Ultimately, a training programme must be good enough to ensure that the least-skilled new franchisee will represent the brand to the standard of quality associated with the concept.
The best franchisors are huge advocates of training and invest heavily in it. Even though the training conducted by newer franchise companies is often fairly informal, the best new franchisors make it a priority to develop more formal programmes as soon as possible.
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These programmes will prescribe what each franchisee and their personnel must master. By specifying exactly what must be taught and how the instruction will be conducted hourly, these training programmes provide knowledge in a manner that will foster consistency.
Even if you’re dealing with a relatively new franchisor, you should still receive the following training:
1. Training at the franchisor’s office
For most franchisors, the hands-on portion of training starts at their office. This training can last for several days or weeks and, for newer franchisors, is often held in hotel conference rooms or temporary office facilities to keep costs under control.
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Generally speaking, head-office training starts with a tour of the prototype operation and corporate offices, and an introduction of staff and their roles. Once the formal training session begins, most franchisors focus on subjects best taught in a classroom setting.
Among the dozens of topics usually included in this portion of training are corporate history and philosophy, site selection, lease negotiation, pre-opening procedures, daily operations, insurance requirements, vendor relationships and reporting requirements. This segment of training often involves hands-on training within your franchise prototype.
Franchise training classes should be lively and interactive. A mixture of training formats such as video, lecture, discussion, and hands-on work creates an inviting training environment for franchisees. Moreover, various studies have shown that franchisees retain more information when the trainer uses a variety of training methodologies combining visual, auditory, and tactile learning.
Office training, like all training, should be accompanied by testing, evaluation, and other procedures to ensure that franchisees are capable of top performance.
2. On-site training
The next step often involves franchisors spending days or weeks assisting franchisees and their staff at the franchisee’s location.
As with office training, franchisors should develop a detailed training agenda for this stage.
Training should focus on assisting the franchisee in becoming more familiar and comfortable with the day-to-day operation of the business.
Franchisees new to the industry will have different questions and expectations than franchisees with prior experience in related businesses.
One of the key objectives of the on-site trainer is to identify and prioritise the franchisee’s needs during the first day or two so he can tailor the remaining training schedule to best meet those needs.
On-site training is an important extension of the franchisor’s pre-opening training programme. New franchisees can easily become overwhelmed and can sometimes momentarily forget everything that has been taught.
Having the franchisor’s representatives at the site — often in the form of an opening team — can ease this transition and ensure that customers get a good first impression of the brand and the franchisee’s operations.
An opening team helps franchisees break into day-to-day operations slowly, so they don’t feel like they’re jumping into the deep end alone.
Within several days of the completion of on-site training, franchisors should provide the franchisee with an overall written evaluation of his or her performance in the training programme.
The evaluation should reference both the franchisee’s strengths and areas in which the franchisee needs additional work, and it should include a specific action plan with a clear list of objectives for the coming weeks and months.
3. Ongoing training
For the best franchisors, training doesn’t end once the start-up period is over. It’s a vital ongoing part of the franchise relationship.
For a franchisor to be competitive in the long run, its franchisees must remain current with industry trends and adapt to changes in the market, incorporating new products, services, marketing, and operating procedures into their businesses.
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With this in mind, every franchise agreement should contain not only initial training requirements, but also specific requirements for ongoing training.
To minimise the erosion of system standards over time due to a lack of training, franchisors may want to consider requiring periodic recertification on core competency issues for franchisees and their key staff members.
Such a programme might include regularly scheduled refresher training, as well as detailed training for all staff on any new products, services or procedures.