By Michael Seid, Managing Director, MSA Worldwide
When considering purchasing a franchise, you need to know what kind of training franchisors should provide to their franchisees, in order to be able to tell whether a franchisor is really interested in your success, or more interested in selling you a franchise.
You can identify great franchisors by their dedication to training. Very few franchise systems have the resources of a McDonald’s or the market strength to demand that their franchisees spend more than a year in preparing to open their first location. But the success of McDonald’s and its franchisees is directly rooted in 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 unit 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 that you and your team have the new skills required to be a success.
Most franchisors today require that everyone involved in managing the business—the franchisee and his or her unit manager—attend and complete the initial franchise training program. The really good franchisors also invite you to bring additional key staff to training, so that they’re also prepared. Better still, the best franchisors provide you with train-the-trainer materials so that you can conduct a training program for your support personnel and, if you own multiple locations, your unit managers.
The Initial Franchise Training Program
Your initial franchise training program should be geared to teaching 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 (how the customer should feel when they hear the brand name)
- Marketing, advertising, and communications
- Merchandising and pricing methods
- Safety, security, cleaning, and maintenance
- Labor management (recruiting, hiring, firing, supervision, and motivation/retention)
- Vendor relations (purchasing, receiving, stocking, and inventory management)
- Financial management and the use of the franchise system’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 franchise system’s standards, but also to provide you with an understanding of the system’s philosophy so you’ll intuitively know what’s right and what’s wrong.
Methods of Learning and Launch Support
Most systems will provide you with classroom and hands-on training, and more and more system also utilize eLearning and mLearning. However, simply watching others do it isn’t sufficient. Franchisors dedicated to training have personnel who are both proficient in operating skills, and also skilled in teaching you what they know.
Franchisors on the cutting edge of technology provide web-based distance learning that allows your new crew member to learn on a computer or even via a smartphone. But this can only provide some of the necessary knowledge; good franchisors also provide training tools for each skill the new staff members will require. These tools not only provide new staff with the necessary information, but also break the tasks into small steps that can be measured to ensure that your employees are really prepared.
But what happens once your franchise 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 program because there’s nothing more valuable than learning the business in the real world.
Replacement and Ongoing Training
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, also 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 programs for management, giving them skills that can only be learned once they have real world experience. They provide regional and system-wide training programs 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 selected well and 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 programs outside of the system that will benefit you and, most important, make sure your staff is trained, too.