Category

Field Audits

54 Food Quality Questions that Your Franchise Needs to Know

By | Field Audits, Franchise Audits

Every restaurant has their own unique flavor, and it is the dozens of little details that make it right. Although different systems have their own recipes, there are certain things, such as fresh water and food temperatures that are relevant to everyone.

In the big picture, having high quality food not only helps your franchise, but it also helps families in your community. Having a quality meal at a restaurant can help children try new foods and a family “tradition” of eating out can foster bonds and even enhance brain health.

According to the family dinner project, “recent studies link regular family meals with the kinds of behaviors that parents want for their children: higher grade-point averages, resilience and self-esteem. Additionally, family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression.”

We explored dozens of food quality audits and took a look at questions that are most relevant to a general audience. While it is important that each question connect to a back-end process, we thought these questions could serve as inspiration, to ensure that your guests get that great experience that keeps them coming back for more. We also have related posts on Food Safety Audits and Marketing Audits in this popular series.

Big Picture

  1. All food is prepared and served according to current, approved operational standards as defined in the recipe manual and training guides.
  2. No unapproved ingredients or menu items present or being served. All food supplied comes from the approved supply chain including produce.
  3. All branded proprietary food products, ingredients and packaging fully utilized.
  4. Any cheat sheets in use are accessible, accurate and clean.
  5. All required menu items are available.
  6. Pastries look eye appealing with a minimum of 3 and are made fresh daily.
  7. Appropriate system in place to track 2-hour shelf-life of coffee pots.

Recipe

  1. Observe and verify recipe accuracy and presentation.
  2. Timers are programmed correctly and are in use according to “items sold” projections.
  3. Chicken nuggets are being dipped and agitated in milk wash properly.
  4. Chicken nuggets being breaded and put on colored tray properly.
  5. Chicken nuggets being put into fryers properly.
  6. Fried foods are draining for at least 15 seconds.
  7. Pizza recipes and assembly are correct with ingredients evenly spread to ensure “flavor in every bite”.
  8. Dough tastes to recipe standards.
  9. Donut fillings were prepped according to recipe standards.
  10. No pre-making of product.
  11. Was product being held for next-day sale or consumption?
  12. Frosting light and fluffy – not a glaze – no time temperature abuse apparent.
  13. All recipes followed for dough and toppings.

Warm and Hot

  1. Rice is moist, fluffy, served with slotted spoon and does not exceed 12-hour life.
  2. Steak is moist, a good color with steak sauce flavor evident, served with 2 oz spoon and does not exceed 1-hour life.
  3. Chicken is diced in 1/2″, not overcooked and caramel in color, served with a 2 oz spoon and does not exceed 1-hour life.
  4. Bacon is brown in color cooked crisp without white spots and free of clumps served with a 2 oz spoon and does not exceed 6-hour life.
  5. Record the weight of a random meat portion. Medium: 2.2 oz. Large: 4.4 oz
  6. Order a random sandwich. Check weight and compare to standard. Take picture.
  7. Soups should be monitored throughout the shift, stirred, hydrated as needed to keep the original consistency and prevent scorching. Pans with scorching on the sides must be changed out as needed.
  8. Brewer calibrated and clean, including spray heads.
  9. Espresso machine is kept clean, steam wands sanitized after every use.
  10. All selections of coffee offered at appropriate time of day.
  11. Coffee grind is accurate.
  12. Check coffee flavor – ensure there is no evidence of grounds.
  13. Final bake temperature is verified for all products with a calibrated digital thermometer.

Cool and Cold

  1. Chips are fresh tasting, crisp, properly salted with consistent color.
  2. Water filtration in use, cartridges must be dated when changed (every 6 months to a year), filters clean.
  3. Shaved meats are sliced as thin as possible without shredding.
  4. Bun interior characteristics feel soft and moist and have an open, honeycombed grain structure.
  5. Bun top exteriors have smooth surface with no significant cracks or ridges.
  6. Mayo properly spread and going from “coast-to-coast”.
  7. Creamer carafes are stored appropriately and meet temperature requirements.
  8. Ice machine producing flaked ice in an appropriate volume, kept clean.
  9. Ice tea bubbler clean and in good repair.
  10. Proper ice tea procedure followed with flavor check.
  11. Donut standards followed on handling, cooking and assembly.
  12. Lettuce standards followed on storage, presentation and assembly.
  13. Buns are being buttered according to procedure.
  14. Cookies are baked to standard, chewy and moist, baked daily and properly dated (24 hours)
  15. All baked goods selections meet quality, weight and presentation requirements.
  16. Fruit donuts ONLY strawberry, lemon and raspberry.
  17. Pastry eats moist throughout without being over or under done.
  18. Proper amount of frosting used on pastries – it is evenly spread and appears moist.

