When prospective franchisees begin to compare one franchise opportunity with another, one of the items they need to examine closely is the training the system will provide them.
Running any business is a complex undertaking. Besides having to know how to prepare your products or deliver your services to your customers, you need to understand how to manage the business, hire and fire employees, advertise, do the books, make deposits plus a thousand other details. As a franchisee, you’ll also have to do everything in compliance with the consistency standards of the franchisor. But not all franchisors provide the same level of training to their franchisees or prepare their franchisees for success.
When it comes to training, many franchisors look alike. On average, they provide between one and five weeks of training, but what if those five weeks of training consist of no more than working in an existing operation? Who trains your management team and your line staff? What happens when new products are launched or some of your management team quits and you need to replace and train your other personnel?
You should always meet with your future franchisor and plan to spend considerable time with its training department before you sign the contract. Some of the questions you should be concerned with are:
- Where does the training take place? How long is the initial training programme and what, if any, additional training costs must you pay in addition to your franchise fee?
- Who is required to attend training? Are there criteria established for ensuring you’re prepared to operate the business once training is completed? Simply spending time in the franchisor’s training programme may not be sufficient for everyone. The best person to tell you if you’re ready for the challenge of operating the franchise is the franchisor.
- Can you bring your managers and initial staff to training? If they aren’t on board with you yet (which is fairly typical), can they attend training classes after they’re hired? How much will this additional training cost you?
- What’s in the training curriculum? How much of your time will be spent in the franchisor’s classroom training and how much time will be spent in an operating location? What subjects are covered and in what depth? Will you only learn how to make the product or deliver the service, or is the programme comprehensive enough to teach you the financial, marketing and operational aspects of the business? How much management training will you receive?
- Who conducts the training? Are they line personnel brought in for the day or week, or have they been trained to be teachers? Remember, the goal of training is not for you to be impressed by the trainers; the goal is for the trainers to provide you with knowledge. To do this, they must know how to teach. Find out the background of the training team and their qualifications.
- How comprehensive is the training material? If you’ll be expected to train your own staff before your business opens, what tools and training techniques does the franchisor provide so you can accomplish this task?
These are just some of the questions you should focus on when evaluating a franchisor and comparing franchise training programmes. Don’t forget that the business will change over time. New products and services will be added or modified. Is your franchisor prepared to provide you and your team with additional training as the system changes? How will they do it and at what cost to you?
And remember, just because one franchisor has a longer training programme than another doesn’t mean its training is better.
Getting Good Training
You can tell the difference between great franchisors dedicated to your success and the ones only interested in selling you a franchise, by their dedication to training.
Great franchisors make certain that before the first customer comes through your door, not only are you prepared, but so are your manager, assistant managers and your entire staff. Equally important to the great franchisors is that as the system changes and new products and services are added, they make sure you and your team have the new skills required to be a success.
Open For Business
But what happens once the business is ready to open? Franchisors dedicated to training understand there’s a difference between classroom training, working in a training facility and actually operating your own business with your own customers. During the initial days or weeks after your franchise is open, they’ll have a training team working with you and your staff, honing your skills, reminding you of the lessons you learned at franchise headquarters and, most important, teaching you the tricks of the trade they learned in actually operating businesses like yours. It’s an invaluable extension of the initial training programme because there’s nothing more valuable than learning the business in the real world.
Now comes your first crisis. A crew person quits. You have an operating business, and customers coming through the door, and a warm replacement body just won’t do it. How is the new replacement staff going to be trained to the standards you need?
Most franchise systems expect you to train your new staff. But the good ones, in addition to providing you with training techniques to ensure you have the necessary training skills, provide you with training tools.
Training doesn’t end there. It’s continual for you, your management team and your crew. Great franchisors regularly hold advanced training programmes for management, giving them skills that can only be learned once they have real world experience. They provide regional and system-wide training programmes when new products or services are introduced. They expect their field consultants to observe your staff during their periodic visits to your location and help you assess the quality of your employees and, when necessary, help you improve their performance.
Training is the hallmark of great franchise systems. It’s ongoing, thorough and measured. Hopefully, as a franchisee, you found a system that dedicates its resources to training. But as a franchisee, it’s also your responsibility to take advantage of the training provided by the franchisor, look for training programmes outside of the system that will benefit you and, most important, make sure your staff is trained, too.
Most franchisors today require that everyone involved in managing the business – the franchisee and his or her manager – attend and complete the initial training classes. The really good ones also invite you to bring additional staff to training so they’re also prepared. Better still, if you own multiple locations, the franchisor has a training programme for all your general managers and other support personnel. If you think about it, when the franchisor provides training to your entire staff, they reduce their costs in providing support services later on because your staff, once trained, has less need to continually ask questions that were covered during the initial training.
