As the chief operating officer of franchise brands for Neighborly, Mary Thompson is a pro at the art of fine-tuned franchising. Thompson, a franchise veteran who oversees ongoing operations within the world’s largest home services franchisor, was looking for more insight out in the field when she turned to FranConnect’s robust cloud platform to “systemize the delivery of our system.”
“What we were trying to do was roll up the data and understand what we were doing,” explains Thompson. “That includes where we were falling short, where we were collectively the best, where did training drive activity, action, and results, and where it did not.”
Waco, Texas-based Neighborly, with 28 brands and more than 4,500 franchises, repairs, maintains, and enhances the homes and businesses of more than 10 million customers in nine countries. Nearly every brand within the Neighborly system relies on FranConnect’s automated franchise management solutions in various ways to streamline end-to-end operations, drive growth, maximize profitability, establish best practices, and boost franchisee engagement on the brand and unit-level.
“FranConnect is part of our every day,” says Thompson, who works hand-in-hand with more than a dozen brand presidents to lead the execution of strategies.
Along with the FranConnect’s Operations platform, FranConnect provides Neighborly Brands and its franchisees wide-ranging ways to enhance productivity from a single log-in. This includes tools to boost sales, open new franchises, and manage information and KPIs, among other uses.
It didn’t take long for Thompson to see the potential of FranConnect Operations to track site visit efficiency at its Mr. Rooter brand. An analysis of real-time dashboard data revealed something about how customer service reps handled phone calls at the nation’s second-largest plumbing and draining company that wasn’t working.
“I could pull up a report and see which questions had the lowest score across the board,” Thompson says. “We found a specific instance early on in the conversations with CSR’s and customers. We changed it and gave them some extra training, and it increased our drive average.”
Like most data mining, there was some trial and error in the beginning. Initially, Thompson’s site visit analysis covered a checklist of 267 items, which ultimately was like asking for “everything, which was nothing,” she says. Too many tasks and a deluge of accompanying data made it tough to wade through and take action, much less complete. Thompson’s move to extract take-a-ways from “bite-size chunks of data” over a specified amount of time resulted in much bigger tactical rewards.
“Focus is everything,” adds Thompson, a former logistics officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, who started in franchising more than 25 years ago as a Cookies by Design multi-unit franchisee.
Thompson says FranConnect’s ability to provide Neighborly with a framework for its franchise owners, creating benchmarks to coach toward along the way, has been invaluable during the pandemic when face-to-face interactions—at least temporarily—are no longer the norm.
“Our team has no problem teaching the franchise owners how to use the technology because they use it every day,” says Thompson. “We use FranConnect for our CRM, to track all of our communication with our franchise owners. We use it to track site visits, including virtual site visits, and it is a great place to host all our documents.”
While most brands Neighborly acquires are considered to be at the high-end of the emerging segment, and in some cases, fully established, Thompson counts on the technology to meet the needs of each company – and franchise owner—where they are and where they’re going. Whether Molly Maid or newly acquired Precision Door Service, the fifth and newest service brand acquired in 2020, the customer experience for every Neighborly brand is the same.
“We have a very straightforward purpose: to create a business community that enriches people’s lives by delivering amazing experiences,” Thompson says. “We focus on our experience with the franchise owner; we want them to focus on their experience with their employees, and we want their employees to focus on their experience with the customer.”
Operations are not just about KPIs. Franchise Operations includes managing invoices, tracking royalties, franchisee engagement, executing self-assessments and brand standards. The goal is to harness that system to effectively communicate and align around goals and objectives.
In today’s uncertain operating environment, the right system is the central truth in any organization to handle tomorrow’s problems and seize future opportunities.
To make the most of FranConnect, Thompson passes on advice she received from one of her executives, who says, “don’t teach them the platform, teach them how the platform fits into their daily life.”