As a franchisor, your visits to stores should be focused on improving store performance. Area managers often visit stores just to tick it off their checklist of things to do.

Since there is no purpose to the store visit, they are very unlikely to impact sales, operating standards, customer service, employee morale or anything else that can positively affect the performance of the store.

Let’s look at 11 simple ways to increase your ROI on store visits

1) Before every store visit ensure you have planned your visit whether it is an arranged visit or a surprise visit. This includes the following:

  • Review the store’s Business Plan. Consider the franchisees/managers quarterly objectives and whether they are achieving this
  • Reviewing your last visit’s minutes and action items
  • Identify the specific purpose/reason for your visit. Are you going to focus on sales, service, hygiene, marketing or other aspects? The more focused you are, the more successful you will be
  • Identifying what are your top 3 concerns about the store
  • Identifying what are the franchisee/manager’s top 3 concerns and if you have any feedback about any of them
  • Preparing questions which will assist you and the franchisee/ manager to move forward
  • Any good news, positive feedback that you have received about the store.

2) Implement financial benchmarking: Franchising Plus has experienced a lot of positive feedback from the implementation of financial benchmarking in franchise networks. This includes reviewing and analysing the financial results of stores; including how each store is performing in relation to the rest of the stores in the same region. The results of benchmarking can show franchisees where they fall short in their financial performance, whether certain expenses are too high or whether sales are simply not sufficient. For more information on financial benchmarking in a franchise, contact us

3) Set your intention to focus and be “fully present” during your visit to a store. Only once you are truly focussed will you be able to really understand the goings on of a particular store and be able to add significant value. This includes switching off your cell phone for the duration of the visit. 

4) Bring energy to the visit. As people, we are attracted to energy. As a leader, you are either giving energy or you are taking it away.

5) Set aside time to interact with staff and customers. This might mean assisting a customer with a sale, chatting to customers and staff etc. Set an example to the staff where they see you not just as a head office person, but someone who is capable of doing their job and that you like doing it. This assists with breaking down barriers between head office and stores. 

6) Being present also means demonstrating power listening when the franchisee/manager has any concerns. It does not mean that you are going to accept everything that they say, but what it does mean is that the franchisee/manager will feel that you support them. Often all they require is that someone listens to them and understands their challenges. 

7) Once you have completed your store visit and want to provide feedback, support etc., the best is to try and take the franchisee/manager out of their store for a cup of coffee somewhere else. As much as the franchisee/manager wants to be present; they are often distracted by all the goings on in their store. 

8) When identifying problems, ensure that you are identifying the root cause of the problem. For example, in today’s economy, people are very quick to point out that customers do not have spending power. While this can potentially be a reason, check whether the franchisee/manager is doing all they can to improve sales, i.e. hiring correctly, training their staff, improving the customer experience, implementing operational efficiencies, marketing etc.

9) Instead of just focusing on what’s wrong, set your intention to “catch people doing things right”. Whatever you choose to focus on is what you will see. If you catch someone doing something correctly, let them know that you appreciate it and praise their efforts. 

10) When providing feedback and pointing out aspects that need to be corrected; instead of “telling” the franchisee/manager on how to correct it, ask them how they think they can correct it. This shows that you value their opinion and they are a lot more likely to implement the changes and be committed as it was “their idea”. 

11) Remember you are visiting people, not stores. The focus should not be the condition of the store, but the development of the franchisee/manager/staff. The key to improved store performance is improved people development. Make it a habit that every time you leave a store that all the managers know something new from when you first arrived.

If you follow the above suggestions as a Regional or Area Manager you will most likely have a much bigger impact on sales, operating standards, customer service, employee morale or anything else that can positively affect the performance of the store. 

Franchising Plus offers training on effective field visits. For more information, click here.

Franchising Plus