Franchise Engagement

Franchisee Comeback Plans

By | Franchise Business Plans, Franchise Engagement, Video
Are you preparing to help franchisees make a big comeback once the lockdown ends? We work with over 100 franchise brands and this gives us a unique perspective on what different franchisors are doing to help position their franchisees to thrive as the economy slowly returns to normal. Using these ideas, you can overcome the hardships brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comeback Plan Overview

We’ve prepared a generic franchisee comeback plan to serve as a basis for your own efforts.  Let’s go through the plan together to explain the various elements and complement the work you’ve already done. To put some structure around this comeback plan, let’s think of it like a standard business plan a coach would collaboratively define with their franchisees.
To come back from this crisis, there are 4 key objectives that we define here in this comeback plan:
  • You need to be able to weather the storm financially
  • You must pivot to the new operating environment
  • You aim to keep your employees and customers safe
  • You want to bounce back rapidly via sales and marketing initiatives
To do this, we are using the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) methodology. We don’t need to go deep in the terminology to explain our plan, but let’s at least explain these concepts.
  • An OBJECTIVE is your goal and aligns everyone in simple terms
  • KEY RESULTS are how you measure your success; you can’t control this outcome
  • INITIATIVES are activities trying to achieve objectives, which you can control 100%

Objective #1:
Weathering the Storm Financially 

When we are talking about weathering the storm financially – the goal of the franchisee is to stay in business. The pandemic brings a lot of uncertainty, making cashflow management difficult. This will likely be the main conversation topic between the coach and the franchisee. When you look at this, it begs the question “how do you measure if you weathered the storm after the quarter”? The pandemic brings a lot of uncertainty, making cashflow management very difficult. All of the following Key Results are samples only, and the values themselves should be customized for your business.
  1. Maintain 12-months of runway – meaning you have enough cash to pay your rent and employees. If you don’t you need to put something in place today – which will be a loan, gov grant, subsidy, or any other type of relief.
  2. Measure having an EBITDA that is not losing 20% of your sales or more. If you are beyond that ratio, maybe the business should shut down completely and take a financial hit for the rent, but not operating.
  3. Reach a debt-to equity ratio under 0.75. The goal is to make sure that you will have enough cash in the future to pay off the debts that you incur today.

Although we touch on cash flow, profitability and balance sheet with these three indicators, most franchisors are focused exclusively on cashflow in the short term. Profitability and debt service aren’t as much of a focus right now (other than thinking of them while you figure out your cashflow issues), but they will become critical over the next few months.

In terms of initiatives, these are things that you can do concretely:
  1. Develop cashflow model with three scenarios (optimistic, pessimistic, realistic)
  2. Perform weekly cashflow review
  3. Apply for government relief
  4. Negotiate relief with landlord, suppliers and lenders
  5. Negotiate with bank to assist with cash flow by increasing the line of credit
  6. Develop strategy for worst case scenario (equity investment from a new partner, divestment to multi-unit operator or shutdown)
These activities are within your span of influence. You may not have 100% control over whether or not you will get government relief but you know that you can apply. If that initiative fails, then you may need to revisit your plan and see what other initiatives you can do to stabilize your cashflow situation.

Objective #2:
Pivot to the New Operating Environment

The world has changed, so we have to take an honest look at how the world is today, and you are going to have to adapt. Restaurants are letting customers order ahead, or arranging curbside deliveries. Service franchisors are doing remote meetings instead of face-to-face. Some stores are changing their layouts to accommodate new practices such as having a new cooler for meals while they wait to get picked up. No matter what your business, it has to adapt since this is a new world.
Key results associated with this include:
  1. All employees have completed the franchisor’s new training course – checking that everyone is aligned with your new operational processes
  2. Keep labor costs under 33% of sales – the actual ratio will vary based on your cash flow targets, but your staffing plans will likely have changed
  3. Keep COGS under 33% of sales – you may need to change how you operate to reach this goal
Initiatives connected to these Key Results include:
  1. Attend franchisor webinars / watch franchisor videos
  2. Implement franchisor’s new workflows to be aligned with the new environment
  3. Define new work schedules based on cashflow scenarios (reduced hours/staff, etc.)
  4. Define reduced product offering to minimize inventory carry
  5. Update product availability across all online platforms
  6. Consider grocery staples and produce baskets additions to meet supplier minimums
  7. Perform daily sales/inventory reviews and compare to cash flow models to be more efficient on inventory ordering
Although there are some businesses, such as those in pizza, who are not losing a lot of business, most have to adapt to the new situation. Think about what changed in your business and how you can determine if a franchisee is ready for the new world.

