Category

Franchise Business Plans

5 Steps to Using Benchmarks in the Franchise Business Plan

By | Benchmarking, Franchise Business Plans

You understand the benefits of planning and you have discussed the franchisee’s goals and expectations. But, how do benchmarks fit into the overall picture? Benchmarks allow you to measure performance of one franchisee against the other. With this in mind, here are 5 steps to connect these two key pieces into a valuable whole.

1. Identify the area where the franchisee needs to improve

Finding the area of improvement can be either proactive or reactive. If it is proactive, it is part of the franchisee planning process, and it is a goal to strive for. If it is reactive it is perhaps in response to a violation on an audit. Areas for improvement can also come from program rollouts from head office, from a new service line to an annual Marketing contest in the busy season.

2. Measure the franchisee’s performance in that area

Measuring performance in the area gives you a “before” and “after” picture. Financial performance metrics are easy to quantify, and the more “direct from source” they are, the better. Customer Satisfaction can also be looked at through Net Promoter Score (NPS), Google Reviews or a tool like Review Trackers. Finally, the Franchise Audit provides a score-based method for you to put numbers to actions. If you are measuring “self-report”, it is a bit fuzzier, because human nature means that some franchisees may over- or under- report. Having “hard back-up” can help – such as requiring receipts for investments in marketing submitted to get rebate.

3. Decide which franchisee you would like to benchmark against

While every franchisee will have a reason why their market is unique, there are always ways to compare them to other businesses, whether they are in the same region or training group, for example. If they have similar business types, such as a business with a drive-through, in a mall or off-premise – you can also look at that as a benchmark peer. Compare your franchisee to a like group, to be both fair and results-driven.

4. Compare data collected to franchisee performance

Now it is time to look at what is happening for the franchise compared to others. If they are below average, you will want to boost their score. If they are average, and they want to be more of a leader, you can shoot for that – in fact Ben and Jerry’s does just that with great success. Sometimes the franchisee will want to win an award in their area of choice. Awards give franchisees audacious goals to strive for, inspiring others to follow in their wake. If you are running a scorecard program, this information is readily available. If not, you may have some work to do in terms of data gathering.

5. Create a project or action plan

Any good sales manager will tell you that revenue goals alone do not help sales teams succeed, activity goals do. So – instead of thinking of that 5 Million Dollar target, a salesperson can think about one appointment with a qualified decision maker per week, for example. Action plans are the building blocks to goals. Having an Project Management or Action Plan tool is a fantastic way to track this.

Final Word

Once you have your benchmarks integrated with your plans, the franchisee can get back to focusing on the day-to-day in a more effective way. After this, you can do regular calls or check-ins with franchisees on a monthly or quarterly basis. As a leader in benchmarking tools for franchisees, FranchiseBlast is a great way to accelerate your planning cycles.



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Tips on Building an Effective Quarterly Franchise Business Plan

By | Franchise Business Plans, Franchise Coaching

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

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

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

SMART Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corrective Action Plans are not Franchise Business Plans

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

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

A Simple Action Plan

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

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

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

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

The SMART plan

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

This questionnaire will include the following elements:

What is your SMART goal?

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

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

Is there more information relevant to your goal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Target: GM of Restaurant 
Instagram: Supervisor 

When applicable, what is the budget for this initiative?

Target: $1,000 
Instagram: No budget 

Recommended Patterns

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

Pattern 1

  • Goal
  • Activities
  • Due Date
  • Done By

Pattern 2

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

Pattern 3

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

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

Pattern 1 is the simplest approach.

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

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

Quarterly Business Plans in FranchiseBlast

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

Step 1: Review Data & Find Actionable Insights

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

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

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

What’s the problem?

Describe the problem in as much detail as necessary.

Is it important?

If not, ignore.

