Category

Franchise Audits

7 Strategic Franchise Questionnaires

By | Franchise Audits, Franchise Business Plans
strategic franchise questionnaires

Some franchises, when they start, have just one quarterly audit – often driven by legislation such as food safety instead of having multiple franchise questionnaires. But did you know that the average franchisor in FranchiseBlast has six different questionnaires in the system? According to Atul Gawand, author of the book, The Checklist Manifesto, “The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably.”

In a nutshell, this means that even in fields like aviation and medicine, checklists are needed to pool the collective knowledge. In the world of franchising, this is particularly meaningful because franchise owners are buying into a system because they want to tap into expertise. Let’s take a look at some of the common franchise questionnaires we find in our system, representing over 13,500 franchise locations. To keep it simple, we separated them out into Operations, Training and Marketing.

Operations

Most franchise questionnaires we utilize are within the Operations team. Although the stereotype is of the ops person as a checklist wielding intruder, there are many ways to make operations activities helpful and even collaborative. See some ideas below.

Quarterly or Annual Business Plan

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Business planning is a common questionnaire that is fantastic to build collaboratively with the franchisee, and one that you can come back to over and over again throughout the relevant period.

Pro Tip: Don’t make the common mistake of mistaking cash for profits. Profits is an accounting concept, while cash-in and out can make or break the business. See more business planning mistakes here.

Food Safety Audit

Food Safety is often driven by legislation thus is sometimes used standalone. Foodborne illnesses are preventable and safe food practices encourage longer lives, and a more resilient food industry.

Pro Tip: If you get your food safety assessed by a 3rd party such as Steritech or Noraxx, you can add it by integration to your Franchise Operations software. With this, you get the full picture of the franchise and create interesting comparisons such as cleanliness and customer service, for example, to gauge the customer experience as a whole.

Weekly/Monthly Phone Call Business Check-In

This is a simple audit, but helps you stay on top of communication with your franchisee. It simply records the call, and makes sure any follow-ups that you need get tracked in the Franchise Operations system.

Pro Tip: A picture can say a thousand words. Getting the franchisee to send photos for a phone check-in helps you know for sure that the topic of the call was actioned.

quick call audit

Training

Countdown to Opening Checklist

Taking a snapshot at a key time before opening will make sure new franchisees are set up for success. Countdown-to-opening is one of the most common terms in training but making it a clear checklist with follow-up tasks and built-in accountability means you won’t have surprises (negative ones!) on opening day.

Pro-Tip: Some franchisors like to take several “snapshots” such as 12-week, 6-week, 4-week and 2-week.

Trainer Arrival Checklist

Some franchisors choose to have trainers on-site for grand openings. To give customers the best experience possible, there are a lot of details to look after. While the food may be ordered, and the proper smallwares are ordered and sparkling, other details may be missing, such as giftcards at the cash or maybe employees are not able to clock-in yet.

Pro Tip: Seeing aggregate results of common issues found in openings, can help you emphasize certain things in in-class training for later groups. For example, if there is an issue across the board with franchisees not showing their grand-opening promotion in the window, you can emphasize the foot traffic that such a sign would bring.

Marketing

New Marketing Rollout Assessment

While it would be great to believe that as soon as the roll-out e-mail gets sent from the head office legions of franchisees march out and make the campaign happen, but in reality, that is not the case. Assessing a roll-out tells you about both perceived effectiveness of the marketing team from the franchisee side, and the compliance percentage from the franchisor side.

Pro Tip: When assessing a roll-out which requires specific training material on a recipe, for example, snapping a photo can act as a great proof point.

New Product Readiness Audit

When you are rolling out a new program, sometimes you need to assess the readiness of the team. This audit helps you assess where they are vs. where they should be.

Pro Tip: Training is the new marketing in many ways, as customers rely on reviews more and more for their food and entertainment options. Having training and a percentage of crew complete on your audit is a great best practice for a readiness audit.

Last Word

Once you have the right collection in place, you can build a franchise scorecard. Take a look at our Franchise Scorecard eBook here.



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357 Franchise Field Audit Questions

By | Franchise Audits, Franchise Coaching

Are you looking for inspiration on your field audits? You are not alone. In fact, people have been asking for audit question resources since we started the company 12 years ago.

  • To meet the demand, we created a comprehensive resource, where you will get sample questions from the top franchisors around the world, and much more:
    357 Field Audit Questions including Customer Service, Marketing, Food Safety and Quality, Cleanliness and Management.
  • How to make sure that your questions link back to your processes.
  • How to “audit your audit”, ensuring it is as effective as possible.
  • Where to find your processes – it is easier than you think!