Objective #3:
Keep your Employees and Customers Safe 

Third objective is about keeping people safe – that is key. At the highest level, if you don’t do this, you are going to get in trouble. People are posting on social media about businesses that are laggards in this regard. This damages the brands reputation, even if it is just a matter of one or two franchisees. On top of that, there are lawyers driving around looking for employers to sue, since employees do not feel safe. This is a risky environment for business people.
Key results that could help you measure the objective include:
  1. No employees or customers are contaminated at your place of business – hard because maybe they get infected at the grocery store, but nice key result to aim towards
  2. Have all employees perform new COVID-19 training material – specific procedures related to sanitization and such
Initiatives that support keeping everyone safe include:
  1. Install new recommended signage / protective barriers / sanitizing stations
  2. Train staff on new COVID-19 procedures (cleaning, disinfecting, social distancing,  recognizing symptoms, etc.)
  3. Perform check-ins with staff to ensure they feel safe at work
  4. Monitor your franchisor’s communications daily to stay abreast of best practices
  5. Communicate with local health to learn about local regulations which apply
Keeping people safe is challenging for franchisors as they aren’t necessarily able to visit the units during the lockdown. They must influence franchisees who actually execute these best practices to keep people safe. Fortunately, most franchisees are welcoming of these initiatives and see value in their franchisor helping them implement best practices.

Objective #4:
Bounce Back Rapidly Via Sales and Marketing Initiatives

Overall, we are going to go through a recession. As a result, people will be strapped for cash and some businesses are going to be in trouble. It has been proven that doing marketing during a recession or a downturn helps during the recession and after. There are lingering results of consistent and effective sales and marketing. That market share that you can capture will be important. Although businesses want to control variable costs, the cost-cutting should not occur in the marketing area.
That being said, you want to be delicate. You want to make sure that your marketing initiatives are in tune with the demands in the marketplace. You cannot be tone-deaf or too aggressive and you have to operate with tact.
Key results associated with this include:
  1. Achieve 250 marketing campaign conversions – measuring the success of whatever pandemic-aware campaign you are running
  2. Add 250 new customers to our loyalty mailing list – a bigger list you can market to on a continuous basis
  3. Receive 250 new downloads of our app – expanding the list of people you can reach with promotional offers
  4. Increase average transaction size to $20.00. Online transactions are great but they can create a lot of busy work. If you can tack on upsells like grocery staples, it can benefit you.
Initiatives that support the Sales and Marketing objectives include:
  1. Review tone and messaging of the franchisor’s proposed marketing campaigns
  2. Perform one community engagement campaign. There are a bunch of franchises like sponsor a meal for front-line workers, where the franchisee delivers that food but gets paid for by a member of the community – it is a paying it forward. It also helps them achieve the minimums they need to keep to order from certain suppliers
  3. Perform a marketing campaign on social media
  4. Perform a direct mail campaign
  5. Perform a PR campaign; contact 3 local media outlets to pitch them the story.
  6. Perform an email blast campaign to loyalty/app members
  7. Perform weekly marketing ROI analysis and course correct if needed

Operationalizing Your Plan

Overall, the franchise comeback plan is defining the key results, the initiatives and objectives that you will be reviewing on a recurring basis as a franchisee and a coach. Typically we are creating annual and quarterly business plans. Here is what the comeback plan looks like in FranchiseBlast:
franchiseblast comeback plan 1

Here, you can see a summary of the objectives, along with a chart showing whether or not they are on track.

franchisee business plan 2

They Key Results and Initiatives are also seen, aligned with their relevant objective.

franchisee comeback plans 3

On each key result, you have an opportunity to check in, show whether or not you are on track, and put in a note for future reference.

With FranchiseBlast’s Business Plan module you are able to collaboratively define the comeback plan and, more importantly to avoid it sitting on a shelf and going stale, come back to it on a recurring basis.

