While the world’s first Field Manager Week may be over let’s hope the memories, friendships and learning continues

Message from FRI Managing Director, Greg Nathan

At the Franchise Relationships Institute we have long felt that Field Managers are the unsung heroes of franchising and that these talented people, who often work under challenging conditions, do not get the professional development they deserve.

With this in mind the goal of Field Manager Week was simply to advance the skills and confidence of Field Managers and recognise the important work they do.

After researching the needs of franchisees, the wishes of Field Managers themselves and the thoughts of the Operations Managers who supervise them, we put together a two-day Super Session program to be run in three States of Australia, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Day one was to be a Summit with no more than 100 people attending to ensure high levels of interaction. Day two would be a series of Masterclasses where people could sit with “masters” in a chosen field and dig deep into the topics of most relevance to them.

We are providing the following summary of the Summit to remind you what a great day it was and to encourage you to put your insights and learning into practice. If you weren't there we hope this will give you a taste of what was achieved and how we did it.

Because of the program's success we will be making Field Manager Week a regular national event and look forward to your involvement next year.

Greg Nathan
Managing Director

How Debb’s Facilitation Created the Learning Culture

Debb Lowe, as seen above, did a magnificent job of facilitating the Summit. Field Managers are by nature an independent group who know what they want and Debb used her unique energetic style of direct but supportive questioning to challenge people’s assumptions and draw out the goodness in the room. She also linked the sessions together in a meaningful way, kept things moving at a swift pace and helped to create the fun, high energy, learning culture we were aiming for.

Another unique contribution Debb made to the day was the regular opportunities she created for people to stop, reflect on their insights and develop action plans around what they would try out or do differently when they returned to work. Well done Debb.

By the way, if you are looking for an outstanding MC or speaker for your next franchise conference Debb should be your first choice. Just give us a call to check if she is available.

Participant comments from evaluations:

“Debb brought things back into focus and re-iterated and probed where needed.”

“Interactive, involving and well paced.”

“Jam packed — I loved the pace and the energy”

Franchisees Open Our Minds to What Matters

We deliberately opened the Summit with a franchisee panel, as in a sense they are the clients of the Field Manager. These panels proved to be one of the most popular sessions as they provided practical insights into what franchisees want and expect from their field managers as well as what they don’t want!

A special thanks to our franchisee panelists who included:

“Good to confirm what I was thinking and hear from the franchisee perspective.”

“I gained excellent insights from the people that matter.”

“Great to get 'real' feedback.”

“I found the franchisee panel very inspiring.”

Research Updates Identify Opportunities

Although the day was mainly interactive, there was a keynote address on the state of field management in Australia by FRI’s Managing Director, Greg Nathan.

Greg shared findings from a survey recently completed by 150 Field Managers that showed, amongst other things, that coaching and facilitation skills were the areas of biggest opportunity for improving Field Manager effectiveness. FRI are working on this data for a research paper which we aim to make available in April.

“Great information, very well delivered”

“Highly relevant, good to see contemporary research”

“Really enjoyed Greg’s session — fantastic”

Panel of Pros Share Their Secrets

The Panel of Pros provided an opportunity to hear how seasoned Field Managers in different franchise systems go about their day to day work. The Brisbane panel from the left are Leanne Fuller (Snooze), Jim Fields (Snap-on Tools), Sophie Wong (Chemmart), Mary Stewart (Brumby’s) and Melle Rojek (Boost Juice).

Thanks to all our Pros who also included:

“Top group of people with great content”

“It was good to hear my peers and how they do things”

“Appreciated the opportunity to hear from other professionals from different industries”

“It was great to get real life input”

McDonald’s Also Lets Us in on How They Do Things

We were fortunate to secure the cooperation of McDonald’s who provided an insight into their culture and the systems they use to “incentivise” franchisees to maintain high levels of compliance. Recent moves by McDonald’s to remove the compliance auditing function from the role of their field consultants sparked some lively discussion and insights into the difficulties field managers have in being both cop and coach.

Rather than straight presentations these sessions were run as open forums to enable people to ask questions on what they wanted to hear about. Thanks to Tania Balhatchet (pictured above taking questions at the Brisbane Summit), Brett Tooley (NSW) and Chris Arneil (Melbourne).

“Great examples from a leader in franchising”

“Provided insights into 'best practice' that money can't buy”.

Working Out in the Franchise Tool Shed

The Franchise Tool Shed was an informal space where people could get together during the breaks and chat about a specific topic of their choosing. In some cases people shared a process or system that had been working well for them, such as setting up more effective email communications with franchisees. In other cases people wanted to ask for advice or ideas on a challenge they had, such as simultaneously supporting company owned and franchised locations, or finding a suitable speaker for a conference.

“Enjoyed being able to just talk with peers about similar situations”

“The energy was great. Was kept nice and informal”

“Loved meeting other people who face the same challenges”

Mini-Forums Bring out the Passion and Empathy

After lunch we removed the tables from the room to allow people to huddle into mini-forums and share ideas and approaches on a topic they were passionate about. The topics on working with high and low performing franchisees were the most popular as were those tackling business planning and KPIs.

