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Clint Lee

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Symptoms vs Problems

Quite often we speak with franchising executives about the challenges they’re facing. During these conversations, one subject that is commonly broached is the challenge surrounding franchise sales/development. Many times what the organization’s leadership is explaining to us are symptoms of a problem, but they’re looking for a solution that only treats this symptom. The reality is that there is often a larger problem in play that gets little attention. That problem can usually be broken down like this:

1. Lack of consistent business processes in all areas including franchise sales, pre-opening, operations, and franchise administration.
2. Lack of IT infrastructure that enables the organization to manage their business processes.
3. Lack of analytics/reporting tools that enable management to benefit from business intelligence, or monitor and improve the business.

This is an excerpt from a typical conversation…

Us: “Can you briefly walk us through your franchise sales process.”

Franchise Exec: “Sure, we receive our leads through various portals or from our corporate website. The leads are emailed to a sales person (or our sales team) then entered into a spreadsheet.”

Us: “Ok, then what?”

Franchise Exec: “Then the salesperson follows up with the lead to see if they’re qualified and if so we send them an application to be completed.”

Us: “I see. What happens next?”

Franchise Exec: “If the application is returned, we review it to see if the prospect meets our initial requirements. If so, we send them a copy of the FDD, then we’ll invite them to our corporate office for a Discovery Day.”

Us: “What happens after the corporate office visit?”

Franchise Exec: “Well, we just follow up and answer any further questions; discuss the FDD; possibly refer a financing contact. You know, work on getting the agreement signed.”

Us: “Sounds easy enough. So, what’s the problem?”

This is where the conversation usually gets interesting and I say that for this reason – most folks begin to identify their symptoms, not their problems.

“We need to generate more leads.” Symptom.

“We are not meeting our goal for number of franchises awarded.” Symptom.

“We are not able to award franchises in the markets that we want.” Symptom.

“I don’t know what my sales team is doing on a daily basis.” Getting warmer, but still a Symptom.

Now, we could list symptoms for days. But the truth is that until the underlying problem is identified it cannot be solved. I would encourage you to begin working to identify the problems that are the root causes of your symptoms. Try starting with the problem breakdown that I listed above to see if this fits your organization.

As always, I would welcome your feedback.

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Clint is a Principal and Founder of The Flywheel Group, a premier provider of innovative solutions to the franchise industry. The FranchiseFlywheel™ application was developed out of the industry's need for a cutting-edge and affordable franchise management tool for franchisors. Spending several years in the franchise industry directing daily activities related to franchise and business development processes, marketing, lead-generation, and contract administration, and an understanding of the needs of peers and colleagues, led to the development of the application. The Flywheel Group is focused on improving best practices and driving change in the franchise industry by introducing industry-leading solutions and working with its clients to re-engineer business processes that will ultimately enhance revenue and improve bottom line efficiency. Clint actively writes and shares his thoughts on the Flywheel Blog.