franchise field consultantIt’s 2017 and you’re a franchise consultant. What is your typical day like? Where is your office—at corporate headquarters, at home or in the clouds? How do you connect with your franchisees—in person, by webcam, Smartphone or a drop-in visit via jet pack?

As part of the recent Franchise Operations Performance Summit (OPS) held in Atlanta earlier this month, senior franchise operations executives were asked to project what the role of the franchise consultant might look like in 2017. Those thoughts were then discussed with the group.  While the topic of jet packs did not necessarily come up, most agreed that greater use of technology and a more personal touch would be required for the franchise consultant of 2017.

What prompted the deepest discussion regarding the franchise consultant of 2017 involved transitioning today’s franchise consultants into tomorrow’s. Should franchisors start hiring now for the future skill set with new job openings? What about current franchisees? Would franchisors need to start training them now for the new demands of the job? And, if so, what type of transition plan would be needed to bring current franchisee consultants to the anticipated demands for franchise consultants in 2017?

Attendees agreed that future franchise consultants would need to be more hands on and have a greater level of interpersonal skills. But are there many people with that skill set who are also savvy from a technology standpoint?

In terms of the role of the future franchise consultant, OPS attendees envisioned:

  • More frequent, higher quality contact with franchisees using a myriad of technologies—Skype, handheld cameras, more interactive, private franchisee websites.
  • Improved data integration to improve knowledge – predictive analysis, diagnosis dashboards, improved CRM with real-time, meaningful data so field consultants can have more meaningful conversations with franchisees.
  • Flexibility in work schedules, work location and working remotely
  • Access to training and flexible scheduled training that’s available 24/7

While much of the focus centered on technology, attendees stressed the importance of the future franchise consultants to become more like a business coach than an IRS auditor to help franchisees better train and engage employees to improve morale and retention. Future franchise consultants would need the ability to communicate effectively with a variety of personalities, both from a standpoint of age—e.g. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers–and backgrounds. —e.g. previous experience of franchisees, technology knowledge, etc.

Beyond enhancing capabilities and improving interpersonal relationships, attendees thought enhanced technology would also provide improved measures of success, such as:

  • Same Store Sales growth
  • Improved Franchisee Operating Profit
  • Franchisee satisfaction index improvement (trend)
  • Improved compliance (alignment) because the franchisees want to be compliant
  • Unit level growth

Takeaways

In wrapping up the two days of workshops at Franchise OPS, attendees left with a greater understanding of how technology can enhance the role of franchise consultant. Even more importantly, each took away key points that can be addressed now:

 

  • The skill set for the future will be different and franchisors need to adjust their hiring now.
  • It is critical to get all technology integrated into your franchise system for ease of use and access.
  • Anticipate franchisee resistance. Engage your franchisees early in the process to increase franchisee buy-in of new systems you need to improve your operation.

To review the complete PowerPoint from Franchise OPS, click here.

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