In a previous post, we discussed how developing a good questioning strategy can help franchise support representatives to solve franchisees' business problems. This article covers the next step - implementing a solution.
1. Determine the implementation timeframe.
Often franchisees will have predetermined expectations about how, and when, their support representative will help them implement a solution to a problem. These expectations are sometimes not realistic. It is therefore important to clearly define and understand the franchisee's timeline expectations by asking questions such as:
- "What is your anticipated time frame?"
- "Are there any other deadlines?"
- "Could we do this in stages?"
- "Have you ever implemented anything like this before?"
- "If so, how long did it take?"
- "What process did you go through?"
- "How much preparation do you expect your employees will need in order to implement?"
2. Establish the criteria.
Once the problem has been defined and a solution has been settled upon, the franchisee will probably be eager to develop a set of criteria for assessing the success of the proposed solution. Your role as a Franchise Support Representative is to assist in developing a set of reasonable criteria for evaluating the solution. Some questions to ask when guiding franchisees are:
- "What do you think the criteria should be for assessing whether this solution is working?"
- "What indicators should we be looking at?"
- "Which of these criteria is most important to you?"
- "Is there general agreement on these criteria?"
- "How much of an improvement or increase are you looking for?"
- "How will you measure that?"
- "What is the minimum benefit you realistically expect?"
3. Gauge the level of resistance to change.
In many cases, the solution envisioned by the franchise support representative and that envisioned by the franchisee can be quite different. You need to get a sense of what the franchisee expects and also of his/her adaptability to change. You can take the measure of the franchisee's flexibility to alternative solutions through questions such as:
- "What kind of options would you be willing to consider?"
- "If we come up with a different solution, how would you feel about that?"
- "How locked in are you / your employees to this type of solution?"
- "Is there any reason why you might not want to try that approach?"
- "How much of a change are you / your employees willing to accept?"
4. Know who the decision makers are.
To gain a complete understanding of a given problem and of the process proposed to solve it, it's crucial to know who is responsible for making key decisions for the franchisee. You can determine this by asking questions such as:
- "Which people will have the most impact on this decision?"
- "How do they get along?"
- "Do you see any potential for conflict in this situation?"
- "Whom should we keep informed of our progress?"
5. Determine both internal and external conditions.
Decisions for change are often affected by internal and external conditions not directly related to the problem but which nevertheless have tremendous bearing on it. To find out what those conditions are, you could ask:
- "Are there any other changes going on in your franchise at the present time?" (or that have recently transpired)
- "Is the money for this program contingent on anything?"
- "Do you foresee any change in personnel in your organization that might affect your decision?"
6. Formulate an implementation plan.
After gathering all of your information and settling on a solution to the problem, the next step is to formulate a clear plan to implement it, making sure that each player knows his/her role and is committed to it. Every good plan entails three basic elements: goals, strategy, and schedule. Make sure your plan includes:
- A clear statement of the goals to be reached,
- A statement of the proposed methodology to reach those goals, including who has "ownership" of the various elements, as appropriate, and
- A time frame for achieving the stated goals.
If you fail to develop a thorough implementation plan, there is little chance that your solution will be implemented.