Inspect What You Expect: Achieving Quality Control and Brand Consistency

“The Founder” is a 2016 movie based on Ray Kroc and McDonald’s origin story, which won critical acclaim for Michael Keaton. In one important scene, Kroc (played by Keaton) visits a franchise location only to find that the operator has introduced fried chicken on the menu to compete with KFC. This flies directly in the face of the menu standardization he hoped to enforce across the McDonald’s system. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend that you do.

This scene is pivotal as it demonstrates the issues and challenges in achieving brand consistency. As a true visionary, Kroc wanted more than to sell burgers and fries. He aimed to deliver the same quality burgers and fries no matter where McDonald’s was located. And isn’t this the true goal of all franchises? To have uniform consistency from location to location? This was the key to what ultimately led to McDonald’s franchise dominance.

The crux of this article is that this uniformity becomes the cornerstone of all successful franchise brands, along with learning how to achieve it.

Inspect What You Expect

This mantra and approach go beyond establishing expectations and having a mechanism in place for verifying that expectations are being met across your entire system. So, how do you ensure that this principle is embedded in your operations?

Establish Clear-Cut Expectations

Do your franchisees clearly understand what you expect of them through regularly ongoing communications? These can best be conveyed through town hall meetings, newsletters, and updates to your franchise operations manual. However, based on FranConnect, franchisee visitations aren’t frequent enough to create sustainable changes.

Enter the Playbook

The playbook is a comprehensive document that outlines an organization’s key strategies, processes, and practices. It’s a “living, breathing document that serves as a roadmap for operating a business. It helps to ensure consistency and efficiency and to align with a brand’s goals and values. Your playbook can be used to ensure adherence to your vision and vision statements, core values, roles, and responsibilities. However, the most utilized facet of franchising tends to be around the business’s operational processes. It is a step-by-step guide to daily operations and routine activities critical to the business.

Systematic Audits

We have found that the trend has shifted to where more and more Franchisors are augmenting their franchise visitations by having their franchisees conduct their self-appraisals on the present state of their businesses. This translates into a regular cadence and approach that combines unexpected and announced visitations in combination with franchisees “keeping score” with their utilization of franchise playbooks such as those deployed within FranConnect. Your audits should inspect strict adherence to your standards, customer service protocols, and operational requirements. You can readily conduct these assessments on your own accord, through your franchisees, and with services offered by companies, including RizePoint, a leading provider of quality management systems for multi-location businesses.

Utilize Checklists

Playbooks are critical to guiding your Franchise Business Consultants to assess each component of the operator’s execution and compliance with your standards. Well-defined checklists or playbooks deliver on your “inspect what you expect” program and can take average performers. With the help of your most accomplished Franchise Business Consultant, top Franchisees can be used to share their insights through your published playbooks. You’ll quickly see how this can transform your rank-and-file franchisees into exceptional operators.

Your Digital Tools of the Trade

Using technology tools and platforms that can aid you in monitoring your operational metrics, including your sales performance leading indicators, customer feedback through NPS, or other customer experience tools, can make good performers great performers. Your compliance checklists will provide you with the ability to provide on-time interventions when your standards aren’t being met.

The Power of Data-Driven Insights

Franchisors often find themselves with limited access to the systemic insights that exist within their organization based on data being kept in operational silos. This can gravely impact your franchise team’s effectiveness and the utility of playbooks. While playbooks are a standard operations framework, your data-driven insights allow your franchise operators to craft strategies that impact local market conditions. Imagine the power of sales data and customer feedback and how they could help franchisees adjust everything from your quality standards marketing to customer service and execution.

Performance benchmarking is one of the greatest benefits of aggregating data into a format that allows franchisors and franchisees to benchmark performance across different locations. By allowing your technology to analyze data on sales, product quality, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiency, you can make informed decisions that can greatly enhance system-wide performance.

Continuous Improvement

With the average span of control of one Franchise Business Consultant to every thirty Franchisees, our research and pulse surveys show that the frequency of visits to franchise locations is too infrequent to bring lasting change. In having a technology-enhanced solution such as FranConnect’s automated operational playbooks, some triggers go to the Franchisee, Franchise Business Consultant, and others within the organization to allow for follow-up and a drive for continuous improvement. This can also help you continually update the playbooks to convey the most effective strategies and processes for the location and system.

Conclusion

Franchise Business Consultants equipped with data-driven insights can provide the most effective advice to franchisees, who can use those insights to address the individual challenges at each location and optimize their operations based on objective evidence. Additionally, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an ever-increasing trend toward franchisees completing unscored self-appraisals using playbooks.

For those taking the best practices approach to leveraging the skill set of your top performers and expanding that knowledge through playbooks, you will have the advantage of taking average performers and turning them into your best performers.

And breaking down silos and taking a data-driven approach will help transform operations and strategic planning and allow you to evolve your system into a model of brand consistency.

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