Temperature-Specific

  1. Macaroni and Cheese: 160F-170F
  2. Sliced Tomato: 35F-45F
  3. Coffee Brew Temp: 190F-200F
  4. Coffee Serving Temp: 170F-178F

While your individual food quality audit will be associated with your own brand and recipes, we hope that these sample questions have served as some inspiration.



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50 Food Safety Audit Questions Your Franchise Needs to Know

By | Field Audits, Food Safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from the year 2000, “foodborne disease causes approximately 76 million illnesses; 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths here in the U.S. each year.” Food safety has therefore become central to the food experience for all restaurants.

Food safety leader Steritech says “Today, more than ever before, food safety violations are top of mind with your customers. Consumers don’t hesitate to share their experiences — a single negative food safety incident can pose serious risks to your bottom line and your brand.”

According to food inspectors Noraxx, there is a high cost to “good enough” when it comes to food safety. “In a heartbeat, that one bad experience could undo all the good will that might have taken months or years to build up.”

We researched over a dozen audits on food safety, and found questions that you could find useful as you update your food safety audit.

Temperature Control

  1. Cold foods maintained at 41 degrees or below in all cold-holding devices including refrigerators, storage devices and ice-wells.
  2. Hot foods maintained at 140 degrees or above.
  3. Refrigeration records are available and complete.
  4. Proper cooling methods (placing food in shallow pans or using cooling wands etc.) are used for foods that require time/temperature control for safety.
  5. Frozen foods are held solidly frozen so that they are hard to the touch.

Food Handling

  1. Date marking is applied at time of preparation to ready-to-eat food prepared on site and intended to be held cold more than 24 hours and does not exceed a 7-day shelf-life.
  2. Food products dated, and not held past their expiration date.
  3. Discard policy is being followed – old food is “wasted” during inspection.
  4. Received food put away promptly.
  5. All ingredients are refrigerated when not in use.
  6. Foods are from commercial suppliers. Foods and packaging are in sound condition.
  7. Foods and food-contact packaging are stored at least six inches off of the floor.
  8. Fruits and vegetables are properly washed prior to processing and serving.
  9. Produce wash procedures are executed properly and have the correct concentration.
  10. Foods are properly protected from contamination.
  11. Staff know the proper procedures for preparing gluten-free menu items.

Equipment and Utensils

  1. Food-contact surfaces properly sanitized (at least every 4 hours during continuous use).
  2. Food-contact surfaces of equipment and utensils durable, non-toxic, easily cleanable and in good condition.
  3. Utensils in the prep area are clean and well-maintained.
  4. There is a dedicated thermometer available in the kitchen area for verifying temperatures – which is clean and well maintained.
  5. Fire extinguisher – accessible with inspection dates.
  6. First aid kit – stocked and easily accessible.
  7. Wiping cloths are kept clean and dry or else immersed in properly diluted sanitizer. Separate cloths are used for wiping food-contact and non-food-contact surfaces.
  8. Disposable cutlery – stored in a sanitary manner with all handles facing the same way.
  9. Sanitizer test kits are open and readily available for use.

Personal Hygiene

  1. No bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. Disposable gloves worn when handling them.
  2. Eating, drinking and tobacco use restricted to non-food areas. Drinking allowed from cups with a lid and straw and stored so they cannot contaminate the food-contact surfaces.
  3. All hand sinks have hot and cold water available.
  4. Every employee has a branded hat and long hair is tied up.
  5. Employees, including drivers, are not wearing outdoor clothes in the food preparation area.
  6. Jewelry on the hands and wrists is limited to a plain ring with no set stones.
  7. Associates frequently washing hands to standard using correct hand washing steps.
  8. Associates not displaying symptoms of illness.

Cleaning

  1. Chemical sanitizer solutions at proper concentration and temperature per label instructions.
  2. Original containers of toxic materials have a legible manufacturer’s label. Bleach not allowed or approved in restaurants.
  3. Interior garbage containers are cleaned and emptied as needed.
  4. Exterior garbage storage is covered and doors kept closed between uses. Containers are emptied as necessary and the surrounding area is maintained clean to avoid pests.
  5. Sinks – not used for prep and dishwashing at the same time.
  6. Floor – clean under shelving.

