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Franchising Trends

How to Become a Continuous Learning Franchise Rockstar

By | Franchise Growth, Franchising Trends
continuouse learning franchise

Do you want to be a continuous learning franchise? Doing so isn’t natural or organic – it is something to be created and can go against your instincts. Newton’s first law of motion tends to be true in franchising organization – an object that is set in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an external source.

But, if you are committed to serving your community with your franchise, whether it be through ice cream for families or staffing needs for HR professionals, continuous learning will serve you.

Henry Ford said “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether they at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Building a continuous learning organization also helps you stay competitive in this fast-changing world.

For example, mobile has come up very recently and marketing professionals know that more people now access the web through a mobile device than a traditional desktop, and young people are doing away with e-mail altogether, using just a phone number instead. Dealing with this shift takes the ability to build on what you have, while adapting it for the modern world.

What is a learning organization?

A learning culture was defined as “a set of organizational values, conventions, processes, and practices that encourage individuals—and the organization as a whole—to increase knowledge, competence, and performance” by a contributor to Oracle. When learning is a habit, workers are constantly upping their games in terms of learning, skills and performance.

The benefits are staggering. According to Pinnacle a learning organization has the following benefits:

  • Increases efficiency, productivity, and profit
  • Improves employee morale
  • Decreases turnover and boosts employee satisfaction
  • Promotes a sense of ownership and accountability
  • Helps workers adapt to change
  • Eases transitions

Einstein said “once you stop learning you start dying” – so, if you want your business to thrive, start now! How can you transform into a continuous learning franchise?

1. Develop Information Sharing Processes

At the heart of the continuous learning experience is to lean through experience. So – having information sharing processes such as the following can be very helpful:

Your organization can complement these technological tools with connections. The annual conference is of course a fantastic way for you to spotlight up and coming initiatives, along with a regular webinar program. According to INC, strategic sharing sessions take one training initiative, and spread it across the team. According to the article:

“When an employee wanted to attend a training program outside the office, they had to complete a continuous education request form. Part of this form required them to present a business case explaining how the desired training aligned to the company’s overall mission and how it would enhance the employee’s ability to do their job.
In addition, they had to agree to schedule a sharing session with the rest of the company so that the knowledge they acquired didn’t reside only with them. This allowed the information to cascade through the company, and benefit everyone.”

2. Shine the Spotlight on Learning

Learning paths developed by Human Resources are a great way to               emphasize learning. Additionally, offering formal training beyond what happens when you are onboarding franchisees is a fantastic way to keep your training fresh.

You can also share the success that works within the franchising environment. According to INC, sharing learnings on projects are fantastic:

“Each quarter, we selected a project team to present on a recently completed project. They had full creative license to present however they chose. Not only did this educate the rest of the company on our skill sets and achievements, it empowered the project managers to look for similar opportunities in their own customer environments.” 

In franchising, this could be shining the spotlight on franchisees who have added a new location, or a new service such as off-premise by allowing them to do a webinar, or creating a “step-by-step” manual on how other franchisees can follow suit. Others will be inspired to make it their own, or franchisees will get curious and try something else that will build on the profitability of their business.  

3. Recruit Franchisees Who Love to Learn

Our last recommendation is to recruit those who are curious. In franchising, you quickly learn that it is all about having those motivated and energized people as franchisees. Having those who are committed to ongoing education is even better. I have personally witnessed franchisees who were over 70-years-old still taking books worth of notes at the annual convention. If you recruit people who are committed to lifelong learning, creating a learning organization will be that much easier.

The Learning Network Effect

Committing to learning is one of those initiatives that touches everyone in your organization, and the effects can stretch to your customers and suppliers as well.  While being a continuous learning organization can go against momentum, it will create a competitive advantage that is uniquely yours.



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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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Digital Disruption in Restaurants – Franchise Growth Trend Hunter

By | Franchising Trends, Restaurants

Industry folks are talking a lot about digital disruption in restaurants these days. According to Steve DeSutter, CEO of Focus Brands, “The industry is changing […] One of the challenges I’ve put in front of my team is, if we are not innovating and remaining relevant to our loyal customer, we’re losing.”

