How Pivoting Your Franchise Operations will Create Success

By | Events, Franchise Operations
Pivoting Franchise Operations

Date: Thursday, June 18 at 3:00 PM ET
Guest: Rachel Shemuel, Field Trainer, Panago Pizza
Link: Register Now

Succeeding in this new environment is possible, but it requires a different approach. Everyone needs to shift their mindset, and pivot operations. There are several dynamic examples across the franchising community, and now is the time for us to come together and learn from each other.

  • Franchisors are pivoting to act more as coaches, instead of cops and increasing the number of touchpoints with franchisees.
  • Franchisees are leveraging procedures and tools to make sure to keep everyone safe.

Join Rachel Shemuel, Field Trainer at Panago Pizza, Dean Hatzitheodosiou, Sr. Director of Business Development at FranchiseBlast and other special guests to learn about how to use data effectively to navigate the new environment, and how communication is your best ally.

We also explore Virtual Visits and how this can be leveraged in an era of travel restrictions or the potential of second or third waves of the pandemic.

This will be a laid-back, video webinar with an opportunity for questions at the end. Register now.



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Proactive Vs. Reactive: The Franchise Support Spectrum

By | Franchise Business Plans, Franchise Coaching
proactive and reactive

Franchise business plans accelerate performance so more and more brands are encouraging people to use them.  This is something that we all strive for, but first, let’s take a step back and talk about franchise support from the big picture.

In a franchise environment, the Franchise Business Consultant (FBC) is the bridge between the franchisor and the franchisee.  They have the toughest job in franchising, having to balance emotions with pure numbers, compliance with coaching, and more.

If you think of their interactions with the franchisees on a spectrum from reactive to proactive, the franchise business plan is the most proactive element of their job.

Most Reactive to Most Proactive

The following list outlines the most reactive to the most proactive activities that can happen in the course of supporting your franchisees.

proactive reactive spectrum

Acting as a front-line employee

FBCs are often team players, and when they see a unit that is busy or otherwise needs help they just jump in and help, such as making sandwiches with the hourly staff. This sends a down-to-earth helpful signal, after all ‘no one is too tall to pick up the luggage.’

The downside of this approach is that it is highly reactive. The FBC is not utilizing their skillset, and not offering their true value to the unit.

Responding to problems

Getting calls, emails, and texts about problems can be a big part of the FBC role. While it provides excellent support, it does little to better the circumstance of franchisees. A business is like a project, and if you are not helping franchisees move forward, they will start moving backward.

Performing field audits to ensure compliance

Compliance-oriented audits are a core part of the FBC’s role. Walking around and finding problems to fix is important for a range of reasons, from health and safety to brand consistency. At the same time, this is reacting to what is not happening, and ultimately it is looking to past behavior, rather than on future actions.

Training staff and franchisee on compliance

Training staff on compliance and brand consistency, which is the baseline is something that is focused on future behavior. This activity is definitely moving towards proactivity and we know that it is the hundreds of little things that make support outstanding.  At the same time, training on the minutia of operations doesn’t give the franchisee the opportunity to look at the forest for the trees, like environmental or competitive changes, for example, which could be of great importance to their survival.

Reviewing the scorecard and coaching to improve performance

Taking a step back and reviewing KPIs, strengths, weaknesses, and coaching to bridge the gaps is one of the most proactive things that you can do as a franchise coach. On a scorecard, there will be leading indicators and lagging indicators, and a combination of both will help your franchisees.

Business planning

Putting a process in place to define the right goals and execute towards them is future-focused, so it tops our list of proactive franchise support activities. Business planning is working on the business, instead of in the business.

Balancing Act

FBCs, like the rest of us in business, can get”too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet.” Although the role will likely never be 100% proactive, balancing proactive and reactive activities is a great first step.



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Franchise Operations: Are You Ready for Virtual Visits?

By | Self-Assessments, Virtual Visits

The global pandemic has affected franchise operations heavily. How does a franchisor pivot into a new world where travel restrictions limit or even prohibit onsite visits? The answer is the virtual visit.

