The thing is operations manuals just don’t work without a system to make sure they are used…
So many business owners and franchisors have said to me – we have documented processes, but we just can’t make people use them…
And I must confess this statement has come from a couple of very well established, well known and very large franchise groups.
So, yes, it is difficult to get staff and franchisee buy-in – especially from existing members of your team. You can’t just document your operations and then expect miracles to happen.
Unfortunately, you do have to put in an effective Support Office to ensure you can implement the processes you have probably spent time, energy, sweat, emotion and not to mention money getting in place. This means people working with your franchisees and staff to make sure they know there are consequences attached to getting the work done.
In my last blog – https://systems2grow.com/the-foundation-of-delegation/ – I did list the most important aspects of your Support Office:
- Document effectively
- Base your training on your operations manuals, don’t replicate them
- Have a system for ensuring people actually do use the documented procedures
- Then let them get on with the job
If only it were that easy.
The point I want to elaborate on here is the third point – have a system for ensuring people actually do use your documented procedures. Franchise groups with good support offices do this well. But many don’t. And I acknowledge it is difficult for smaller businesses and new franchise groups just starting out. It is expensive to put on all the support staff to create the team needed for all the different categories of jobs needed. But it pays to start sooner rather than later and in smaller businesses these tasks are all held by one or two people, often the franchisor or business owner. Just another job to add to the list 😊
So, what are the tasks needed in most support offices to make sure your processes are implemented your way.
Your support will be three-fold as you try to balance the positive with the negative and the practical.
- Build the relationship. Listen to what is going on for them. There’s lots of room for that cup of coffee and learning about things from their point of view.
- Check to ensure compliance with your processes. And when the rules are broken respond appropriately. Be sure to listen though to learn about the things that need to change, or which are causing problems their end.
- Provide practical support. Training on new things, changes to help the job become easier – the list will be long
Regular and consistent contact
To meet these three objectives, field officers in any good multiunit business will go out regularly to meet with the people they are managing. Weekly, monthly, quarterly planned meetings where everyone knows the agenda and is ready to be involved.
Sometimes these will be group get-togethers and sometimes individual parties.
The need to refer to be ops manuals with every question
Always be helpful but make sure the ops manuals are referred to when every question is asked. If you don’t answer their questions with – have you checked the manual – then you are on a hiding to nothing – the ops will never be used.
Planned and relevant content
Make sure the agendas are seen to be relevant. Regular business planning needs to be around a business plan and the KPIs included there.
If you are dealing with performance issues or things which are seen to be difficult and not so relevant by the people concerned, there will be pushback. Remember to explain the why.
The big meetings
Don’t overlook the value of annual or big gatherings where people meet to play as well as learn about how things are going and what’s planned for the future.
You do have to make sure people comply with the ops manuals and that there are consequences if they don’t.
Yes, these do take time and so are so often overlooked. But making sure all team members are given regular performance reviews by their managers, then when things go wrong you have a clear process for dealing with it that is not intimidating because the process is known. The review could be giving both good and not so good feedback so there is a positive framework within which to deal with indiscretions.
If communication is kept two ways in these meetings and they happen regularly, it will mean the challenging problems can be picked sooner and be easier to deal with and hopefully limit the number of warning letters and more difficult forms discipline.
Who are the people you need in your support team
Or does this mean – how many hats will you be wearing to get this job done?
- Support Manager to look after the way the whole support team works
- Field Officers to meet and manage the day to day and regular meetings
- Training Officer
- Systems Officer to look after your operations manuals
- Events Officer to look after your large events
- Recruitment Officer to recruit and onboard new personnel
The list goes on and, yes, I know, the work for most is challenging as the team is built.
Just remember though, it is the quality of support that makes the difference between a successful and not so successful franchise group. This principle applies to growing business too.