One of the biggest challenges associated with running a franchise territory is figuring out how to stay productive throughout the day, thus ensuring you achieve your goals. We have all had days where we struggle to get things done, trapped in a never-ending loop of distraction and frustration. However, Tim Morris, a franchise veteran and customer service expert – now MD of inbound comms specialist, Cymphony – believes there are plenty of ways franchisees can avoid these situations and boost their productivity at work.
Becoming a franchisee is often a life-changing experience. And, as with any new venture, when you start out you are likely to have plenty of enthusiasm for even the dullest of tasks. However, sustaining said enthusiasm and efficiency throughout your franchising journey is the key to success. Although, this is easier said than done.
Every franchisee is unique, meaning various factors can hamper efficiency. No matter your problem, here are some sure-fire ways to boost your productivity.
Think about your barriers
Before you read any further, think about your biggest distractions and what you can do to avoid them. If nothing springs to mind, then note down what distracts you every time your attention is pulled away from your work. After a while, you will notice clear patterns in your behaviour emerging and be able to take steps towards addressing the issues ruining your focus and effectiveness.
For example, say you follow this advice and recognise that you find it difficult to tear yourself away from your phone screen during work hours. The solution to this could be to download apps to block your access to time-sapping websites and other software while you are working. Doing this gives you the best chance of reducing distractions and staying on task to make the most of your time at work.
Develop a routine and stick to it
One of the best things about being a franchisee is that you will have a lot more freedom to choose your working hours. However, it is still important to develop a good routine to help you hit your targets.
The first thing I recommend doing when developing your routine is to learn how to set your priorities for the day. To do this, identify your three most important tasks. Then set time aside in your calendar to accomplish them. This allows members of your team to see that you are busy and not to be disturbed, while simultaneously carving out a chunk of time to focus solely on one task at a time. By time blocking, you can also clearly see how much time you have for smaller tasks.
As well as time management, I advise you take short breaks in between tasks. After concentrating intensely for an hour, it is vital to ensure you take a five-minute active break to unwind and reset. Think of your brain as a computer; if you use it for too long without shutting it down, it will start to overheat and lag. So, take a break every now and then by getting up, walking around, and breathing some fresh air. This mild exercise will make you feel happier and more motivated. Use a timer to help keep track of when to take your breaks, or there are plenty of web and smartphone apps available if you need additional help keeping to the times.
Finally, put time constraints on your working day – and stick to them. Are you guilty of idly scrolling through email messages after work or on the weekend? If the answer is yes, you might be impacting your productivity during your actual work time. Being constantly connected to work can make it challenging to define boundaries between work, home and leisure. Keeping these aspects of your life separate can help you be more present during each one. Muting your email and social media notifications on your phone when you leave work helps too.
To make the most of your routine at the end of each working week, assess how well you were able to follow your schedule. Note some areas of improvement that worked well for you and consider any adjustments you may need to make to be more successful or reach your goals.
Work smarter, not harder
Believe it or not, being productive does not mean working incredibly long hours every day of the week. It means using your time efficiently and squeezing every bit of potential out of it. One way you can work smarter instead of harder is to automate certain tasks that take up too much of your time. For example, using services like QuickBooks or Xero for your accounting will make this task much easier and quicker.
Franchisees often find themselves wearing multiple hats whilst running their business. If your workload is hampering your business’s efficacy, perhaps it is time to consider bringing someone in to help. Hiring a new staff member will give you more time to develop and grow your business. However, if the cost of living has you watching your pennies, outsourcing your services can be a far cheaper and more effective alternative. Say you need help answering customer calls or messages; outsourcing your inbound communications will mean your calls will be fielded by a trained customer service expert. And the best part… you only pay for what you use. This means you can focus on other tasks, safe in the knowledge that your inbound communications are being taken care of.
Luckily, as a franchisee, your franchisor will most likely have already developed software or systems that can help you work more constructively. Ensuring you use every bit of support offered in your franchise package is the first step to success. It is also worth speaking to fellow franchisees in the network, as they have probably found helpful solutions and easier ways to complete tasks over their years in business.
Complete your most difficult tasks first
When you get to work in the morning, you can be forgiven for wanting to ease yourself into the day with the jobs you enjoy and leaving the tedious ones until the end. As Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen for the rest of the day.” This is an apt metaphor for effective time management, and if you spend the whole day thinking about a boring or difficult task, it can spoil even the fun bits of your work.
Starting the day with your most challenging jobs makes the rest of your day easier. And without a constant sense of dread hanging over you, you are far more likely to enjoy your day and be more productive whilst working. It will take discipline and willpower to master this step, but it is certainly worthwhile for all franchisees to practise.
No one is perfect, so plan for distractions
When running a franchise territory, it is essential to plan for distractions to minimise the impact they have on your business. No matter how hard you try, the likelihood of your routine going completely to plan every day is unlikely. Even the business heavyweights of this world get distracted. So, do not beat yourself up if you do too.
For instance, if you are a parent, you may have to collect your child from school when they are sick. In this case, you will be pulled away from your business unexpectedly. One solution could be that you decide to work from home so you can address all your responsibilities at the same time. Another solution is having an outsourced provider you can ‘switch on’ when you are going to be unavailable.
Remember, time is money when it comes to running your franchise territory. So, you cannot just stop answering calls and responding to customer emails. To remove the distraction of customer emails, I suggest using email autoresponders. This allows you to schedule time into your day where you can address customer service issues instead of jumping in and out of them. To cover all bases, outsourcing your inbound communication services is a fantastic way to ensure your business responds to all calls and social media messages too.
Productivity is something that eludes all of us from time to time. However, following these tips will help you to switch to a productive mindset and build your successful business in the long term.
About the author
Tim Morris is the MD of Cymphony, a communications provider helping thousands of clients to build customer relationships from the first interaction. Cymphony’s vision is to provide an exceptional inbound customer experience for all businesses in the UK.