Nearly every business has areas for improvement and can realize greater success whether that be in sustainable growth, accountability or achieving their grand vision. Franchise businesses can leap-frog over the initial growing pains and mistakes (often valuable learning experiences) that got the franchise brand to the well-oiled, process-driven machine it is today. By jumping a level and foregoing the initial pain of refining the process, franchises differentiate themselves from other business models. However, according to Honkamp Krueger & Co., P.C., a Top 100 CPA and business consulting firm and market leader in franchise services, this creates a missing link between managing the day-to-day operations of a franchise unit and experiencing high performance and sustainable growth despite the provided resources.
Ryan Burbach, CPA, senior manager at Honkamp Krueger, states, “Inheriting immediate resources and name recognition that allow for a successful business model is a dream for many franchise owners. The problem is, when this dream turns into reality, they are wearing a never-ending rotation of hats in the form of human resources (HR), payroll, internal controls, risk mitigation, accounting, finance and tax. The franchise model has given them an advantage, but they experience the same grind as any other business owner. They struggle to prioritize business planning, measurement and growth above the day-to-day work.”
To address these issues, Honkamp Krueger has developed a business advisory model unlike anything in the market today: decision support services. This unique and flexible approach delves into a franchise’s data, both financial and non-financial, to help educate the owner and key team members on how day-to-day activities impact the performance of the company as a whole. Decision support services paints a clearer picture of how the business is currently operating and where it can go from there. Burbach explains, “With systems often in place to collect key metrics identified by the franchisor, decision support services is a natural fit for franchise owners.”
By teaming up with Honkamp Krueger’s decision support team members and CPA trusted advisors, franchise owners are provided a unique package that includes everything from outsourced bookkeeping functions, accounting, tax, and management report and dashboards, to strategic planning, and employee engagement. This is surrounded by ongoing support and accountability to performance metrics and long-term goals.
To test this approach, Honkamp Krueger offers business owners who are highly interested in the decision support services model a complimentary 90 minute discovery session. During this time, the business owner and his/her leadership team openly discuss alignment toward the franchise’s vision. Burbach explains, “We have a culture obsessed with helping our clients achieve the success and lifestyle that drove them into business ownership in the first place. The complimentary discovery session allows interested business owners an opportunity to sample our unique approach and decide if it’s right for them.”
This process includes the critical $COPE assessment, which is conducted online by the owner and key team members. Honkamp Krueger’s model examines financials ($), customers, sales and marketing (C), operations (O), HR (people), development and engagement (P), and the end in mind (E). This process helps the franchise owner understand his/her long-term goals and plans to achieve them.
Results of $COPE are compiled and reviewed with the client’s team, with a focus on improving the business and obtaining buy-in from employees. “Employee involvement is encouraged and often improves their attitude in performing jobs that may typically pay close to minimum wage. To be able to motivate and excite that type of employee tells me we are on to something special with our approach,” states Burbach.
One of the most crucial components of the model is Honkamp Krueger’s dashboard and multi-unit, or location, reporting. The decision support team works with franchise owners to centralize and improve efficiencies in the bookkeeping and reporting process. By creating custom reports, Honkamp Krueger provides multi-unit clients with benchmarking information that can be used to compare locations or manager-specific performance, create alerts and dig into trends which can be valuable in sharing best practices across locations.
Through greater efficiencies, better data, and implementation of this new process, the owner gets more comfortable and can start to focus on other areas of their business to improve and feel better about scaling and adding more locations.
Burbach explains, “We provide you with implementable actions and accountability to help you better understand how your processes and people affect your financial outcomes. It’s one thing to have all the data and info; it’s another to do something about it. That’s where we bridge the gap between what your numbers are saying and what they actually mean.”
Technology plays a key role in the decision support model. Through the use of cloud-based solutions, Honkamp Krueger focuses on efficiency, ensuring the time spent with their clients is high-energy and impactful. Shannon Hunter, CPA, decision support manager, explains, “The value of our client’s time is stressed to our team. With this principle in mind, we leverage our deep understanding of our client’s situation with a suite of cloud-based solutions to provide multi-unit reporting, benchmarking and key performance indicator (KPI) reports that are timely, accurate and easy to understand. Through our process, the client and their team will understand the numbers and can strategize their day-to-day activities to see what is working and what needs to be re-evaluated.”
Comparing the data with the processes in this way and seeing in what areas each location is excelling or could use improvement, helps franchise owners develop strategies and best practices, and apply them across multiple locations for a better overall performance.
When the planning stage is complete, decision support services picks up where most strategic planning leaves off, with thorough implementation and accountability. “Too often, we see businesses spinning their wheels unable to pinpoint the true causes of issues they are facing. They may have a strategic plan, but it’s just sitting on a shelf. We’re hoping to disrupt that,” Hunter adds.
With testing and monitoring processes in place, coupled with the accountability provided by the decision support team, owners can find time to step away from the day-to-day processes and the multiple hats they wear. Greg Burbach, CPA, CFP®, managing partner at Honkamp Krueger, adds, “When efficient processes are reinforced and consistently followed, financial and non-financial data is readily available and acted upon, and the picture of the future becomes clearer, a business becomes more attractive and valuable in the marketplace. When it’s time to exit, this often leads to bigger returns down the road and can attract a better buyer, which is something the franchisor is also happy about.”
Decision support is a model which any business, franchise or not, can benefit. Nearly every business has areas for improvement and can realize greater success whether that be in sustainable growth, accountability or achieving their grand vision. Honkamp Krueger helps clients see the value of planning for their businesses, livelihood and the legacy they’ve envisioned for their family and their community.
“Through the entire decision support planning process, our main focus is to get the franchise owners working on their business instead of in their business. If we can help our clients get a little more sleep at night and spend more time with their families, we’ve done our job,” states Greg Burbach.