Franchisors have long sent Franchise Business Consultants (FBCs) to visit their franchisees, both to ensure operational compliance and also to coach. The FBC would have a conversation with the franchisee and talk about their priorities and how the franchisor can help achieve their goals. The most common output of these visits is a field audit report indicating a few areas of improvement.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the key to operating is to shift focus from compliance to coaching. The good news is that franchising has been moving in this direction for the past few years.

In this article, we highlight the three stages of this transition and how you can implement them in your franchise.

As a coach, the simplest way you can execute a virtual visit is to set up a scheduled call with your franchisee on one of the many communications platforms available such as Zoom, Google Meet, Apple Facetime or Microsoft Teams. Then, you can see both the location (for compliance) and the franchisee (for coaching).

Seeing the location gives you the opportunity to review certain elements remotely. You could theoretically go through your previous compliance checklist this way, but this would be counter-productive. Reviewing every single standard from your long compliance checklists is not only demotivating for the franchisee, it’s also ineffective as the visit is announced. Instead, gaining visibility in a few key elements which were historically problematic (and a few spot checks outside of those areas) would drive better conversations while saving time.

For compliance, the key is to introduce self-assessments they can fill out on their own. Compliance is about protecting everyone’s investment: it should not be neglected. Request picture proof from franchisees on a few critical standards and make this a part of the work you request from them. You can equip franchisees (and their store managers) with the right tools to give you enough insights about their operations. At FranchiseBlast, we include tools to improve the accountability of this process via polling or self-assessments.

For coaching, seeing the person lets you have a deeper connection with the individual, which is required to build enough trust to impact their performance. In your coaching session, you should ask them questions like:

  • What’s keeping you up at night?
  • What areas would you like to improve?
  • How can I help you achieve your goals?

In the conversation related to the last question, you can talk about initiatives they could be doing to achieve their goals.

One challenge VPs of Operations will face is that they will have little to no visibility about the coaching sessions. Sure, they could be recorded and stored, but that’s hardly actionable and they have no way to keep the coaches accountable.

The solution is to request that FBCs document these interactions. This opens the opportunity to use the same tools previously used for audits, but with a new questionnaire tailored for these coaching interactions. Questions should guide the FBCs in touching the key areas of the business you’d expect them to talk about such as the following:

  • marketing
  • food costs
  • labor
  • training

For each area, a few notes can be taken about the current situation, the objectives for the next quarter and what initiatives will be put in place to reach those goals. Because all their interactions with their franchisees, the VP of Operations can gain holistic insights about how the franchisor is helping each franchisee.

To sum up, virtual visits can be achieved very simply with communication tools and recorded with a mix of audits, self-assessments and franchisee polls. Franchisors gain visibility into unit-level operations plus introduce some accountability for the coaches by forcing them to document their interactions.

The process then becomes:

  1. Franchisees and FBCs connect on a recurring basis with visual communication tools
  2. Franchisees fill out self-assessments for compliance
  3. FBCs document their interactions, with the most important one being the coaching session

Stage 2: Moving to data-driven coaching sessions

The process described in Stage 1 is the beginning of the shift from compliance to coaching. It is very simple and easy to implement in any franchise. However, its simplicity does potentially add some inconsistencies across coaches.  The conversations and plans the franchisee is making with their coach are heavily impacted by their gut feelings and the data that they gathered was ad-hoc in nature.

It is in this stage that franchisors invest in putting processes and technologies in place to generate a Franchisee Scorecard. Scorecards aggregate information from various sources (Sales, Marketing, Loyalty, Controllable Expenses, Audits, etc.) into a single document which is reviewed by both the franchisee and their coach. The great thing about a scorecard is that it benchmarks each unit with the group, highlighting the areas of opportunity.

Most FBCs already look at data with the franchisees, but a scorecard streamlines the process to make their work simpler. It also standardizes which metrics are observed by all coaches, and for which specific action plans can be developed. As an example, one may observe sales are fairly average, but the average transaction amount is lower than everyone else, indicating an opportunity to coach on upselling.