The focus brands umbrella includes: Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli, the Schlotzky’s sandwich chain, Cinnabon, Carvel and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. And more than ever, offering customers enhanced choice and improved speed are the ways to define your restaurant franchise.

Driving this paradigm shift (and so many others) is the ubiquity of mobile phones, and their access to the marketplace. To put it in perspective, most people would rather lose their wallet than their phone — that’s how important they’ve become! Positive reviews have always been great for business but now they’re becoming essential. In fact,  33% of Google searches include starred reviews, and they’re no longer a “nice to have” — they’re a need to have.

We live in a noisy world – there are a lot of brands are clamoring for our attention. According to Steve Jobs, “Marketing is all about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about. “

The retail transformation is here. According to Forbes, “e-commerce and shopping platforms such as Amazon — where 43% of all U.S. online retail sales are coming from.” With that in mind, let’s look at three franchise brands that are managing digital disruption beautifully.

To see the first two installments of our “Franchise Growth Trend Hunter” series, go to:

Off-Premise
Sustainability

Dunkin’ Donuts

Units: 12,435

Overview: Dunkin’ Donuts has long been at the forefront of mobile marketing in response to digital disruption in restaurants. Since the beginning of the digital era, they have been capitalizing on its ability to connect with consumers. As such, the company’s DD Perks program boasts 8 million members.

They are also considering a rebrand, removing the word “Donuts” from its name to appeal to modern, health-conscious consumers. But that’s only the very beginning.

Dunkin’ is trying to make their strategy even more future-thinking, with steps that include the following two strategies according to AdAge: “Use the face recognition on the iPhone X to see whether someone looks tired and suggest a coffee delivery if so, Weisman suggested. It is exploring an integration with Outlook that could suggest ordering food and coffee when someone schedules a meeting.”

They also have a new “concept store” which allows mobile orders to go in a different line, going right to the front, accelerating the process for customers willing to dive in digitally:

Bottom Line: Embracing mobile technology holistically is a big part of connecting with today’s consumer – it does not stop at a rewards program.

McDonald’s

Units: 36,899 Restaurants Worldwide

Overview: McDonalds has kept pace with digital transformation through their partnership with UBEREats in 10,000 restaurants and their mobile app, which offers a pay option.

They call this transformation “Experience the Future”. According to Diginomica: “(2018 is) set to be a year of massive investment in new digital platforms, with most of $300 million of savings elsewhere being pumped into technology spend.”

There is also an in-store component to the initiative, for those who still like to go into the restaurants. According to the same article:

“In many of our markets we’ve scaled the Experience of the Future platform providing our customers a more seamless, personalized and enjoyment experience with digital menu boards, self-order kiosk, greater hospitality and a modernized look. They are telling us they like the new McDonald’s better. They are rewarding us with more frequent visits and they are spending more on average when they do. We deployed Experience of the Future in about one-third of the restaurants in the McDonald’s system, including nearly 3000 restaurants in the US.”

Bottom Line: Digital transformation will be on the fast food menu in many different forms. Taking a multifaceted approach helps follow the consumer’s new habits, while hanging on to the basics such as friendly service and delicious food.

Dominos

Units: 9,285

Overview: In an interesting “parting shot” as he left his role at Domino’s, outgoing CEO Patrick Doyle said that Domino’s is on the path to go from 60% to 100% digital.

Pizza has lead the way in terms of home delivery. But as others catch up, they are now needing to be even more progressive. Domino’s is doing a lot, including a digital assistant named DOM who can take phone orders, similar to Amazon’s Alexa.

Part of their innovation is to have digital “hot spots” which have no traditional address for food lovers who want pizza at the beach or in the park. There will be 200,000 locations created, maximizing access for their customer base.

