10 Dec The Importance of Training in Franchise Systems (Part 2): Ongoing Franchise Training
So – you’ve carefully selected and signed your franchisee. You’ve trained them, welcomed them into the fold, held their hand through the first week or two, and let them take the helm. And that’s it, job done, right?
Sure… and then in ten months’ time you find that you’re getting terrible reviews, standards are slipping all over the place, and half the staff members in the new franchise have quit.
It’s a common problem. Many franchisors do a fantastic job of providing initial training to new franchisees, but then fail to follow up with effective ongoing training. The previous article looked at initial training to post-launch – this time, we’re taking a look at some of the things you can do to design a successful ongoing training system.
What to cover?
Ongoing training will certainly be necessary to educate franchisees about new technology and systems, new products and services or new marketing programs, but it’s also necessary to go over all the old stuff. It’s all too easy for the material covered in initial training to be forgotten, misunderstood, or for people to get lazy.
When to train?
Begin right after the post-launch training with a solid follow-up: give your franchisee an evaluation of how they performed during the initial training and post-launch phase. Provide them with a strategy for improvement, including clear goals and milestones which you’d like to see them achieve, and suggestions for how they could achieve them. Follow up with your franchisees again after each milestone to see how they’re getting on.
It’s not just the new franchisees who need attention though – you’ll need to decide how new staff members will be trained across your whole franchise. Typically in a franchise arrangement, the franchisees take responsibility for training new personnel, but there is a risk that training can become like a game of Whispers, with your processes and systems being passed from staff member to staff member, all the while being distorted or watered down over time. For key management positions within the franchise, you might need to train them at head office. For all other new staff, it’s essential for franchisors to provide their franchisees with adequate tools and training material to effectively communicate your systems to newbies.
It’s a great idea for the training program you develop to include a requirement for ongoing testing and certification. It allows you to determine if (a) your training materials are doing the job you need them to do and most of your staff are getting it; and (b) it allows you to identify any franchisees who are struggling. This testing doesn’t have to be boring or stressful though – it can be interactive and fun, and could include rewards or badges or prizes.
How often should you train?
This is tricky to answer – clearly, training is an important part of your role as a franchisor. After all, you are selling your successful business systems, and you need to ensure that these systems are explained in a way that is understandable and sinks in. However, if the franchisee spends all their time in training, they won’t have enough time to go out and sell your product/service.
This is where the method of training delivery can have a big impact on the cost effectiveness of your training system.
Method of delivery
Ongoing training is often delivered in the form of a national or regional conference – which, in fairness, can be a great way to develop camaraderie and morale among your franchisees. However, conferences cost money, for you and your franchisees. Plus, there’s never enough time to cover everything, and it’s not a great vehicle to deliver personalised attention to franchisees that may really need it… so to rely solely on conferences to impart your training might not be the best strategy.
With web-based learning, it’s unbelievably easy to deliver training and measure outcomes instantaneously and across time-zones. You can create a whole library of training materials, structure your courses and lessons in the way that best suits your business, include video or interactive content, and set quizzes and exams and schedule your lessons as you see fit. Online training is your safety net – it’s an organized, quantifiable way to ensure that your systems are being taught appropriately.
However you choose to deliver it, ongoing training is an essential component of your role as a franchisor, and the quality of your training system will determine the success of your franchise.