Once the franchisor puts in place the processes to ensure the scorecard is always accessible and updated in a timely manner, the collaborative process looks like this:

  1. Franchisee fills out a self-assessment indicating what they’d like to discuss in their next coaching call. This lets them voice their concerns ahead of time, and the FBC can be prepare adequately.
  2. On the coaching call, the scorecard is the conversation piece. If a weakness is observed in one area, such as Customer Satisfaction, both can drill down into specific online reviews to learn more about the area of opportunity.
  3. The action plan is developed and recorded by the FBC for accountability purposes, much like in Stage 1.

Stage 3: Rolling Out More Formalized Business Planning

Once franchisors are comfortable in Stage 2, they seek a way to more actively drive change. Stage 2 helps document the action plans, but these are simply snapshots of a conversation. There rarely is any direct follow-up on these plans between interactions.  This is where business planning comes into play.

A business plan is a living document that gets continuously updated through a period, such as a quarter or a year. It includes the objectives that were collaboratively defined; these are motivational targets. For example, they could be to reach a level of performance so strong that the franchisee is ready to open a second unit or decrease variable costs so that the franchisee can afford to pay for their kids’ college education.

Objectives are broken down into key results which are measurable. Key results are metrics that you can measure but you cannot directly control. For example, a key result could be to increase the average transaction size to $15.00. Another could be ensuring labor costs are less than 25% of sales.  By defining a set of specific metrics, the success or failure to meet the objective becomes clear.

Finally, once your targets have been defined you can develop an action plan to reach those targets: these are initiatives. These are activities or tasks that you know you can perform for example:

  • roll-out touchless payments
  • build a cashflow model
  • train staff on upselling procedures
  • hiring a new manager

These initiatives represent your best guess about what you can actually do to reach your objectives.

franchisee comeback plans 3

Building the plan collaboratively with the franchisee is key in this context, as they must agree with the objectives, believe the plan is achievable and align with how to measure success. Of course, franchisors can and should bring a standard plan to the table and tweak it to fit each franchisee, but it’s key that the franchisee buy into the plan. It should focus on what is most important, helping elevate their thinking from working in the business to working on the business.

The next step is to perform recurring check-ins on the plan. By doing so, you can knock off initiatives which are completed and perhaps add new ones if the key results aren’t moving in the right direction. Check-ins are important to keep the plan alive and to highlight what’s important instead of always focusing on the day-to-day emergencies.

Once the franchisor has as standard business plan template aligned with their own strategic objectives, the process thus becomes:

  • Franchisees fill out a self-assessment indicating their desired conversation topics
  • A coaching session occurs where the business plan is developed collaboratively
    • Some key results may come directly from the scorecard
    • Some initiatives may be to get staff to fill out self-assessments on a recurring basis
  • Recurring (such as monthly) check-ins occur (likely collaboratively, but perhaps franchisee-driven)
  • At the end of the period, a post-mortem is created to review the progress made and build the next plan.

The Virtual Visit Ladder: What Heights Do You Want to Achieve?

As you can see, each stage here builds on the successes of its predecessor.

  • Stage 1 augments the toolkit to include self-assessments in addition to classic audits.
  • Stage 2 weaves in data-driven insights via franchisee scorecards.
  • Stage 3 moves from snapshots to a full-blown business planning to drive growth.

To get started with virtual visits, it’s time to move away from doing pure audits. Your first task is to begin documenting all types of interactions you’re having with franchisees. Then, you can slowly roll-out self-assessments in order to equip your franchisees with tools to improve themselves.



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Virtual Visits in Franchising

By | Video, Virtual Visits
Virtual Visits in Franchising

FranchiseBlast works with over 100 franchisors, and many are facing the same dilemma:

  • Franchise Business Coaches (FBCs) Can no longer travel due to governmental restrictions.
  • Fewer FBCs to support the network overall.