According to Doyle:

“The ability to now deliver to spots without a traditional address and other rather unexpected sites will not only continue to drive incremental orders in the near term, but it is yet another meaningful step on our mission of industry-leading convenience; and the ability to order from us anywhere, anytime. This is thanks to outstanding technology helped by continued aggressive investment, sound operations, which are vital to making the Hotspots process work and proper execution participation at the store level, a nod to our terrific franchisees, managers and drivers.”

Bottom Line: Innovative franchisors can still focus on “what is next?” An investment in innovation now, can help manage the digital transformation of the future.

Conclusion: As the digital and mobile technology continue to disrupt the restaurant industry, savvy business are leveraging new technology to connect with their customers in unexplored ways.

At the forefront of this movement are major chains like Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds and Dominos, all who have shown themselves more than capable to remain at the bleeding edge of innovation.

By maintaining the old-school ideals of quality products and expedient service, these companies and those like them can increase profitability and customer satisfaction by leveraging the latest digital technology available.

How FranchiseBlast Can Help

As things continue to evolve, you want to make sure that your operations are still strong, and that your service is at a high standard. FranchiseBlast’s Auditing and Performance tools help organizations stay on track and evolve with the times.

Sustainability – Franchise Growth Trend Hunting

By | Franchise Growth, Franchise Operations, Franchising Trends

smart sustainable franchiseOne of the hottest topics right now in franchising is sustainability. Basic steps like employing reusable cups only scratch the surface of the sustainable franchise, and consumers know this – if it’s easy, then chances are, it’s not enough. According to Spoon University as quoted in the Huffington Post:

“Sustainability is all about moving in an eco-friendly direction by reducing waste, composting, recycling, and focusing on conservation. Many restaurants throughout the U.S. have been trying to become more sustainable and are now serving more organic food than ever before.”

Sustainability from the Inside Out

Although sustainability is often viewed as an idealistic vision divorced from every-day concerns, the truth is, it is an important part of every business. There is a business case for  the sustainable franchise.  The biggest reason is our increasingly interconnected world. “Fands” or “Brand Fans” will defend you if they know what you stand for. Increasingly, brand is a verb, and you want to show your customers, franchisees and franchisee teams alike what your in “for” – that you care and that you are there to help.

Here are three sustainable franchise brands who are leading the way in terms of sustainability:

Freshii

freshii sustainable franchiseUnits: 286 in 15 countries
Overview: Freshii is expanding at a rapid rate, offering healthy options to consumer. In fact, the CEO, who founded the company when he was just 24, recently wrote open letters to both McDonald’s and Subway encouraging them to convert their locations to Freshii:

According to the CBC: “Let’s explore a partnership in which we together convert select Subway stores to Freshii restaurants in a quick, low-cost way,” said the letter from Freshii founder and CEO Matthew Corrin published as a full-page newspaper ad in the Globe and Mail on Tuesday.”

When you compare the unit growth, the differences are dramatic:

“Freshii aims to have between 810 and 840 franchise locations by the end of its fiscal year 2019, according to regulatory documents filed before its initial public offering… Subway’s expansion also slowed dramatically from 2014 to 2015. Subway opened a net total of just 34 franchises in fiscal year 2015, down from 313 in 2014.”

Fresh food is more difficult to sell as a “value play” – for example, even the best-managed locations have to throw 10-20% of their food away.

According to the Globe and Mail, a recent report found that “the Millennial age cohort is willing to pay up for meals that they perceive to have higher food value and more personal relevance to them.”

Sustainable Takeaway:  Consumers are choosing healthier and more sustainable options – and are willing to pay for it.

Mixt Greens

mixt greens sustainable franchiseUnits: 11 in San Francisco and Los Angeles
Overview: Mixt Greens focuses on sustainability as part of the DNA of their brand. The restaurant ensures that they source the best ingredients, ensuring that they are GMO-free.

“We know what we eat impacts the earth as much as ourselves, so sustainability is at the core of everything we touch, make and do— even if it negatively impacts our bottom line. We’re not just dedicated to being “green,” we’re passionate about protecting the natural systems that sustain us— a philosophy we hope is shared with our customers.”

