If you’re reopening after a year of uncertainty, you’ve got an opportunity. A chance to stop chugging along as you were before and assess where changes need to be made in order to achieve the best results possible. How? By giving your franchise business a post-COVID audit, of course.
A business audit in a post-pandemic world will help you to reassess your franchise through the lens of 2021, giving you an insight into what is and isn’t working, and what can be enhanced and improved. There’s no need to carry old, unproductive habits into the future of your business if you’ve realised, during the past year, that they aren’t serving you.
What is a business audit?
A ‘business audit’ is one of the many terms that you’ll come across as a franchisee. It’s just a way in which a business owner can evaluate their operations to establish whether or not they’re meeting specific criteria. After an event as huge and impactful as a global pandemic, it makes sense to check in with your business again, and pay attention to what’s changed. A business audit will allow you to:
- Determine the adequacy of your franchise
- Promote best practices and refocus employee priorities
- Ensure ongoing compliance with all policies and regulations
- Pick up on and correct operational inefficiencies
- Identify potential cost-saving areas
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Why complete a business operations audit post-COVID?
Since March 2020, a lot has changed. As the UK’s path to reopening continues, many will be reassessing their lives, their businesses, and the changes that they might need to make. In fact, 54% of people polled wanted to learn from the crisis and make changes to their lives [YouGov], and almost all industries have been impacted in some way, in the past year, that necessitates operational changes be made.
Changes tackled in a post-COVID business audit might be more personal, like making a commitment to implementing more sustainability measures after months of reflection. On the other hand, changes might be more motivated by sector trends, like offering customers food delivery options as well as eat-in options in order to meet the growing demand for high quality food, delivered to the customer’s doorstep.
It might even be that from a purely practical standpoint, COVID has shown you that you don’t need your office space, or you don’t need that central location for your storefront that you thought would be integral to your success. Franchisors and franchisees should be pooling resources to determine how a franchise unit can best find success.
When you’re working day-in, day-out, with little time to pause, it can be hard to notice the habits you pick up that aren’t working, and aren’t serving your business. Whether it's a larger scale change that you think would help, or even something as simple as skipping an overcomplicated step in an operational process to free up employee time, stopping to audit your situation before jumping straight back into the water will serve you well.
For many established businesses, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to simplify, shrink, and get rid of old rules, processes, and commitments that make little or no sense today in the new global economy.
– Howard Tullman, Inc. Magazine
Giving your franchise a post-COVID audit in 5 simple steps
So, what goes into a business operations audit? And what do you need to cover, post-pandemic? Here’s how you can give your franchise a thorough review in five simple steps...
1. Review your marketing methods
Often, franchisees will be following a marketing plan set by their franchisor. Other times, a franchisee will hold sole responsibility for advertising their franchise unit. Regardless, whoever is in charge of selling the unit will need to continually assess whether marketing efforts have been successful. What’s worked in the past year, and why? What might work instead? Ask probing questions, do your research, and ensure that your marketing is actually working to generate interest.
2. Review your methods of attracting new business
Are the processes in place for attracting new business up to standard? Are they working as they should, and if not, why not? Is it possible that the franchise’s target customer has shifted, or that industry trends have changed demand for your products and services? Gather data, gather information, and respond to all that you learn upon review by making changes and repositioning things as needed.
3. Review your finances
Well managed finances are key to franchise success, and the impact of COVID-19 on the financial health of businesses up and down the UK has been very much felt. Are your financial practices still viable in 2021, and will they enable you to recoup COVID losses over time? Avoid digging yourself deeper into a financial hole by staying on top of your situation.
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4. Review your methods of management
Good employees are the lifeblood of a successful business, and they must be managed effectively for a number of reasons - to keep them happy and satisfied at work, to keep them updated on the latest operational procedures and industry information, to keep everything ticking over smoothly. After a challenging year, check in with your employees. Discover how you’ve supported them well, and listen to the improvements to your management style that could still be made.
5. Review your operating procedures
As mentioned above, even smaller changes to the unproductive habits of the business can have an impact. The removal of unnecessary processes, or the changing of premises to a less costly location, for example. Re-evaluate workplace procedures, production procedures and sales procedures. Assess supplier relationships, keep an eye on inventory, and ensure any and all equipment is receiving regular maintenance.
Running a successful franchise in 2021 is all about adaptation and flexibility
If you want to run a successful franchise in 2021, you need to adapt. You need to be flexible to changing needs and demands post-COVID. For more on the pulse, post-pandemic advice, discover the state of franchising in a post-COVID world, or browse Point Franchise’s range of sector spotlight articles to discover how all kinds of industries are making their post-COVID comebacks.
Cara Squires, Point Franchise ©