You can also choose to implement your comeback plan as a self-assessment which would be more in line with a simple checklist. By sending out the self-assessment on a recurring basis, it stays top of mind. The individual questions would be formulated a bit differently (Did you perform your weekly cashflow review? Do you have enough cash for the next 3 months in a pessimistic scenario? etc). This model is a better fit for franchises where franchisee engagement is not currently optimal and/or franchisors who have had to furlough a large portion of their teams. In both of these cases, it is difficult or impossible to setup coaching sessions to review the comeback plan.

Download the Comeback Plan Now!

We are pleased to offer the Franchise Comeback plan in PDF form below, to help you with this effort.

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Bringing Your Work Home While Supporting Franchisees

By | Franchise Coaching, Franchise Engagement
bringing work home

We are in a time of unprecedented change. There is no simple guidebook on what to do next. Even the most dedicated Franchise Home Office Teams and Franchise Business Coaches (FBCs) are wondering how to keep supporting franchisees. The first priority is to respond and be there to help franchisees as they are coping with changes in their stores or regions or complying with new regulations such as going delivery and take-out only. There are also some things that you can do to help ease concerns:

Check In More

As human beings, we are social by nature. Increase number of one-on-one video or phone check-ins with franchisees to increase morale. Even if they have temporarily closed down their location, or have changed their operations, checking in will help them feel motivated, and part of an extended group.

Build Chat Communities

In a time of social isolation, connecting in the digital space can be a welcome substitute. Create a chat community with your franchisees, region or training group using Slack or Facebook Groups. This helps strengthen connections, and some franchisors pursuing this find that the franchisees may already have an informal one. While you can chat about business, you can also take a break and chat about your families, share pictures, humor, or even share heartwarming stories of people coming together. This also helps facilitate franchisees supporting each other.

Get Creative

When we are afraid, it is easy to get tunnel vision but sometimes opening up a bit can help you in supporting franchisees. Get creative on keeping spirits up. Some  are trying to instill a sense of camaraderie, such as setting up virtual pizza parties or remote happy hours, where people share a cocktail on Skype or Slack. It may feel a little weird, but everyone feeling weird together can be a way to bond.

Provide the right tools

In a time where it may not be possible to send FBCs on field visits, creating self-assessments or polls with images and videos can help franchisees be prepared. Please see our COVID-19 post for more information.

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Top Franchisee Engagement Tools

By | Franchise Engagement, Franchise Technology
Franchisee Engagement Tools

Franchisee engagement is a term on everyone’s lips after the recent International Franchise Association (IFA) convention in Orlando. But, what does it truly mean?

Authentic franchisee engagement is about having your people truly feel like they are part of the organization. Not just on the piece of paper where they signed on the dotted line, but from deep inside of them.

But, it is easier said than done.

Below, are some tools and technology to help engage every person in your network.


The first engagement touchpoint in the franchisee lifecycle is training. It starts with the road to opening, and then typically a live session at the Home Office. There are also sometimes certifications associated with the industry, such as a Certified Senior Advisor, for instance or franchisor staff may need to be trained as well. Many franchisors also find it worthwhile to pursue financial training such as Profit Mastery.

eLearning is also something that can be hugely helpful for ongoing training and even training around rollouts.


Program Rollout

Seasonal programs and rollouts are the bread and butter for franchisors. But finding a staff member who can do an effective rollout is like seeking out a unicorn.

Love it or hate it, e-mail is often the first go-to tool for franchisors to send out operations and marketing eBlasts. Measuring responses is a great way to determine engagement, when you are using the right tools.

On the other hand, franchisees “go numb” to communication when you bombard them with too many e-mails.

As a result, there are other ways to roll out programs, such as posting in the intranet, integrating in webinar and video communication and even adding in ratings system, for the brave among us. Having franchisees create their own articles on the intranet, or their own videos will go even further with the rest of the system.

Finally, to avoid one person in your office getting bogged down and overloaded with e-mail, you can invest in a ticketing system, with role-based responses.


Two-Way Support

We are in a collaborative world, nowadays. Today’s owners don’t want to sit back and passively receive information from Home Office. They want to connect back and forth. And, when you think about it, the franchisees wanting to roll up their sleeves and abandon the “employee mentality” is a positive thing.

At the heart of field support, is some of the following functions:

  • On-site training
  • Key Performance Indicator (KPI) review
  • Ongoing business coaching
  • Financial review
  • Field audit visits

Field Auditors have the hardest job in franchising, but the more two-way communication they have, the stronger the relationship will be.



