Joined at the Hip: Operations and Development Must Work Together
A development deal has been signed and a new franchisee is ready to take their first journey into franchising. It is the franchisor's job to ensure they are transitioning the new franchisee to set them up for optimal success. This begins and ends with development and operations.
For a long time, sales/development and operations were considered completely separate entities. The goals were different, the strategy was unaligned, and there was friction where both took credit for successful franchisees and pointed fingers when things did not work out.
However, it should be a priority for a franchisor to have the two departments working together as a synergistic team. The two departments should share a common goal: franchisor and franchisee success. With this goal in mind, the two must work collaboratively to achieve key indicators. Constant communication between development and operations is a necessity.
Before a new franchisee inks a deal, they are a prospect, someone the development team helps source. For development to qualify and build the correct franchisee profile they must understand the role and responsibilities of the franchisee, along with how past placements are performing. The development team needs to lean on the operations team, which has the proper insight needed. The development team's understanding of the success profile allows them to find better candidates and determine where to source leads in the overall development strategy.
As development works with candidates, many potential franchisees are speaking with competitors. Candidates are sharing buckets of information about the pros and cons of the competition. That information is incredibly valuable for operations to know what franchisees are looking for in terms of support, and to evaluate the systems and processes.
When done properly, the development process lends itself to a deep understanding of the candidate, including their personality, hot buttons, motivations, etc. These findings need to be discussed with operations and relayed to training, development, and overall franchise operations. Once the franchisee moves on from the development team to the operations team, operations already knows the candidate and can establish a stronger relationship.
As noted, the collaboration between development and operations increases productivity, efficiency, franchisee satisfaction, and overall success for the franchisees and franchisor. There are many more ways than mentioned for the two teams to work together.
- The development team should clearly communicate the qualification process to the operations team. Operations needs to have a strong understanding that development is a process, and candidates are vetted. The perception of development "dumping" candidates on them needs to be eliminated, and this helps with that. Development should also explain the FDD and franchise agreement to the operations team so the franchisee, development, and operations all are on the same page.
- Compare notes between operations and development on the ideal franchisee and what that profile looks like. It is a give-and-take process. Both sides having the opportunity to understand the process and discuss is valuable.
- Operations should have some involvement in the sales, discovery day, and approval process. Having operations meet and speak with candidates during the process shows depth and transparency in your organization, demonstrating to the candidate that both departments work together and are focused on the franchisee's success. For example, have the operations director have a short "Operations and Support" overview call with candidates during the sales process. This method has yielded positive results and should be carried on through the discovery day and approvals process.
- Development should be following up with candidates during the training and onboarding process. For the candidate, knowing that development will maintain the relationship and be an advocate for them helps them navigate the process. Continue following up once the location opens, with calls every three, six and/or 12 months. The relationship formed between a franchisee and development is key to success.
- Operations and development teams should craft after-action reports to identify gaps, issues, and candidates who may be able to become multiple-unit owners. The best way to grow is with a known entity. Finding out if there are franchisees who are capable and interested in expansion is valuable. Understanding gaps in performance or franchisee issues protects development from ambushes in candidate validation and allows operations to fully support a franchisee. Knowing there is a potential problem allows development to prepare for questions and address them with a candidate earlier in the process.
The synergy and unified messaging between operations and development is what will determine a brand's overall success. Without one another, both teams will struggle to generate results. Creating an organizational culture where both sides have common goals and don't operate as completely separate entities will always be invaluable for a brand, and the sooner one implements this practice, the better.
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