Facilities and Controls

  1. Ventilation is adequate: vents, fans and guards are clean.
  2. Plumbing provides adequate pressure.
  3. Pest prevention program is effective.
  4. Floors, walls, and ceilings are smooth, easily cleanable and in good repair.
  5. Potable water is available from the public water system or a non-public system that is properly maintained.
  6. Air gaps/backflow prevention devices are in place where required. Sewage disposal systems, including grease traps, are operating properly.
  7. Mop sink is clean and in working condition, with mops and mop buckets hung or stored properly.
  8. Back door area – clean and organized.
  9. Shelving – clean/organized/no rust/sufficient.
  10. All employees preparing food have a valid food handlers certificate on-site.
  11. National food safety certifications posted.

Food safety audits are an important part of franchising. That is why FranchiseBlast has integrations with food safety leaders such as Steritech and Noraxx.

*The questions in this post are for information only. To do a compliant food safety audit, please consult a certified professional.



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Calibrate Your Auditors with FranchiseBlast

By | Brand Consistency, Field Audits

In a franchise environment, it’s important that the franchisee experience is as consistent as possible.  If you think of investing in a franchise as one of the most important financial decisions of a franchisee’s life, it’s understandable for them to expect to receive value from their coaching sessions. They also expect that the franchisor will hold all other franchisees to the same high standards in order to protect everyone’s investment. In this era of social media, a franchisee delivering an inadequate experience can permanently damage the system as a whole in the blink of an eye.

“Calibration”, a term many connect with engineering and music, is simply a way to ensure that measurement values are consistent with a standard. We can all hear when a guitar is out of tune, which means that the guitar is not consistent with the standard note – a C is not a true C – it is sharp, flat or otherwise not where it should be. In the context of auditors, if your auditors are not consistent, that means that they do not comply with a central standard. Instead of being consistent, each coach brings their unique point of view.

Given that each coach has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, it’s impossible to be perfect – for example, an auditor with a sales background may see personal interactions differently than someone who came up the ranks through Food Safety. Calibrating field audits is something forward-thinking franchisors should do on a continuous basis.  Calibration is usually performed with all of the coaches in the same unit at the same time, performing their visit and comparing notes. Given the associated costs and inconvenience for the franchisees, these types of calibration visits are few and far between.

However, did you know FranchiseBlast lets you review auditor calibration without having to leave the comfort of home office?  After you have performed a few audits, you can start looking at elements such as our Audit Insights report, comparing the overall score of each coach within their region.

audit calibration screenshot

This type of comparison is also available in a few of our other reports (namely the Global Performance report) and in the form of a dashboard widget. Keeping an eye on the variance in top-level scores across different regions is a good way to be proactive.

We recently took a deeper dive for some of our franchise partners during a quarterly business review. While the top-level scores seemed consistent enough, the franchise partner had a gut feeling some standards were not well calibrated. We decided to explore their biggest system-wide weaknesses together. Here’s what we found:

franchise auditor calibration table

As a first step, we took out Coach 1 who only completed a single audit where the franchisee was in compliance. We then observed a large gap between all the coaches. One coach was on average saying franchisees were respecting the standard 81.25% of the time whereas another saw just 25.71% compliance for this system-wide weakness.

We discussed this with the franchisor, and they said that it was a very interesting observation as Coaches 2-5 represent the East Coast whereas Coaches 6-9 are franchise business coaches for the West Coast. Both teams perform their calibration sessions separately. One group was clearly being stricter than the other.

We repeated the exercise with another franchise system and observed this gap on their own system-wide weakness:

auditor calibration table 2

Again, removing the outliers with only a handful of audits, we still end up with a huge gap between 5.56% and 92.41%. Statistically, it seems very unlikely that the territories are completely inconsistent for this standard. It’s likely a variance in how coaches are calibrated with regards to this particular standard.

How can we fix this? How do we get the coaches all “in tune”?  Pictures! In FranchiseBlast, each question can be annotated with a picture to clarify the success or failure. Similar to social media, we have a photostream for each question, allowing users to quickly peruse photos from a variety of auditors.

The franchisor can set up a remote training session where the photos in each territory are reviewed together as a group. Each auditor can comment on what is considered a failure for the question. Together, the team recalibrates in a proactive and constructive fashion. The review session is not about calling people out on doing the audits right or wrong; instead, the idea is to clarify the process for future audits. This way, the standard can be expressed more clearly and communicated to all coaches.

In both cases, some of these pictures were then re-used in the documentation for the standard, clearly recording what is considered a pass and what is a failure for future auditors or franchisees reviewing audits at a later date.

This quarter, why not review the calibration of three of your biggest system-wide weaknesses? The results can be eye-opening!



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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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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.

Getting Back to Business – Gearing Up for Your Best Franchising Year Ever

By | Field Audits, Franchise Audits, Thought Leadership

It is the hot month of August… but September is around the corner.