The annual convention is the most fundamental investment any franchisor can make. There are the formal learning benefit, then the informal social benefits (which, if you are doing it right will be a highlight for everyone).

Generally, conventions are the glue that holds everyone together.

To level-up your event, include an app, or even add in a gamification element to it.



The evolutionary version of 1:1 communication, is a 1:many collaboration! Collaborating, by building projects together with franchisees will enhance engagement and grow trust.

Instead of creating things in the Home Office vacuum, and hoping they will stick, try to collaborate “on the fly” with franchisees using the latest tools.

Looking to have some fun while collaborating? You can also utilize crowdsourcing for an engaging and collaborative experience, have design contests with many designers, and get franchisees to vote.

You can connect with franchisees, regionally, or by a special interest group, via text, a form of communication up to 500x more powerful than e-mail.

Finally, you can create business plans collaboratively with franchisees, which has been shown to enhance engagement and ameliorate outcomes.


Last Word

Tools will never replace the human touch when it comes to franchisee engagement, but they do enhance the experience, and spark the imagination. We will be updating this article regularly, so come back soon to see our most recent recommendations.

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5 Franchisee Coaching Tips for the Busy Holiday Season

By | Franchise Coaching, Franchise Engagement

The holiday season is upon us and it is a fantastic time for family get-togethers and celebrating traditions closest to our hearts. Surprisingly, holidays can be a good time for franchisee coaching as well. It is a way for you to connect and engage the franchisees that you work with.

It is well known that social connections at work promote all kinds of positive things including:

  • Increased happiness
  • Less stress
  • Increased engagement and loyalty
  • Healthier life

Social connections and relationships with franchisees create even more of what they need to succeed, including motivation and adherence to the system.

1. Celebrate Accomplishments

The end of the year is a time of reflection. If you have a franchisee who has made a major accomplishment, why not recognize it? “Celebrating” can be a strong word for it, because recognizing accomplishments can be as simple as picking up the phone and saying “I just realized that you had your best year ever, congratulations.” Then, when the person is at the friend and family get-togethers, they will bring that feeling with them or maybe let the people around them know how good their business is going! You can also hand-write it in a card, or bring up an accomplishment on a group call.

2. Inspire Positivity

The holidays can be that breath of fresh air during a difficult period as a franchisor. This is an opportunity to turn that situation around. Model positivity in your demeanor and communications for the holiday, and the warm fires of holiday kindness could melt the coldest of hearts.

3. Cultivate Connections

Holiday get-togethers are a great way to create community. Although many franchise organizations are remote, you can encourage franchisees in the same region to meet, then share pictures with everyone else. You can also meet locally with the folks in your backyard.

4. Encourage Giving Thoughtfully

Secret Santas are an office tradition. Did you know that there is now the capability to do remote Secret Santas as well? Applications like Elfster can simplify exchanges like this, making it easy to manage, and create surprising connections. Having group goals to raise money for charity, with a matching promise from the head office for every dollar that the franchisees raise can also be a way to give thoughtfully.

5. Utilize a Wellness Challenge

Franchisors across the spectrum are embracing wellness challenges to bring people together. Typically done around the New Year, this can be a creative and motivating undertaking. This is not just something that your franchisees can be a part of, but staff and crew can be in it too. There are many ways to do wellness challenges, but here are a few examples:

  • Do a “step” contest where participants wear pedometers for a set amount of time.
  • Have a “menu” of activities that people can do to qualify, getting “points” for each one. For example, an activity can be walking up three flights of stairs, going to the gym, or having a salad for lunch.
  • Encourage walking clubs for sedentary workers. Have a “team prize” for the most dedicated group, such as gift certificates to their neighborhood athletic store.

Last Word

The holidays are full of rituals that differ by both family and tradition. But, the thing that all of them have in common is bringing people together. Creating these holiday initiatives with your franchisees can become holiday traditions before you know it!

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5 Effective Franchise Satisfaction Survey Goals

By | Franchise Engagement
Franchise Satisfaction Survey Goal

Many franchisors do have a Franchise Satisfaction Survey, but often those surveys are simply repeats of previous years and lack survey goals, with a few extra questions peppered in there for good measure. As a result, the Franchise Satisfaction initiative can be a lot of busy work, with few results. While some opt to use a professional service such as Franchise Business Review  to stay current, others are actively exploring the process, which is likely why our Franchise Surveys Done Right post holds such wide appeal, it consistently being one of the most popular posts on this website.