Virtual visits have been helping franchisors meet this challenge. In this post, we will go through some options for the virtual visit, and how it can benefit your franchise system.

Rethinking the Field Audit

FranchiseBlast is known as a tool for field audits across the franchising community.  With this app, coaches go through the compliance checklist that you’ve developed.  With this powerful system in place, one thing you can do is identify what your system-wide weaknesses are.

You can also discover activities that are a weakness across the system, such as “suggesting promo items”, for example. As a result, you will coach your network more effectively as a whole and train them on upselling skills to address the global weakness.

In the new environment, these compliance checklists may not apply as directly.  As a result, franchisors are creating questionnaires that are coaching-driven and are easily executed remotely. For example, franchisors can have a check to see if franchisees have completed a specific training or are following through on a specific marketing campaigns.  With this kind of audit, the coaches do not need to be in the field and, if applicable, franchisees can upload relevant pictures.

Franchisee-Driven Actions

For compliance specifically, franchisors are training franchisees on self-assessments – which is a way for a franchisee to audit themselves. If the franchisee uploads pictures, such as signage around physical distancing, franchisors can easily browse photos all at once to save time using the picture feed feature.

The challenge with self-assessments, is that they are passive in nature in that the franchisor is waiting on individual units to launch an audit. Conversely, with polling, you can say:

“Have this questionnaire filled out by everybody.”

The system then pushes out the survey. The franchisees and crew don’t need to be logged into the platform to fill it out and you can track who’s filled it out and who has not.

Data-Based Decisions

The information above helps with the compliance aspect of the FBC’s work but there is an ongoing trend towards coaching. All coaches know that you need to inspect what you expect. The franchisee scorecard, helps franchisees make data-driven decisions.  You can measure elements such as:

  • Sales
  • Percentage of online orders,
  • NPS scores
  • Google Reviews
  • Labor costs
  • Food costs

Franchisors define these indicators and can develop leaderboards, and coach franchisees where they are struggling.  By looking at this dashboard of the holistic view of the health of that unit, you can develop an action plan.

Adapting to the New Operating Environment

To pivot to the new operating environment, some franchisors are creating business plans. Imagine that you want to define a plan with the franchisees to adjust, including the goal:

“You need to keep your labor costs under 20%”.

Together, you define relevant initiatives at the start of the quarter, or start of the year. On your future calls, or on those virtual visits, go in and perform a check-in. This brings back up that plan to say:

“Okay, we need to pivot to the new operating environment.  Here are the things we said you would do, did you implement the new workflows?”

This is a straightforward example, but it an be as simple or sophisticated as you want it to be.

Conclusion

So overall, FranchiseBlast has a suite of tools that help with both compliance and coaching while performing the virtual visit.  The FranchiseBlast team is happy to discuss the best set of modules for you and your unique environment.



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Objectives and Key Results (OKR) in Franchising

By | Franchise Business Plans
OKRs in Franchising Intro

Forward-thinking franchisors are now embracing Objectives and Key Results or OKR .The framework was originally developed by Andy Grove at Intel and has been used by organizations such as Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While the framework has documentation in the form of videos, bestselling books, and worksheets, the three main concepts will help you through their use, for the purpose of Business Plans.

Objectives and Key Results Key Terms

Objective (O)

The Objective is your goal which aligns everyone in simple terms.

Example: Grow business with sales and marketing.

Key Results (KR)

Key Results is how you measure success, which you cannot control 100%.

Example: Add 250 new customers to our loyalty mailing list.

Initiatives (I)

Initiatives are activities trying to achieve objectives, which you can control 100%.

Example: Perform three marketing campaigns on Social Media.

How to Use OKRs in Franchising

The birthplace of OKRs was in the technology sector. Today, OKRs are used across different industries and business models. Franchising has some unique elements to it that matter when it comes to business planning.