As the weather gets cooler, thoughts turn to “back to school” if you have kids, and “back to work” for the rest of us.

I was talking to a few colleagues about this the other day. It seems that even though the “official” New Year is January… it seems like September is the time when we get “back to business”. It is the time when releases get done and decisions get made. Everything about the fall leaves and the cooler weather says “new start.”

So… what will your September look like?

We know our audience of franchising professionals does not always have time to read some of the bestselling business books. If you want to have a quick look at the best, we took some of the most innovative ideas out there, to help you get started in September the right way!

1. Management by OKR (Objectives, Key Results)

measure what matters coverOKR (Objectives, Key Results)  as described in Measure What Matters by John Doerr shows how the venture capitalist “works”. As one of the original investors in Google, John Doerr is legendary in the Silicon Valley community. The principal behind OKR is simple:

  1. Set goal
  2. Set tasks to achieve this goal (key results)
  3. Make the tasks measurable

For example, if you sell junk clearing services online. For one location, you want to grow revenue to 1 million this quarter (that is your objective).

Your key results would be:

  1. Get 5 leads/week at $100/lead from Google Ads.
  2. Run a 20% discount advertised in a Direct Mail campaign to 10,000 residents with a repetition of 3.

While a lot of this seems pretty practical, how many franchises really measure what matters, and connect it to key results? With these principles in mind in the context of the field auditing process, you can show it moving from overall organizational goals, to country to region and more.

2. Dare to be Original

originals coverOne of the best books last year we recently read here at FranchiseBlast was Adam Grant’s Originals. Grant, a very popular professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, brings forward a researched-backed thesis that non-conformists will rule the world. While this can be a tough “pill to swallow” in a franchise world connected to the compliance on systems and processes, the book is an excellent read for the following reasons:

  • He teaches us that entrepreneurs are not necessarily wild risk takers, but thoughtful people who hedge their bets.
  • He discusses some of the BENEFITS to procrastination.
  • Originals try a lot, succeed a lot AND fail a lot. They don’t have better ideas than their peers though they persist much more.

3. Checklist Manifesto

checklist manifesto coverIn the Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, we learn about how checklists have taken a number of different fields by storm. Although in the Franchising world we are very familiar with the QSR checklist for food safety, other fields such as Medicine, Finance and Aviation also make great use of digital checklists. This simple management tool has enhanced care, and even saved lives. Here are some interesting pieces to think about:

  • Work has become incredibly complex as the science behind it has increased. It is impossible, at this point, to expect one person to be the master of a procedure such as an operation, where literally hundreds of things could go wrong. Checklists help capture the complexity behind today’s jobs.
  • A best practice that was discovered was that medical people knowing each others names before a surgery perform that surgery more effectively. This could extend to franchising, where everyone on a team knows each other’s name can make a big difference.
  • Having a checklist is not the only important thing – it is having THE RIGHT checklist. The world of aviation has known this for some time, which is why they spend so much time on them. Is the future of franchise manuals a checklist?

If you want professional management of your franchise, you want the effective management tools, especially for franchising. Check out FranchiseBlast’s Franchise Field Audit and Franchise Scorecard tools.



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Top 5 Complaints Store Managers Have about their Leaders and How to Avoid Them

By | Field Audits, Franchise Coaching

top 5 complaints franchise store managers haveComplaints… in franchising we hear a lot of them.

Some of us tune them out to survive.

But, in complaints, we can find a nugget of wisdom.

Bill Gates said: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

As franchisors, we have many customers – including franchisees and managers. In a franchising community so broad, it is shocking that many store managers and franchisees can have the same complaint. According to multi-unit management expert, Jim Sullivan, in his book Multi Unit Leadership, the following complaints are consistent.

The top 5 complaints that store managers had about their Multi-Unit Leaders:

  1. Not enough face-time.
  2. Store visits where MULs worked positions rather than offering specific direction, insight, coaching and feedback.
  3. Pre-occupation and distraction on the MUL’s part during store visits via constant phone, text and e-mail interruptions.
  4. Too much “telling what to do” not enough “why that problem occurred.”
  5. Changing priorities or failing to clarify objectives.

Does this sound familiar? Whether you are a business coach or a multi-unit leader, it likely rings true. Sullivan continues with this insight:

Too much of what passes for multi-unit-leadership training and development today was developed decades ago when the industry, customer, crew, technology were radically different. The leap from “telling what to do” to “telling why and how to do” is a skill that takes patient coaching guided practice and innate skill.

So – here are some tips at managing from a place of “why” instead of managing from a two-dimensional checklist perspective.

