Being able to execute on the franchise’s promise to customers is the critical life blood of the franchise. The goal of the franchise business consulting team is to support operations by ensuring the system outperforms and executes better than its competition. According to FranConnect’s Operations Survey, 55% of franchisors believe their franchisees are only executing equal to or worse than their competition. The reason? The Franchise Business Consultant’s (FBC) has one of the most difficult jobs in the system as they are responsible for:
- Driving franchisee performance
- Driving franchisee satisfaction
- Ensuring franchisee compliance
- Creating engagement & alignment
And yet, 62% of franchise organizations do not have a dedicated training program for their field support staff, according to FranConnect’s Operations Survey. In addition, respondents indicate that 32% of FBC’s are only able to make field visitations once per quarter, and 45% only visit once per year (or beyond). When asked if it’s enough to positively impact a franchisee’s performance, 41% said no. In short, the Franchise Business Consultant has one of the most difficult jobs in the system!
“So how’s that working for you” is a question often asked of franchisors by President and Chief Customer Advocate of FranConnect, Keith Gerson. Clearly, not so well.
To that end, the FranConnect Sky Field Ops module was created to enable a FBC to emulate the best practices of top franchise support performers and execute at the highest level while ensuring that there is consistency and documentation that the franchisor is meeting and exceeding its support requirements. It further enables the FBC team by extracting actionable data from FBC assessments and evaluations to manage franchisee compliance and drive performance more effectively. Following a visitation or self-assessment by a franchisee, any shortfall in meeting brand or performance standards will send out regular automated trigger response to follow-up and ensure that action has been taken. It identifies trends and creates programs to address areas of non-compliance. The program seeks to reduce costs and increase engagement through franchisee self-evaluations. Finally, the program benchmarks and correlates key performance indicators across applications such as franchise information management, all centralized and kept in the franchisees' online records including communications history, documentation, QA history, etc. The benefit of FranConnect Sky Field Ops is that, combined with the franchisor’s other best practices, operational performance will increase and drive unit sales.
Finding business management solutions customized to the franchise industry is something FranConnect has been perfecting since 2000, but creating this module was quite the undertaking. Nothing like it existed, and FranConnect had to first research the problem and capture best-practices from its 600+ franchise brands that are clients in great detail and take painstaking steps to map out a comprehensive solution. One of their most recent enhancements is their mobile-first solution to enable FBC’s and franchisees to complete franchise visitations on their smart-phones and tablets (on and offline).
The history of how the FranConnect Sky Field Ops came about started with requests from franchisors and through a series of comprehensive needs assessment surveys. As a best practice in thought leadership, the company asked its franchisor clients how operations were being handled in the field and what operational issues need attention. Beyond its one on one assessments, the company further gained insights through survey’s such as the most recent survey, which was completed in 2016. FranConnect will be readying its latest operations survey to initiate in the 4th quarter, 2017.
In its most recent survey, FranConnect asked the following questions and received the following answers:
- Q: What is your ratio of Support Consultants to Franchisees? A: 71% <30:1; 23% 31-99:1; 6% >100:1
- Q: What is the frequency of visits you have directly to your franchisees? A: 39% semi-annually/annually; 32% quarterly; 23% monthly; 6% never.
- Q: What is the frequency of any type of contact you have with franchisees not including visits? A: 50% weekly or bi-weekly; 46% monthly; 4% daily
- Q: Is this communication and visit frequency enough to positively impact franchisee performance? A: 59% yes; 41% no
- Q: How do you rate your franchisees ability to execute as compared to their local competitors? A: 7% much better; 38% better; 41% equal to; 14% worse
- Q: What systems do you have in place to see if franchisees do what they need to do? A: 71% of franchisors did not have a system for monitoring franchise performance.
