It takes a lot of work to build out the right franchise support team, especially for young franchise systems. It’s a challenge of personnel, cash and capabilities. But before putting the right people in the right seats on that proverbial bus, franchisors need to design a roadmap. 

That’s according to Lynette McKee, founder and CEO of McKee Co Services, who spoke during a session at the 2019 IFA Convention in Las Vegas. McKee, who built a franchise consultancy on her deep experience running development for brands such as Burger King, Dunkin’ and Checkers, said that roadmap needs to be realistic. 

“The key to putting the right people in the right seats is to establish your goals,” said McKee, noting those goals also need to be realistic. “How many time has a brand said we want to open 200 locations in the next two years, and everyone looks around and says how are we going to do that?” 

McKee was joined by Susan Beth, the COO of the franchise-focused private equity firm NRD Capital. Without a roadmap that establishes goals and how to reach them, it’s impossible to start building the right team. 

“If you don’t have this stuff as your guiding documents, you can’t tell your team what to do and you don’t know how to start filling the holes,” said Beth. 

McKee said sticking to a few goals is best so the team isn’t overwhelmed. Once those goals are established, each will need a project manager accountable for that goal and a timeline. The goals can vary, but generally for young franchise systems it’s all about unit development. But for those brands that promise 200 locations in two years, staffing for that is going to be tricky. To help identify the necessary staff, plan out the actual work by identifying the weekly, monthly and quarterly needs for the project manager on down. 

“Sales people can only handle so many deals a year, construction people can only oversee so many buildouts and trainers can only train so many people,” said McKee. “The only other thing you can do, if you can’t add that many staff because of cost, timing or lack of quality employees, you’ll have to pull back from your numbers until you can.” 

Both McKee and Beth use a scorecard to track those goals. They suggested simple scorecards and frequent check-ins to make sure everything is on track. Tracking progress by color keeps it easy to read for staffers and project managers—green for on track, yellow for behind and red for a failure. (See a simple example below.)

And to keep them manageable, they suggested realistic timelines and limited number of goals. The scorecard is no good if it’s just a terrifying page of red. 

Done right, the scorecard will help keep staff on the right track, not just doing low-value busy work. Every scorecard goal should feed directly into the company roadmap; if it doesn’t, it shouldn’t be a goal. Laser focus also helps keep the support staff on track, avoiding the infinite distractions or novel things out in the market. 

“Especially for emerging franchisors, there are shiny pennies all over. But they’re going to take you completely off course, that’s why that scorecard is so important,” said Beth. “Look at it and ask, ‘Does that help us get to where we need to go.’ If not, scrap it or hold it back until it is.”

With those two crucial documents, emerging franchisors can start on the right foot and build good practices into the system. Of course, as soon as growth hits a certain level, it’s time to start all over with a new set of goals for the next phase of growth. 

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