A visit from an Franchise Business Consultant (FBC) can stir up a lot for a franchisees. Some can see the FBC as a checklist-wielding intruder, while others may see it as a major disruption, like the Kool-Aid man bursting into the side of their operations when they are trying to get stuff done. While using your checklist is needed, why not provide them with some surprise value during the franchisee visit? Check out the tips below to learn more.
Your Next Franchisee Visit
It’s Not What You Think
1. Recognize Good Performance
A powerful, but underutilized tool is recognition. During your visit, the franchise and their team may think you are going to “catch them doing something wrong.” What if instead… you “catch them doing something right”? Reading out an e-mail from a happy customer, or a nod of appreciation from the President or one of the Directors of the organization can go a long way. Some franchisors even send their FBCs on the road with travelling trophies. After your visit is over, a thoughtful and gracious e-mail, text or even some fun and memorable photos circulated on social media or on your internal message board can be powerful. You can also provide some recognition to the hourly team such as a verbal thank you, an Amazon gift card or a “shout out” on Social Media.
2. Teach to Fail Forward
“When challenges and problems occur, find a lesson,” says Jim Sullivan in his game-changing book Multi Unit Leadership. “Find the lesson, share it with your team and discuss how to prevent the problem from occurring again. Problems are opportunities to learn from not get upset about.” Taking this approach will get your franchisee and their team to step back, and hopefully realize that you are there to help, not judge.
3. Know Details Matter
Have you ever guessed on the cleanliness of the restaurant as a whole based on the standard of clean you see in the washroom? Reminding the franchisee that the details matter is a great message from an FBC when conducting an audit. It is easy to let things slide a bit as an operator, and having a different set of eyes can make a big difference. For example, when you walked in, did the first person you meet greet you with a welcoming smile, or were they focused in on their phone? A customer, who has driven 20-30 minutes, past dozens of restaurants, would have that same experience – whether good or bad.
4. Be a Thermostat, not a Thermometer
Jim Sullivan talks about the idea of controlling the temperature, instead of reflecting it. While you want to meet the franchisee where they are, you also want to be the voice of reason. If you are getting as “hot” or as “cold” they are, you are not going to help. Having some self control, and remembering professional boundaries creates a win-win all around.
5. Consciously Collaborate
Like it or not, with Social Media and our “always on” society, our world is more and more collaborative. Information does not flow from the top down anymore; instead it flows bottom-up and laterally. Instead of resisting this idea, roll with it. Consciously collaborating means that you help the crew be a team feel energized after your visit and there is a little more glue connecting them together. You can also create collaboration with their fellow franchisees or other people who can broaden their professional or personal expertise.
6. Put a Loudspeaker on Great Ideas
When you see great ideas at play on your field visit, why not amplify them, and share them with the rest of the system? Of course, you only want ideas that don’t go against brand standards but it can be surprising how creative great operators can be within them. Don’t forget that for McDonald’s, Ronald McDonald, the Big Mac and the Egg McMuffin were all franchisee ideas. From Marketing to operations, there are ideas you could take and run with.
7. Judge People on their Best Days
Have you ever felt unfairly judged by someone? It is a sinking feeling, which you may be unconsciously be creating for your franchisees. “Be balanced, be fair, observe often,” said Sullivan. “And consider all the grey areas before you make a decision in either black or white.”
8. Encourage Excellence
While you want to create an atmosphere of acceptance, at the same time, you want to follow the management precept of being “hard on issues, and soft on people.” That means that if you see food being prepared at a level 10/10, encourage that again. Don’t forget that being on a “dream team” feels much better than being considered second-rate.
9. Foster Financial Goals
Unit Level Economics is a hot issue at franchise conferences because it matters from both a franchisee and franchisor perspective. Franchisors are typically paid on revenue, which can create a perception among franchisees of even the most well-meaning of head office teams. Helping your franchisee meet or exceed profitability targets will show that you are there to help in the most meaningful way possible.
10. Create a Not-to-do List
Productivity experts such as Tim Ferriss talk about having a not-to-do list. In fact, these can raise performance more than adding more to your schedule. That list will demonstrate that you are not there to put more on an already full plate. You are there to help them succeed.
11. See Service through the Customer’s Eyes
It helps to see the operation from a customer’s point of view, rather than through that of the manager’s or staff. After all, a great customer experience, may not be what you think it is.
“Not having to ask for anything,” says Sullivan. “Is the ultimate definition of customer service. Most customers don’t actually ‘want service’. Based on the thousands of customer we interview annually for the service projects we do for clients, what customers want first and foremost from business is to eliminate dissatisfaction. Yep, that’s right. They don’t want ‘excellence’, to be ‘wowed’, ‘delighted’, ‘blown away,’ or whatever the service buzzword du jour is. Customers want consistent positive experiences characterized by the absence of complaints.
12. Mind the Gap in Alignment
“Mind the Gap” is something you see at the subway station, but that advice is also good for FBCs. An exercise, suggested by Sullivan, may be exactly what you need for your next franchisee visit.
- Before your visit, answer the following questions: 1) what are my customer’s top ten complaints? 2) what are my customers top ten expectations? Be sure to write down your answers.
- Ask the franchisee, their managers and the hourly associates the same two questions.
- Your service challenges and opportunities will become crystal clear, comparing the synchronicity, overlap and/or disconnect among the different groups.
Looking for more ways to enhance your service? Check out our 5 Boosts eBook on how to enhance your Franchise Audit at every phase.