57 Management Field Audit Questions Your Franchise Needs to Know

By | Franchise Audits, Franchise Coaching

What is a core value that franchisors bring to franchisees? Management, training and systems including Human Resources (HR). Any franchise field audit is not complete without this section included. This post is part of a series on audit questions, that also included:

To wrap this incredibly popular series up, we examined over a dozen audit questionnaires, and found the following great questions that you can add to your audit:

Procedures

  1. Is there a program in place to ensure daily cleanliness, including checklists?
  2. Are monthly inventory counting procedures being completed and records retained?
  3. Is the location using the CRM, and do they have a dedicated CRM person in place?
  4. Are bank deposits made on time?
  5. Management actively monitors culture, and takes steps to further develop a positive one consistent with that of Home Office.
  6. Is there a “complaints or compliments” file?
  7. Adequate travel time in place for all schedules.
  8. Are staffing ratios to standard?

Communications

  1. Are all technical alerts from Home Office being signed for when required?
  2. Are Home Office communications being held and documented?
  3. Does the business owner and management communicate in a respectful manner towards the Home Office staff?
  4. Client schedules sent to staff by Wednesday of every week.
  5. Call monitoring system is in place.

Team Communications

  1. Is the 7 Steps Poster displayed in the center for all staff to see?
  2. Has every member of staff signed a copy of the Rules of Engagement document with copies kept in the center?
  3. Emergency phone numbers listed.
  4. Are team meetings being regularly scheduled?
  5. Are policies and procedures easily accessible?
  6. Does the management team have dependable and regular communication with the owner?
  7. Is the business owner physically in the location on a regular basis?

Compliance

  1. Are all necessary state inspections up to date?
  2. Is there an inspection rating posted in a prominent location?
  3. Is the insurance certificate displayed?
  4. Is payroll compliant with applicable regulations, corporate policy and completed on time as required?
  5. Is the location generally in good standing with the Home Office, financial or otherwise?
  6. Is the location generally in good standing with all strategic partners?
  7. Are finances analyzed on a monthly basis with deficient areas highlighted in action plans?
  8. Are there any specific significant deficiencies that require urgent attention? If so, please describe them here along with a plan on how to address them.

Performance

  1. Is KPI information in use?
  2. Are monthly management financials being sent to Home Office within the appropriate timeline?
  3. Is the franchise business plan reviewed, updated and submitted by March 31st of each year?
  4. Is the minimum performance criteria of 85% of urgent orders completed within one hour?
  5. Are task audits being conducted?
  6. Are there any corporate orders over 1-month old with no action-items in the CRM?
  7. Does management know how the store is trending relative to the current month’s sales targets?
  8. Does management know what last week’s sales were?
  9. Does management know how their store’s performance compares to similar ones?
  10. Are finances analyzed on a monthly basis
  11. Are staff scheduled based on projections?
  12. Review franchisee’s cash flow projections to ensure that they have adequate funds to cover expenses during the summer.

HR and Training

  1. Are all hiring and recruiting processes being followed?
  2. Do all staff have a contract of employment?
  3. Have all staff received and signed for an employment handbook?
  4. Review all job descriptions.
  5. Are job descriptions available to all staff?
  6. All new hire paperwork and background check processed before staff begin training?
  7. Are all performance reviews filled out and turned in on schedule?
  8. Are all personnel files secured in a locked filing cabinet?
  9. Management is following all current mandatory corporate compensation and benefitspolicies including extended health benefits, wages, commissions etc.
  10. Management is in accordance with human rights and employment standards of the region.
  11. Every team member has enrolled in team training and is either on track to, or has already finished their learning plan.
  12. Technical training is occurring on a quarterly basis.

Health and Safety

  1. All accidents being recorded in the center accident book and previous entries available.
  2. Have there been any lost time accidents within the last 12 months?
  3. Is there an appointed First Aider – is the ratio appropriate and information available to all staff?
  4. Emergency phone numbers listed?
  5. Was the safe locked upon arrival?

Last Word

Franchisee audits are much easier when you have the right tools in place. Check out FranchiseBlast’s Auditing software for more information.



