So you want to check brand standards across your business, to all franchisees and locations. What do you do? Do you rely on your district managers, their experience and personal touch or do you deploy checklists for all to follow?
Maybe the answer is not so black and white. Let’s dive in.
Checklists largely consist of yes/no answers to mostly static questions. When a district manager fill-out a checklist that rates the store against the brand’s standards and best practices, she is collecting very structured data. Yet this same district manager has the benefit of experience and the ability to have two-way unstructured communication with the franchisee. What if it took both to drive performance in your stores?
Checklists let you know what works, where and when.
The modern world runs on checklists and structured data. Structured data lets us know what works, where and when. It gives unequivocal data points that let us compare apples to apples. Structured data offers guidelines that are easy to follow. The checklist amounts to shared expectations between the brand, the district manager and the franchisee to document, in no unequivocal terms, what is expected. The structured data collected by checklists goes further: it allows us to spot trends and opportunities. Since you can’t manage what you can’t measure, checklists support management decisions and corporate strategy.
experience is the Glue
For all its virtues, the structured data collected by checklists mostly tells us what the problem is, not necessarily what the solution should be. This is where experience comes in. Successful retailers leverage their district managers’ experience and understanding of each store. Sometime “human touch” is needed to aid problem solving. It requires the district manager and franchisee to have an honest, open and collaborative two-way conversation. This approach shines where the path to the corrective action is unclear and/or heavily dependent on the franchisee’s specific situation.
Checklists Need Experienced District Managers (and Vice Versa)
For all the benefits of experience, leaning on experience alone can be dangerous. Experience is hard to scale, hard to measure and hard to manage. How are your stores actually performing? Are all district managers interacting with stores at the same level? Are your stores consistently getting the help they need? Where are you strong, weak or trending down? Can you even tell?
Without the structured data collected by checklists to guide the experience of the District Manager, a retail business is putting its reputation at stake and has no way of ensuring the consistent execution of brand standards across the chain. In conclusion, to drive performance and brand standards in all your users, use checklists coupled with the experience of your district managers.