As franchise owners, you know that franchisee engagement can have a material impact on the bottom line. A study of 300 brands from Franchise Business Review and InGage Consulting found that engaged franchisees are 3.7 times more profitable than non-engaged franchisees.

Yet driving franchisee engagement is historically challenging for most organizations. In order to overcome those barriers, it’s imperative that franchisors understand how to initiate, manage, and improve a franchisee engagement program.

Our recent Playbook on High Impact Franchisee Engagement walks franchisors through the steps in detail, from performance management to ongoing collaborations. Yet perhaps the most misunderstood pillar of franchisee engagement is a program of ongoing monitoring, including periodic site visits, audits, and other check-ins.

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Nearly all franchise businesses conduct some level of field visits, but these visits can easily miss the mark. They are not always popular with the franchisees, many of whom view them as punitive as opposed to supportive. And the process of executing and following up is often inefficient and not transparent.

In this instance, the right franchising technology solution can help. Look for one that makes it easy to document requirements, manage checklists, and schedule on-site and virtual visits. Then make sure that it tracks and catalogs the output and findings from the visits.

For instance, Neighborly Brands uses capabilities of FranConnect’s Operations platform to make their visit process scalable and efficient. Their approach centers on a systematic need-based prioritization of visits and planned activities. This serves as the backbone of their field visit process and is used across their various brands on a consistent basis.

Meanwhile, compliance monitoring and infraction reporting can reduce risk and identify areas or locations that need support. But it needs considerable investment in management attention to make it successful.

Some of the best-performing franchises have used technology to completely eliminate paperwork and modernize the process. The right platform can support an efficient closed-loop process from identification to detection and then corrective action. Mobile capabilities for input, tracking and exception reporting can reduce the time lag and improve compliance in the process.

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The best franchisors are able to use audits not just to minimize risk but to drive performance, tailoring questions around issues which support growth and strategic goals. Orange Theory Fitness, for example, uses FranConnect to perform on-site audits and franchisee self-assessments as a key part of their performance playbook, helping to make Orange Theory one of the fast growing and most successful fitness brands over the past three years.

Finally, self-assessments are a useful tool to understand and meet brand guidelines and expectations. Smart self- assessments, combined with tailored coaching, provide an efficient and effective way for franchisees to continuously improve their operations, leading to better performance across the collective brand system. In the face of a pandemic, with travel restrictions, self-assessments become even more critical as they replace many in-person events.

Self-assessments provide valuable insights and context for Field Business Consultants needed to make each visit as productive as possible for the franchisees. Brands that can quickly identify patterns and trends and take corrective actions have outperformed their competition.