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79 Cleanliness Audit Questions Your Franchise Needs to Know

By | Franchise Audits

Do you want to create a welcoming experience for your guests? It is starts with a franchise location that is sparkling clean! This is not only common sense, but it is backed by Science. In fact, according to Psychology Today, people with clean houses are less stressed out, depressed and are even healthier.

“A study led by associate professor NiCole R. Keith, Ph.D., research scientist and professor at Indiana University, found that people with clean houses are healthier than people with messy houses… In fact, house cleanliness was even more of a predictor for physical health than neighborhood walkability.”

After exploring over a dozen audits, we found the 79 best cleanliness audit questions that your franchise needs to know. This is part of a series of audit questions that we have done including Marketing, Food Safety, Food Quality and Customer Service.

Outside

  1. Customer parking clear and adequate with customer parking signs.
  2. Landscaping clean, maintained and trash-free.
  3. The outside area is properly lit.
  4. Sidewalk is clean and weed-free.
  5. Exterior garbage storage is covered and doors kept closed between uses. Dumpster containers are emptied as necessary
  6. and the surrounding area is maitained and clean to avoid attracting pests.
  7. Patio and exterior area walkways are clean, no deep visible traffic stain.
  8. Patio rails, gates, furniture and umbrellas are clean and in good condition.
  9. Drive-through menu board panel, signage and speaker post in good condition.

Front or Front of House (FOH)

  1. Air temperature is set for the comfort of the guest.
  2. Entrance and waiting area clean, tidy and welcoming.
  3. Layout is set as per operations manual.
  4. POS work station clean and organized, no visible clutter in the workspace, online pick-up sign properly displayed.
  5. Customer seating made available while waiting.
  6. All lights and lamps in working order.
  7. Ventilation is adequate: vents, fan guards, ceiling fans and filters are clean.
  8. Windows and ledges clean, streak-free with no physical damage to glass or frame. Main entrance doors and threshholds are in good condition or clean.
  9. Ceiling or ceiling tile areas do not show dust or water damage.
  10. High chairs and booster seating are clean, no broken straps, or visible physical damage.
  11. Tables are maintained clean, no physical damage to laminate or table edging.
  12. Booth seating and chairs clean, materials are clean of dried food, debris or damage.
  13. Paint, walls and chair rails are clean with no physical damage.
  14. Floor tiles, grout lines, baseboards and drains are clean, in good repair and free ofexcessive build-up or standing water.
  15. Beverage systems ice machines do not have mold or dust build up. Top not used for storage.
  16. Display case is clean inside, outside and around.
  17. Pictures and décor is approved, dust-free and straight.
  18. No graffiti present.
  19. Sanitized rags used to wipe down counters and tables.
  20. Garbage containers are cleaned and emptied as needed.
  21. No hand-written signs.
  22. List recommendations to increase visibility of location.

Back or Back of House (BOH)

  1. Walls and ceilings are in good repair and fre of excessive dust and debris.
  2. Ventilation is adequate; vents, fan guards and filters are clean.
  3. Hand mixer clean, in good repair and safely stored when no in use.
  4. Can opener maintained clean, no rust or food debris present.
  5. Knives are clean, no physical damage, properly stored in holders without rust or debris.
  6. Sinks, pans and smallwares washed and sanitized.
  7. Trays and baking sheets are clean and in good condition.
  8. Workshop floor layout as per operations manual?
  9. All lights and lamps and light shields in working order, fully lit and clean?
  10. Counters and island clean and clutter-free.
  11. Oven is clean.
  12. Stainless steel/chrome surfaces polished daily.
  13. Refrigerator and freezer clean and organized.
  14. Pans free from excessive build-up.
  15. Proper dish washing method observed.
  16. Hand-washing sinks are clean and used only for hand-washing.
  17. Hand-washing reminder signs at all sinks.
  18. Under counter area cleaned and organized.
  19. Mop and utility sink clean, organized, in good condition with no standing water.
  20. Approved cleaning and sanitizing products used and labeled.
  21. Back room/off-site storage areas/shelving organized and clean.
  22. Chemical shelf clean and organized.
  23. Exit doors close automatically: secured, without damage.
  24. Location free of other cleaning or maintenance issues. If not, please list below.

Merchandise

  1. Retail area including shelves and displays are clean, dusted and in good repair.
  2. Retail is mechandised according the brand standards.
  3. Retail area only sells approved products.
  4. Only approved displays, shelving and signage are present and in good repair.
  5. Proper min levels are set for all active products in ERP.
  6. Min levels and product mix are actively monitored and adjusted based on product performance, upcoming promotions, seasonal increases etc.
  7. Inventory numbers in ERP are accurate.
  8. Inventory on-hand level appropriate for sales volume.
  9. Retail shelves and displays fully stocked with minimal preventable out-of-stocks.

