As Vice President of Business Development of Huntington Learning Center, I travel around the country almost every single week of the year meeting with our 300+ franchisees to see how our products and services are performing and touch base with the invaluable tutors and leaders that make it possible. Though it can be exhausting spending so much time on the road, I love doing it because I’ve found that in-person meetings are often the most effective opportunities to foster vital conversations and make sure our system partnership is strong.
Below are some helpful reminders that prepare me to maximize the visit and make sure the momentum continues.
Every Team is Unique
When I meet with a team from one of the 300+ Huntington Learning Center locations it is easy to get into a routine and conduct the same types of meetings and discussions. To avoid this, before each meeting, I make it a priority to speak with our operations and franchise development teams to see what their latest conversations have been with the group(s) I am about to meet and also to find out the latest wins and areas of opportunity our franchisees have felt across the country. With this information I can better listen and understand the wins and potential concerns the franchisee addresses, we can get to the important information faster and ultimately lead to a more productive and worthwhile meeting.
Your Meeting is Only as Good as the Information You Digest
We are a nationwide system, which means there’s a lot of information disseminated across multiple channels constantly. It’s critical that the information is digested appropriately. As a team, each representative has a strategic goal and objective in terms of presenting, training and implementing what’s communicated. When I meet with team members, I make sure that the meeting complements our vision and strategy. Because we have lots of touch-points it’s important to be relevant and keep redundancy to a minimum (it is a fine line of course, because sometimes it’s important to reinforce a particular point) and practice, practice practice. When meeting, I make sure the franchise owner does most of the talking. During the conversation, I enhance topics to update the owner on key strategies and how they impact each center. Through open-ended questions and by taking notes, I’m able to synthesize the information to make sure we are all on the same page. The goal is for each person to participate and contribute to the overall objectives and to make sure we capture the necessary information.
Set Realistic Expectations for Next Steps
I pick up so many wonderful ideas and suggestions from our franchisees when I’m on the road – many of which have been implemented in our business and seen great results. However, when you’re working with a nationwide system, the process of change isn’t as simple as making a switch overnight. Often, we have to evaluate ideas, put together a team to oversee development, test them in a few markets and if they’re successful, put together a plan to start rolling them out system-wide. Therefore, it is important to maintain active communication and build accountability by updating the teams on the status of their ideas. This will empower your teams and build a culture of inclusion and innovation.
Always Gain Feedback
After I visit a franchisee or we have a regional meeting, a survey or follow-up note is sent to the folks I met with to gain feedback and to ensure both parties left our meeting on the same page. Did the format work? Did the team leave feeling like they were able to discuss relevant information? Were clear next steps established? Surveys allow you to check the pulse of your team and make sure your visit made the impact you intended. If not, you have great data to make the next one more beneficial.