The first step to changing how you survey, is to have a goal. 

If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going, Any Road Will Get You There

Starting your survey process without a survey goal, is like going on a long journey without a destination. In a franchisor’s very real world of limited resources, this approach simply makes no sense. It is okay for a survey goals to be broad.  According to SurveyMonkey, “Keep these top research questions in mind—they’re too broad to give you actionable information, but they’ll give you a good idea of how people feel generally. You’ll form more specific survey questions to ask about narrower topics.”

If You Don't Know Where You Are Going, Any Road Will Take You There.

Good questions to ask during the goal-setting process are quite straighforward. Sometimes it is a case where the answer is so obvious, it is hard to see.

  • What are we trying to figure out with this exercise?
  • Why do we need to know this?
  • What do we hope to do with this data once we are done?

Getting answers to this can also help you with getting responses, since you will ask the What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) for the franchisees. Although goals differ by organization, it can be helpful to see sample goals to kickstart the process.

1. Measure franchisee satisfaction and compare it to previous years or benchmarks.

This is the franchisee satisfaction survey after all, so this is an obvious sample goal. Comparing it to previous years means that you will have to have some common questions, so you will not be starting from ground zero. Additionally, if you are part of a wider organization that owns a number of franchise groups, you may want to create some comparisons with sister or brother companies to create a benchmarking exercises and later trade best practices. There is a difference between robotically copying questions of others for no reason, and intentionally selecting specific questions for comparative purposes.

2. Establish a positive relationship with your franchisees.

When you open lines of communication in this way, it shows that you value what your franchisees have to say. Transparently showing your franchisees the results of the survey through an annual conference presentation by a senior leader, or a webinar will demonstrate to them that you have a real commitment to collaboration.

3. Receive feedback regarding the support services head office provides.

Some of the hardest working people are within the franchising community. But, sometimes we are so hard at work, that we have little time to see the impact that our work is having. Busy work is not the same as effective work. If there is a lot of effort going into something with little business value and little value to satisfaction, it may be time to discontinue it. Conversely, you may be surprised to see some more obscure initiatives creating a lot of satisfaction so it could be a good idea to explore those, and find more like them.

4. Learn more about what your franchisees want, need and like.

This goal is subtly different from the goal above as it takes a more global perspective on your franchisees. You are thinking about their entire experience, rather than only looking at the one head office provides. For example, their biggest need may be around local competition or recruiting in a hot economy. Head office could help with introductions to a franchisee who has had success already overcoming this problem, rather than creating an elaborate program.

5. Determine how flexible franchisees are and what supports they need for a planned change

A difficult reality of working in a franchise head office environment is that you cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube again. If you have rolled out something difficult and it has created frustration and even anger among franchisees, it is hard to reverse course. Understanding sentiment before-hand can help you see how flexible franchisees are to change and what supports that they need. Whether it is renovations or a new product line, sometimes change is inevitable. But rolling it out with appropriate supports, such as training and feedback loops, can make a huge difference.

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6 Tips to Keep Franchisees Motivated Throughout the Year

By | Franchise Business Plans, Franchise Engagement
franchisees motivated

Did you start your New Year’s resolution to create a franchise business plan across your system? Guess what – it is half-way through the year.

Question… how are those plans going?

While most franchisors recognize the value of franchise business plans, with competing priorities, they can be hard to stick to.

The good news is, we are not down to the wire. It is not too late. Your franchisees can still achieve their goals – but they have to start now!

So get energized and get focused on these 6 actionable ways for franchisees to stay motivated towards their goals.

1. Leverage Triumphant Franchisee Stories

In the daily grind, sometimes it is hard for franchisees to stay motivated. Hearing stories of fellow operators who pulled through a challenge and succeeded can be a fantastic way to motivate. This can be done through webinars, pictures in one of your regular eBlasts or even through internal social media.

2. Encourage a Healthy Routine

Exercise, nutrition and sleep are fantastic for mental and physical help. Exercise alone has been scientifically proven to create more confidence and a more positive demeanor. Some franchisors have taken this idea and ran with it, creating fitness contests for their franchisees, encouraging them to submit a new healthy habit to be put into a draw, for example. Everyone likes to do business with someone who is healthy and confident, so this will be positive for the system as a whole.