  • Shared Risk: An advantage of the franchise model is shared risk – since the franchisee signs the lease and commits to various contracts. This shared responsibility matters when thinking of many aspects of the business, from profitability to marketing expenses.
  • Motivation: No one is more motivated than a person who has invested their money into the business. But, when engaging in planning activities, you want to remember that the person standing before you is not an employee, they are a business owner. With that, including some set objectives from a franchisor level of reasonable. At the same time, franchisees who set some of their own Objectives, Key Results or Initiatives will ultimately be more engaged.
  • New Markets: Franchising allows brands to expand to new markets, where customs and tastes are not necessarily understood by the franchisor. So when setting OKRs with your Master Franchise, or franchises in markets that have significant differences from your own, you may want to keep those in mind in terms of what to keep consistent, and what to change.

At the heart of these considerations is to include collaboration when building your plans.  OKRs are also loved for their transparency, which will further accountability and engagement.

Getting Started with OKRs

Setting OKRs together with your Franchise Advisory Committee (FAC) and other key stakeholders from the franchisor level is key. Some choose to have an OKR workshop including collaborative documents if online, and whiteboards if off. At the end of the session, you want to have agreement on what you want achieved by the beginning of the following year.

How to Set Objectives

When sitting down to write objectives, the first question you want to have in mind is “what challenge am I trying to solve?” John Doerr, who famously implemented OKR at Google, and wrote the authoritative book on the subject, Measure What Matters, had the following formula:

I will (Objective) as measured by (this set of Key Results).

Objectives should be aligned, high-impact and time-bound. They don’t necessarily need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Results-Oriented and Timely). In fact, they can be more of a big picture. If you think of yourself steering a boat, the Objective is the place where you are aiming to go.

How to Set Key Results Aligned with Objectives

Creating key results can be tough to untangle from initiatives. A simple rule of thumb is to think “how can I measure it”. For example, if your objective is to Create an Extraordinary Customer Experience, then your key results could include: Receive a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 30 for the Year.

Notice that this is not telling you the “how” it is telling you how you will measure it. Similarly, a Marketing objectives may be measured by conversions, but it does not get into specifics around “how”.  Key results should be high impact, specific and within influence.

How to Set Initiatives Aligned with Objectives

Initiatives are in the form of tasks or projects. For the NPS objective above, for example, you can have the tasks that will make your customers happier. Related to that Objective, you could have a new Customer Service training to improve that experience.

An example of a Marketing initiative is a Facebook Campaign. Initiatives are just a “best guess” or a “hypothesis” on what may deliver the highest impact because a veteran marketer knows that a campaign will not always get the results that you are looking for, since ultimately the control lies with the prospect (and tastes can be fickle).  Initiatives should be specific and within control.

Reviews

Franchise-Wide planning for OKRs usually happens annually. On the location-level, frachisors can choose Annual Objectives or Quarterly Objectives. Finding the right rhythm depends on how quickly your target market changes or if your business deals with more uncertainty than most.

If you are new to the process, setting an Annual rhythm can be a good start. Either way, engaging in monthly or quarterly reviews of goals with franchisees is helpful.

Tracking

Having OKRs in a central location is key to the process as is tracking them every step of the way. This way, you can see a history of check-ins, and understand what was discussed in previous meetings. FranchiseBlast’s Business Plan application is a fantastic tool to further this goal. Click here to learn more about Business Plans in FranchiseBlast.



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Franchise Business Planning and Strategy

By | Franchise Business Plans, Thought Leadership
Business Planning and Strategy

We hear the words “strategy” and “planning” together all of the time. But, the truth in many franchise organizations is that the franchise business planning process, on the franchisee level, stands on its own, rather than being part of a larger whole. But having a plan isolated in its own silo will not help the company since business planning is part of a larger ecosystem. You can see elements of that system in the graphic below.

business planning and strategy

Vision

A vision statement is a declaration of where the company wants to go and is intended to be a guide for the company’s decision-making. Vision statements tend not to shift much over the life of the business. They are the “where” of strategic planning. According to the Corporate Finance Institute, Vision Statements should have the following characteristics:

  • Forward-looking
  • Motivating and inspirational
  • Reflective of a company’s culture and core values
  • Aimed at bringing benefits and improvements to the organization in the future
  • Defines a company’s reason for existence and where it is heading

The Vision Statement should then be connected to the objectives set in the franchise business planning process. Objectives will change from quarter to quarter and year to year, but the Vision will be consistent.

