Coaching Up: Set up a 5-step framework to solve problems
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Coaching Up: Set up a 5-step framework to solve problems

Coaching Up: Set up a 5-step framework to solve problems

Many franchise business coaches are confident in supporting operational issues, marketing, and brand strategies but struggle with conversations about financial goals and KPIs. The best brands have a recipe for financial coaching that leads coaches and franchisees to collaborate on insights, goals, and action plans that improve financial performance. 

Coaches who lead franchisees to their own conclusions get more traction than those who give instructions or advice. When coaches lead franchisees to discovery through inquiry, the solution is their idea. And people don’t argue with their own data!

This five-step coaching framework works for any problem-solving process, including financial coaching. The secret sauce is a robust supply of open-ended questions that guide the franchisee to discover issues and solutions.

Step 1

Start by assessing the situation. With franchisee and coach side by side, review financial statements, ratios, goals, and KPIs. Make two lists: What is going well? What needs attention? And then start asking questions:

• How are results trending? (leads, conversions, average ticket, sales, gross profit, labor cost, cash flow, etc.)

• How do results compare to benchmarks? 

• What stories do the numbers tell?

• How would you like it to look? What numbers do you think are attainable?

• How would you summarize all this?

Step 2

Go behind the numbers and consider the conditions that drove them. Priorities might be adhering to systems, developing teams with skills and capacity to scale, lifting employee and customer satisfaction, or improving operational efficiencies. Consider these questions:

• If you could fix just one thing, what would it be?

• How could you get a quick win?

• What is the most important story the numbers tell?

• What concerns you most?

• What will happen if you don’t do anything about it?

Step 3

Brainstorming works best with a variety of brains. Expand the think tank. Include team members or a cohort of franchisees focused on common priorities. Make coaching scalable by getting people together for this step. Try these brainstorming questions:

• What drives success for the priority areas? 

• What opportunities are you not exploiting to their full potential?

• What is holding you back, getting in the way of success?

• What have you tried already?

• What needs to change for you to become even more successful? 

Step 4

Next, choose measurable milestones. These will become your framework for future coaching conversations. Choose leading indicators that measure drivers of sought-after improvements. Set quarterly targets extending through the coming year. Later, contrast these goals with actual performance. Consider the following questions:

• How will you know when you have succeeded? How can you measure it?

• What activities could shift results? How could you measure them?

• What does “good” look like? What is a “good” number?

• How big of a stretch is that?

• What goal would inspire you?

• If there was a bigger goal behind this goal, what would it be?

• Let’s put that goal aside and investigate others. What other goals would keep the team focused on the priority?

Step 5

The first four steps won’t change anything without step five, the plan. What do you need to know before deciding on a course of action? Who should be involved in developing and executing this plan? What structure will keep the plan front and center with you and your team? (Select meeting cadence, reports, dashboards, accountability partners, mentors, etc.) Here are some more questions to ask:

• How is the business different if you reach the goal? (This reveals actions that could be taken now.)

• What needs to happen so you can do this?

• How is your current strategy working? What could make it work better?

• What must you start doing, stop doing, or continue doing?

• Who on the team is accountable for getting this done, by when?

• What are the next steps?

• What are the milestones for the next quarter?

Best answers

Accepting low-quality information is a rookie mistake. Never accept the first answer. Follow-up prompts can get to the good stuff:

• What do you mean?

• Tell me more.

• Where does that lead you?

• What other angles can you think of?

• Can you name just one more possibility?

• What could be causing that?

Keep it going

Before ending your coaching session, ensure everyone is clear about when the detailed plan will be written, complete with targets, dates, and assignments. People should know their annual and quarterly financial and nonfinancial performance goals and the top initiatives and milestones to accomplish before the next meeting. It’s also crucial to spell out how and when to measure, review, and assess progress.

A consultant with a solid framework, a curious mind, and a collaborative spirit can outperform one who relies on subject matter expertise to solve problems for franchisees. When the measure of success is improved financial performance, the process, not the advice, influences results.

Barbara Nuss is the president and founder of Profit Soup, a financial training firm specializing in providing developing skills for franchisors and franchisees that enable them to trust their numbers, focus on priorities, make better decisions, and earn more profit. Visit

Published: July 5th, 2024

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