Recently, I listened to a webinar that reviewed a 2013 QSR Performance Study which profiled and compared the speed, accuracy, quality, and consistency (cleanliness, speaker sound, etc.) of five drive-through QSRs. The judges visited over 1,000 fast food locations for the purpose of the project – talk about a lot of chicken tenders and burgers! However, their quest into the drive-throughtopia was  worth it – the data they uncovered was mind-boggling. For instance, I learned that on average, if there are 3-5 vehicles in line at the drive-though, the service speed is 225 seconds. However, if 6+ vehicles are in line, service speed increases to 243.4 seconds. Order accuracy at one franchise was 91.6%, while it was 79.5% at another.

While I know that most major franchised quick-service companies like Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A micro-manage their drive-through time and experience at the microphone and menu-board (because they realize its inherent importance), I’m astonished by the number of franchises that don’t. They simply start franchising and never look back to make sure quality control and brand values are being maintained. It is true that once you become a franchisor, your real client is the franchisee, but an integral part of what you should be providing to your franchisees is a solid review process that will ensure customers are satisfied and help them (and therefore you) maintain a stellar brand reputation that leads to further growth and success. No franchisee likes being put under a microscope, but if you make consistent review and improvement processes part of the company culture from Day One, they understand its value and buy into it. As long as you make sure that the nature of your review process remains positive and helpful and you avoid coming across as accusatory or threatening, it will quickly reach the point that your franchisees will look forward to the review of their locations and suggestions for improvement rather than fearing it, because they will know you are on their team.

As a company that works with franchisors of varying sizes, we can tell you from experience that the longer you put off implementing a consistent and well-documented review process of your franchises for basic quality standards, like gauging time in the drive-through line, customer service, employee enthusiasm, and your “fun factor”,  the more painful and destructive it will be for everyone involved in your franchise. Picture sales tanking and all of your franchisees up-in-arms and complaining on a daily basis-kind of makes the review process sound more appealing, huh?

This blog most definitely doesn’t just apply to quick-service franchises, either. No matter what type of franchise you own, there should ALWAYS be a quality control review process firmly in place. Implementing a review process of your quality standards implies that you actually HAVE “quality” standards, and you care enough about your customer base and employees to prioritize keeping the integrity of these standards top-of-mind and fully intact. If you don’t have specific, documented quality standards that are understood and followed on a company-wide level, you have a major problem on your hands. Before your franchisees take matters into THEIR own hands and start to remake and change your concept from location to location, you need to develop and begin rigorously implementing your unique quality standards immediately. Whether you pay experts to help you with this or scrupulously and painstakingly develop your standards yourself, taking the time to visit each and every location to provide training and ensure proper implementation, it MUST be done.

Think of it this way: “quality standards” are the minimum requirement ­ they are simply that, the “standard.” As a franchisor, you should always strive for your locations to be known for not only meeting, but exceeding, your expectations for quality standards. If you don’t even have the basics in place, prepare for your franchisees to start making their own decisions on what they deem YOUR minimum standards to be. Remember, the brand experience at each of your locations should always be 100 percent and consistently AMAZING across the board.