Locations Using Mobile Technology

By | Artificial Intelligence, Brand Consistency, Press Release

Rapidly Growing Franchisor Will Focus on Openings, Planning and Performance with FranchiseBlast

Released through: Cision PRWeb – See Full Release Here.

If you start strong, you stay strong, according to franchise experts. That is why Duck Donuts, one of the nation’s fastest-growing donut franchises known for serving “Warm, Delicious and Made to Order!” donuts, has increased their investment in FranchiseBlast technology, to include Store Openings, Business Planning and Performance tools.

Having just four stores as recently as 2012, Duck Donuts has experienced growth that many franchisors would dream of with more than 240 units sold by 2020.

“As we continue to rapidly grow, it is a priority for us to ensure we have the right processes and tools available to our franchisees,” explains Sophia Zulli, VP of Operations at Duck Donuts. “These tools will help the franchisees open strong, since solid performance on the opening is a fantastic predictor of healthy financial performance in the future.”

Duck Donuts is known for its delicious, made-to-order donuts which include traditional favorites such as chocolate, and more unique, such as those including bacon. Their donuts are on “best of” lists in many cities across the US.

“By expanding their toolkit beyond brand consistency, Duck Donuts is signalling to their franchisees that they are committed to improving unit-level economics.” explains Jason Kealey, President and Co-Founder of FranchiseBlast.

“Having timely access to franchisee performance benchmarks will help their coaches quickly propagate lessons learned from top performers to the rest of the system.”

FranchiseBlast is experimenting with Artificial Intelligence with some of its customers, providing actionable insights on what levers drive strong performance, for example.

“We’ve worked with FranchiseBlast since 2019 on our brand consistency and it has been a great partnership,” explains Zulli. “Now we are excited to bring it to the next level with Store Openings, Coaching and Performance Insights.”
Duck Donuts will upgrade the technology in early 2020.

About FranchiseBlast:
FranchiseBlast’s Scorecards, Business Planning and Franchisee Field Audit Apps empower franchisors to achieve brand consistency across locations. The apps can be used by the franchise business coaches during their field visits or directly by franchisees themselves via self-assessments. Their user-friendly apps are used by over 100 brands including Focus Brands, Liberty Tax Service and Pita Pit.

About Duck Donuts:
Duck Donuts was founded in 2006 by Russ DiGilio in Duck, North Carolina. His intention? To solve a family vacation problem: “Our family wanted a place to buy warm, delicious, made-to-order donuts, and when we couldn’t find one, we decided to start our own.”

By 2011, Duck Donuts had expanded to four Outer Banks locations and the donut business was so successful that DiGilio was continuously approached about franchise opportunities by fans who begged for a Duck Donuts in their community. The first franchise opened in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 2013, and there are now 89 open franchise locations and more than 145 additional contracts in 26 states and four countries.

For more information, contact Stefania Forbes at ssigurdsonforbes@franchiseblast.com OR 877-567-5282 x709.

Performance-Enhancing Technology from FranchiseBlast Strongly Impacts Operations

By | Press Release

Franchising Evolves with Insights, Business Planning and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

For Immediate Release: BusinessWire
Orlando, FL: As the International Franchise Association (IFA) 2020 opens this year in Orlando, thousands of franchising executives are exploring ways to give their franchisees the competitive edge in the marketplace. Franchisors are embracing evidence-based tools helping them reach new heights in both growth and satisfaction scores.
FranchiseBlast pioneered Franchisee Scorecards to the marketplace two years ago. Scorecards help aggregate and benchmark key performance indicators from disparate data sources. They help franchises focus on what matters without having to login to many systems. Today, adoption of this practice and of the platform is accelerating at a fast pace.
After advising with customers, and following market trends, FranchiseBlast is now rolling out Business Planning tools to help franchisees set goals and achieve them. IFA 2020 marks the official launch of Business Plans.
“Our franchisors are benefiting from the actionable insights that they get at a glance from our Franchise Scorecards,” explained Jason Kealey, President and Co-Founder of FranchiseBlast. “We bring it to the next level when the Franchise Business Coach (FBC) and franchisee work together to build a concrete and trackable business plan.”
With tracking metrics such as average check size, percent online orders, labor costs and converted leads, for example, a franchisor can gain a deeper understanding of what is driving Unit Level Economics. Each franchisee can see how they benchmark against peers, creating a culture of self-management among them.
“FranchiseBlast has been leveraging the power of AI to reveal insights that franchisors can act on in an effective way,” said Dean Hatzitheodosiou, Sr. Director of Sales at FranchiseBlast. “In this next phase of franchisee coaching tools, we are integrating AI to reveal feedback that will help increase Unit Level Economics. There are exciting things to come for our customers.”
FranchiseBlast will be exhibiting at Booth 409 for IFA attendees to explore the tools.
About FranchiseBlast:
FranchiseBlast’s Scorecards, Business Planning and Franchisee Field Audit Apps empower franchisors to achieve brand consistency across locations. The apps can be used by the franchise business coaches during their field visits or directly by franchisees themselves via self-assessments. Their user-friendly apps are used by over 100 brands including Focus Brands, Liberty Tax Service and Pita Pit.
For more information, contact Stefania Forbes at ssigurdsonforbes@franchiseblast.com OR 877-567-5282 x709.

