Strategic Vision and Strategic Planning. What, Why and How?
What on earth is a strategic vision, and how is it different than a strategic plan?
Entrepreneurship is tough. Whether you are starting from the ground up with your own independent brand or part of a franchise group, there are a lot of challenges that you face in your endeavors. Having a support system in a franchise model is typically an appealing option, although the cost to buy in is much higher. Over the years I have realized that just because you buy into a franchise system, doesn’t mean the support is all that is expected.
This article highlights 4 things that Executives from large franchisors can implement or change to provide not only better support for their franchises, but increase overall revenue.
As a niche agency that works primarily with Disaster Restoration companies, I see this all the time. A corporate office staffed with many college degree individuals that have never been on or performed an actual job in restoration. This includes all areas: Production, Marketing, and Office. Too many individuals are hired as warm bodies to enforce rules and regulations, but not readily available to provide value to the franchisor based on relative experience.
The days of hiring based on a resume and career background should easily be replaced with what you have accomplished and what you can bring to our franchise community.
Every Corporate Restoration Company should ask in the interview process “What value can you bring to our franchise community?” The answers should be validated with a proven record of success versus just a one way check off of where someone has worked and what they have accomplished. Once hired, candidates should spend some time within the franchise community to learn the needs and wants of operators. It is important to always understand that if you work for a Corporate Franchising company, your salary and well being is being provided for by the franchise. You owe it to them to be the best you can be to help them grow and expand their businesses.
Sales and Marketing typically get lumped into the same category, although the impact of both categories is astronomically different when executed correctly. Most of all Corporate Restoration organizations describe the sales role as a “Marketing Representative.” The problem with this is that Marketing in the restoration world is more of a branding technique versus a daily revenue driver. Personally, I don’t understand why the role is not described as a Sales Representative or Business Development Specialist, as those roles are uniquely designed to drive and grow revenue. For some reason “Sales” has become a negative term, but as a business owner it should be one of the most exciting positions in your company.
The first step is to identify the purpose you want for your business in Marketing and Sales. Marketing is all about the branding, consistency of that branding and keeping your local market aware of the services you provide. Sales on the other hand is used to target and execute relationships with individuals in your local market. The best way to do this is to provide meaningful and educational engagements at every point of contact. This way when something unexpected happens, the specific target feels comfortable and confident that you are there to meet their needs.
I have seen too much corporate training and documentation that focuses on check list type activity that makes their so-called "Marketing Representative" a pawn to do feel good activities with very little results. As explained earlier, this is a direct result of lack of field experience designed to provide a transfer of accurate best practices and engagement. Overall it is important to create weekly tasks and objectives, monthly ROI reports, and thorough revenue of year over year analysis to determine areas for expansion and growth.
This is why in 2019 we created Restoration Sales University. It is niche specific sales training for restoration sales professionals. Amazingly, most of our attendees were from a franchise system and the most common feedback we got from every class was “Why doesn’t my corporate office provide this type of training?”
When observing franchises in a community, one thing missing in the restoration industry is the lack of importance and creativity on the digital marketing side. This is why many franchises hire agencies to help optimize and drive more traffic from the internet.
It has always puzzled me that restoration companies, which are closely aligned with the insurance industry, fail to utilize comedy and other viral opportunities when it comes to digital marketing. Across the board it is all the same, professional, fast, and quality service, blah blah, blah. No humor, no actual stories, nothing that makes a consumer feel good or want to share.
But then it comes to the local marketing and how the internet can make a major impact for business growth. A lot of big box restoration companies try to control the local aspects of all franchises with a limited team and consistent content across the board. The problem with this is that it does not optimize you as the local choice compared to having your unique content and representation pushed in local markets.
You have to think like a consumer. If you live in Denver, Colorado and a consumer wants to get local help right away, they are going to search on google for a water damage expert in their area. When they see a local number they automatically assume they will get a real local person immediately. However, when corporate offices get involved they want to heavily push 1-800 numbers and direct them to their national call centers, where you will more than likely get a half ass receptionist that knows nothing about restoration thats sole purpose is to reroute that call to someone local. In the meantime, the client has already called a competitor that is local, and in route to the job before the call gets dispatched. I understand corporate offices love this model because they can charge a referral fee, but at what expense is it worth when jobs are being lost on a daily basis? Most of these in house or out house call centers have a high turnover rate, so the chances of getting a great voice on the phone is rare.
This is just one area of focus, but having a well defined local presence on the Internet from Google My Business to Facebook with your local franchise number is key for a higher call volume from the internet. In many cases I have seen where corporations try to take control of these listings and platforms only to see a massive drop in call volume when transferred.
From a digital marketing standpoint, I believe it is important for a Corporate Office to provide best practices and assist local franchises with the help and support they need to maximize opportunities in their local market. Depending on the number of franchises in your system, it is near impossible to manage each local market to the best standards without an extremely large and experienced team.
With any business it is important to always know your customers. Somehow along the way the franchisors stopped treating the franchisees like customers and have the perception that the franchises should be grateful for them. I’m sorry but this is bullshit. The franchisees are the reason there are corporate positions in any franchise system. The number one job of any franchisor employee should be to ask questions and listen to what the franchises need, and then provide the best help and support they can.
Every business owner is uniquely different. Just because they are in a franchise system doesn’t mean they have the same background as other owners. As observed working at one of the largest franchises in Restoration, I saw first hand how individual agendas were always put over the needs of the franchisee (customer). It is too often that a policy that was created by one jackass, is being pushed by another jackass, with no one taking the time to listen to the actual client of what could be best. This begins to create friction and a negative attitude between the franchisee and franchisor.
Overall, I would think the goal for every franchisor would be to hear things like “Our corporate office provides the best support.” Or “Corporate has been instrumental in our success.” But rather that it is a constant battle of needs and wants not being met. This situation is definitely a top down fix when it comes to corporate culture and mission driven initiatives. I think there is an incredible opportunity for one of the major restoration brands to capitalize on being a franchise focused organization.
There are many ways to start this. First, would be doing a thorough evaluation of your Corporate Employees by your franchise community. If you see a lot of negativity and lack of value from certain key team members, it might be time to replace and fill those roles on a better fit. At all times it should be critical to have a culture that asks questions, shuts up, listens, and validates the needs heard. Then, the franchisors should assemble the right team members to provide the right solutions or if a solution is not at hand, do the work to research and provide the best option.
The choice is in the hands of every Executive Leader for these big Restoration Brands. Although you might tell yourself it is perfect and you have a great system, it might be time to pull your head out of the sand and actually poll your franchise community for an accurate assessment. With these changes, you can start to hear the real objectives and develop a culture that cares and educates your franchises for more success.
What on earth is a strategic vision, and how is it different than a strategic plan?
Being able to effectively manage your time is essential.