On their website, they claim to have the following under “the mixt movement”:

mixt greens metrics

Sustainable Takeaway: Taking a holistic approach to sustainability creates “fands” in a very meaningful way – with the average customer eating at Mixt Greens 21 times/month.

Red Rooster

red rooster sustainable franchiseUnits: 360 across Australia
Overview: According to Franchise Business, Red Rooster has been serving roast chicken since 1972. However, today they do so with a twist: “Their chickens are fresh, not frozen, and are free from artificial colours, flavours, hormones, and MSG. The cooking process is simple too; just a sprinkle of seasoning and then into the oven to be roasted.”

Sustainable Takeaway: Even established brands can reposition food to be more sustainable. Franchisors have to invest in everything from computers, to office supplies to client dinners to help the bottom line. The consumer appeal of disposability isn’t what it used to be – now sustainability strengthens your brand.

Conclusion

jack morton brand experience

According to Experiential Marketing Agency Jack Morton Worldwide, “Brand is a Verb”. They say “Marketers must change the route of their brand experience by moving the brand’s actions ahead of its messages.”

To drive value for customers, showing, and not just talking about sustainability is a solid start.

How FranchiseBlast Can Help

With any change, you need the systems to support it. FranchiseBlast’s Auditing tools help brands stay on track with simpler workflow, reminders and even required photos when there is a violation (such as not-locally-sourced food). These tools help strengthen your brand, and make it more consistent. Let us know if you would like to chat further!

Want to see another restaurant trend? Check out our post on off-premise.



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Off-Premise Opportunities – Franchise Growth Trend Hunting

By | Franchising Trends

One of the biggest trends in restaurants today is the explosive growth in off-premise sales. According to Industry Trends and Data Expert, Darren Tristano:

“Everyone knows it’s no longer a question of whether to go off-premise — the question for restaurants is how to navigate the shift,” says Dardick. “With the global foodservice industry facing unprecedented change, the entire off-premise operating model is shifting under our feet. Restaurant and foodservice operators need to understand sizing and growth trends. Right now the opportunities are huge, and the stakes are high.”

The franchising community, which is slower to change at times, is looking to serve customers who are looking for more convenience. While not supplanting the drive-through, for many brands off-premise is the growth driver. In fact, some find the growth so fast, that they are struggling to keep up with demand. According to Restaurant Business Online:

“Tools such as DoorDash, UberEats, Caviar, Amazon and Yelp’s Eat24 allow visitors to review menus from a variety of restaurants, place an order and schedule delivery. Restaurants using these services enjoy a bump in orders that they can often absorb, and the apps expose them to potential new customers. The delivery services charge a commission on orders and a fee for delivery.”

While this can create many questions in a franchisors’ mind from consistent brand experience across markets to the potential for royalty avoidance, the opportunity for off-premise is vast.

Off-Premise Demographic

Off-premise dining is most popular among 18-34-year olds. This is a combination of iGen, at the younger side of the spectrum and millenials at the older end. According to QSR Magazine:

“Millennial families are now commonly dual-income—often with the female as the primary breadwinner—and convenience is more important than ever. But millennials also value diversity, healthy choices, and denser urban living. There has been a significant increase in interracial couples, an increase in multi-racial neighborhoods, and an increase in the consumption of ethnic food (aka international cuisine). Organic food sales have grown more than 10x in a generation, with millennials being the most likely age group to seek out organic foods.

“And it is difficult, if not impossible, to build a new drive thru in a dense urban environment.  As millennials come of age, convenience is redefined for the preferences and tastes of a new generation. The ultimate convenience—delivery—brings more options, healthier choices, and speed even in places where drive thrus cannot go.”

These digital natives value ordering online, and are all about experiences over possessions. Interestingly, the convenience of delivery helps these customers experience what is most important to them: family and friends according to QSR.

“After a long day at work with toddlers demanding attention, the ideas of going out or cooking are not that appealing. Having food show up as ordered through the same interface one uses to get toothpaste is. More, if these 20-somethings are in the middle of an experience with their friends or kids, they aren’t going to stop that experience to go get food. They want the food to come to them.”