Core Values

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of the organization. They are the “why” of strategic planning. Today 80% of Fortune 100 companies publicly display their public values, and many franchisors do the same. They adorn front entrances, HR materials and presentations given to franchise candidates.

If core values are properly defined, it will foster a certain culture across the organization as people with the same values will:

  • Follow the same rules
  • Establish the same norms
  • Develop mutual respect
  • Have similar tolerances

Linking core values to franchise business planning is an excellent tool for motivation, since the hardest part about strategic planning is not necessarily figuring out what to do, it is how to align your franchisees and home office team around it.

Strategic Initiatives

Franchise business planning is clear way to put strategic initiatives into motion. For example, if you are transitioning to do more business off-premise, there could objectives from the following perspectives:

  • Marketing to let local customers know of this option, online and in the community
  • Training to help store staff learn new process around delivery
  • New packaging to help food stay crispy during delivery
  • Tours of facilities via video instead of face-to-face

Planning on the franchisee level helps you be a more consistent organization as you encounter changes.

Collaboration and Relationships

Sitting down on a quarterly or monthly basis, can be one of the most valuable activities that you provide to your franchisees. Creating two-way communication, where you are talking about their goals, especially when some of those are created together is powerful. If you reach the goals, you did it together. If you don’t, you will have some insight together.

Of course, collaboration does not happen unless there is some humility and a genuine desire to connect. But if it is there, it will pay back many times over for the franchisor.

Focused Communication

A problem in many franchise systems is an over-communication from home office. When there is too many e-mails, webinars and trainings, franchisees can become ‘numb’ and stop listening. Setting up a proper business plan reminds franchisors to keep focused on a few important things, and not burden franchisees with more.

Last Word

Before completing this exploration of Franchise Business Planning, there is one more idea. Paradoxically, sometimes processes can get in the way of what you want to do. For example, getting every single marketing piece approved can create a bottleneck, if the Marketing team is not appropriately staffed. Business Planning can also create problems, such as the following:

  • Trying to reach goals, when an unforeseen event has occurred, like a Natural Disaster or a Pandemic.
  • Sticking to old goals when there has been a disruptive innovation in the marketplace, such technology facilitating off-premise.
  • High sales expectations, that go unmet, can lead to overspending on staff or inventory

None of the above is intended as an argument to eliminate planning, they are things to keep in mind as throughout the process. In general, the business plan is part of a unique ecosystem in the franchise model. It sits within that ecosystem and is influences by its shifting nature.



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Why is Franchise Business Planning so Important Today?

By | Franchise Business Plans

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And, never has that statement been more true. As the global landscape shifts rapidly, franchise leaders need to set a clear path in times of uncertainty. According to Harvard Business Review, “entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs”. As a franchisor, you want to be sure to lead that planning effort.

Industry veterans know that working hard alone is not going to put your franchisees ahead of the competition. There are many, both on the local level and nationally, who put forward a strong effort. But working on the right things will ensure that your franchisees have the best chance at success. In short, it is about working smart.

Additionally, a flexible process where the Franchise Business Consultant (FBC) and the franchisee co-creates the plan, and checks in at regular intervals, can help you have the discussions that you need to have, and make adjustments when needed. To distill the value down of what a franchisor offers a franchisee, it is a combination of:

  • Brand, as a noun and verb
  • Processes and support of them

If you are not planning, there are a few important questions. What processes are you supporting? Are you supporting ones that will actually foster growth, efficiency, and risk mitigation or is this a rudderless ship? A trip with no direction, could mean that no matter how talented or hard-working people are, they will not achieve results.

