How to get the most from a franchise field visit

Sarah Stowe

Are you adding value to your business by the leadership you offer franchisees or are you merely just ticking off another box, another item, on a seemingly endless to do list?

Franchise systems have traditionally invested in an operational field team. The operational field team creates a relationship with management, aligning the goals and values of the system and in doing so, increasing the growth of the franchise via increased sales.

Franchise visits, compliance checks, ad hoc training, informal mentoring and business coaching sessions are the usual services delivered by the operational field team. Their primary purpose has always been compliance: is the signage right, are the service steps of excellence in place, is the merchandise well positioned, are approved products being used, is the PoS end of day being administered and documented…and the list goes on.  

Stop! Of course there is a place and value for making sure that compliance with the brand is achieved and maintained but it is not what should dominate each visit, phone call or email communication. Imagine waking up to this type of relationship each day in your personal life, would you find it rewarding and fulfilling?

In a time of information overload, we have so many resources available that we just don’t know which we should be using or how to use them and we have become exceptionally time poor.

We are constantly receiving communication and information from all directions and it is expected, from ourselves and others, that we should reply to every text message, email or phone call instantly.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Plan your franchisee support

Set a 12 month plan. As an ambassador of the brand you are required to support the franchisee in certain tasks; operational business goals, local engagement plan, people productivity rosters, people development plans, financial and operational goals, etc. This will include completing alignment reviews in all operational disciplines of the business – what we call the ‘must do’s’. Beyond this is the coaching of the franchisee support function – setting stretch targets with the franchisee, engaging the franchisee to think outside the square, empowering them to network in local business communities, supporting their own talent development. This is the area of the greatest influence, this where you make a difference.

Would these activities change the way your operations field team worked and potentially increase productivity across the board?

Start by asking your franchisee what training they need, what they want to get better at, how they will gain greater insight into these areas and how they will adopt these changes and then measure the performance of themselves and their key team members.

Communicate with your franchisee, set a meeting time and ask them what they want to cover in their face-to-face session with you. What’s on their mind, what keeps them awake at night and what keeps them away from the things they love doing and actually listen to what they say.

There is an old saying: “Don’t ask the question unless you are prepared to accept the answer”. So are you prepared to listen to what is being said and take action?

When you set a meeting time you also need to set a meeting place. Have the meeting away from the place of work perhaps in a new environment that is buzzing with energy and will inspire greatness. Be mindful though that not all people will feel comfortable in places that are really buzzing so make sure that you choose somewhere that the franchisee will feel at ease.

5 steps to getting the most from your field visit

Some points to consider when preparing for a coaching visit with the franchisee:

  1. Do your homework. Get to know who the person behind the franchise is; what makes them tick, what are their goals, what’s their purpose?
  2. Performance of the franchise: how is it tracking, is it connected with the local community? Is the location in the precinct vibrant? Is there opportunity to grow?
  3. Prepare the franchisee so there are no surprises; ask them what they want to talk about, what burden do they want to unload, what is a new skill they want to learn or is there a new way to enhance themselves, their team and their business? Share the agenda with the franchisee well in advance.
  4. Ask the franchisee if they want any time spent with their key manager or team leader? Are you able to assist in sharing information or upskilling their team?
  5. Be ready to share new tools, the marketing plan, the new product, use it as an opportunity to communicate and promote what’s happening in the system.