Franchisees see a higher probability of success than startups and independent businesses. Around 97% of franchisees report profitability. An impressive figure, considering that only 40% of startups are still operational after three years.
Yet high chances of success don’t mean it’s guaranteed. While franchises are supplied with a proven framework and the clout of a known brand, they will need training. And deploying that training across hundreds, or even thousands, of locations presents unique challenges.
Importance of Franchise Training
Franchising is not quite an out-of-the-box venture. Although critical business elements like the operations structure, marketing materials, and the products themselves come ready to be deployed, the success of each unit depends on knowledge that can only be imparted through training.
- Shows potential franchisees they will be supported
Strong training programmes strengthen your value and reputation. Prospective owners will be more encouraged to buy into a chain when they know headquarters is going to be as invested in their success as they are.
Support signals that franchisors are committed to a sustainable, long-term partnership and that they are consistently improving products and optimising operations. On-going training keeps partners up-to-date on the latest pivots in strategy, changes in policy, and how to sell or use new products and services.
- Ensures franchisees are properly equipped
Training gives franchisees the proverbial keys to the business. Courses include everything a franchisee needs to know to replicate your business model and ensure the brand standard stays consistent across the network.
Aside from profitability, a comprehensive training programme equips partners with what they need to keep staff and customers safe. Training gives franchisees a taste of what things will be like when the doors open and exposes them to nuances that can’t be gleaned from a handbook.
Biggest Challenges of Franchise Training and their Solutions
It’s one thing to read an operations manual, and another to implement it correctly. Franchise owners are not directly under the employment of headquarters, and this can give rise to a myriad of issues.
Franchisees are trying to learn the ins and outs of an entire business within the span of a couple of weeks. Even experienced business owners can get lost within the tangle of training documents and everything else they’re setting up for the opening day. The last thing your partners need is vague requirements that cause miscommunication.
Solution: Review your franchise agreement and operations manual
Make things easier for your franchisees by setting out explicit timelines and targets. Outline any mandatory courses. If they need to achieve a certain score for a module before they’re allowed to open or serve customers, make sure that’s clearly stipulated in the agreement.
Leaving no room for guesswork will save both parties time and circumvent any conflict that may arise from learners not understanding what’s expected of them. Crystal clear requirements give your franchisees a smoother runway towards opening day.
Multiple franchisees with different training needs
Franchisees can be anyone, from seasoned business owners to first-time entrepreneurs. The number of staff and the roles within will also change based on the size of the franchise unit. Franchisees can also be operating from different regions with different work cultures.
Solution: Customise training programmes for franchisees
Taking a more bespoke approach helps you achieve the goals of your training, whether that’s for product or customer service. Programmes can begin with core training that’s for all departments, then branch out with individual modules for specific purposes and roles.
Business owners will also want to look at if they’re using the appropriate medium for the topic. Online webinars can be enough for covering tax regulations and labour laws, but you’ll want a more hands-on approach with topics like workplace safety training.
Training within franchisees is lacklustre
A common mistake of brands is to treat franchisee training as perfunctory when it’s one of the main reasons people go into franchising. Franchisees buy into a franchise to get access to the franchise owner’s experience and knowledge. Anything other than comprehensive and competent coaching can quickly erode the franchisee’s trust in the system they’ve signed up to.
Solution: Set up a train-the-trainer programme
Franchise training encompasses three levels: the franchisor, the franchisee and managers/staff at the ground level. Ensuring best practices are distilled down to the last rung means it’s not only franchisors who need to be efficient trainers.
Aside from training on how to execute the handbook, franchisees and managers also need to be trained on how to pass on pertinent knowledge to in-store employees. Franchisees can also benefit from a hub where other managers share best practices, creating a rich feedback loop they can use to improve operations on the ground.
Lack of training completion tracking
Franchisors have limited visibility into the day-to-day operations of their franchisees. That makes monitoring the progress of their learners or the outcome of training programmes difficult. Some brands leave that responsibility solely on franchisees, with no way of verifying if best practices are being implemented properly.
Solution: Use a Learning Management System (LMS)
Training platforms give franchisors the ability to track when modules are completed and follow up when needed, especially if some of the courses are required for launch. Your chosen LMS should also be able to produce progress reports that you can use to identify any gaps in your learning.
Additionally, the most robust platforms allow you to create fun and engaging games-based assessments ‘gamification’ to gauge the effectiveness of training, encourage fun competition between teams and help to remove barriers to training.
Lack of training participation
In the office, learners are juggling multiple things at once. Training, even if useful, is time not spent on working on projects or getting ahead of deliverables. Franchisees and their learners, who are a layer away from the main business, can be even harder to entice to sign-up for any training session that isn’t mandatory, especially once operations are running.
Solution: Provide incentives
Countless studies have already proven the value of rewards for learning. And while skills improvement is satisfying enough for adult learners, it never hurts to add an extra incentive to keep people engaged. In fact, a well-structured rewards programme can raise performance by up to 44%.
Incentives can work particularly well for franchise training. Since it can be trickier to connect with learners as they’re not directly employed by franchisors, a rewards system is a quick and effective way to boost engagement across hundreds, if not thousands, of franchising partners and their staff.
Communicating with multiple franchises
Chains can have hundreds, even thousands, of locations. Amidst the web of franchisees, it’s easy for communication lines to get muddied, with no way for learners to provide feedback on training, or to ask for help.
Solution: Take advantage of training software
When it comes to business communications, the challenge isn’t finding a channel. It’s how to cascade and trade data across the large network of franchise systems without it turning into a convoluted game of telephone.
To make sure information is being transmitted effectively and accurately, businesses may want to designate a dedicated learning platform for franchisees. Ideally, these platforms allow for real-time replies and calls. Fast and easy communication is key when you’re navigating a network that includes scores of professionals on their own busy schedules.
Franchisee performance degrades over time
Many choose to franchise because there’s a lower barrier to entry. You don’t need to come up with a trailblazing product idea, or carve a niche–the viability of the business model has already been proven. However, this ready-made framework is also prone to degradation over time. Franchisees can become complacent, and franchisors can end up neglecting individual units.
Solution: Maintain ongoing and refresher training programmes
Franchises are built on the back of a beloved product or a tried-and-tested service. Yet nothing in business is truly static. Strategies and targets change. What’s working today may no longer be working tomorrow.
Training needs to continuously reflect these changes. Updated courses and follow-up courses allow franchisees to benefit from the knowledge of the entire network. It also helps unify the brand’s image and lets franchisees maintain a standard service level across locations.
With business concepts already proven, and products already having a share of the market, there’s only one thing left that will determine the success of new franchise units: training.
At Wahoo Learning, we can help franchise owners secure the success of their entire franchising systems with bespoke LMS and managed services that work for everyone.
Ready to talk to us? Book a chat with one of our team here.