Purpose

In Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why, he contends that leaders who help teams understand the “why” behind what they are doing are more successful than those who do not. Sinek explores the leadership of legends such as Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King.

Bringing this concept down to the earth, helping franchisees and store managers see how their “piece of the puzzle” fits in with the rest if it can go a long way. People want to understand the purpose first – and if they fully understand that, the actions follow more naturally from a place of motivation.

Find the Gaps

There are many coaching models that have a step around “finding gaps” such as the CIGAR Model.

  • C – Current Reality
  • I – Ideal
  • G – Gap
  • A – Actions
  • R – Review and Reinforce

Getting the franchisee or store manager to discover the gap between the current reality and the ideal can be incredibly helpful in terms of making the conversation about their goals, and not yours. Over time, you will discover a lot of similarities in goals, and a natural alignment.

Talk Tentatively

The book Crucial Conversations talks about the need to “Talk Tentatively” in the “STATE” Model.

  • S – Share Your Facts
  • T – Tell Your Story
  • A – Ask for Other’s Path
  • T – Talk Tentatively
  • E – Encourage Testing

When you are in a difficult conversation, it is a good idea to ask questions, and “test” certain concepts rather than making authoritative statements. Although you may still need to bring messages from head office, this being done in a gentler, tentative way can be extremely helpful.

Technology

When it comes to distraction, technology can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Technology, specifically built for franchise business consultants or multi-unit manager in mind can help you focus less on the process of auditing and more on the audit itself.

  • Automatically create “action plans” for stores if you see an opportunity for improvement. For example, if the store is choosing to do a seasonal event, you can give them a step-by-step process.
  • If you see patterns in violations, you can create a training module – one initiative that “lifts all boats”.
  • Get the franchisee to send you pictures before-hand of things like wrapped vehicles so you can focus on more face-time.

All of these features, and many more, are included in FranchiseBlast’s Field Audit app.



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How Focusing on Better-Performing Franchisees Helps Maximize Franchisee Performance Region-Wide

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Field Audits, Franchise Operations

Which franchisees have the highest potential for growth? In this battle tested strategy, we discuss how Amy Perkins, Senior Business Consultant from Ben & Jerry’s, focused on “middle-to-top” franchisees helping lift results across her region.

It is easy for franchise coaches to focus on the weakest performers, since they are in need of the most help, and are often the squeakiest wheels. But, it is the top performers who have the most potential impact. We sat down with Amy to discuss what she did, and what other coaches can learn.

How did you get into coaching, and franchising in general?

Amy: I started at Ben & Jerry’s right out of college and was in the trenches from the ground up. I did all kinds of roles –  I started as a scooper then moved up to assistant manager, manager, regional manager and area manager for all of Vermont. Later I moved my way out West and became a business consultant and have been doing that for 12 years based out of the San Francisco Bay area.

amy perkins scoop shop

What do you like about working at Ben & Jerry’s?

Amy: Like most coaches, I spend the majority of my time talking about sales and improving business operations. Because Ben & Jerry’s focuses on so much more than that, I also get to have really unique and interesting conversations with our franchisees.

Ben & Jerry’s isn’t just the name of our brand – the guys that give it their name are two very colorful people with a lot to say. Ben once said, “business has a responsibility to give back to the community.” I love that I can go into a franchise business consultation and talk about social mission and what the franchisees are doing to change the world within their community.

And something that I think about every single day – Jerry said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?” and I’m pretty lucky that that’s how I get to live my day-to-day life – it’s a pretty awesome experience!

Which franchisees do you focus on when coaching?

Amy: I tend to focus on the group of franchisees that hovers above the middle, but not quite at the top. Results don’t often come from the folks that are already at the top because those franchisees are typically already doing what it takes to be there. But if you can focus on this middle-to-top pack, you can see some spectacular results.

Normal Curve for FranchiseesWhy does that make a difference? 

Amy: I think that those franchisees have a higher opportunity to move the needle; they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get themselves to the top – they‘re both hungry and thirsty -they have the drive and the desire. They’re the ones that are usually the most adaptable and willing to take on new strategies or ideas. You’ll see them putting their necks out more.

They just know that the harder they work, the more they’re going to see the results.  So, these folks are not necessarily comfortable just sitting at the middle of the pack since they can see what top performers can do. They want to be a top performer and they strive to be up there. They want to be at the top as much as they think they deserve it. Of course I support all of my franchisees, but I put a special focus on this group.

What do you think is a common pitfall for other franchise coaches?

