When your franchisees are overwhelmed with too much work, what do you do? For Brendan Green, CEO of Hire A Hubby, the answer was to tackle the issue head on.
Traditionally Hire A Hubby is seen as a man in a van. Successful franchisees generate new leads through word of mouth and find themselves working harder than ever, working weekends and using Sunday as paperwork day, says Green.
“They don’t stop to think, they are working so hard.”
So eight years ago he began the task of recreating the business to provide a support structure with systems simple enough for the franchisees to adopt.
“It starts with a mindset, coming up with some simple terms that resonate with the guys.
“It was fairly arduous task. I spent a year in a ute, wearing a t-shirt, showing them genuine care and how to overcome these issues.”
Simple goals that outline their ambitions in regard to work hours and holidays are a starting point.
The franchisor provides a break-even document which allows them to add their expenses and work out how much they need to make each day, each hour.
The franchisee needs to make some basic decisions about the ongoing business structure. Will they continue to run the business themselves? The ‘slow or grow’ choice is entirely the franchisee’s to make, says Green, but a decision not to add staff will clearly influence what they do to get worklife balance back.
“If a franchisee doesn’t want to change, there’s no need, they just stay robust in the decisions about how much work to take on,” says Green.
One solution Green has implemented is the ‘You & 2’ option: a franchisee can run the business and have the two staff do the grunt work.
For franchisees who take on the challenge of developing the business with extra staff, a mind flip is required here too. Franchisees need to recognise they are no longer the central point, the crucial factor in the business. This change needs to be conveyed to customers, says Green, so there is an understanding of what will happen and why a new face turns up to do the job that the franchisee has quoted for.
Working on quotes and customer service
Things have changed in IT from the days when the management system would show leads sent to an SMS number and then lose sight of the potential client and sale. Access to the data today allows the company to set out statistic predictions: 70-80 per cent quote conversion is best practice, says Green.
The data gives the franchisor some insights into franchisee performance.
“Our goal is to help our franchisees maintain a work/life balance, to this end we have them identify a financial target measured in gross profit terms. To assist them maintaining the work life balance we help them understand their two most important operational KPIs which are their “lead to quote” conversion rate and their “quote to invoice” conversion rate.”
And this has been affected by one of the major changes in the 20 years in which Green has headed up Hire A Hubby – the cultural shift to instant gratification.
“It used to be that you could call back a client tomorrow but since the advent of the smartphone you can check the weather in Hawaii and the history of the Cuban revolution; people want simultaneous feedback and there’s a willingness to shop around.
“We’ve had potential clients ring up at 9am and then at 9.15 ring up to ask why they haven’t heard from anyone,” he says.
“We were always able to manage the leads to quotes and quote to invoices, we’ve just improved the customer experience.”
Improved efficiencies for franchisees
Attending a Salesforce conference and listening to other case studies inspired Green to implement minor changes to the job allocation process, resulting in a 90 per cent decrease in customer follow up calls being logged.
A message system provides reassurance to the time-conscious customer that they are in good hands.
“This simple process of adding an outbound message to our customer advising the name and number of our franchisee that has accepted their job provide the customer with piece of mind that their request had been acknowledged,” he says.
More adjustments were introduced. Tackling challenges that affect one quarter of the market was the focus of franchisor/franchisee meetings attended by the 15 best franchisees (five in each state) to improved preformance of those franchisees earning $400,000 to $500,000.
A common issue is that “they have their self-importance t-shirt on, and we have to convince them of an alternative way to quote”.
Franchisees now have a choice of outsourcing their admin tasks. After visiting a customer and identifying the job requirements the franchisee can voice record the details of the quote – send them to an administrator who can then take on all of the following tasks – work allocation, job confirmation, invoicing, scheduling, and receiving.
Green reports that the improved process is seeing customer service go through the roof.
Another changes is the removal of double data entry, and there is 93 per cent compliance with franchisees using the linked Xero and Saleforce programs which is improving efficiency.
Of course it’s easier for the incoming franchisees to be trained in the methodology and accept the new way of working. But longstanding franchisees have, over time, taken on the new techniques.
If business isn’t improving and franchisees ask for advice, it will always be the same – it’s tough love, says Green. “Follow best practice, there’s only one way not 14 versions.
“We want to influence them by evidence of success.”