Fast food operations are big business – let’s face it there’s at least one fast food outlet in every one-horse town in the US and throughout the world. In fact, there are some 3.7 million people employed in the fast food industry, making it a sizable contributor to the country’s GDP. Managing and communicating with this sprawling network of quasi-independent franchises is a real challenge for head office. In this article we look at one technological solution, which in a single platform offers a range of business tools that help franchisors to manage and maintain control of their network of fast food outlets: it’s the company intranet.
Challenges Faced By Head Office
In a nutshell oversight, control and consistency are the main challenges facing head office. Safeguarding the brand’s reputation and ensuring that the same high standards are consistently applied are also high on the list of priorities. It’s a major source of pride for brands such as McDonald’s that a quarter pounder bought in Lincoln, Nebraska looks and tastes exactly the same as the one bought in Moscow, Russia.
Ensuring this sort of consistency of approach and maintaining the necessary oversight requires close management of employees and processes as well as clear communication of what’s required. The franchise intranet is a fully integrated platform that can tick all those boxes. From onboarding new staff members and disseminating promotional material to streamlined communication and online training and development, the company intranet will help your franchise to worker smarter. Let’s look in detail at the specific challenges faced by head office and how the intranet can address them.
Oversight Of Food Franchises
The necessary foundation for having oversight of the fast food franchises is setting clear expectations in the first place. It’s very important that franchises know what’s expected and the company intranet is the perfect central repository for this sort of knowledge management. Whether it’s the latest food safety requirements issued by the US Food and Drug Administration, or internal guidelines on utilizing the company brand and marketing collateral, the intranet’s knowledge database will contain all the very latest information. Using the intuitive menu and search functionality, franchises can quickly and easily find the information they’re after using tags, titles or headings.
What’s more, the intranet will enable head office to keep track of which staff members have accessed and read essential guidance. So if it’s a requirement for franchisees to have digested the latest operating manual, then the intranet’s reporting capabilities allow head office to see at a glance which operators have done so.
The same applies to onboarding of new staff members. A centralized onboarding program can be devised by head office to include all the basic information that new staff need: company vision and values and standard operating procedures as well as personnel form-filling requirements, even down to how-to videos on the perfect way to make a burger. The company intranet enables head office to have oversight of this key element and to check that new staff members have completed all the requirements.
And this level of oversight and readily accessible data is important when it comes to reporting on legislative compliance to inspectors and government agencies.
Maintaining control of corporate logos, branding and marketing collateral is a critical function for head office. And protecting that all-important brand image and reputation can be achieved via the franchise intranet. The very latest corporate approved logos, adverts, marketing materials and other branding resources can be held in a central hub on the intranet for franchisees to access. In this way head office maintains control of the brand’s public image whilst local operations can have confidence that the materials they are accessing are compliant with head office requirements. This self-service approach will also free up head office staff from dealing with inquiries, phone calls and emails from individual fast-food establishments and so is a great all-round time saver.
In addition, standard contracts or agreements relating to supplies or services across the franchise can also be held centrally. This protects head office and individual franchises from unnecessary legal challenges or potential costs in relation to an individual franchise failing to meet its obligations.
We’ve touched on some aspects of this already, but the company intranet is also a great tool for ensuring the consistency of corporate messages. The news and updates feature is the perfect vehicle for disseminating the same key corporate messages simultaneously to all fast food franchises. So whether it’s an update on promotional events, details on the opening of a new store, or to report on quarterly performance, the intranet will deliver the same, consistent message. What’s more, for fast food franchises that traverse multiple geographic locations and time zones, the company intranet can be configured to publish information at an appropriate time that makes sense locally.
When it comes to business processes, the intranet can ensure a consistent approach across the whole franchise. On a daily basis head office will be sending and receiving information to the franchise operations. The franchise intranet enables the automation and standardization of these processes for the whole franchise. Existing office applications such as the Google Apps suite can be embedded within the intranet to enable the swift sharing of data across all channels. In addition, the intranet’s easy to use form builder can be utilized to replace existing paper- and email-based systems. So instead of emailing through weekly sales data or key performance indicator returns, a customized form is used to automate and streamline the process thereby ensuring consistency across all franchise operations.
Additional Company Intranet Benefits
The benefits of the intranet don’t just stop there. Companies that are already using intranets report on increased levels of employee engagement and staff morale as a result of the improved communication achieved through the intranet. Use the intranet’s blogs and shared work spaces to give employees a voice, facilitate joint working across the franchise and to share best practice. And why not introduce an element of competition between the fast food franchises with sales competitions, employee of the month and staff awards?
These are just some of the additional ways in which the franchise intranet can positively impact on your operations. Want to find out more? Then take advantage of our free demo and 14 day trial to see for yourself why a company intranet is an essential ingredient for your fast food franchise.