Your initial training programme should be geared to teach you more than simply how to prepare products or deliver services. Expect to cover:
- Real estate selection and site development
- Standards and procedures contained in the system’s operating manuals
- Technical information on products and services you’ll provide under the brand
- Food safety and CPR (for food franchisors)
- Leadership and business management
- Problem solving
- Training the trainer-techniques for ensuring your staff is trained
- Managing the customer experience and brand positioning
- Marketing, advertising and communications
- Merchandising and pricing methods
- Safety, security, cleaning and maintenance
- Labour management (recruiting, hiring, firing, supervision and motivation)
- Supplier relations (purchasing, receiving, stocking and inventory management)
- Financial management and the use of the company’s point-of-sale and management information systems.
The goal isn’t only to provide you with information on how to run your business to the system’s standards but to provide you with an understanding of the system’s philosophy so you’ll intuitively know what’s right and what’s wrong.
Most systems will provide you with classroom and hands-on training. However, simply watching others do it isn’t sufficient. Franchisors dedicated to training have personnel who aren’t only proficient in operating skills but are also skilled in teaching you what they know.
3 Ways To Ensure Your Loyalty Programme is Working Hard For You
Plastic cards are making way for app-based loyalty programmes. Is your franchise keeping up with the digitally savvy consumer?
The average consumer today is a member of at least five of the 100-plus loyalty programmes in South Africa, according to a 2017 study by Nielsen. As the loyalty playing field becomes more cluttered and competitive, what are you doing to ensure each one of your franchisees are catering to customer needs when it comes to loyalty?
Mobility. It’s not the newest buzzword, but it is useful for attracting customers who don’t want to lose loyalty points because their card is lost or not with them. Ailsa Wingfield, Nielsen’s Head of Emerging Markets: Thought Leadership, says that as adoption of non-traditional payment methods increases, loyalty programmes also need to introduce payment type flexibility.
“Mobile payment platforms will increasingly deliver an opportunity for loyalty-programme engagement with consumers, providing a convenient and personalised way for programme members and retailers to engage with one another all along the path to purchase.” – Ailsa Wingfield Nielsen Head of Emerging Markets Thought Leadership.
Have you considered what role tech could play in your current loyalty programme? Here are three ways to apply digital enhancements that appeal to present and potential customers:
1. Offer differentiation through more options
Research has concluded that the loyalty programmes devised by retailers and franchises are not innovative enough to capture the attention of the youth – Millennials and Gen Z. it’s time to diversify your rewards offering. But how?
If your customer base is predominantly younger, being omni-present is key, according to the Truth Loyalty Whitepaper: “An omni-channel approach will not only meet the demands of the younger customer, it will also allow your business to combine intelligence on shopping, search and web behaviour history to assist you in identifying when to offer an in-store promotion, extend a seasonal offer or make a product recommendation through the appropriate channels.”
Implementing a digital loyalty campaign is also a smart way to reduce costs. Coffee shop franchise Mugg & Bean’s Generous Rewards App and partnership with Vitality Active Rewards, means members can earn cash-back rewards to spend on their favourites. Just downloading the app earns you a R25 voucher.
2. Use your tools to engage more
A crucial mistake most franchisors make is not communicating consistently with their loyalty programme members once they’ve signed up and increased numbers. They spend a lot of time recruiting customers to join, but expect them to prompt cashiers for points’ balances and produce their cards independently in their various locations.
“You have gained permission to talk to your customers and created the opportunity to collect enormous amounts of valuable data. Use this to your advantage by creating meaningful and relevant engagement initiatives and communications across your customers’ lifecycle,” advises Truth, a boutique consultancy business specialising in customer centricity and loyalty programme strategy and design.
When enhancing your engagement strategy, Accenture advises that you keep the following in mind:
- 54% of South African consumers are loyal to brands that actively engage them to help design or co-create products or services.
- 57% are loyal to organisations that present them with new experiences, products or services.
- 47% are loyal to brands that engage them in ‘multi-sensory’ experiences, using new technologies such as virtual reality or augmented reality.
3. Keep the experience simple
Review your loyalty programme. Honestly. Then ask yourself if you’ve made your programme too complicated for the layman. If your answer is ‘no’ or even ‘maybe’, how can your target consumer ever reap the full rewards of this programme if they don’t understand the rewards on offer and how to redeem them?
Changing rules too often is the first complication to go. No matter which one of your stores they choose to shop at, the redemption and earning process should be simple enough to keep members interested and engaged in the programme. Make sure you keep your programme simple and transparent.
“Clicks made a simple but fundamental change to its redemption process – paper-vouchers were replaced with virtual points that can be redeemed as cash-back when you swipe your card at the till. While Clicks and Dis-Chem are among only a handful of brands that do this, it’s a sure-fire mechanism for increasing redemption,” said Amanda Cromhout, founder and CEO of Truth.
3 Crucial Considerations For New Multi-unit Franchisees
Your marked success as a single-unit franchisee has led to the choice to multiply your achievement. But do you know what it really takes to move from owner-operator, to multi-outlet operator?
