The Secret to a More Efficient Franchise Network

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    Written by Sara Lewis

    Franchise networks face a number of unique challenges primarily related to the distributed nature of franchise operations. This makes it harder to: 

    1. Demonstrate leadership
    2. Track and understand KPIs
    3. Communicate strategy 
    4. Retain coherence across the network 

    Ultimately, all of these challenges damage business efficiency, and make it harder to drive efficiency improvements. The upheaval of 2020 has forced businesses of all kinds to rethink their processes, and improving efficiency is likely a critical component of a more sustainable 2021.    

    Here, we will make the case that the secret to more efficient franchise networks is improved communication and visibility over critical business data. The right business intelligence tool can deliver this outcome, and help you focus on the right actions to deliver positive results. 

    Full disclosure: We built our own business intelligence tool, Loop, specifically to tackle the challenges faced by franchise operations. Although the processes described here can be done manually, or with another tool, we are going to explore different ways that Loop creates efficiencies in order to help you grasp how the right tool can help. 

    With that out of the way, let’s get started!

    Step 1: Create access to your data

    Having access to data is particularly challenging right now, with remote working being a major trend and physical travelling becoming less practical. However, it’s always been a challenge in the franchise context. The distributed nature of franchise operations creates challenges of distance, and compatibility issues. 

    Fundamentally, without a single source of truth, franchisees end up making decisions based on obsolete data or fail to share new practices and solutions with other franchisees. Getting central access to data from across the entire network is critical to making the right decisions and focusing on the right KPIs and determining what actions will improve results. This starts with digitising all of your data, but you also need to centralise access and analyse trends. 

    How Loop can help:

    Loop serves as that central hub through which all of your business’s data can be centrally accessed. You can:

    • Digitise paper documents to make them easily accessible across the entire network.
    • Integrate data from multiple existing systems. 
    • Create multiple permission levels to fit the needs of users.
    • Ensure all franchisees work with the same data to deliver a more consistent customer experience.

    Loop also automates the process of capturing and updating data, which saves time and minimises the risk of errors. This creates a far more efficient system from the start — in addition to providing you with the context needed to search out more opportunities to drive efficiency. 

    For brands struggling to get started, we also provide managed services to get you off the ground. That means actively helping digitise records and build a database that is suited to your needs. The outcome is automation and simple data access — eliminating the previous manual workload and providing transparency on the performance of locations, as well as the support they need.

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    Step 2: Align data with your business goals

    On its own, data isn’t that helpful. It’s only when analysed and contextualised does data start to reveal actions worth taking. Critical to parsing meaningful data from noise is having a clear understanding of your business goals. However, this is an iterative process. Remember, data can help you identify business goals, and business intelligence can help you interpret data. 

    Again, the right intelligence or analytics tool will help. If you spend all of your time analysing data, you won’t ever have the time needed to take actions and deliver real results. You need a strategic tool that handles analytics for you so you can understand data, interpret it in the right way, and determine the right course of action.  

    How Loop can help:

    Loop helps you make sense of your data with its data visualisation, dashboards, and balanced scorecard features. It takes your data and quickly analyses it to point you in the right direction. With clear and accurate metrics, you will be able to fix inefficiencies within your network and seize new opportunities in the market.

    At the heart of our system, we’ve adopted a three tiered approach to information.  

    1. Data: basic units of information
    2. Analytics: patterns and trends that emerge from data
    3. Insights: the contextualised interpretation of analytics that guides decision making

    Now, while insights can provide a better understanding of things like the efficiency of your franchise’s internal processes or customer behaviour, they aren’t enough. You need to go further and extract “actionable insights”. Actionable insights close the gap between analysis and outcomes. They reveal what you need to do to reach your strategic goals.

    Everything about Loop is focused on insights that you can actually use, helping you contextualise data analysis and use it to create real efficiencies. Loop also includes a survey feature that helps you better understand the processes and priorities of the people within your business (as well as across the franchise) and use that information to further contextualise KPI targeting and so on. This tool is particularly useful for franchises, again, because of the challenge with distance and collecting all information using manual methods.

    Suggested Further Reading: If you want to learn more about setting KPIs to create useful data tracking, check out our blog – How to Set KPIs and Track Actions

    Step 3: Ensure effective communication and benchmarking 

    Let’s say you have identified issues that hinder business performance and devised an action plan to solve them. Now you need a way to communicate actions — what needs to be done, why, and how. You also need to measure results — who is going to do it, where, when, and how. This is critical to turning actions into outcomes, and effective communication is one of the big challenges franchises often have to face.

    A reliable communication tool can help you not just with action planning, but benchmarking as well. By measuring the performance of franchisees, you can identify underperformers in your franchise network and take action to have them meet your network’s standards before they start affecting your brand image and bottom line.

    How Loop can help:

    The difficulty of communicating analysis was one of the central problems that we built Loop to resolve. We did this with the Action Planning feature. Specifically, you can:

    • Create actions against KPIs
    • Communicate actions
    • Assign actions to team members and set reminders
    • Set deadlines and follow up
    • Track progress and impact
    • Share the results with others
    • Close actions

    But that’s not all. We also built a Visit Management tool specifically for franchises to simplify site visits by field teams that are reviewing the quality of different franchise locations — and integrate that data directly into your central BI platform. You can create standardised agenda templates and publish them centrally via a role-drive approval process. You can also create actions, add notes on what was agreed, and distribute surveys. Particularly when linked to all of this other data, this is a valuable additional way to track the success of goals.

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    Simplicity is central to success

    If there is anything 2020 taught businesses it’s the need to be prepared for change. Efficiency helps you be prepared for uncertainty. It also brings a number of competitive advantages within a stable market. Fundamentally, the secret to a more efficient franchise network lies in the three steps we explained in this article:

    1. Create centralised access to your data
    2. Align data with your business goals through the extraction of actionable insights
    3. Facilitate communication and benchmarking

    But that isn’t enough. Realistically, all of these steps are about simplifying your processes — simplifying access to information, the analysis of that information, and the communication of actions. The less time you spend reviewing spreadsheets and entering data, the more time you can spend actually improving processes. 

    Automation tools and business intelligence will enable you to focus on taking actions that actually drive efficiency and reach your business goals. We built Loop to do just that. If you want to learn more, get in touch or try the demo today

    Data doesn't define you, action does

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