In a franchise context, planning can create a sense of unity and collaboration. For the benefit of the brand as a whole, it means that franchisees will make similar changes at once, enhancing consistency. From a collaboration standpoint, there is a flow between the franchisees, who see what is happening in the field, and the franchisor, who has more strategic expertise. This flow can create some exciting collaborative experiences that get results.

As we navigate this time of change together, it is important to put our best foot forward. To create value for the franchisees and help grow your system while keeping the pillars of brand consistency and collaboration strong, providing a plan which is worked on collaborative is one of the best resources that you can provide.



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Which Tool is Right for your Franchisee Comeback Plan?

By | Franchise Audits, Franchise Coaching

Much of the franchising world went on lockdown in the Spring of 2020. As franchisors set their sights on reopening the economy, we received a few requests on which of our modules (field audits, self-assessments, polls, projects, business plans, etc.) are the best to use for their scenarios in the new world.

Overview

Coach Interactions

If the coaches are driving a short interaction, call, audit or review with a franchisee, you should use a field audit. This is the baseline tool for coach-driven scenarios.

The exception is if you want to record an interaction and keep it confidential – meaning you do not want the franchisee to see it. In that case, you would use a comment in the info depot or on the franchisee’s record within your system. 

Franchisee Interactions

If the franchisee is the one who is initiating the interaction, then the baseline is a self-assessment – an audit where the franchisee is empowered to fill it out themselves.

Conversely, if the interaction is critically important and the franchisor needs to have visibility into the result for risk mitigation or other legal purposes, and you will be requiring all units to fill it out, you should launch the a poll. This adds accountability that everyone fills it out. It is especially helpful if there is an expectation to fill it out on a recurring basis.

Mixed Interactions

If you are doing an interaction that involves many stakeholders over a process that takes several months with a guaranteed outcome (such as a grand reopening), you should be doing a Project that creates tasks for accountability.

If the coach is defining a strategy collaboratively with the franchisee, and you can setup a process to review how they are doing versus this strategy over several months, you should use a Business Plan.

Sample Mini Case Studies

Protective Gear Installation

Problem: We want to make sure franchisees have installed new plexiglass and signage for reopening procedures. We are 100% sure that the franchisees can follow through with this.

Solution: A self-assessment if franchisees are self-starters and a poll if accountability is a top concern.

Operational Changes

Problem: I want to make sure franchisees are ready to follow the new operational procedures for online ordering and delivery.

Solution: A self-assessment if franchisees are self-starters and a poll if accountability is a top concern.

Remodelling to Support Online Ordering and Pick-up

Problem: Each unit will need to be remodelled to support online ordering.
Solutions: Self-assessment if your goal is check the completion of it. It could also be a Project if it is a lengthy complex process involving many teams.

Business Continuity

Problem: I want to make sure my franchisees survive the crisis. As a way to support them, we’ll be talking on a monthly basis.
Solution: If you just want to record the interactions and take the pulse of the franchisee, use a Field Audit. If you are willing to get more involved and formal, Business Plans are appropriate. The latter is a living document that is evolved as you progress through the various initiatives defined in the plan.

Last Word

Supporting franchisors and franchisees with different scenarios around opening in each system, and across region requires agility and flexibility. If this post has been supportive to your efforts, feel free to post on Social Media.



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Webinar: Franchising Toolkit to Win

By | Events

Date: Friday, May 8th, 2020 at 11:00 AM.
Registration: Get Your Seat Now

Join host Sally Facinelli, CFE, and other franchise experts to discuss the toolkit needed for businesses to re-engage their franchisees, employees, and customers.

Topics include:

  • Brand image and messaging
  • Marketing toolkit
  • PR and how to support franchisees in their local market
  • Loyalty programs: keeping loyal customers loyal
  • Plan for your franchisee come back objectives

Confirmed Speakers:

  • HotDish Advertising – Dawn Kane
  • 919 Marketing – Graham Chapman, CFE
  • Fishman PR – Sherri Fishman, CFE
  • POLN8 – Tom Epstein, CFE
  • FranchiseBlast – Jason Kealey, CFE

Register for the webinar here



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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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