Is it a skill deficiency?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pattern 1: Pick Three

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

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

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

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

Pattern 2: Pick One or Two for Each Dimension

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

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

In the above example, it would be:

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

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

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

Step 3: Continuous Review

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

Step 4: Postmortem & New Plan

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

Final Example

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

Highlight of Successes

Area of Opportunity 1

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

Area of Opportunity 2

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

Area of Opportunity 3

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

Postmortem (filled out at the end of the term)

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

Conclusion

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



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Grow with Franchisee-Led Business Plans

By | Franchise Business Plans, Franchise Engagement

grow with franchisee led business plans

Franchisees who set their own goals are more likely to succeed than those who simply follow the objectives set by the organization. Why? Veterans of the franchise community know that franchisees who set and commit to their own goals are more motivated than those that “hitch their wagon to the star of the franchisor.”

After reading a franchising expert discussing this in Franchising World a few years ago (it seems the edition is not now available, otherwise there would be a link), I thought of all of the most successful franchisees I knew over my 10 years in the space. While it was true that though many of them loved the brands, there was an even greater commitment to their own lives in terms of fulfillment and creating a better life for their families and loved-ones.

Power of Self-Selected Goals

Pioneering organizational psychologists draw a clear line between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation are those things that are on the outside, those “carrots” that managers are used to including pay raises, bonuses and benefits. While these have their place, they do not have the lasting effect of when motivation comes from the inside, or “intrinsic motivation.”

Intrinsic motivation, according to Ivey Business Journal’s Keith Thomas is absolutely needed in a world where people, now more than ever in franchising, are self-managed. An intrinsic reward has the following components:

  1. A sense of meaningfulness – it gives franchisees an opportunity to accomplish something of real value.
  2. A sense of choice – the franchisee feels like they have some choice in which way they approach their goal and the way in which they are measured.
  3. A sense of competence – they feel a sense of satisfaction and pride in terms of how well they are accomplishing their goals. The franchisor can then be a partner in helping achieve that goal.
  4. A sense of progress – they feel like their efforts are really accomplishing something and they can see that progress.

Tips on Goal Setting

  1. Make sure the franchisee is setting both business and personal goals. According to Street Smart Franchising, there is no franchisor who will have a goal counting how many nights a week a franchisee is home for dinner with her family. However, an innovating coach can help a franchisee attain both their financial and personal goals satisfying the franchisee and the organization.
  2. Franchising is full of “making mountains out of molehills”. If you are coaching with purpose, when someone is focusing too much on the nitty gritty rather than the big picture, you can bring them back to what is most important.
  3. A way to create a positive difference and loyalty for franchisees is to provide meaningful building blocks for their intrinsic rewards. Every single goal has it’s own path, and helping remove obstacles or stabilize a foundation for your franchisee will go a long way.

Franchise-led business plans is the foundation for sustained growth and create an exciting and vibrant culture for your franchisees. They also lead to more franchisee satisfaction, since they are seeing their own desires become reality. As a coach, it can also be great for your own fulfillment as you help your franchisees and their families on the road to their dreams.

About Stefania

Stefania is the Sr. Marketing Director at FranchiseBlast. She comes from 20 years in the Marketing world, 10 of them in progressively Sr. positions in Marketing – most recently as the Director of Marketing and IT Development at Tutor Doctor. During the course of her career she has worked with companies like Microsoft, 3M, Shred-it and the Intercontinental Hotel. While at Shred-it, Stefania was recognized by Google as operating a best practice in managing a franchise PPC campaign and her website at Tutor Doctor won an “Outstanding Achievement in Internet Advertising” award by the Web Marketing Association in 2016.

Stefania has taken part in several speaking engagements across North America about entrepreneurship, franchising, marketing and technology and has volunteered for numerous organizations helping children, artists and educational institutions; she is a volunteer with Futurepreneur as a mentor, and does a number of community initiatives. She was also the past Communications Chair of the Queen’s Alumni Association of Toronto. She holds an MBA from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Commerce from Carleton University. She lives in Vaughan, Ontario with her husband, Matthew and two children, AJ and Violet.



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