Finding the right rhythm at the start of any consulting project can be difficult, especially if you’re a franchise business. With a franchise business model, any consulting partner you choose to collaborate with is taking on a major task when managing the reconstruction of your day-to-day operations in order to achieve optimal short and long-term goals. Even the industry’s most seasoned business transformation consultants can feel slightly intimidated by the sheer volume of corporate and localized processes requiring their finite attention. But they wouldn’t be great consultants if they weren’t passionate about taking on challenges would they? And solution designs don’t architect themselves – it’s a two-way street between client and consultant.
In the spirit of helping you take on the transformation of your franchise business challenges with full force, here are our top five tips on how you can do your part in completing a successful consulting project:
As part of your preliminary sales conversations (or as Canpango calls it, getting started) and before you’re issued a statement of work or sign any type of contractual agreement with your consulting partner, don’t be afraid to ask your consulting team to demonstrate portfolio-worthy franchise organization work experience. Once your consulting partner highlights what winning business transformation strategies have amassed positive performance for their past franchise clients, be sure to ask (with the utmost transparency) if and what solution designs flopped and whether or not they can supply you with ROI metrics based on the solutions implemented. Get a sense for their background and ask the knit picky questions. If the answers you receive resonate and sway you toward that partner, you’re more prone to trusting their expertise throughout the entire duration of the project.
Franchise models are unique entities unto themselves, because product or service subject matter expertise is constantly flexing between franchisee and franchisor. Owner input is highly valuable, given that they’re the branches of the organization’s brand that hold a direct line of communication with customers. Corporate staff play a role in developing a unified customer experience across all franchise locations, while servicing the needs of owners. These ebbs and flows are what makes the franchise model different enough to require a consulting team that understands and has experience working with the balance of this relationship.
Similar to any business who makes the decision to invest in a consulting partner, there’s always the possibility that your combined family of corporate employees and franchisees could have been misled or failed by a previous agency during past projects. As you search for the right consulting team for the job, be transparent about any open wounds your teams may have from consulting relationships past. The right partner will openly address and nurture those wounds with care and tact.
Let’s take a step back and walk ourselves through a refresher on how what a typical project flow looks like.
A consultant’s primary responsibility as an objective third-party resource is to bring unbiased, strategic insights to the table throughout every project phase. When a corporate team that leads all of its affiliate franchises makes the judgement call to invest in a consulting partner, odds are that your primary expectation is for that consulting partner to evaluate the state of both national and local business growth, collect business requirements that span across all franchise locations and build a solution that yields a singular, unified customer experience regardless of where that customer is located. As a corporate employee, you’ll naturally feel inclined to speculate your prospective consulting team’s skills in realigning and streamlining your organization’s national and local processes, while taking your brand’s three to five-year plan into account. Your franchise owners are depending on you for this, so it’s key to select a consulting partner that knows how to facilitate the joint acquisition of your needs and your franchise owners’ priorities.
Similarly, as a franchise owner, you might question the chosen consulting partner’s ability to deliver a solution that meets your franchise’s individual market needs – and rightfully so. When you’ve reached the discovery phase of your consonsulting project, ensure that your consulting partner is prioritizing reaching a healthy blend between corporate and franchisee goals in a measurable way. Sending out a wishlist survey to be able to establish a collective “we” mentality between the two parties – and to better understand the differences on project end goals and wants between each other – is a great start.
Consulting teams are fully aware that corporate employee and franchise owner buy-in is critical for a successful project outcome. It’s fairly common for a group of consultants, business analysts, project managers and solution architects to kick-off their discovery sessions with a franchise organization by partnering directly with corporate project leads first in order to better understand brand vision and establish when and what individual franchise team involvement is appropriate at every phase of the process. Once those two parties establish an approach to this, then the franchise owners will be brought into project discussions when warranted.
Additionally, your consulting partner will work to gain your trust and buy-in on their proposed solution by communicating clearly and setting expectations on project flow from the get-go. As soon as your kick-off calls commence, skilled consultants will make it apparent that changes in solution planning are bound to happen and that those changes are a normal, natural part of the project process. Be mindful of this, as it will be evident throughout the entire duration of the project.
You know your business best and consulting experts know business process management and technology best. Together, you’ll uncover your business needs and identify how to translate those needs into short and long-term goals. It’s difficult to lend the future of your business over to a team that’s external to your own, but it’s really important that you attend project meetings with an open mind and pay a rhetorical nod toward their subject matter expertise. Afterall, there’s a reason why your organization’s corporate team members made the decision to hire a consulting partner in the first place.
In addition to maintaining a receptive stance toward the nature of the project delivery process, it’s beneficial for franchise owners to have a firm understanding around where their strengths are as they relates to project discussions and milestones. Routinely, franchise owners have racked up experience in an industry that’s entirely different from the business they’ve chosen to invest their time, energy and resources in. While their participation is paramount to project outcome success, your consulting partner will take ownership of mandating a structured way to facilitate feedback in a way that ensures voices are heard and encourages project tasks to be assigned to project players based on their strengths.
Not every franchise owner will engage in project related discussions or duties – and that’s okay. Instead of enforcing owner engagement from across the board, your consulting partner might take on an approach of intentionally deducing franchise owner participation down to a select focus group to ensure that those owners who have the appetite to be ingrained in project conversations are incorporated as necessary and owners who sway as slightly indifferent toward the project outcome are granted the ability to gear their energies toward their immediate priorities, in the field. The right consulting partner will know how to navigate and dictate the appropriate levels of participation from each key project player.
Once signed, your statement of work (SOW) will be the bible for all project items concerning the roles and responsibilities of every project player, solution end goals and, of course, cost.
Your consultants will take charge of mapping out a communication outline as part of a bucket of billable hours in your SOW to make sure that corporate and franchise owners get an idea of how frequent day-to-day communication between client and consulting partner will be throughout the duration of the project. Franchise corporate staff are highly encouraged to partake in a separate conversation with their consultants in order establish a plan for dedicating hours to change management and education. If an SOW states that a consulting team is not being paid to play teacher, then franchise members shouldn’t be proactively seeking out the role of student. Have faith that your consulting team will define their role, along with which forecasted project tasks will require education and which won’t. Your organization has already made the decision to contract out consulting services and is paying for a skillset that allows them to effectively interface with your team and lead them toward optimal growth.
The number one indicator for a successful project outcome trajectory is your consultant’s ability to to create that necessary communication roadmap. If you abide by their recommended day-to-day communicative workflows and stay inbound of your billable hours, you’ll land a bigger shot at being able to stay connected and be clear about your project mission.
Care to chat about a business transformation strategy for your organization? Get in touch with one of our consulting experts today to discuss your options.
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