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Stefania Sigurdson Forbes

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

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

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Spa and Salon

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

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

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

A Day in the Life at Sport Clips 

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

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

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

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

Building on the Success of an Iconic Brand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Managing Unique Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Take-Away

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

Interesting Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did that compare to using the FranchiseBlast audit tool?

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

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

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

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

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

How do you communicate scores to franchisees?

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

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

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

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

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

How have your franchisees and multi-unit operators benefited?

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

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

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

The Ultimate Guide to Franchisee Scorecards

By | Franchisee Scorecard

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

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

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

Download the Ultimate Guide to Franchisee Scorecards now.

 

Tips on Building an Effective Quarterly Franchise Business Plan

By | Franchise Business Plans, Franchise Coaching

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

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

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

SMART Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corrective Action Plans are not Franchise Business Plans

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

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

A Simple Action Plan

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

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

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

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

The SMART plan

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

This questionnaire will include the following elements:

What is your SMART goal?

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

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

Is there more information relevant to your goal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Target: GM of Restaurant 
Instagram: Supervisor 

When applicable, what is the budget for this initiative?

Target: $1,000 
Instagram: No budget 

Recommended Patterns

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

Pattern 1

  • Goal
  • Activities
  • Due Date
  • Done By

Pattern 2

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

Pattern 3

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

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

Pattern 1 is the simplest approach.

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

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

Quarterly Business Plans in FranchiseBlast

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

Step 1: Review Data & Find Actionable Insights

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

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

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

What’s the problem?

Describe the problem in as much detail as necessary.

Is it important?

If not, ignore.

Is it a skill deficiency?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pattern 1: Pick Three

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

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

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

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

Pattern 2: Pick One or Two for Each Dimension

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

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

In the above example, it would be:

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

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

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

Step 3: Continuous Review

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

Step 4: Postmortem & New Plan

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

Final Example

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

Highlight of Successes

Area of Opportunity 1

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

Area of Opportunity 2

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

Area of Opportunity 3

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

Postmortem (filled out at the end of the term)

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

Conclusion

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



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