Franchise Martech Blueprint

By | Franchise Technology, Marketing
Franchise Martech Blueprint

Franchising is a model that doesn’t quite fit well into a discretionary category, which makes franchise Martech decisions challenging. Take a look at the following attempts:

  • Q: Is it a small business? A: Kind of – the franchisees are often small businesses, and sometimes the franchisor itself is a small business. But at the same time, a franchise can have many employees, and many business needs.
  • Q: Is it like a multi-location corporation? A: In some ways, but an important distinction is that franchisees are not employees, so you get the benefit of the entrepreneurial drive, but getting things to work and the brand looking consistent can be like herding cats.
  • Q: Is it like an association of independent businesses? A: There is a connection among the owners, but they are not independent, since they share a brand and a process.

So – franchising is in a league of its own. And comparing it to other models, as you need to do sometimes when you are trying to purchase technology created for those outside of the franchising community, can be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Franchise Martech Blueprint

Making purchasing decisions in terms of Marketing creates another challenge. Since there is a continuum among how franchisors manage their businesses.

  • Centralized (Hard Franchise): In this model, the marketing and communications decisions are made centrally, with little input from the franchisees.
  • Decentralizd (Soft Franchise): Conversely, in this model,  the franchisees are instrumental in their own marketing happen.

Added to the two above, is a mixed approach, which attempts to have the best of both worlds. For example, a mixed model may have central content marketing, and decentralized events.

Franchise Martech Blueprint Visualized

Franchise Martech Blueprint

Legend

  • BMS: Brand Management System — this is a tool that helps franchisees build their own marketing materials online
  • Brand Guide/Portal: A guide, online or off, that outlines logo, type, message pillars and more
  • CMS: Content Management System — this is a system that allows someone to type in their own specialized content, within a template, typically creating a website or blog.
  • CRM: Customer Relationship Management — this is a database-based system of customers and prospects, used for communications
  • Graphic Design Tools: Tools to create graphics easily

Marketing and Technology Trends

As trends continue to evolve, franchisors have to keep up. Here are some trends to look out for as you build your blueprint:

  • Video: Both the polished and spontaneous sort of videos are becoming more relevant on social media and online in general.  Polished videos are great for a professional Marketing department, and spontaneous, local ones are best for local franchisees, with a branding guide.
  • Tools and Outsourcing: Over the years, Marketing teams and the associated contractors have been shrinking. Graphic Design Tools, and simple apps have slowly been replacing professionals. Additionally, as the online workplace gets more sophisticated, inexpensive contractors can be used for administrative, research and data entry jobs. Strategic work can also be done via professional talent communities. Using this strategy centrally is a best practice, at this time.
  • Chat: Although chat and SMS software has been around for a while, time-strapped consumers are asking for it more and more.  Chat is an element that can be done both centrally and in a decentralized way.  This helps communicate with both prospects and current customers, as a support tool.

Defining Your Technology Blueprint

When defining your technology blueprint, you want to think about your Marketing Mix, just as you would in any business. An added layer, is asking if you want to be centralized or decentralized. Each one has its own strengths and pitfalls.

  • Centralized: The advantage of this is a greater degree of brand consistency. However, if the franchisees are not engaged in the programs, they may be less likely to follow them. It can also lead to a “blame game” between franchisor and franchisee in terms of marketing effectiveness.
  • Decentralized: The advantage of this is it empowers the franchisees to have an entrepreneurial spirit. The downside is a lack of brand consistency, or even franchisees who do not participate in marketing their own businesses.

Cautionary Words

As you think through the blueprint, you may think it is quite complex, and it is. The name of today’s marketing game is to do more with less, and franchisors are feeling it as well. So, instead of having a great team full of experts, franchisors are looking for strong individual performers, who can wear many hats. Think of Prince, playing all of the instruments, rather than an orchestra. Although this creates challenges in terms of people growing within the organization, it is an economic reality.

Look to the Future

If you are looking for brand consistency tools to make your locations look the same across the nation and around the world, check our Brand Consistency tools including our Field Audit App.



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CFA Roundtables: 12 Surprising Things You can Do on Your Next Franchisee Visit

By | Events
Canadian Franchise Association
Event: Canadian Franchise Association (CFA)
Dates: April 4 – 6, 2020
Location: Montreal, QC
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. In this session, you will learn: 
  • How to encourage excellence by judging people by their best days. 
  • What the Silicon Valley term “fail forward” means in the service context. 
  • What you can do to detect a lack of alignment between your manager and crew. 

In this interactive and engaging session, you will surely have a lot of takeaways to bring back to your team. 



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