Multi-unit franchise ownership is a brilliant way to grow your business portfolio, once you’re successfully running your single location. Once you get the hang of being franchise business owner, adding one or a few more units could be the next logical step.
“The risk with having one store is higher than if you have more than one store, as the stores support one another. When the one is down the other one is up,” says multi-unit Montagu franchise owner Pierre Lombard.
You’ve probably already realised this lucrative option and are getting acquainted with multi-unit franchising. As this is new territory, you may want to consider these methods to multiply your success.
1. Make more discerning recruitment choices
When you opened shop at your first location, you were probably warned against hiring a manager, because they may not be as invested in the success of your business as you are. Now that you growing, you have no choice, so you need to be selective in your decision of who’s going to run the show when you’re not around.
The best way to ensure consistency in service and quality in each location is to always put culture fit over ability. While a certain level of skill is required to carry out the tasks required of a manager, attitude trumps aptitude when selecting capability running your locations.
“Place one of your outstanding managers or staff from your current store in the new one and have them train up any new staff,” suggests Francesca Nicasio, Retail Expert at Vend.
“That way the practices and attitude that you’ve cultivated in your business will continue into your new store.”
2. You need tech to help you be everywhere
Not only are Cloud technologies enabling franchise owners to scale quickly, easily and more affordably compared to on-site solutions, but these advancements mean you can remotely optimise inventory across all your locations, get a more accurate assessment each store’s performance and better understand your business – all you need is an Internet connection.
With the variety of Cloud-based solutions available today, you’re also able to connect your sales, staff, and customer information to give customers a seamless experience at all locations. You’re also able to receive alerts on low stock levels and automatically have it.
3. Set and stick to a specific standard
As a franchisee, consistency is standard practice. But that’s easy done as a single-unit owner than when running multiple locations. To make your mini network more manageable, ensure all your store understand brand standards beyond the operation manual.
“Naturally, you have your franchise systems’ operations manual and procedures but the way you personally want to stamp your mark on customer experience, for instance, needs to be documented too,” experts at Inside Franchise Business advise.
Doing this reduces the stress of continually keeping tabs on staff, and frees you up to collect and collate the data you need to make smarter decisions faster.
Effective Ways To Bring Customers To Your Door
Here are a few tips from Local Area Marketing Manager of Cash Converters, Juan Botha, to assist you in bringing customers to knock on your door.
Retail, craft, artisan and service businesses can’t rely on only carrying on trade online – you also need people coming through the door and engaging with your product. But how do they find you? Are you the neighbourhood’s “best-kept secret” – and not in a good way?
Your premises, the surrounding area and the audience for your brand are a unique combination. Get to know both inside out so that you can hone your products and your marketing to appeal to potential local customers. With all the pressure to run a website, Facebook page or maintain other online presence, it’s easy to forget the basics and fail to reach your closest customers – those on your doorstep.
Our Local Area Marketing Manager, Juan Botha, previously worked in advertising with local and multinational brands and he taught us how each store needs to make sure its marketing lives up to the pointer, “Act global, think local”.
Here are a few of his tips:
If customers know about you but can’t find you, they’re likely to get frustrated looking for you and give up. If they don’t even know you’re there to find, your chances of using your sales skills with them or getting them to fall in love with your product are zero.
Remember the times you’ve spent searching for a bar or a restaurant hidden in a maze of city streets or a B&B somewhere along a never-ending country road? Those businesses have forgotten that first-time customers can’t be sure where they are. Draw up directions to include on your website or online page. Make sure a friend who doesn’t know the area well test drives them.
People won’t notice you until they need or want what you are offering so keep reminding them of your existence. Being visible is key. Your fascia signage is part of your marketing mission to attract and influence potential customers.
Nobody walking to work or taking their dog out should think, “I wonder what that new place is about?”
As well as giving your business’s name and contact details, your signage must succinctly indicate what your business offers. If you have a display window, use this second important opportunity to sum up your offering – keep it interesting and updated.
Be a customer magnet
If you wait to build a business on passing trade, you could wait forever. Get on the radar with potential customers in the neighbourhood so they all know you exist and where to find you. Each time they’re reminded that you exist and how to find you, they will be prompted to come and seek you out.
You can achieve this – and help new customers trying to find you – by making a modest investment in lamp-post signage. Check local regulations with your municipality and ensure this signage reflects your brand visually. This is a win-win, reinforcing your brand in a potential customer’s mind and helping them recognise your premises as they approach.
Part of marketing is making people interested in and attracted to your business long before their first direct contact with you. Embed yourself in the community by forming alliances.
If security is an issue, bond with the local SAPS, Community Policing Forum and security companies by offering them free coffee. If you have a huge bargain order of toys to shift, offer a few prizes to the local Moms ‘n Tots group. Plug into local business networks and offer to host a speaker or sponsor the audio equipment for a forthcoming meeting.
You’ll be harnessing the incomparable power of word-of-mouth and setting your business growing in a great direction.
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