Restrooms

  1. Restrooms clean (floor, faucets, handles, toilets, trash can) .
  2. Restroom stocked with toilet paper, soap and paper towels.
  3. Employees must wash hands sign posted in bathroom.
  4. Record temperature of hot water in the men’s restroom.
  5. Record temperature of hot water in the women’s restroom.
  6. Deodorizers are stocked and working.
  7. Walls, mirrors, doors and stall partitions are clean and streak-free.
  8. Baby change table is clean and sanitized with liners available. The safety buckle is also in good repair.
  9. No visible political, religious or offensive postings.

Health & Safety

  1. First aid kit onsite and stocked.
  2. Insurance certificate on display and up-to-date.
  3. Crisis event poster properly displayed in kitchen area, replacing any outdated copies.
  4. Wet floor signs are clean and available, used for any spills present. They are stored out of guest view.
  5. Fire extinguishers, serviced and not expired.
  6. Staff in uniform and wearing safety boots when needed.
  7. CO2 tanks are secured in accordance with safety protocols.

Last Word

When doing your cleanliness audit, it is great to have tasks that you can assign and track to franchisees, their staff or others on your home office team. FranchiseBlast’s Audit app has this functionality and much more.



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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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58 Marketing Audit Questions Your Franchise Needs to Grow

By | Franchise Audits, Marketing
Franchise Marketing Audit

Often forgotten but more important than ever is the Marketing section of the franchisee audit. Based on our research, the franchisee success on the Marketing audit, especially the section on planning, can actually predict growth. Based on popular demand, we did an extensive review of over 50 audit questionnaires from a half-dozen industries and came up with the best Marketing questions for you to add to your annual audit checklist.

Basics

  1. Exterior signage, clean, illuminated and in “like new” condition.
  2. Menu panels, clean and and in “like new” condition.
  3. Store decorated appropriately for the season.
  4. Television clean, in good working order, and playing approved images and footage only.
  5. All national campaign elements are present and in-store POP follows brand standards, placement guidelines and is clean with no damage.
  6. Uniforms are to standard – managers and associates.
  7. Name tags clean and professionally presented.
  8. Approved music playing.

Planning

  1. Franchisee provided completed quarterly marketing plan to coach by submission deadline.
  2. Competitive analysis completed in the last 12 months, using the proper form.
  3. Franchisee has used the approved forecasting tool for their marketing plan during high season.
  4. Franchisee submitted up-to-date crisis communication plan.
  5. Franchisee has the marketing collatoral required to execute on their marketing plan (coupons, signage, giveaways)
  6. Franchisee doing a live event during high season.
  7. Franchisee taking part in community events during high season.
  8. Franchisee has visited 5-10 local businesses to connect with the community.
  9. Marketing plan identifies a budget each month.
  10. Current national promotions leveraged in marketing plans.
  11. Current national platforms leveraged in marketing plans.
  12. Staff meetings are scheduled to review upcoming promotions.
  13. Franchisee and/or marketing staff attended any required training.

Print and Signage

  1. All marketing material complies with brand standard and is posted in the appropriate location.
  2. Current marketing materials being used.
  3. Hours of operation posted on doors and accurate.
  4. Promotional tents available at each table.
  5. Branded vans using approved graphics and PMS colors.
  6. Branded napkins being used.
  7. Branded trays are made available.
  8. No hand-written or typed signs in guest view.
  9. Posted media stories up to brand standards.
  10. Online ordering “call-out” available.
  11. Every off-premise bag contains marketing materials.
  12. Off-premise packaging quality standards being used.
  13. Gift card program in place.
  14. Only current and approved merchandising elements available.
  15. Franchise operator decal displayed at front entrance.
  16. Loyalty program materials have prominent placement.

Social and Online

  1. Franchisee posted a minimum of 3x/week to Facebook.
  2. Franchisee had one positive online review/month.
  3. Franchisee used on-brand content and held to on-brand Facebook strategy.
  4. Franchisee maintained updated hours and pricing on local website.
  5. Franchisee has 2 posts regarding seasonal marketing campaign on Social Media.
  6. Franchisee is familiar with Social Media posting tool and knows where to find additional resources.
  7. Franchisee boosted a minimum of 1x/week on Facebook.
  8. Social media channels monitored and comments were responded to in a timely manner.