Amy: I think we’re all guilty of this, but a lot of franchise business consultants and coaches spend way too much of their time focusing their efforts on the bottom 20%. It’s easy to get sucked into this. You get stuck focusing on that bottom 20% and they don’t really go anywhere. They’re not necessarily detrimental to the business, they’re just kind of comfortable living in a space that isn’t really affecting any sort of real change.

Can you tell us about some concrete examples of when this strategy has worked for you?

Amy: As part of my yearly plan, I chose three franchisees that I knew lived in this middle-to top space that I thought I could make the most direct impact on. I knew that they already had the drive and the desire, and I knew that with a little bit of extra support, they could really have an incredible year.

For the whole year I was hyper-focused on sales and trying to get as many touches in as possible. I called them more. I reached out to them more and asked them more questions. My favorite question – especially at my first consultation of the year is “what is your goal” followed up with “how are we going to make it happen”. I do this because it’s easy to create the goals, it’s much, much harder to figure out the execution plan. I made my field visits with them super-focused and direct, and I wanted them to know that I was rooting for them.

I also didn’t necessarily need them to know that they were on my top 3 list, they were simply getting additional support from me, and even though they didn’t know it, their results were pretty incredible.

Amy Perkins Ben and Jerry'sTell us about the results…

Amy: So, of the three, “Shop #1” off-premise sales, which includes business catering and events, were up 25%. Her scoop shop was also up 5%. Her staff was happier than ever. They were selling more of the right product mix, which resulted in a higher average check, a lower cost of goods sold. She also won one of our biggest awards at our annual meeting this year. She was completely shocked, but she deserved it!

For “Shop #2”, their off-premise sales were actually up over 100%. We tier all of our franchisees in our off-premise world, ranging from “Tier 1” if they’re just starting out, to “Tier 4” if they are the best of the best. Shop 2 actually hopped tiers – from Tier 2 to Tier 3. That’s not easily accomplished so I was really proud of them.

For Shop #3, she was a multi-unit operator, and she’d been in a unique situation in that she has three very different types of operations:  one neighborhood scoop shop, one that’s a high-volume tourist shop, and thirdly she has a strong off-premise program. She managed to grow all three, which is pretty amazing.  In doing this she really had to execute three different strategic marketing plans simultaneously.

Shop sales grew, transaction counts were up, average check was up, and off-premise was up. Their P&L was the tightest I’ve ever seen it. They were able to invest in their staff and grow a manager as well. She found herself putting out less fires and was able to focus more on driving business results. A whirlwind year for her!

What was your biggest challenge in terms of implementing this strategy?

Amy: It was hard to determine who to pick. Every organization has really strong franchisees and management teams and determining who you really want to put high amounts of effort into can be a bit of a challenge. But if you can determine the the middle-to-top performers, you’re going to see the most return.

ben and jerry's truck outside

What advice would you give another coach who’d want to try this strategy

Amy: At the beginning of the year, choose three to five franchisees and their management teams that you know are invested in their business and have what it takes to move that needle. Depending on your work load, this could represent from 5-10% of your franchisees.

Determine what your goals are for each, and then formulate your plan. Track the plan and check in regularly on the goals. Make as many touches with these franchisees as you possibly can, and watch their results play out. Don’t feel like it’s ever too late to start this process – it can be started at any point in the year!

What is the biggest benefit to you as a coach?

Amy: I think it also allows you to control the conversation from a field rep position. Sometimes franchisees think the role of their business coach is solely compliance and I think that’s short-sighted.  I think it’s part of my job, and I think it’s an important part of my job, but I don’t want to focus exclusively on that.

To the contrary I want to say to the franchisee: “if you’ll let me be your business coach, we can do something pretty magical here.” This strategy allowed me to support each of the franchisees in my region, but by focusing on these high-potential franchisees –   see the results!  I could not be happier and I am much more fulfilled as a coach. It just felt good.

With everyone we interview, we ask a series of fun questions! Here is Amy’s Q&A!

What new beliefs, behaviors, or habits adopted in the last five years have most positively impacted your life?

I have been a pretty die-hard Orangetheory Fitness fan for almost two years now. I’m healthier, I’m lighter, I’m stronger, I’m happier, I have more energy and all of those things are great. But I feel like it’s changed who I am – it just keeps me in check and it makes me a better person. Since they are a franchise with locations across my region, I always have a little piece of home when I’m on the road.

Purchase of less than $100 that’s improved your life.
Melatonin. It’s changed my life – because I sleep a whole lot better than I used to!

What would you want to put on a billboard?
“Buy the plane ticket.”

What books have you most gifted to other people?

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris

Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler

To learn more about Ben and Jerry’s, and about catering Ice Cream to your next business event, go to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Catering page! To learn more about Amy Perkins, go to her LinkedIn page.