3. Reward Regions on Achieving Milestones

Milestones are so important when it comes to motivation. In franchising, we have the unique opportunity to reward whole regions! This could be with an appealing Marketing initiative from the Adfund that would boost business further, such as money towards exhibiting at a prestigious regional show. It could also mean a visit from the CEO, or a motivating learning opportunity. Rewarding a region will also create harmony there, which helps everyone, including your customers!

4. Encourage Personal Time

With an increasing mountain of workloads and an “always on” culture, sometimes we lose track of our franchisees and what is going on in their lives. We have discussed before on this blog about co-creating plans and keeping the personal in mind. You may want to remind franchises to have a little personal time – whether it is getting out fishing, going to the game on the weekend or practicing yoga, asking about these activities can cement relationships and help prevent franchisee-burnout.

5. Remain Positive

It can sound trite, but it has to be said. Although franchise networks can be an incredible support structure, sometimes they can also get negative. The stakes are high – getting into a negative mindset can hurt even the most successful business. It is important to listen and respond to challenges, but you also want to balance that with a bright view of the future and a clear vision of where the franchisee can go. Introducing franchisees to a group of positive friends can make a world of difference, if they are open to it.

6. Set Reminders

Part of staying motivated is having reminders on what to do. We spend so much time distracted by reminders, having ones that keep the franchisees focused on the business can “break through the clutter”. You can do this with software, with FranchiseBlast’s automatic reminder system, for example.

Last Word

Ready to learn more about franchise business planning? Check out our collection of articles here.

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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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Franchise Coaching for 5 Generations

By | Franchise Coaching, Franchise Engagement

Franchise Coaching Among 5 Generations in the WorkplaceI’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something different. When it comes to franchise coaching, different generations tend to have different strengths, communication styles and ways of receiving messages. In this blog, I will go through coaching tips from the youngest, in the iGen generation through the Millennials, Xennials and Gen X, through to the Boomers.


Years: 1995-2012
Ages: 6-23

The iGen generation is the youngest of franchise owners, and you will typically find them in family businesses, or in franchise systems that cater to young people (summer painting for example). This generation, who saw the millennials graduate to few jobs are more cautious and crave stability. They see work as constantly evolving. They are also highly collaborative, and see technology as a tool. As a result, these folks like to have a more direct relationship with their coach. I have worked with iGen franchisees where we would text each other and I became a kind of “on call” coach rather than scheduling lengthy meetings. Being available in short bursts at all hours helps this generation, who prefer to think for themselves over an authority figures, get what they need to succeed.


Years: 1980-1994
Ages: 24-38

Known as the “Me” generation, the millennials were raised to believe they were “special”, but were welcomed into a world which had few “good” jobs along with high housing and educational costs. Millennials have an aspiration for freedom and flexibility and see work as a means to an end. To motivate Millennials, it is best to connect with the meaning behind what you are saying. More than the other generations, the Millennials are seeking purpose, and connecting that to the coaching goals is key. “Shining the spotlight” and celebrating the successes of Millennials in terms of awards and announcements can go a long way based on my experience. Having a leaderboard can also motivate Millennials.


Years: 1977-1985
Ages: 32-40

The Xennials are a “micro-generation” who are a bridge between the cynicism of Generation X and the optimism of the Millennials. The category was invented because people born in this group relate neither to the Millennials nor Generation X and wanted to have a clearer identity. Xennials are a pleasure to work with since they are entrepreneurial, highly resourceful and care about purpose. When you work with them, you want to communicate the “why” behind everything. If you are patient and understanding with that, you will see extraordinary results.

Generation X

Ages: 39-53

The most resourceful generation and also the most cynical, Generation X grew up and went to school with limited internet, but quickly adjusted. This generation sees their career as a difficult challenge and crave work-life balance and flexibility. When coaching someone from Generation X, you want to level with them and be “real”. When coaching a Generation X franchisee, one phrase I have used is, “we are both on the same team, because we both want the brand to do well. That’s just the way it is.” Being down-to-earth like this helps Gen Xers feel comfortable and at ease. They tend to be loyal to a profession, not a brand, so that is good to remember.


