BOOK REVIEW | FRANCHISE-CHAT


THE FRANCHISOR'S GUIDE TO IMPROVING FIELD VISITS by Greg Nathan

Available at Franchise RelationshipsThe Franchisor's Guide to Improving Field Visits is an 88-page practical guide to understanding, formulating, implementing, managing and improving a franchising field visit programme. The book is primarily a franchisor guide, but also contains specific advice and direction for field managers.

What's in it?
The first heading within the book, 'Are field visits a luxury or necessity?' is, of course, a rhetorical question. Field visits are of central importance to effective franchise chain management. Yet, I'm sure many practicing franchisors and franchise consultants will be surprised at the wide-ranging objectives and benefits an effective franchise field visit programme can yield and achieve within a franchise system.

The Franchisor's Guide to Improving Field Visits navigates us through a range of benefits achievable through implementing an effective field visit programme. These include:
  • Improving franchisee profitability
  • Maintaining customer service standards
  • Keeping the franchisor in touch with the coal face
  • Maximising local market share
  • Building commitment to system wide vision and brand values
  • Enhancing the franchise relationship
Throughout the book, Greg emphasises the importance of developing and maintaining strong franchisee-franchisor relations. Greg's experience and research, quoted in the book, refers to the importance of franchisee trust and respect for their field managers and franchisor. The bottom line is, according to Greg's research, that a franchisee's propensity to sell [their franchise] is significantly related to satisfaction with their field managers. So says Greg, "… can a field manager make a difference to the performance of a group of franchisees? You bet."

The Franchisor's Guide to Improving Field Visits outlines the various roles and functions completed by a field manager in a comprehensive field visit programme. Here, some may be surprised to learn that a field manager can and should be much more than an Inspector. A field manager can also be an Ambassador, Business Consultant, Operations Expert, Marketer, Coach, Trainer and Facilitator. Each role is subsequently explained, and key competencies for field managers are identified.

Numerous practical tips and tools are provided throughout the book. One of the most valuable is a six-stage process for effective field visits, which emphasises the importance of preparation and structure. Favoured also are sections entitled 'The art of giving feedback constructively' and 'How to "unstick" conversations.' Greg's training as a corporate psychologist, combined with extensive practical franchising experience, is obvious and delivers considerable value to readers.

How does it rate?
The Franchisor's Guide to Field Visits is a valuable resource that will benefit not only franchisors but a variety of advisors as well. The book's 88 pages are packed with important information, background, tools and guidance based on years of experience and expertise.

For me, there are two key opportunities for improving future editions (Note, these in no way detract from the existing value of the book). First, I believe there is scope for expanding guidance for franchisors on developing an infrastructure to establish, develop and manage field managers/consultants. Second, there is scope for incorporating research on how some plural franchise systems harness the benefits of having both franchised and company-owned outlets to achieve system wide adaptations. In particular, Jeffrey Bradach, in his book entitled Franchise Organisations, highlights the value of testing and proving new initiatives in company-owned outlets, before presenting them to franchisees.

Conclusion
Greg has done it again. At AUS$78, The Franchisor's Guide to Improving Field Visits represents excellent value for the franchise community.

Given good field visits are such a vital function of franchise system management it is astounding we have waited so long for guidance and advice on this area. Greg helps demystify the function and process, and by focusing his attention on field visits he provides leadership in an area lacking 'best practice' information.

The Franchisor's Guide to Improving Field Visits will be of interest to prospective and existing franchisors and their field managers. Many franchise suppliers, especially franchise consultants (but also lawyers!), will also benefit from a greater understanding of the purpose, roles, functions and dynamics of completing successful field visits.


This book is available for purchase through www.franchiserelationships.com


Reviewed by Dr Callum Floyd, Editor of Franchise-chat.com

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