By creating a culture of professionalism, collaboration and accountability, peer groups can help franchisees achieve measurable results and take their businesses to the next level. They can also be extremely effective in regaining or maintaining franchisee engagement.
Sometimes referred to as Franchise Performance Groups, peer groups are typically made up of three to five franchisees who meet regularly to discuss best practices related to operations, finances, marketing and similar topics. These meetings are held quarterly in each member’s store on a rotating basis to allow owners to receive honest feedback and guidance from their peers. It also gives owners an opportunity to compare their stores to others in the organization.
In addition to these meetings, the group should schedule monthly phone calls to help members become better acquainted with one another. This also makes it possible for them to break down larger issues into smaller action items, which can then be tracked and discussed each month.
My Three Phase Program
When I help clients establish peer group programs, I typically expect it to take about 90 days. This process is broken down into three, 30-day phases:
- Phase 1: Identify Your Internal Champion
For best results, you’ll want to select an internal leader to lead the effort and make sure the peer groups are successful. This person doesn’t need to be on the peer group calls, but needs to be committed to paying attention and holding the groups accountable.
- Phase 2: Identify Your Participants
Throughout this next phase, you’ll screen interested franchisees to make sure they’re committed to the idea of participating in a peer group. Can they commit the necessary time and money to the group? Are they willing to travel? Are they comfortable disclosing confidential financial data?
Once you have your participants, you’ll schedule a 30-‐minute phone call and split them into small groups (3-‐5 participants each) based on personality, geographic disparities, experience and success level. Setting up two or three initial groups is a good place to start.
- Phase 3: Program Launch
With the peer groups formed, you’ll begin by scheduling either an introductory phone call (2 hours max), or a half-‐day meeting. The in-‐person meeting is preferable, as it allows participants to develop trust and build rapport before the work begins.
At this meeting, encourage participants to come away with three action items they can work on to improve their individual businesses. They’ll be held accountable for making progress on each of these items before the next call or meeting.
Once the peer groups are established, they should be able to self manage without any additional support. That being said, it’s important to remember that the process is continuous, so you may need to add or subtract members in the future. Some participants may leave the business, while others simply aren’t participating or don’t want to continue their peer group involvement.
A facilitator can play an important role here by monitoring participation and ensuring everyone is able to speak openly. This individual can also keep track of valuable insights to share with the corporate office.
John Francis is a consultant, strategic advisor and keynote speaker who helps franchise organizations “see what they don’t see” and achieve their highest levels of success. To learn more about John, or to ask for his help in establishing your own peer group program, visit http://www.johnwfrancis.com.