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Dorothy, You're Not In 2000 Anymore

January 28, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 127

Stopping Work in Progress to go to Work

The franchise executive with 20 plus years of experience sits in his Home Office. It's 5:22 in the morning as he takes another sip of coffee. As usual he is planning his day, making sure that whatever happens at work today, insofar as he can influence, is going to be something productive; it is going to make the franchisor and the company just a little better, just a little stronger than it was yesterday - or 15 minutes ago, for that matter.

I will choose Thomas (or Tommy, as he is known by everyone) as the name for this franchise executive. Tommy is one of the best - if not the best at what he does. His track record is something to be cherished; he is loved by the network and everyone he comes in contact with. Tommy is a franchising star. Tommy has more franchising experience than most of us dream of. Think of any great compliment you want - Passionate, Committed, Integrity, Humor, Responsible, Successful - he has them all.

Tommy is also a very successful and experienced operator, having been a franchisee for a number of years in the past, and one that reaped great success in the small business segment. Tommy knows the "Good Franchisor/Bad Franchisee", "Good Franchisee/Bad Franchisor" scenario from A to Z. Tommy has an uncanny ability to transfer information to the minds of the franchisees, which rave about his training and support performance.

Tommy has answered three emails that came in overnight (that is, after he went to bed last night) and written another two that needed to go out before the "day" begins. A franchise executive... and within that realm he leads the Operations and Training Departments in providing initial and ongoing training and operations support for many individuals. Tommy knows that these individuals - franchisees - have their dreams too; they have invested a considerable sum of money to be a part of the franchise company. And they have questions. It does not matter that Tommy may be two or three hours ahead of them. If they have a problem at 8:00 pm in San Diego - that is 10:00 pm in Texas (where Tommy is). They have the right to answers, and somebody better be available to answer their questions; that is, if the franchise organization they have chosen and belong to is responsible and genuinely follows its core values.

Tommy knows very well that the franchisees must validate positively - at least most of them. That, plus the fact that if new individuals do not invest in a franchise, if there are no franchise sales, the need for initial training and operational support in the company overall becomes smaller, correct? Tommy is very conscious of this...

He checked his cell phone messages already - there weren't any from last night. This means that in all probability there were no emergencies, which is a good thing. Or it could be that one of the franchisees indeed had an emergency, found the "Corporate" phone list, called two or three numbers without success, eventually dealing with the emergency as best he or she could. Tommy will get a call from that angry and frustrated franchisee at some point today, wondering why there was no one available and questioning the integrity and preparedness of the company. If that is the case Tommy will deal with it. He will appease the franchisee and resolve their issue. He will also remind the franchisee of his cell phone number and explain that they should post it somewhere as a first line of communication. Some things don't change much over the years.

It does not matter how many times this is explained during the training program or how many "Emergency Contact Lists" Tommy issues during training. In some mysterious way when an emergency arises, most of the time the franchisee ends up calling the Corporate Office at 10:00 pm, and of course there is nobody there. That elusive list of Emergency Contact Numbers is somehow nowhere to be found. In the end, Tommy attributes this issue to a lack of proper training on his part. It's not their fault - Tommy simply did not create a workable process, or there is something wrong somewhere in the present process. He must set frustration to the side and adhere to his core value of Accountability. He is accountable for the fact that a franchisee could not reach anyone for support in times of stress, and he must fix that - Today.

So it is 5:22 in the morning and Tommy sits at his desk working on an Excel spreadsheet that will make it simpler for a franchisee to monitor their cost of goods almost to the minute. This will in turn help the franchisee control his/her business much better, remove grey areas, put more money on the bottom line, and hopefully make the franchisee feel grateful that someone at the Corporate Office came up with something useful and impacting to the business. As a franchise executive it is Tommy's responsibility to tear the business apart and put it back together every day - except that when he puts it back together it had better be stronger than when he tore it apart. It is his job to supply the franchisees with usable tools that help their businesses and enhance trust for the company.

Now that Tommy is nearly complete with his Excel spreadsheet and he has done all the troubleshooting in the world to make sure it works, it's time to make it user friendly. The mere fact that he created the spreadsheet and he can navigate through it with ease and confidence means nothing to the franchisee. The spreadsheet must be simple to use, clearly understandable, and presented in such a way that the franchisee - and not just Tommy - can navigate through it with ease and confidence. Since he is also in charge of training, he will need to devise a training course on how to use the spreadsheet, all the while making sure that the franchisees appreciate the fact that it is indeed a very useful tool. Then, can we make it an online tool available through our Intranet? Check that as a task for today. He diligently sets to work on this.

Except the fact that it is now 6:30 in the morning and Tommy must interrupt what he's doing. Why? Because Tommy has to go to work. He's been working for one and a half hours and now he has to stop and go to work. He must save everything he is working on and shut down operations. It is a good thing that Tommy is working on his jump drive, which he uses as a transferable tool from one computer to another. He wishes he could keep working - He's so very close to being done with this project he can almost taste it; but he has to stop. Why? Because Tommy has to go to work.

Tommy has to go upstairs, take a shower, shave, get dressed in his business casual clothes, have another cup of coffee, get in the car and drive a half an hour in what we call the "morning commute", get to his building, park the car, go inside, say good morning to his colleagues, go into his office, turn on the computer, insert the jump drive, and do precisely what he was doing at 6:30 in the morning. Except it is now 8:15 in the morning. This means that the company Tommy works for just lost 1 hour and 45 minutes of productivity.

Tommy clearly understands that the responsibility and the abilities of doing the business of today are a great deal different than they were back in the year 2000. The technological advances in the past 10 years - forget that - in the past 5 years - have generated a need for change and a need for a different way of doing business. He needs to move on to working in 2011. He is, however, concerned that his CEO (and more particularly his COO) are too immersed in old school methods and will not be so willing to contemplate change. In 2011, Tommy feels, we need to reassess the need for team members to report to a physical facility and do exactly the same thing - without any significant difference whatsoever - that they were doing at their Home Office.

Next: Transitioning - Fear of Change - Lack of Confidence

Source: EzineArticles
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