Years: 1946-1964
Ages: 54-72

Being the wealthiest generation that history has ever seen, the boomers bought 2/3 of new cars sold in the US in 2011 and earn more than double the income of their parents. Boomers are loyal, hardworking and enjoy mentoring. They prefer training in-person rather than online, and they prefer more formal, scheduled meetings, which can be lengthy. Sales contests with enticing prizes such as luxury holidays can be motivating for boomers, who are used to corporate environments. When coaching Boomers, it is good to take a professional approach, even quoting experts when needed.

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Franchisee Involvement for Franchisee Engagement

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Franchise Engagement

Franchisee Engagement FranchiseBlastIn the first article of our series “Battle-Tested Strategies”, we are going to take a look at franchisee involvement for franchisee engagement. We are focusing in on “battle-tested” since we want to make sure that we are discussing what really matters. Instead of talking theory or ideas, we want to highlight what happens in the field, when you roll up your sleeves and do the work.

There is strong evidence in favor of involving many different stakeholders in decisions but sometimes it is tough to put into practice.

Franchisee Involvement: The Evidence

According to the Center for Human Resources Effectiveness in Berkeley, California, there are several reasons why including others in decision makers work which extend naturally to the franchise model. I am putting a list of the most relevant ones below:

  • Participation may result in better decisions. Workers often have information that higher management lacks. Furthermore, participation permits a variety of different views to be aired.
  • People are more likely to implement decisions they have made themselves.(2) They know better what is expected of them, and helping make a decision commits one to it.(3) Participation may lower the disutility of effort, by providing intrinsic motivation.
  • Participation enhances people’s sense of power and dignity, thus reducing the need to show power through fighting management and restricting production.

Although most of the research is conducted in corporate environments, this can easily be extended to franchising.

Franchisee Engagement: The Challenge

Stefania Sigurdson Forbes at Shred-it Office

In the mid-2000s, Shred-it, a document destruction franchise system with over 150 units and 1,000 trucks in North America, the UK and Europe,  was at a crossroads. They had a Flash-based website which was getting few leads. The site, though attractive,  had issues with both SEO and usability and was a source of frustration for the franchisees. As one American franchisee said:

“This website deserves to be in a history museum for websites it is so old!”

It is one of those statements that is hard to forget… these many years later. As a result, we knew that we had to make changes. But, instead of fighting or refuting the franchisees, we decided to bring them into the fold.

Another challenge, was one of those unspoken ones, yet very real. I was a younger Marketing professional at the time in my 20s where the franchisees were mostly 50+. While there wasn’t really ageism going on perse, I was aware that I was the same age as many of their children, and I had to use the power of persuasion to get them to listen. I had to “lead from behind” to quote Nelson Mandela. According to Harvard Business Review:

Leaders can encourage breakthrough ideas not by cultivating followers who can execute but building communities that can innovate.

All of this set the right conditions to innovate together.

Meeting with Franchisees

A series of structured meetings was required to get the project going:

  1. We involved a group of vocal franchisees to be part of a special committee. We selected franchisees who were both vocal and constructive so we could focus in on the shared goal of having a great site, rather than the meetings devolving into “gripe sessions”. All meetings had a goal, an agenda and notes were set out afterwards.
  2. The first meeting was about brainstorming what sections of the main website, and the franchisee microsites they wanted to see. This was a “free for all” – and I let them know it was time to be creative. After the meeting was over, I sent the group a sample website navigation diagram, along with a microsite diagram. I gave them an extra week to provide more feedback, but none of them did.
  3. At the second meeting, we got sample SEO keyword from the volunteer group. We asked how other franchisees would like to provide these to us, and they said that it was through a survey.
  4. At the third meeting, we did a design review of the microsites. We took quite a bit of feedback here on what should be modifiable by the franchisees, and what should be modifiable by the home office team.

Overall, the tone of the meetings was creative and professional. It was all about completing the thing that the franchisees wanted us to complete as a Marketing team. I knew that the more I did that, the more they would be satisfied with the co-creation project.