Let’s explore how major franchisors and franchise aggregators are navigating this change.

YUM Brands

Units: 45,000
Overview: In a very bold move into off-premise, Yum! brands including KFC and Pizza Hut has entered into a partnership with leading delivery service, GrubHub offering up the “best of both worlds”. In exchange, Yum! gets $200M worth of Common stock from GrubHub, among other benefits. Many Yum! brand restaurants were already offering off-premise sales, and Yum! wants to roll it  out across the the system. In the joint press release posted on GrubHub, they say:

“We are committed to making our iconic brands easier to access through online ordering for pickup and delivery, and aggressively pursuing delivery as a strategic global growth opportunity, with nearly half of our 45,000 restaurants already offering it today,” said Greg Creed, Chief Executive Officer, Yum! Brands, Inc.

“We’re pleased to secure this partnership with Grubhub in order to drive incremental, profitable growth for our U.S. franchisees over the long term. Our partnership and strategic investment in Grubhub demonstrate our laser-like focus on two of our growth drivers: Distinctive, Relevant & Easy Brands and Unmatched Franchise Operating Capability.”

As part of the strategy, operators will have to make other changes, such as changing the batter that they fry with so it handles the humidity developed through car travel. CEO of GrubHub, Stan Chia  says that the service was originally developed for independent restaurant locations.

In a recent article in Food in Demand News, he said:

“Chains that have multiple restaurants in close proximity can send the order to the restaurant that can accommodate it the quickest. “If you have three restaurants close to each other, does it really matter which store it goes to?” he asked. (With a franchise that could be a little more tricky than independents, since the same owner may not have all three restaurants.)”

All of these will be challenges to overcome over time.

Message Delivered:  Rather than building, buying the service on a corporate level helps maintain brand consistency rather than franchisees “going rogue” and working with local providers.

Panera Bread

Units: 2,017
Overview: Soups and sandwiches are going mobile… According to Restaurant Business Online,

“Panera Bread recently announced a commitment to adding more than 10,000 jobs, many of them for delivery drivers, as it expands delivery to 35-40% of its locations by the end of 2017, up from 15% of stores. The company is rolling out a new order tracking system that allows customers to track an order’s progress on a map and get a notification when the driver is arriving. The company decided to hire in-house drivers to maintain control.

The company believed keeping the delivery service internal was key to their delivery success.

“For us, hiring our own drivers was the only way we could ensure that our delivery guests get the same high-quality experience they have come to expect from our bakery cafés,” says Blaine Hurst, president.”

Message Delivered: As delivery becomes a bigger part of the brand experience, the delivery person becomes the only human touchpoint. Panera is betting big that this will make a difference.

Denny’s

Units: 1,724
Overview: Restaurant brands dream of one day being as iconic as Denny’s. But sometimes, creating change in the franchise environment is slower than that of corporate – and that is true for Denny’s when it comes to off-premise sales. According to Restaurant News:

“Denny’s CEO John Miller said company units fared better due to multiple partnerships with third-party delivery providers, which are driving incremental sales during late-night hours and among 18- to 34-year-olds… For the first quarter ended March 28, the Spartanburg, S.C.-based family-dining chain reported a 1.5-percent uptick in U.S. systemwide same-store sales. Results were dragged down by a 1.2-percent increase in same-store sales at franchised restaurants in the U.S. By comparison, same-store sales increased 3.2 percent at company locations.

“We think this is a tailwind for the brand,” Miller said during a Tuesday conference call with investors.”

Off-premise sales are a driver of growth, as the amount of in-restaurant diners diminishes.

“In March, off-premise sales accounted for 9.8 percent of total sales, an increase from 8.7 percent in December. Delivery sales drove the increase… Miller said franchised units, which represent a majority of Denny’s locations, are slower to adapt to delivery.”