Campaign

  1. Franchisee participated in the National Marketing campaign.
  2. Campaign details printed and posted.
  3. Prize awarded to customer.
  4. Approved display rack has current POP.
  5. Monthly POP clearly advertised on the menu board.

Compliance

  1. Franchisee reads all head office communications.
  2. Franchisee only used approved offers.
  3. Franchisee requested approval before marketing additional offers.
  4. Franchisee maintained a positive, respectful relationship with franchise marketing team (no incidents reported since last reporting period).
  5. Marketing material purchased through approved vendors.
  6. Franchisee spends $x/month in the community, above AdFund spend, as per the agreement.
  7. Franchisee is familiar with most recent campaign.
  8. Product knowledge questionnaire – all associates and managers have completed it.

If you are as enthusiastic about Marketing Audits as we are, feel free to connect with us at ssigurdsonforbes@franchiseblast.com!



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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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Auditing Your Franchise Audit

By | Franchise Audits
Auditing your Franchise Audit

Leadership author John Maxwell said:

“Good leaders ask great questions that inspire others to dream more, think more, learn more, and become more”

When it comes to your franchise audit, are you asking the right questions? After over a decade in the franchising community and working with hundreds of organizations and thousands of units, we came up with the following questions to make sure that your audit is the best that it can be – or to “audit your audit”. Outlined below, you can see sample items that we check, and what they all mean. Examples are given in many cases to enhance clarity.

The elements below shouldn’t be perceived as a complete list of potential issues but rather a simple checklist for a quick review of the health of your franchise field auditing process.

#1 Audit contains superfluous questions.

Having extra questions means unnecessary work for the auditor. In addition to obvious extra questions, you’ll find more subtle questions that are simply redundant.

Example: “Audit completed by” field then where the auditor manually enters their name when that that information is automatically added by your software tool.

#2 Some questions address multiple concerns.

A question that addresses multiple concerns makes it difficult for the franchisee to understand what needs fixing.

Example: “Walls and floors are clean and don’t feature any apparent damage and the marketing posters on the wall are recent and approved.” When faced with a failure on this question, the franchisee would not be sure what to fix.

#3 Inappropriate question type used.

Question type – such as multiple-choice or text-based or yes/no should be carefully considered when building an audit.

Example: Using a yes/no question when it comes to temperature meeting a standard instead of simply recording the temperature value itself. Another more subtle example is a yes/no question followed by a free-form text question to indicate the reason for failure, or simply a yes/no question phrased in way that asks to auditor to clarify the issue in the comments section of the question. In that case, a properly designed multiple-choice question should be considered.

#4 Some questions are not Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-Bound (SMART).

The questionnaire designer should review the characteristics of each question to ensure the audits are objective and impactful. If a question is vague or addresses too many concerns, it’s unclear what is evaluated. If it’s not measurable, then the audit becomes subjective. If it’s not actionable, then even if you find a problem there’s nothing you can do to fix it. If it’s not relevant, it’s extra work that isn’t impactful. Finally, questions which aren’t time-bound are unclear as to what time period is being evaluated.

Example: Using terms such as “a reasonable amount of time” instead of simply recording how quickly the franchisee should perform the service in terms of seconds or minutes.

#5 Poor spelling or grammar.

Spelling and grammar errors can cause auditors and franchisees to lose faith in the system.

#6 The questionnaire is not structured to follow the flow of the auditor.

Matching the audit “flow”, starting outside the front door and ending with the coaching session at the back can save time and enhance the process.

#7 Documentation needs to be added to clarify the evaluation criteria for the question.

A question that refers back to standards should include a reference to the franchise manual or online standards guide.

Example: “Scheduling appropriate to sales volume” – the guideline outlining how many employees a franchisee needs for a given sales volume should be posted.

#8 Need to tag questions with the associated back-end process.

Audit scores are often represented by top-level section scores such as “Back of house: 80%” or “Cleanliness: 75%”. This is a good way to slice the information, but additional facets can be reviewed. It is a best practice to tag specific questions with the relevant process that drives that standard. When a set of standards fail and they’re all associated to the same back-end process, you can coach for the root cause rather than each standard. Learn more about questions and processes…

franchise field audit questions

Example: A standard such as “Smiling and welcoming guests” could be categorized as “Service” but a better way would be to tag it as “Training: Going above what’s required & wowing the guest”.