Working with the Experts

While the meetings were going on, I also connected with experts. After all, they invested in the adfund for marketing expertise. As a result, I had the following experts in place:

  1. SEO
  2. PPC (this was the same gentleman as above in this case, but they could be separate)
  3. Usability
  4. Design

Working with all of these moving parts was a project unto itself! However, I want to be clear that I was not taking direction from the franchisees on expert areas. I was taking direction in terms of business and local marketing needs, and looked to the experts for the marketing expertise. The franchisees in this system were very professional, and were quite understanding. For example, you will note that they had a feedback opportunity on the microsite, but not the homepage or the other main sections of the site, where direction came from the Founder and President Greg Brophy.

The Results

As a result of this project, a number of incredibly exciting things happened:

  1. Traffic on the site increased 10x, from 500 visits/day to 5,000 visits/day.
  2. We got over 150 leads/week forwarded to franchisees, up from next to none.
  3. The website won an award from the industry association, the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID).
  4. Relationships between the Marketing team and the franchisees warmed up in part because of the website.
  5. We had a huge party at the home office with a screenshot of the website on top of the cake.
  6. As a result of the success of the site, I got to work on the #1 marketing tool for the company – the truck! I was very unprepared for this task, but it was a lot of fun eventually.

Key Takeaways

This project had many lessons for m, here are just a few:

  1. Think deeply about where the franchisees can add value, and where the experts can add value. If you have clear boundaries, they will not step on each other.
  2. Find great partners who understand the dynamics and give-and-take required in franchising. The design firm for example, understood that we needed to be down-to-earth and flexible, and they were recruited to the project partly because of this open-minded attitude.
  3. The best way to overcome people’s doubt in your leadership is to help them achieve their goals.
  4. Being organized (such as having agendas for meetings and a core project plan) is key. This helps you not get “caught off guard” if things go to the side.
  5. If there is someone who is very concerned, a 1:1 conversation is best. If you sense that there is going to be a “gripe session”, it is a good idea to talk to the people that you are concerned about 1:1 before-hand, so you can get aligned and on the same team.
  6. If you are a manager, believe in your young people! My Marketing VP, Bonnie Shettler, at the time believed in me, and without her support, this project would have never happened.

Do you have a Battle-Tested Strategy?

This is just the first of our series on Battle-Tested Strategies. If you have one, please contact us.

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Franchise Success Factor – #2 Engage your franchisees

By | Franchise Engagement

As the franchise system grows, the challenge of keeping franchisees engaged and connected multiplies and should become a key priority of the franchisor to ensure a sustainable growth.  To help maintain a strong connection between the franchisees and the corporate office, the management team must foster a culture of transparency and trust, at all levels of the system.  

Now the million dollar question: As a franchisor, how do you engage your franchisees in the system and support them to succeed?

Tip 1: Set up a newsboard

Communicate, communicate, communicate!  There can never be too much communication with the franchisees to help them feel connected with the system and close the geographic gap.   From new openings, to personal news, successful franchisors constantly share information with their franchisees to keep them informed of what’s going throughout the system.

Share pertinent information on a digital newsboard your franchisees will be able to access anytime from anywhere.  Entertain your audience by adding photos and videos to your posts and reply to comments to create an engaging conversation.

Tip 2: Run a franchisee satisfaction survey

Listen, listen, listen!  Your franchisees are running the business day-to-day and they have experiences to share.  The more you listen, the more engaged and supported they will feel; and the more they will contribute back to the system.  From your field visit to your annual conference, successful franchisors create space for the franchisees to share their input.

Learn what your franchisees really think about the franchise by running a quarterly satisfaction survey.  Not only you will be able to offer a channel from your franchisees to express their thoughts, you will also be able to monitor the overall level of satisfaction of your franchisees.

Tip 3: Reward top performing franchisees

Recognize, recognize, recognize! As business owners, your franchisees will appreciate when you recognize their effort and demonstrate that you care.  The rewards do not have to be monetary, from a simple email from the CEO to the Franchise of the Year award, successful franchisors understand that rewards create loyalty and engagement towards the system.

Reward people demonstrating the right behaviour at every level within every franchise.  Leveraging your performance management system, on top of the constructive feedback mentioned in the previous tip, capture what the franchisees are doing well and find a way to reward them when they do something excellent.

FranchiseBlast Proposition

We help answer the following questions:

  • At what level are your franchisees engaged in the system?
  • Do you know what needs to be improved?
  • Do you know who your ambassadors franchisees are?

Book a demo to learn how we can help you achieve a consistent brand experience.

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