Message Delivered: Being open to delivery partnerships, rather than closed, can help franchisees capture the 18-34-year-old market. While change typically happens at a slower rate in the franchising, watching and adapting to this change is important for growth perception. With its longstanding roots in the communities that they serve, surely Denny’s franchisees will continue to adapt and succeed.

What is the Future of Off-Premise?

The demand and technology driving delivery have also sparked growth in operations called “ghost” kitchens that skip the brick-and-mortar dining room altogether and simply prepare foods for delivery. Models similar to this have been proposed to supplement franchise operations where demand outstrips supply during specific day-parts. “Ghost kitchens” could also offer future franchisor opportunities to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

How FranchiseBlast Can Help

If you are exploring off-premise opportunities for your franchise, be sure that your customers get the same experience across locations with our brand consistency tools. Also – although we don’t want to focus too much on the negative, our tools also help prevent franchise fraud, which can take place among a small minority when any change takes place. Reach out to us to learn more.



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Did you miss this when launching online ordering or a loyalty app?

By | Franchising Trends

Shop opening hoursThe franchise world is undergoing a transition due to technology, especially in the restaurant space. Online ordering and catering are becoming substantial revenue streams for restaurant chains, sometimes accounting for upwards of 20% of gross revenue.

Franchises who have traditionally never delivered are still benefiting from this trend as newly founded delivery companies (some of them franchise themselves!) can pick-up the orders and deliver them to consumers.

Furthermore, the market is heating up with loyalty apps offering various benefits to end consumers with the goal of driving up average check sizes or visit frequency. The loyalty app usually becomes a way for the franchise to send notifications to existing customers to lure them in for another visit. Restaurant chains in general, franchise or not, are investing massively in these systems to cement their market leadership positions.

What do all these things have in common? One simple thing: store opening hours. Your website needs to list your opening hours. Google Maps needs to list them too. That online ordering app really needs it, otherwise you’d receive orders while you are closed. The loyalty app shouldn’t push a notification out to increase visits on Sunday mornings if you’re closed.

Each franchise location operates under unique constraints, even if the brand promise is the same. If your restaurant mainly serves government workers lunch during week days, it may make sense to have shorter opening hours on weekends. If you’re right next to a popular university’s tavern, it makes more sense to be open late. In the summer, when there are fewer students, it might make sense to open later and close earlier. A savvy business operator is aware of their environment and choose operating hours which should be staffed accordingly. Remember; labour costs are one of the two biggest controllable costs in a restaurant.

The problem in a restaurant franchise is that each business is owned and operated by different people who, unless specified in the franchise agreement, choose their own business hours. And because these can change frequently, it becomes very easy for the franchisor to lose track of the up to date operating hours. The franchisor is the one managing the relationship with all of these different technology systems (online ordering, loyalty, etc.) and they are stuck with a stale data set! Because of this, customers sometimes have issues and become dissatisfied with the brand. Updating your opening hours is a huge cost as you need to pay franchise coaches (or interns) to call up each and every store to ask about their opening hours.

FranchiseBlast recently released an app that solves this problem. FranchiseBlast has always stored the franchise’s opening hours in our Info Depot, our centralized information repository. However, franchisees sometimes forgot to keep them updated.

To resolve this issue, some franchise systems are utilizing our new Franchisee Polling App.

Step 1) They create a questionnaire in FranchiseBlast which includes questions about opening hours but also a few other general questions about the business.

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Step 2) They setup a poll in our system to shoot out this questionnaire to all franchisees on a recurring basis. This is normally done monthly but can be any frequency, such as quarterly or weekly.

 

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Step 3) Our system automatically shoots off the survey to the franchisees and their store managers by email. No logins and no passwords are required!

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Step 4) The franchisee fills out the poll and submits it to headquarters.

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Step 5) If a franchisee ignores a poll, the system will automatically keep asking for the information. The poll’s configuration allows you to build a customized escalation schedule (e.g. give them a week to answer; then ask daily until they submit it.)

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Step 6) The franchisor can monitor the status of the poll (80% of the results collected, etc.) and export these results into a format that can be easily shared with all associated stakeholders (loyalty app company, online ordering app company, etc.)

