Franchise Training Methods Matter

Author: Marla Rosner

Date: MAY 8th, 2015

Topic: Industry Experts

Training in a franchise system is the key means of imparting the franchised business concept to franchisees. It serves as the DNA to replicate the brand from location to location. As such, it is a critical function requiring time, expertise and investment by the franchisor. The corporate wisdom in terms of processes and procedures is not only imparted to franchisees but must also cascade down to all personnel.

If, as a franchisor, you are evaluating the results of your training program, consider whether the training methods you are using need an overhaul. While franchisor intentions may be good, poor articulation of training goals and ignoring best methods to achieve them can mean that training doesn’t achieve its intended objectives. One of the most common missteps is confusing “telling” with “teaching”. Armed with operations manuals and faced with the task of imparting everything about their methods, franchise training programs often rely on subject matter experts in operations, marketing and financial management to take turns at the front of a room re-stating content in the manuals or reviewing bullet points from Power Point slides. Not only do emerging franchise companies, fall prey to this fire-hose method of training new franchisees but so do some mature companies that have been established for years.

If this is your company’s approach, by the time franchisees leave the class to launch their businesses they are likely overwhelmed with content while at the same time challenged to operate the business. Sending corporate teams to the new location to assist with and help train employees during business opening is critical, however it likely does not compensate for gaps in franchisee competencies left by training methods in the corporate office training program focused primarily on knowledge transfer.

Though a Federal Disclosure Document and franchise agreement will specify the duration of franchise training, these legal documents typically only refer to the portion of the program that occurs at the corporate office. While this may include time outside of the classroom and in an actual unit or simulated business setting, franchisors should think about training as a process that extends beyond the initial designated time period at the corporate office. Most established franchises have substantive ”pre-training” sessions prior to the corporate office program and varied means of building on the classroom training once franchisees have opened their locations.

Common training best practices include:

  • Multiple pre-training webinars and quizzes.
  • Classroom training for franchisees and general managers that utilize training methods requiring hands on practice, role plays, case studies and observation and participation at an actual location.
  • Post-training webinars and/or classroom days back at the corporate office once franchisees have gotten their feet wet in their operation.

How To Determine When to Address Training Topics

Many decisions about training programs become clear when training objectives are defined. Bring stakeholders and subject matter experts together and have the team consider the following questions:

  1. What attitudes do we want franchisees to have and to generate in their businesses? What is our corporate culture, how do we convey that and how do we gain franchisees’ alignment?
  2. What knowledge do franchisees need? What information is required?
  3. What skills does the franchisee need? Note, skills are different than information. Skills are made up of a set of behaviors whereas absorbing information is essentially a cognitive function.

Your answer to these questions dictates the training methods that will be most effective.

Note, field staff play a critical role in extending training beyond the classroom. Communication between corporate trainers and those field staff that will take the franchisee the next step in their training is essential if field personnel are to be effective in their training role.

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