Unannounced field visits can be a valuable tool for both franchisor and franchisees, albeit franchisees are less likely to see the positive side of an unannounced visit when it involves them.
The key here is that the unannounced field visit or a surprise field visit should not be an unexpected field visit, with the inference being that an unexpected unannounced field visit is one that is totally out of the ordinary within a particular franchise system.
Key also is the concept of developing a positive culture within a franchise system and understanding how that could clearly be eroded with the use of an unexpected unannounced visit – with the objective of catching franchisees out doing things wrong.
In our experience, unannounced visits work best when there is a clear compliance issue and franchisees know that such issues can result in an unannounced visit.
Mystery Shopper programmes are another example of unannounced but not unexpected visits. Such programmes are clearly designed to benefit the franchisee of focus, all franchisees, the franchisor and the brand by identifying compliance issues, training needs and/or training effectiveness.
Worst case, unannounced visits have no specific purpose. It a strongly held view of ours that a field manager should not regularly just pop in unannounced to see franchisees, as that just demonstrates the field manager does not perceive their time to be valuable. Similarly, the field manager may also be viewed as having too much time on their hands.
Unannounced field visits need to have a clear key purpose, and they should not be unexpected. Even where unannounced visits may be valuable, they should not be the norm. Afterall, a franchisee may not even be present – let alone be prepared or have time for a productive field visit.
- Do you make use of unannounced field visits and, if so, for what purpose?
- Are any unannounced field visits unexpected in the context of your franchise system?
- About the Franchising Best Practice 500 Series
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