4 Ways To Supercharge Your Field Support Team
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4 Ways To Supercharge Your Field Support Team

4 Ways To Supercharge Your Field Support Team

Managing, monitoring, and growing any business is hard. However, with dispersed locations and layers of management, franchises face unique challenges when it comes to organizational alignment, communications, and performance measurement.

In the middle of that complex structure is the field: the district managers going store to store, relaying information down from corporate, checking in on progress, and relaying information back up the chain. If corporate is the brain and the stores are all of the body's moving parts, the field is the connective tissue that's working to orchestrate all of the movement.

The field has a lot riding on their shoulders. Corporate relies on them for insight into how stores are performing against company goals and each other. Stores look to the field for information on company priorities and support when rolling out new programs. They're the keepers and messengers of major information that's needed to make the organization run smoothly, uncover issues, and take advantage of new opportunities.

But for an organization that carries so much weight within the business, they're not set up for success.

An antiquated approach

Picture a day in the life of your district managers. They pull documents and numbers, do research, and prepare for meetings. They visit stores and tackle checklists. They meet with the stores' teams and update them on the latest corporate initiatives. They dive into numbers. They ask questions. They take notes. And then they do it all over again.

Despite a large number of tasks and the responsibility of helping drive performance across multiple stores, district managers are often left to their own devices when it comes to support. Today, district managers are cobbling together a hodgepodge of tools, from spreadsheets and pen and paper notes to CRM tools and presentation decks. With no comprehensive solution, we have heard feedback that district managers often spend 1-2 days a week - up to 40% of their time - compiling information to prepare for store visits and logging notes to report back to corporate.

It isn't working.

With little support, district managers are often relegated to a reputation of "information pushers," seen as little more than a nuisance to store managers. The time required to prepare for store meetings means a major hit to productivity. The turnover rate for district managers - whether leaving the company or moving to a new position - is high. And with each person self-solving in their own manner, information transfer challenges become a major challenge.

Breaking the bottleneck

Today, there are 4 key ways franchises can leverage technology to better amplify the efforts of the field, shifting them from bottleneck to business driver.
  1. Improve organizational transparency. Like a game of telephone, when information travels through layers of people before reaching its final destination, things are bound to get muddled. Instead of relying on the field to relay information down to stores, companies should leverage technology to provide one consistent, company-wide view of priorities and important assets and resources. The result of that new equal access? Better brand consistency across stores, less information getting lost in translation, and a company all working toward the same goal.
  2. Free up that 40%. Field managers shouldn't have to dedicate full days to pulling documents and information from five different sources to prepare for store meetings. Give them a comprehensive tool that consolidates information - from contact records and calendars to resources and performance updates - and automates tasks wherever possible. Less time spent behind a computer means more time spent in the stores driving performance improvements.
  3. Arm them to serve as expert consultants. Companies should focus on agile data; surfacing only the most actionable insights, and getting them into the hands of the field when they need it most. From qualitative and quantitative metrics to performance benchmarks across stores, empowering the field with more effective information turns them into a team of trusted advisors to store managers. With the field better set up for success, turnover rates decrease. And when roles do change, knowledge transfer is no longer a daunting challenge.
  4. Encourage engagement at all levels. Both vertical and horizontal communication should be a focus and made easy across the entire organization. Just as information travels up and down the chain, each level of management should be encouraged to share information and support their peers. Look for tools that allow for community building, letting users easily ask and answer questions, and tag information for easy searching. The result? A more engaged workforce and improved performance, thanks to a growing database of best practices.

There's no arguing that business success will always rely on relationships and require a personal touch. But when it comes to driving efficiencies, empowering individuals, and aligning organizations, technology can play a powerful role. The franchise success stories you read about tomorrow will be those of the companies leveraging technology to amplify the efforts of their teams today.

Chris Taylor is founder and CEO of Square Root, an Austin-based SaaS company whose store performance management platform, CoEFFICIENT, helps leading auto retailers align their organization, increase transparency, encourage collaboration, and improve store performance. Learn more at 512-693-9232 or email hello@square-root.com.

Published: April 21st, 2015

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