How to Implement an Effective Franchise Field Operations Tool

One of the biggest pain points for franchisors and their field operations teams is preparing for effective interactions with franchise owners and their employees. Yet 57% of franchisors lack a system to monitor and control field execution and performance.

Without a tool to manage field activities, it becomes burdensome to the franchisor and franchisee to communicate and resolve compliance issues. With one, trends become apparent. Safety and training can be improved. Ultimately, the relationship between the two parties can be strengthened through transparency, communication, and collaboration.

As part of FranConnect’s webinar series on field operations, Shawnon Bellah, COO of Crest Foods, shares her insights in How Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip Implemented an Effective Field Operations Tool. Crest Foods is the parent company of Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip, which has over 160 locations across the United States, Canada, and the Middle East.

As Bellah shares in the webinar, Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip was trying to find an effective franchise field operations tool for tracking and communications, rather than continuing to rely on Word documents and Excel sheets. They lacked a way to follow up and properly document how their individual cafes were performing, and isolated documents and spreadsheets just weren’t cutting it.

When Bellah joined Crest Foods in 2008, the company was using FranConnect, and at that time, she believed that FranConnect’s primary use was for lead generation. In 2011, the company decided to leave FranConnect and created its own intranet to provide a resource for franchisors to access and track information. However, Bellah and her colleagues soon realized that their intranet was not performing as they needed – data and insights could not be shared with their franchise partners, and software was not their organization’s core competency. They needed a software partner, and in 2012, went back to FranConnect.

What attracted them back to FranConnect was FranConnect Sky Field Ops (formerly PerformanceWise), a new tool that provided a single resource to access important information on individual cafes, evaluate their performance, and assess all accumulated data. However, despite FranConnect’s product improvements, Crest Foods saw a low adoption rate amongst their franchise partners.

Bellah and her team incorrectly believed that simply turning on a new system would solve their problems. As a result, they were not getting the results they wanted. Bellah herself did not know the system, so she was not able to understand and explain the benefits to field consultants and individual owners. Bellah decided it was time to dive in and become FranConnect’s champion within her organization.

FranConnect Sky Field Ops is the "system to manage your system."

Bellah’s team has seen great improvements in adoption rates, and as a result, they are able to spend more time in the field rather than on administrative tasks. She shares three key lessons learned when introducing a new field ops tool, so that you, too, can bolster adoption rates and go from good to great:

  1.  A field operations tool can quickly get ahead of youMake sure that you are committed to the platform you are using and lead by example. Bellah spends approximately 1.5 hours each day in their system. She reviews what tasks are outstanding, which visits have been completed, and how she can help guide her director of operations. As a team, they are all dialed in and can see their actions in their operations tool.
  2. Commit the time and prioritize setting up the toolIf your team sees that you are invested in the system, they will do the same. Take the time to create consistency in your team and ensure there is transparency in the process. For example, Bellah and her team collaborate with their franchise partners and build their checklists together. This way, their franchise partners can understand why an operations tool benefits them and the brand.
  3. Practice discipline

    You have to use your franchise field operations tool, talk about it in meetings, and share your experiences in conversations with your franchise partners. Your team needs to understand why you – and they – are using it.  Why do you need to complete the self-assessment? Why do you need to track your emails? What does this operations tool do for the franchisee and the brand?

Bottom line, the greatest lesson we can all learn from Bellah is that if we want to introduce something new, each of us has to be the champion of that new system or new tool. Otherwise, it’s a hard sell to get our franchise partners on board. Be sure to listen to the full webinar to gain more insight.

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