While some mini-forums were small others attracted a larger group. We are particularly grateful to the mini-forum facilitators who did such a magnificent job of keeping their groups on topic while also providing lots of opportunity for everyone in their groups to contribute. At times the level of empathy in the room was palpable.

“Got lots of ideas from this session”

“Networking at its rawest!”

“Even as a facilitator, I got lots of ideas”

“The best part was meeting, listening to and interacting with others doing the same or similar job to me”

“Mini-forums without a doubt were the highlight – so much empathy and interaction”

Be Afraid for She Really Is the Franchisee from Hell!

Yes, be afraid. In fact be very afraid for here you see the “Franchisee From Hell” alias Julia Camm from Corven. Judging from the look on her face she probably thinks she is about to have Jason Travis from Gloria Jean's for lunch! As it turned out Jason fared pretty well when he engaged with Julia as the Fraternising Franchisee. Try as she might to entangle him in her web of tricks, Jason, with some help from his peers, was able to get her to agree to stop engaging in a range of mischievous antics such as undermining the new marketing manager in meetings and sending critical emails to other franchisees.

“Fantastic to get ideas on how to handle these types of situations”

“Was a little painful to watch but great value!”

“Great drama and an excellent learning tool”

If you look hard in the distance you’ll see Chris Remedios from Bright Eyes who also engaged with the Franchisee from Hell in the Franchise Arena. Here we see him trying to calm Julia as the Frazzled Franchisee having an emotional melt down. Throughout the day several brave participants stepped into the Arena as their peers sat back thinking “Boy I’m glad that’s not me out there!”

Julia’s other personas included the Flat Franchisee and the Ferocious Franchisee. These sessions were voted by participants as one of the most popular along with the franchisee panel.

Kiwis Also Make a Great Contribution

An important part of the Summit was its open forum format where people had the opportunity to ask questions or contribute their thoughts on a specific topic. We were delighted to see our visitors from New Zealand such as Graeme McDonald from Carpet One (pictured with the microphone) involving themselves so actively in the sessions.

“The openness of everybody and the sharing of ideas was awesome.”

“Please pass on my thanks and admiration to the team for giving me such an enjoyable and informative two days.”

Rice Grains a Reminder of What’s Important

Our gift to the group at the end of the day was a talk by lifestyle psychologist, Isla Gillespie. Using rice grains in a cup as an analogy for how our feelings of self worth ebb and flow throughout the day, Isla introduced the idea that everyone needs to take responsibility for regularly topping up their own self esteem. As each person took a scoop of rice from the bag they were to state out loud something they had done that day that they felt good about.

“Isla’s talk was an awakening.”

“Helped heaps with personal/work life balance.”

“It was refreshing to spend time thinking about our needs instead of company’s and franchisees. Helped give purpose and direction to my job.”

Light Bright Venues Help to Forge Relationships

By the end of the day people were pretty relaxed. New friendships had been forged and fresh ideas collected. It was now time to wrap up, have a drink and unwind. Note the natural light coming into the room at the back. We deliberately selected venues in all three States that would enable us to create a bright, open atmosphere as we feel this contributes to relaxation, clear thinking and good communication.

“I loved the feel of the room.”

“Enjoyed the fun and open environment where we could all share ideas.”

Behind the Scenes Conversations

Now here’s an interesting scenario – a psychologist interviewing a psychologist! Isla Gillespie talks to FRI’s Managing Director, Greg Nathan, about facilitation, field management and the universe. A DVD with the highlights and lessons from Field Manager Week is currently in production and will be soon available for purchase. Stay tuned.

And Finally, the Girls in Black Who Made It All Happen

Field Manager Week was an enormous undertaking as it spanned three States in six days and involved the coordination of 30 panelists, 30 mini-forum facilitators, 9 keynote presentations, 24 Masterclasses and a Franchisee from Hell (who proved to be a real handful) as well as looking after the needs of 287 participants. The event largely fell on the shoulders of Nikki Bower, Debb Lowe and Ree-Anna Chatman (seen here on the move catching up with their partners as they travel between venues). Their focus, team work and relentless attention to detail was magical. From everyone who enjoyed the event, thanks girls!

Perhaps it’s fitting to finish this report with a note from a senior franchisor executive who wrote to us after the event:

“I just wanted to write you a few of lines in appreciation for what I experienced over the last couple days. I came away with a better understanding of franchising, a better understanding of people, better networked and I believe I will be better at what I do… I came away with tangible ideas and strategies that I can use and make my own and more importantly share with our group – franchisees, trainers, managers, staff and franchisors alike… A huge thank you to your support staff including Ree-Anna and Nikki – they were particularly friendly, helpful and organised and more importantly from my point of view involved in the process of making things smoother for me as a participant”

Bruno Ceraso, General Manager, Souvlakihut