Is Quarterly Business Planning the Key to Your Franchise’s Success?

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If the last twelve months have shown us anything, it’s that a lot can happen in a year. In an uncertain business climate, quarterly planning allows franchises to track trends and make changes proactively.

When you’re running your own business, it’s important to set clear goals and lay out actionable plans. It’s also important to celebrate your wins, however small they might seem. For a modern business owner in a fast-paced world, quarterly business planning could be the perfect answer.

What is quarterly business planning?

Quarterly business planning is a method by which some businesses choose to structure their goal-setting. It can be used either apart from, or in conjunction with, an annual business plan, which sets larger, longer-term goals.

If your franchise settles on a quarterly business plan, you’ll set out your vision and action plan every 90 days. In your team meeting (or your solo reflection), you’ll review the goals you set previously, set new goals, and celebrate everything you’ve accomplished over the past three months. The goals you set when you’re planning on a quarterly basis will likely be smaller, and more focused. Because of this, the goals might feel more achievable and easy-to-manage from an employee perspective.

For franchisors, quarterly business reviews could function as a built-in chance to catch up with franchisees regularly - just one of the 14 ways you should really be supporting your franchisees.

Quarterly versus annual planning

Annual planning and quarterly planning are both solid strategies in their own ways. They come with different strengths, and different weaknesses. Some of the strengths of annual planning include:

  • Planning in the longer term allows for ambitious, wide goals to be set. These goals might be more exciting, or more directly connected to the ethos of the brand.

  • Meeting just once a year to lay out a detailed plan means that, with a year’s worth of customer data on hand, there’s more scope for reflection and strategisation.

  • The yearly format of this kind of planning coincides with many different annual reporting requirements for businesses.

  • When used alongside quarterly planning goals, annual goals can set the tone and foundation for the more granular goals which are set in each quarter.

What are the advantages of quarterly planning?

What about the pros of quarterly planning? We’ve touched on a few - more chances to catch up, goals that are more easily manageable and achievable - but there are many more:

  • As quarters are only 90 days long, there’s not a lot of time to procrastinate. With the deadline just three months away, employees might feel more inclined to get to work right away, rather than putting things off.

  • Quarterly goals allow for the real-time measurement of KPIs (key performance indicators) and the completion of OKRs (objectives and key results).

  • Shorter-term goals are more likely to remain relevant. Often, what matters most to a company will shift within the year, and when another annual meeting comes around, the goals set the previous January might feel distant and unimportant.

  • Meeting every three months and making changes as they’re required allows for much more dynamic adjustment and flexibility. Your franchise will have an easier time staying on track if something unexpected happens, either to your business or in the wider world.

  • According to HR expert Josh Bersin, companies who plan on a quarterly basis make 31% more progress towards their set goals [Forbes].

Quarterly business planning basics

For your franchise to successfully navigate the transition between annual business planning and quarterly business planning, you’ll need to know the basics. Here’s how to smoothly make the change:

  1. Take a look at your existing long-term goals.
  2. Break these goals into categories. The categories will differ depending on which type of business you’re running. A car and automotive franchise, for example, might have very different categories to a pet franchise.
  3. Turn broad, long-term thoughts into actionable goals, achievable in three months or less.
  4. Prepare ahead of time for your first meeting, and go into it with a clear idea of what you want to achieve.
  5. Hold your first quarterly business meeting. Set OKRs and KPIs. Set realistic timelines, and be clear about your expectations. Assign responsibilities and delegate tasks.
  6. Be sure to involve all your team members in this planning meeting - executives, managers and general staff. If everyone is clued in, everyone is actively working together to carry out the plan and positively shape the future of your franchise.

At future meetings:

  • Review previous OKRs and KPIs

  • Set new OKRs and KPIs

  • Dynamically respond to any situations that require your attention - discuss and determine necessary adjustments and actions moving into the next quarter

The most important things to include in your quarterly planning meeting are a recap on the last quarter, a rundown of initiatives being implemented in the coming quarter, and a clear set of goals [Databox].

Quarterly business planning tips

1. Track goals of every kind using project management tools

Project management softwares can help your franchise to define and clearly view your quarterly goals and actions. 

2. Categorise your goals

Are they company goals, team goals, or individual goals? Categorising your goals in this way will show everyone what they need to focus on, and will create a sense of personal responsibility in each and every member of the franchise team. It will also help to add a sense of scale to the set goals, and will ensure that people have a chance to voice concerns if they feel the task they’ve been set isn’t possible. 

3. Stay open to new ideas and group discussion of potential targets

Quarterly planning gives you more facetime with your entire team, and you should use this gift to your advantage. Work as a team to implement effective business planning strategies and set suitable goals.

4. Prepare for your quarterly meeting in advance, and ask all team members to do the same

Go into your meeting with a clear head, and a written agenda for what you’d like to discuss. Ask everyone involved in the meeting to do the same, and you can be sure that all the people in the room have spent time considering their goals for themselves and the franchise ahead of time. 

If you’re searching for more advice on securing future franchise success, take a look at our latest articles.

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