by Evan Hackel

What do you see when you visit one of your franchise locations?

  • Do you see a business where employees wear your uniform, where products are displayed using approved displays, and where you sense the power of your strong brand at work?
  • Or do you see an operation where employees are wearing whatever they want, where many non-franchise-approved products and services are sold, where signage is not uniform, and where you get the feeling that you are visiting just any kind of company, not one that is part of your franchise family?

If you find yourself in that second kind of location, you are in a franchise where the owner has decided to ignore your systems and run the business as though it were his or her personal enterprise and not a franchise at all.

How serious a problem is that? It is a very serious problem indeed. Because when individual franchises are not run in compliance with your franchise’s system and operations manual, your entire franchise becomes weaker, less profitable, and devalued in the marketplace. As a result, the growth of your franchise slows and stalls.

But when owners comply with your system, many good outcomes happen. Let’s explore some of the reasons why.

When All Franchisees Use Your Systems . . .

  • Existing franchisees are great validators for your system, because they can tell prospective owners, “This company has my back . . . it offers proven systems and training and a strong brand . . . it is a great franchise to own.”
  • Existing franchisees are better able to expand in size and add new locations, because they are utilizing proven tools that require less effort and investment on their part.
  • All your locations play a vital role in supporting and building a unified and powerful brand.
  • Individual franchises become more profitable by using the advertising and marketing programs that your parent company makes available to them.
  • Your franchisees are happier and make fewer costly mistakes because they are using a proven system that has been tested.
  • Customers like to do business with you, because they value working with a company that delivers a consistent and excellent customer experience.

How do you develop and deliver training that helps your current franchises grow and prosper, attracts new franchisees and supports system-wide development? Let’s take a closer look.

Some Keys to a Training System that Supports Development and Growth

First, make sure training is part of your franchise culture . . .  

That means writing it into the franchise’s new mission and vision statements, talking about it at conferences and conventions, measuring who is taking the training, and comparing their performance to that of the people who are not. When training is part of the culture, franchisees understand that they are going to succeed as owners, even before they come on board.

Second, train from the business system . . .

A franchise organization is an operating system that contains information such as, “This is how we greet guests,” “These are our values” and, “This is how we do things here.” That system needs to be documented, typically in the form of an operations manual. But how do that system and those beliefs become alive? Through training. So when you are about to build training, look first to your system to determine what you are going to train on.

Third, don’t try to teach everything immediately . . .

Many young franchise systems make this mistake. Their owners think, “We have great products, great marketing materials, great branding, a great system . . . and we are going to train everybody about every single piece of it all.”

When franchises try to cram too much information into every learner’s head, the result is like trying to get them to drink from a firehose. They cannot absorb everything, so they feel overwhelmed and actually learn less.

The solution is to think creatively and strategically about which things need to be trained, and when. What are the most important skills and knowledge to teach brand new owners? Which skills can be taught later, when owners have opened locations? Which concepts should be taught even later, when owners are staffing up, or getting involved in marketing and expanding?

Fourth, offer training in a blended fashion – in person and online . . .

Trainees absorb more information when you deliver it in several formats. You can, for example, use a professional speaker to motivate a class of new or current franchise owners, then provide instructor-led classroom training, and then continue to follow up with lessons your franchisees can take on tablet computers or smartphones.

A blended approach results in better learning and also allows you to deliver training effectively and economically to franchises in multiple locations.

Fifth, measure the results . . .

The only way to measure the results of your training is to identify metrics that you will measure before training starts, and after it is completed. What was the size of the average sale in your store before you provided sales training, for example, and how did that figure change after your sales training program? How many appliances were your installers able to install in a single day before they took your installation training, and how did that figure change in the weeks and months after training was over?

Measuring offers you the only way to understand the effectiveness of your training as well as the ROI you are getting from your training dollars.

Which Franchises Are the Most Likely to Thrive and Grow?

The most successful and durable franchises all share one trait. They have strong operational support and offer the best training.

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