If your planning strategy mirrors many franchise organizations, you probably completed the majority of your annual planning before the year even began - hopefully with enough detail and accountability to ensure it’s implemented effectively. And while much of the planning I’m involved in through my Board work is at the franchisor level, it’s just as important for smaller franchisees to plan, too. In fact, the yearly planning process can provide a unique opportunity for franchisees and franchisors to collaborate and create a planning process together. When I was with Cost Cutters and City Looks, for example, we included a support team from the corporate office that would sit down with the owners and review their business information. Together, they’d review each unit to find out the following:
- What’s happening there now?
- What do you think is going to happen?
- What would you like to happen?
This collaborative planning process is beneficial for franchisees, because it makes them aware of underutilized programs, vendors, training, support and other resources that are available through the franchisor. And for the franchisor, it creates alignment with the goals so they can provide the support needed to help their franchisees grow.
Through this planning process, you’re able to not simply maintain your business’ current levels of growth, but you’ll be able to work towards taking your business to the next level. After all, if you want to move stores, open a new location, add a training or marketing program, remodel your units or apply a coat of paint, you need to think through and plan those goals in advance - preferably with a budget, plan and timeline.
Once the plan is in place, you need to keep in mind that simply creating the plan isn’t enough...you also need to review it regularly to ensure it still works for your organization. By sitting down and reviewing the plan on at least a quarterly basis, you can make sure it’s still working for your business and make modifications as needed. By making the planning process a continuous part of your operations, you’ll ensure everyone is aligned on the long-term plan and vision of the organization.
Lastly, you can have a great plan, but if you don’t have anyone responsible or accountable for it, the entire thing will be a waste. If you need help with accountability, a Board can be a great resource. On the Boards I serve, I like to see an active discussion about the plan, year-to-date performance and projected performance against the plan. I don’t need to see the details, but do want to see that someone is responsible for getting the work done.
Remember: a lousy plan that is well executed is much better than a great plan with poor execution. Because if you don’t execute it well, the plan doesn’t matter.