#9 The audit length is inadequate. 

The audit should only be as long, or as short as it needs to be in order to achieve its goals. Most long-form format audits in FranchiseBlast contain 2oo to 400 questions.

When shorter (ex: 50 questions), it could be perceived that the coach is performing a cursory visit and not going into detail. It’s normal (and desirable) to have short-form audits, but if your longest one is only 100 questions, you likely haven’t formalized your visit/coaching process.

When longer (ex: 600 questions), it could be perceived that the coach performing busywork and spending too much time filling out forms rather than coaching franchisees.  If you drill down into the data, you’ll normally notice a large cross-section of the audit never fails. These questions are candidates to be removed.

#10 Average scores are too high to drive change.

While at first it may seem like a good thing to have strong audit scores, scores that are too high will not drive change in the organization. An average score of over 90% will lead franchisees to lose motivation in terms of corrective actions as they see themselves as performing at an A+, where the franchisor’s view may be different. Solutions to this issue are complex but include:

  • Calibrating coaches to be stricter
  • Changing the standards to be stricter
  • Shortening the audits by removing questions which always succeed
  • Changing weights of certain questions/sections/failures.
  • Adding new questions aligned with the system weaknesses you know are present but aren’t fully reflected

Learn more about generous audits…

#11 Utilize question severity where applicable. 

There are some audit questions which are so core to the brand that they should have a “critical” marking – such as using unapproved suppliers. If questions are marked with severity, additional business rules such as “the audit should fail if any critical questions fail” can be easily put into place instead of a convoluted question weighting system.

#12 Use tasks when appropriate to define the corrective action plan.

When a weakness is recognized, it is a best practice to use a corrective action to get it followed-up on by the appropriate person. It’s typical to not start using the task system immediately when adopting a platform such as FranchiseBlast as it does require a bit of change management and expectation management with the franchisees. Once established, however, leveraging tasks can increase accountability.

Having a backlog of tasks indicates a lack of process or of training – it is a good idea to discuss expectations with the franchisees and coaches.

#13 Review processes and standards related to system-wide weaknesses.

When exploring system-wide weaknesses, sometimes there is a core process that is consistently not being followed.  To solve system-wide weaknesses it sometimes makes sense to include new practices such as recurring self-assessments.

Example: A consistent failure on exterior cleanliness may require a system-wide training or process reminder, perhaps complemented by daily self-assessments where pictures are submitted.

#14 Be a coach, not a cop. 

The franchise consultant role is evolving beyond simply being a “cop” who maintains standards. It is also a “coach” who helps the franchisee achieve their goals. The questionnaire should reflect this change.

Example: Having a “coaching” section in the audit is a fantastic first step towards creating at coaching culture.

#15 Use automatic KPI collection when possible to reduce the coach’s workload.  

We sometimes see questionnaires which include various number questions which need to be punched in by the coach. For example, what were last month’s sales, labour costs, etc. Automating this collection outside of the coaches visit, via an integration with the Point of Sale or other source system, can save the coach time plus enable them to have time to research ahead of the visit and prepare a proper action plan with the franchisee.

#16 Auditors are not well calibrated. 

When reviewing average scores among auditors, you may notice dramatically different scores. One root cause of this is an inconsistent understanding of what the standards are for each auditor. Learn more about auditor calibration…

#17 Completed audits have not been approved and/or incomplete audits are pending within the system. 

Having a backlog of pending audits could mean that completed work is not being used. Make sure to have an approval “rhythm” set up within the system and the appropriate auditor manager is aware of your expectations. Alternately, some questionnaires may benefit from being automatically approved.

#18 Not visiting all locations consistently 

Having locations “fall through the cracks” could be detrimental to the brand on many levels. Ensure that your visits are up to date as an important, but sometimes forgotten, check. We’ve often seen this in contexts where a franchisor expects each coach to visit each location quarterly but doesn’t effectively make the coaches accountable to do so.

#19 Consider adding new questionnaires.

The average franchisor in FranchiseBlast has 6 different questionnaires – is the set for your franchise complete? Sample questionnaires include:

  • Quarterly or Annual Business Plan
  • Weekly/monthly phone call business check-in
  • New store opening checklist
  • Food safety audit
  • Daily store logs self-assessments (openings/closings)
  • New marketing rollout assessment
  • New product readiness self-assessment

Learn more about strategic questionnaires… 

Looking for More?

If you want to download a version of the checklist, click on the LinkedIn icon from SlideShare below.

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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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