The Importance of Training in Franchise Systems (Part 1): Initial Training to Post-Launch Training

As a franchisor (Zor), a crucial part – perhaps the most crucial part – of your role is to train and support your franchisees (Zees). After all, your Zees are paying you not just for your brand exposure, but for your experience, your successful systems and processes. And you in return expect Zees to protect and promote your brand by sticking to those systems.

Think about it this way – if you’re the coach and your franchisees are the players, would you expect your team to go out on the field and win without having had a practice? Without even understanding the game? The success of the team depends not only on the talent of those players, but on the work you do at training as their coach. Sounds obvious, right? Well, surprisingly, there are a lot of franchisors out there who fail to adequately train and keep training their Zees. For new Zors in particular, setting up a quality training program can feel like a daunting task, and it’s tempting to put it off. But as they say, to fail to train is to train to fail!

So how can you design a training program to set your team up for success?

Initial training

This is your opportunity prior to the opening of the new franchise to ensure that your Zees fully understand your business, what you’re about and what you expect. Use your operations manual as a textbook or framework, but don’t just throw the operations manual at your franchisees – deliver it in a way that is engaging and understandable, and gets them pumped to be a part of your team.

A few things to consider…

  1. Who will deliver the training?

In an ideal world, you might have a dedicated training team whose sole focus would be the induction of new franchisees. Another solution is to have the heads of different departments at headquarters deliver training in their areas of expertise. Be certain that your trainers understand that training new franchisees is not to be viewed as a distraction from their other duties, but as a key component of their job.

  1. Who will attend the training?

It’s a good idea to instruct your new franchisees to bring along their key staff members. This way, the whole team will have a better grounding in the company’s procedures, standards and philosophy.

  1. Where and how will the training take place?

Usually the initial training tends to have more of a classroom/boardroom/on-the-job vibe, but there is no rule to say that this is the way it has to be done. Online training is increasingly becoming the tool of choice for franchisors, and it’s clear to see why! It enables training content to be delivered 24/7/365, anywhere in the world; you can tailor your content to individual franchisees; you can structure it in any way you wish, for example, include games, tests or videos, or award certificates and badges; delivery costs are low; AND it is be completely measurable, allowing you to access a huge amount of training data. A mix on face-to-face and online training is often a sensible mix, with the online re-enforcing the on-the-job training.

Pre/Post-launch Training

The amount of time you’ll need on the ground at the new franchise in order prepare your franchisee for opening will depend on the nature of your business, but it’s sensible to have head office personnel stay at the new franchise for the first week, to hold your Zees’ hands while they transition from training to fully operational. Your goals during this training phase should be:

  • To identify gaps in your franchisees’ knowledge or preparedness;
  • To anticipate problems that might occur upon launch; and
  • To build your Zees’ confidence and ensure they feel supported and ready to launch.

It’s important to focus not only on the individual who signed the franchise contract, but the entire team, down to the high school kid who washes the dishes. Ensure that your franchisees are engaging in best practice as they hire and train their new staff members, and provide any support they need to do so.

Next time…

So far we’ve covered the initial training – but what a huge number of Zors fail to think about is the ongoing training. In the same way that a coach who wants their athletes to keep winning has to keep them coming to practice, a franchisee needs continuing training and development to keep reaching those high standards. Look out for part 2 to learn more about how you can develop your own ongoing training program!

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