- Q: How many franchisees report to each field operations staff member you have? A: 71% said 1:30; 23% said 1:50; 6% said 1:100
- Q: What is currently your biggest challenge in helping your franchisees to improve their performance? A: We don’t get enough time with our franchisees: (see all of the above) Ineffective system for following up on assessment findings: (see all of the above); A lack of business and/or marketing plans: 20%; All of the above: 60%; Other: 20%
- Q: Do you have a formal training program for your Franchise Business Consultants & Field Staff? A: Yes – 38%; No – 60%; Unknown – 2%
- Q: How much training do your Operations Consultants get in behavioral management & coaching for improving performance? A: None – 48%; 1-2 days – 38%; 3-5 days – none; Over 5 days – 14%
- Q: What are immediate issues you face daily that you have to improve on over time? A: Increasing costs, franchisee success, deciding if field visits are effective and necessary, figuring out who is doing what and when, and turnover and litigation
Gerson went on to say “Overall, the survey establishes that franchising has a systemic challenge across the board. It’s clear that most franchisors lack the time and resources for ensuring that franchisees are executing on all cylinders. Nothing will change without effective systems and processes to follow as well as a lack of business plans from the franchisors to solve this problem."
“Based on the answers to these questions and the one on one assessments with franchise operations leaders, FranConnect went to work on evolving a system that addresses these problems one by one,” he added.
The company’s goal was to reduce franchisor operational costs, improve franchisee performance, create more effective field visits, reduce the need for physical visits, increase the quality of visual visits and help to reduce turnover and litigation.
“The backstory is that franchisors had a problem with planning, organizing and carrying out visits and franchisee contact in general. They did some inspections, visiting and phone calls, but they did not have a system in place to ensure that the franchisees would be taking positive steps in closing the gap between their present-state and their desired future state,” added Gerson. "Additionally, insights that were captured were being siloed in Excel Spreadsheets and lacked the level of accessibility and reporting that was necessary to address issues."
This all contributed to the general needs and concerns related to franchisee continuous improvements, and the operational support team have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. They are responsible for franchisee support, but they don’t have a proper support system to provide franchisees the support they in turn needed. They also lack the tools or a proper reporting mechanism to provide feedback to the franchisee’s or to uplevel insights to drive systemic changes. Hence, frustration for the support team.
After years of research and development, the company was able to start rolling out its FranConnect Sky Field Ops application, a real evolution from its earlier systems. The module is now one of the most popular tools in the company’s franchise management software system. Like all of its fifteen (15) modules, the company states that prior to the year 2000 there was no technology built specifically for franchisors to effectively manage their business through the entire franchise lifecycle.
FranConnect created FranConnect Sky Field Ops to transform franchisee performance and to create a system to manage the system of field support monitoring around the franchisee’s compliance. Since the goal of the field operations team is to ensure that every franchise unit is successful, the Sky Field Ops application helps manage the conversation between the franchisor and franchisee in a positive way that fosters openness or collaboration and ultimately a resolution to barriers to success. Without the fact-based assessments and resultant data, it’s a delicate balance that the field operations support staff has to carry out.
Part of the problem is that franchisors focus more time on developing the technical skills required to run the brand’s business within its franchise field support personnel, and less on where and how to foster that openness and collaboration the franchisor wants to see between the field-support team and the franchisees. The system provides them with a means for standardizing processes, measuring key performance indicators, managing the field visit process and reporting and memorization of documentation for operational success. In short, it provides technical data to coach from for a field team chosen for their technical strength, and it also provides clear guidance for franchisees to make their unit successful.
Overall, the module helps the operations team to focus on its top business drivers, which translates into the support team’s top-activities. It also helps the field-support team from feeling overwhelmed. By going through a process to identify the KPIs, the system helps focus efforts on which activities the field team needs to prioritize and provides a dashboard that helps the support and executive teams to monitor data like franchisee sales, training status, infractions, compliance heat maps, etc. It also helps communicate successes to the operations team.
“Where the franchise support team struggles with the lack of time, resources and an effective system to follow to help franchisees, the FranConnect Sky Field Ops module can enable the field team to support operations better,” concluded Gerson. “By using a system with clearly defined indicators to communicate between the FBC’s and franchisees, communication is improved. The module gives operators the ability to look at critical measurements and how franchisees are performing throughout the system. Overall, it improves and makes the coaching process more effective. The support team wins, operations win, the franchisees win which makes the franchisor win!”
FranConnect currently represents more than 600 franchise brands and 110,000 franchisees.
For more information or a demonstration of FranConnect’s Field Ops Module, click here. To contact Keith Gerson or to learn more about the other highly-regarded members of FranConnect’s executive team, click here.