Congrats. You’ve just signed a new franchisee. Now the hard work begins. You need to train them. You need to transform them into stellar franchisees. You need to imbue them with your unique culture. But you’re only face-to-face for a few short days or weeks. After that short period, they will be on their own in their assigned territory. How do you ensure they succeed?
Alternately, maybe you’re an established franchise that is stagnating. You’ve known this for a while now but you’ve just recently decided on your strategy to improve. But how do you assist your franchisees during this endeavour when most are resistant to change and set in their own ways? Your brilliant plan will fail if not properly executed.
In both of these scenarios, the franchisees must learn new things. If you’re serious about continuous franchise improvement, it is important to note that this won’t happen overnight. This will require constant efforts over a long period of time.
We’ve worked with a number of franchises over the years and have come to be firm believers in the power of the self-assessment.
Have your franchisees help themselves via self-assessments
What are self-assessments? Simply put, they are questionnaires filled out by the franchisee and/or their store manager(s) on a recurring basis. The questions themselves vary significantly per franchise.
Some see self-assessments as a copy or subset of the field audit questionnaire that is simply filled out by the franchisee instead of the franchise business consultant. Because geography is not an issue, the franchisee can assess themselves on a frequent basis (weekly or monthly) and make sure they’re on track. Let’s call these operational self-assessments because they mainly track operational information (temperatures, order times, cleanliness, etc.).
Others see self-assessments as a way to change higher-level, longer term behaviour. They ask questions that guide the franchisee into working on the business instead of in the business. For example, “Have you reached out to a leader in your community this week?” or “Have you sponsored any charity events in the past month?”. The actual answer to the question is not important, but if you’re answering these on a weekly or monthly basis, you understand what’s expected of you if your goal is to be a stellar franchisee. If you are engaged and serious about your business, you will want to surpass your past results. The purpose of these questions is to engrain a certain mindset over time – to transform behaviour based on the company’s culture and values. Let’s call these transformative self-assessments.
In our mind, this latter definition of a self-assessment is more powerful than the former. Operational self-assessments are typically delegated to the store staff to monitor standards whereas transformative self-assessments ensure certain behaviour is top of mind and, as per their name, are truly transformative.
In the wild today, few franchises do mindset self-assessments on a formal basis – only the forward-thinking ones do. (And one of the reasons for this is no technology was available to make this easy – up until now.) Most of the one’s we’ve seen are in the mobile service industry – and we believe it’s because it’s much harder to perform operational assessments in their context. It’s harder to have a second pair of eyes review an individual job than it is to walk into a restaurant and start checking temperatures.
Furthermore, the mindset self-assessments that we’ve seen in most franchises are done much too infrequently (annually, in most cases). If a franchisee is only taking the time to reflect on the higher-level aspects of their business annually, they are gaining awareness of certain issues – but not necessarily changing how they behave.
The reason transformative self-assessments are so powerful in the context of a franchise is because the franchisor knows the behaviour that should be accomplished to improve performance. They’ve seen the top 20% of their franchisees operate this way and are trying to propagate this behaviour to the others. When properly aligned with the franchisee’s goals, transformative self-assessments work wonders because it helps them keep them in a mindset of continuous self-improvement.
A word of caution: franchisee engagement is obviously required for transformative self-assessments to work. Self-assessments thrive on the franchisee’s intrinsic desire to improve their condition. Apathetic franchisees won’t magically change their ways – that requires rebuilding the franchisee relationship from the ground up. We recommend you take a look at the writings of Greg Nathan for more information on the psychological aspects of this subject.
Leveraging technology to help change franchisee behaviour
To illustrate how technology can help, let’s firm up the ideal process. First, a library of self-assessments must be created with certain goals in mind (for a new franchisee, for an established one wanting to increase sales, for an established one wanting to prepare for becoming a multi-unit franchisee etc.).
We should reiterate that the transformative self-assessments should be aligned with their personal goals and ambitions for increased success. Franchisees wanting to spend more time with their family now that they’ve reached their location’s peak potential shouldn’t be focusing on the same elements as someone who wants (and can) significantly increase sales over the next year.
Second, a frequency must be established. For newer franchisees (first three months), weekly assessments are typically adequate. Once they graduate, maybe reducing the frequency to once a month and/or changing the self-assessment questionnaire may be desirable. Finally, for established franchisees, monthly self-assessments are also desirable.
Third: automation. This is where technology comes into play. Once configured in a software system, such as our franchisee polling app, the right self-assessments can be pushed out to the right franchisee at the right frequency in a fully automated fashion. Reminders can be sent out automatically when deadlines are missed. The franchise coaches can (and should) still review the results and assist the franchisees in their journey, but they don’t have to constantly ask for information from their franchisees.
Franchisors obviously benefit when their franchisees are more engaged and unit-level economics improves. But managing the self-assessment process in software also provides them the benefit of learning trends. For example, what tasks are their newest franchisees typically not performing? This may indicate that the newer franchisees are overwhelmed, not properly trained or don’t see the value these tasks.