Want to download this Battle-Tested Strategy? You can get it here.

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5 Tips for Better, Faster, Stronger Franchise Performance Reviews

By | Field Audits, Franchise Audits

Franchise Performance Reviews in Franchise AuditsAre you working hard, or are you working smart when it comes to franchise performance reviews? The audit process continues to evolve for franchise coaches and technical tools are changing the game. We compiled 5 tips based on the announced performance review trends we are seeing out there. As more and more franchise systems embrace these practices, we are seeing the entire community propel its way into the future. Also, coaches get to spend more time on what they do best: face-to-face interactions.

1.     Collect information before-hand

It’s important for the efficiency of the audit process that you collect all information required before you arrive on site. This will ensure the audit is as quick, painless and effective as possible, as you’ll have ample time to review the material before arriving onsite. Taking a deeper dive initially means your audit will yield better results and be more useful to both you and the franchisee.

2.     Automate KPI Data Collection

The automation of KPI data is another essential tool for when conducting an audit. This should be done from source systems such as point of sale, suppliers, voice of customer, online reviews, and other sources. By automatically collecting this data, you can store it in a central repository scorecard for easy access. This will allow you to develop comprehensive benchmarks, which can be used to focus field visits, and accurate review suspected franchisee fraud.

3.     Review Past Visits

With this data easily accessible, you’ll be able to efficiently review past visits, and use the tools at your disposal to highlight repeat weaknesses in a specific franchisees business. You won’t have to dig through dozens of reports — now, this information will be easily available and help focus your field visits. Then, when you head into the field to review them in person, you can preemptively prepare reports and suggestions targetting the weaknesses you’ve identified.

Franchise Coaches and Combined Insights

4.    Use a Coach Knowledge-Base

Scrap the timer and just focus on multiple-choices instead. Have coaches leverage a knowledge-base of common solutions or corrective actions to perform when certain situations arrive. Because those solutions are developed in more detail and easily attached in the review, the quality of the help is higher, and the coach doesn’t waste as much time. Using the central repository reduces variability between auditors so franchisees benefit from the combined knowledge of the group rather than of just their individual coach. maybe use the term action plan in this description too w/ automated follow-ups to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

5.    Eliminate and automate

As you take pictures during your visit, upload them right away to your platform, saving you the time and hassle of doing it back in your hotel at night. Try to avoid double-entry when sending a report to a franchisee — doubling this tedious work can really slow down the process. Additionally, by automating the report and corrective actions the franchisee must take, you can save yourself time, and enable the franchisee to react more quickly to the recommendations. Then, you can include a franchisee satisfaction survey, to compile feedback in a timely manner.

Enhance the franchise field audit process

3 Signs it’s Time for Field Operations to Ditch the Spreadsheets

By | Field Audits, Franchise Operations

Every franchise relies on spreadsheets or printed forms, to some extent, to help manage its field operations. For example, to track field audit scores, benchmark franchisee performance, or collaborate on a store opening. Relying on spreadsheets during the early stages of a franchise system makes sense when it predominantly operates using simple spreadsheets being managed by small, tight-knit teams. As a franchise system matures, by adding new locations, its field audit team and reporting will grow in complexity.

As it grows, field operations will record and exchange more information to continually improve franchisee performance. No matter the stage of maturity of the franchise, the limitations that crop up because of the use of spreadsheets become warning signs to be addressed.

What are these limitations, and what do franchise systems need to consider?

Sign #1: Reduced data integrity and availability

 While spreadsheets provide an easy way to template and collect information during field audits, one of the major signs it’s time to move away from the use of spreadsheets is when the information is unreliable or hard to access. Even if only a few people complete, edit, and use this information, there is still room for error. With an increase in the use of Microsoft Excel alone from 30 million users in 1996 to over 750 million users in 2015, the impact of those errors touches businesses no matter how large or small.

The impact of those errors has been studied for over a decade by a leading researcher named Raymond Panko. He has studied the impact and reasons for errors using financial field audits in his studies. He details his conclusion in the 2015 research paper, “What We Don’t Know About Spreadsheet Errors Today: The Facts, Why We Don’t Believe Them, and What We Need to Do”.

Three main outcomes from the research were:

  • At least one incorrect bottom-line value is very likely to be present
  • Errors are extremely difficult to detect and correct
  • Spreadsheet developers and corporations are highly overconfident in the accuracy of their spreadsheets

The main reasons for these errors include rushing, inexperience, complexity, and stress. The higher the stress, the more likely the errors. The research found that even with a high level of experience, stress can increase errors five-fold.

