A Guide to Conducting Effective Virtual Field Visits

A Guide to Conducting Effective Virtual Field Visits
The way we communicate and connect with those around us has changed dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe. Many franchisees have had to adapt their operating model in order to meet social distancing standards, and this same methodology applies to those working on the franchisor side of the business. Field managers’ roles often involve travelling around and logging face-to-face hours with their franchisees, however at this current time it just is not feasible, and as a result virtual field visits are becoming more common.

Despite the many ways that virtual field visits can increase efficiencies, such as reduced travel time and more flexibility in scheduling, this can be counteracted by technical issues and distractions and at time derail meeting plans. So, how can field managers best conduct effective virtual field visits?

The tools you choose to use matter. Opting to conduct visits over a video platform is a great choice as it helps to make the conversation personal and allows participants to gauge each other’s reactions and engagement. However, ensure that there is the option to partake with audio only, as video requires a strong internet connection which may not be accessible. Another important step is for both the field manager and franchisee to do a test-run ahead of time. Making sure that the chosen software is installed correctly, webcams and microphones are working, and that everyone is familiar with the program will avoid any frustrations.

The next step is to plan an agenda to ensure that the meeting stays on track. This is something that field managers would likely do regardless, however during a virtual visit it is vital that the conversation stays focused. Field managers should reach out to the franchisee in advance and ask if there is anything they would like to discuss in the meeting. This allows both parties to prepare any necessary resources and ensure that each issue can be properly addressed during the virtual visit.

The sharing of information and resources is also an important consideration. The software or platform being used to conduct the meeting will determine the process for sharing of resources. Some platforms will allow for the live sharing of documents during the meeting, whereas others may not have this capability meaning that documents should be sent ahead of time via email.

Finally, it is important that all participants are given time to talk. Just like in any field visit, there should be a balance between what the franchisee is bringing to the table and what the field manager is contributing. Ensure that the environment is collaborative and productive, this can be achieved by discouraging multi-taking or the use of any ‘mute’ functions.

We hope that these tips help both franchisees and field managers in adapting to our new normal (at least for the moment). Field visits are an important part of the franchisor-franchisee relationship and the ability to continue conducting such visits despite social distancing restrictions will help keep the network connected.

 

Wrap Up: FRI Field Manager Boot-camp

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As a proud partner of the Franchise Relationships Institute, Cashflow It regularly attends events and workshops hosted by the company. Most recently, the team enjoyed a two day boot-camp designed for field managers, to give them the tools they need to drive positive outcomes with their franchisees.

Hosted by FRI’s Jewli Turier, the two day interactive boot camp brought together field managers from different brands and of different expertise to share their experiences and knowledge about their role in the field, whilst learning some new skills.

Kicking off with an FRI favorite, the Group Scoop, the room was able to share what they hope to gain from the experience, setting up the discussions for the coming days. Following this, the group undertook some exercises to better understand the franchise relationship through a holistic approach, and the values on which the relationship is built. We continued to discuss strategies to manage the franchisee and franchisors expectations and what the responsibilities of each party are.

Later in the day, Jewli delved into the FRI’s most successful models, The Franchisor and Franchisee Wheel of Excellence and The Franchisee Business Journey. Next we moved onto some of the attendees favorite topics of the two day boot-camp, with an in course on utilizing Solution-Focused Coaching and the DISC Model, which built the basis for the following days activities.

Day two kicked off with a group discussion on how field managers can add value to their franchisees and how to conduct effective field visits through joint preparation, process agreements and positive follow-up. Covering another important topic, Jewli encouraged field managers to be aware of the emotional state of their franchisees and how to offer the right support at different stages of their journey as a franchise owner. In addition to this, she urged field managers to take some time to manage their own vitality in order to avoid burning out in what can be a stressful role.

Wrapping up the boot camp with a series of round tables, Jewli delivered an engaging session touching on a wide range of topics that are vital to the field manager role. All attendees felt as though they gained something from the experience, and left with renewed energy to drive positive change within their franchise network.