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If you’re interested in testing out our Franchisee Polling App to help you collect and maintain store opening hours, please request a demo!

 



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Modern franchises focus on unit-level profitability

By | Franchise Operations, Franchising Trends

Are you profitable? We’ve been building franchise management software for almost a decade. We’ve worked with hundreds of franchise systems and have noticed a trend: best-in-class franchisors are putting more emphasis on continuous franchise improvement. By this we mean working hand-in-hand with their franchisees to improve their unit-level economics; not only their top level sales but also their bottom line. If you’re not doing this today, you will have trouble selling franchises in the future.

Common business knowledge tells us that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Thus, franchisors need access to data to help their franchisees continuously improve. What data? Sales, cost of goods sold, labour, customer satisfaction scores, field audit scores, number of proposal sent out last month, territory information, etc. The basic premise to continuous franchise improvement is that you can take a snapshot of these key performance metrics in one unit and compare them to not only past results but also the franchise average (or any comparable segment of stores within the franchise). These comparisons give you tremendous insights into the nitty-gritty of your business, allowing you to iteratively address your weaknesses and continuously improve.

Although ingrained in the culture of newer franchise systems, many established franchise systems have never shared much data from the franchisee to the franchisor. “I charge royalties on sales, not profits”, they’ll claim. “The franchisor and the franchisee are distinct businesses”, they’ll argue. “If I get too involved, new and upcoming legislation will negatively impact us”, they’ll fear.

There’s a grain of truth in these elements, but the fact is that all these statements are ways to put your head in the sand, continue with the status quo and miss the profound change that is under way in the franchise world. Indeed, we’ve seen many concrete examples of franchises that have continuous franchise improvement at heart that are seeing tremendous year-over-year growth and are greatly surpassing the competition in their category.

Today, franchisors who work to improve individual unit-level profitability do more than what is expected of them. They also reap the benefits of their hard work as their system outperforms others and their franchisees are more engaged. In turn, this helps them sell more franchise units – a perfect example of a virtuous cycle. After a few years of small improvements which compound to have dramatic impacts, it will become obvious to prospective franchisees which franchise is the best fit for them.



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Top 5 Reasons To Perform Field Audits

By | Field Audits, Franchising Trends

FranchiseBlast Franchise Field Audits App Field audits are when the franchisor sends auditors (franchise business coaches) to each individual location to evaluate it according to a predefined questionnaire. Read more about field audits here.

1. Field audits give you information you can only receive while on site

There is a limit to the knowledge which can be obtained about a store’s operations without actually visiting the location. Indeed, there are many things you simply cannot learn/notice without being onsite to notice them. Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, a pair of experienced eyes in the field is worth hundreds of phone calls.

2. Field audits are one of the core pillars of continuous performance improvement

Field audits complement financial information (benchmarking) and customer satisfaction results (surveys, kiosks, mystery shoppers) nicely. One cannot paint a complete picture of an individual location without looking at its operations holistically. Read more here.

3. Field audits improve unit-level economics

Experienced field consultants are dig into the store’s high-level financial information and can easily correlate the audit results with historical financial performance. Their analysis helps them plan adequate business strategies to improve unit-level economics.

4. Field audits improve engagement

The goal of field audits is not to find flaws and reprimand the store manager or employees. Indeed, field audits are standardized evaluations which help a field consultant review all critical aspects of a store’s operations. Once the weaker aspects are determined and communicated to the store manager, the consultant works hand-in-hand with the store manager to propose the strategies for resolution. This helps improve accountability but also engages the manager in a constructive manner. Problems are more likely to be solved.

5. Field audits improve compliance

Field audits are a great way to ensure consistency across all locations – as every store aims to respect the same criteria. Without continuous monitoring, each individual location is bound to stray from the established best practices. It is simply human nature to find the easiest way to achieve the same results; but the easiest way is often deceptive. Continuous improvement requires proactive effort and constant course-correcting which are driven, amongst other things, by field audits.



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