No Secrets: You Move What You Measure
It’s no secret this is a challenging economic environment to drive a business forward. It’s no secret that performance and metrics are linked. But what may be a secret is the sheer, unadulterated power that exists when a system takes a data-driven, no secrets, move of its measured approach to every, single aspect of the business.
Data is defined as factual information used as a basis for reasoning, discussion or calculation. In literary use, data is a noun. In the franchise business, data is much more than a simple person, place or idea: it is the whole show. Improving the health of the business is attributed to using data to drive decisions that improve day-to-day operations, such as marketing campaigns, financial decisions and customer service standards, while providing the groundwork for resolving concerns and even disputes.
Power in Building Relationships
From the first syllable of the relationship, franchisors have an opportunity to demonstrate how data has shaped company policies and procedures. This kind of transparency creates a culture of trust. Through reasoning, discussion and calculation, franchisees are empowered to understand data-based brand plans for achieving big-picture goals. This data infusion will underwrite increased trust in the organization, and an influx in brand loyalty.
Power in Understanding the Needs of the System
The power of an informed, data driven, no secrets system is that it helps create an atmosphere of trust which enables many things, one of which for Popeyes is the collection of P&L data from more than half of our system. In the absence of this kind of data, the effects of corporate decisions can’t be known. With the data in hand, corporate now has the information needed to identify and implement cost-management strategies. Franchise owners can benchmark their results, identify their outliers, see what others are doing differently and prioritize savings opportunities. They can have a good idea of where the low hanging fruit is, whether that’s something like waste collection, utility costs, insurance costs, credit card fees and so forth. In addition, introducing initiatives such as standardized back-of-house software to provide theoretical food-cost calculations can help operators highlight where their food costs deviate from ideal costs.
When franchisees understand that the brand is passionate about their profitability, the relationship becomes more productive for everyone.
When there is something new to introduce to the system, there is an understanding that we, as the franchisor, are committed to profitability and that kind of support is why entrepreneurs engage with a franchisor so that they have a partner.
When franchisees understand that the brand is passionate about their profitability, the relationship becomes more productive for everyone. They know their best interests are always in mind.
Power in Creating an Effective Branding Platform
Another basic but critical part of a global system is marketing. Here is another place data is a good friend. Regular performance evaluations of marketing campaigns are a good idea to know and understand what is and isn’t effective. In addition, a leap of faith is only made the first time. After that, the information tells whether to steam ahead and add more to the campaign or to pull back and take a different approach. Even within that process, the data directs how and where to approach guests.
Popeyes introduced a national campaign a few years ago, brought on a new brand spokesperson and did it in combination with a rebrand from Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and a new tagline, Louisiana Fast.
It seemed risky at the time, and we know it felt risky to our franchisees, but they were willing to take that leap with us, because the approach was understood. It was an informed leap and it was known that we would only continue if the initiative produced the results we were hoping for—driving traffic into our restaurants. And it did.
Power in Resolving Differences
Sir Francis Bacon penned, “Knowledge is power.” Knowledge and understanding of data prior to a dispute allows for quick correction. Often, the initial reaction is to act as a referee rather than a business partner toward the franchisee. While there are clearly times when proper legal action is required, many franchisor-franchisee disagreements are best resolved by using supporting data to remove the emotion from the situation and discussing the concern using facts. Supporting corporate policies and decisions with data when handling disputes has several benefits, let’s examine a few.
First, focusing on the data behind big-picture goals and the brand’s philosophy creates an opportunity to communicate clarity. When resolving or addressing concerns, offering a cliché status quo response is not adequate; all transparency built is lost by not directly addressing the issue. Data becomes the status quo.
Second, a data-based approach to resolution also allows for an opportunity to learn more about franchisees’ concerns. It may also help to uncover a larger, previously unseen problem that is rattling multiple franchisees throughout the system. By demonstrating a willingness to offer data and insight into the brand, a franchisee in turn becomes more willing to give additional insight into his personal franchise experience.
While we know these are fundamentals, they are ones that often get overlooked or undervalued. It’s no secret, you move what you measure and that applies in every area of a franchising business: in identifying business initiatives, establishing key relationships, launching and promoting new products, driving positive sales, capturing new market share, maintaining existing market share, choosing franchise owners, selecting locations and trade areas and identifying development possibilities.
Ralph Bower is president, U.S., Dick Lynch is chief global brand officer, and Sonny Cohen is general counsel of Popeyes, a leader in the New Orleans segment of the foodservice industry with 2,035 operating restaurants in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands and 25 countries. Bower can be reached at email@example.com, Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org and Cohen at email@example.com.