What was found to decrease errors is software.  Task-specific software, designed to achieve desired business objectives by eliminating manual steps.

Also, as a franchise system grows, so does the use and complexity of financial, operations, and supply chain systems. These separate systems create information silos, which limit the availability and exchange of information between departments. For example, by making field audit information available to development teams, they can spot their top and bottom-level performers within a territory. Development teams can also use field audit information to easily identify candidates for multi-unit franchisees based on their past performance and dedication to protecting the brand.

The ability to leverage information across a company has also become the norm. Financial, operations, and supply chain Information are aggregated into dashboard reports instead of repetitively copying and pasting information from several different systems into a single spreadsheet. This allows franchise systems to gain additional insights. For example, by comparing these additional types of information, beyond field audits, new opportunities can surface from financial information, mystery shopper scores, customer satisfaction data, online review sentiment analysis, and other third-party data sources.

If a franchise system is experiencing data integrity or availability issues, it should consider moving away from using spreadsheets. The software to automate manual processes and create franchise dashboard software is available. They can reduce errors and aggregate information from your franchise’s core data sources, and automatically present it in an easy-to-understand manner to both the franchisor and the franchisees.

Although perhaps this is the most important reason to move away from spreadsheets, once the franchisor knows its data can be relied upon, the franchise system can look to additional benefits of moving away from spreadsheets, which include recording and tracking accountability, as well as increasing engagement.

Sign #2: Reduced accountability

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
Peter F. Drucker

Another additional benefit of moving away from spreadsheets and towards software when it pertains to field reviews and audits is to help build action plans and collect feedback from franchisees. Spreadsheets can be useful tools for field coaches to capture information during their visits. Franchise operations can then use the captured information to create action plans, which in turn can be used by franchisees to improve on their historical performance. Although spreadsheets can be used to report and collaborate to a certain extent, they cannot provide a reliable way to track and validate action plan follow-through or accountability.

If a franchisor cannot pinpoint and validate why things are falling through the cracks with its franchisee action plan follow-through or performance, it should consider moving away from spreadsheets. Solutions to facilitate the task creation and corrective action plans to address a franchisee`s weaknesses are available, and should be used to increase accountability.

Sign #3: Reduced engagement

“When people talk, listen completely”
Ernest Hemingway

Franchise systems today understand that growth relies on each franchisee’s financial success and how franchisees promote the system to other potential franchisees. Without their success and willingness to promote the brand, the franchise system quickly becomes undervalued or simply undesirable as an investment opportunity. Since field operations are at the front line with the franchisees, discovering what needs improvement, they can understand both the franchisee and franchisor’s perspectives.

Franchise systems rely on franchise business coaches and operations to collect, analyze, and communicate improvement plans to franchisees. This communication may be as simple as correcting compliance issues that affect the brand and customer experience or become more complex with personalized business and operational guidance. The support offered by a franchise system can help foster how a franchisee views the brand. Franchisors can deliver secure and easy-to-access personalized training, support, and franchisee resources.

To deliver this information in a way that can be tracked and acknowledged, a franchisor should not rely on spreadsheets and email. An email exchange with stale spreadsheets between two parties can quickly fall through the cracks due to overflowing inboxes which not only skew the importance (prioritization) of a message but also delays responses and actions from franchisees. Valuable feedback is also not contextualized or accessible by all stakeholders. Although email creates a paper trail, it can be cumbersome and difficult to assemble if needed at a future date.

If a franchisor is experiencing franchisee disengagement, it should consider moving away from spreadsheets. Both franchise collaboration and training software improve the bi-directional dialogue between the parties, and can sometimes even lead to healthy competition between peers.

The alternatives to spreadsheets

Today’s technology fills the gap for franchise systems who need a solution to spreadsheets and email systems when communicating with franchisees and others across franchise systems. Technology can give back time to operations by automating and streamlining workflows while ensuring that operational guidelines are followed. It can ensure that data remains reliable and that information is collected, aggregated, and reported in a timely way.

Field operations can use field audit and performance software to become and stay organized by scheduling their field visits, tracking tasks, centralizing files, and recording actions taken by the franchisor and franchisee. The franchise system can also organize its data through the use of dashboards, where operational, marketing, sales, and loyalty information can be aggregated to discover those new opportunities for customer upselling and franchise expansion.

Regardless of the solution, leveraging technology should ideally help a franchise through its growth challenges, as well as help align or even realign franchisor and franchisee goals for continual system-wide improvement.

Explore and discover more reasons why spreadsheets, as they increase in use, are exposing their limitations and risks. Read more about EuSpRIG’s Horror Stories, and consider what you might be overlooking in your own operation.

 



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