By Marla Rosner, Senior Training and Development Consultant, MSA Worldwide
Video is a ubiquitous means of communicating these days. What was once the exclusive domain of movie producers or corporate video production firms is now in the hands of anyone with a Smartphone. What are the implications for training in franchise systems? Can anyone create training videos by simply grabbing their Smartphone and shouting “roll ‘em”?
Sure. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
When and Why to Use Video as a Training Method
For most skills, providing a visual demonstration of the task is the gold standard in training. This applies not only to manual tasks such as demonstrating how to prepare food, assemble packages, or install plumbing etc., but also to interactions involving interpersonal skills such as selling or providing employee feedback. This “behavior modeling” ensures that the approach you want to standardize across the franchise system is demonstrated – an essential first step in establishing consistency across multiple units.
Two additional benefits of training videos are the high level of engagement they generate – especially among Millennials – as well as their ability to overcome the challenges of multilingual learners.
Case Study: b.good
Many franchise systems – especially new ones – have viewed the cost of hiring production companies to create training videos as a barrier to adding this highly effective training method to their curricula. Not so with one of MSA Worldwide’s recent clients, b.good, a hamburger franchise based in Boston. Co-founder Anthony Ackil created a series of back-of-house videos to train kitchen staff on food preparation – using his own high-quality video camera (not a Smartphone!). The videos feature informal, unrehearsed snippets of his kitchen staff, showing the steps involved in cooking the company’s main dishes.
An interview with Anthony revealed that he kept his approach very simple. He didn’t have special lighting or microphones. He used only one camera. And though he did add text to highlight key content, he did negligible editing. As a training professional of many years, I have to say I was impressed. His short, to-the-point videos get across the basics that need to be conveyed. They have the quality of many YouTube videos. Anthony posts them on the system intranet, and employees access them through a password they are provided.
Readers and would-be operators-turned-video-producers – be aware that Anthony was highly comfortable behind the camera. Though his staff did not rehearse, he put in many hours of planning, filming, and post-production, including time to upload each video to his intranet site. This is a man who is a jack of all trades and master of MANY. As a co-founder, the approvals required were minimal; no scripts or pilots had to go up and down an organizational hierarchy, making his a relatively streamlined execution.
Also – and significantly – when it came time to create a brand video aimed at franchisees, Anthony hired a professional production company, knowing that the production caliber of the final product needed to exceed the YouTube DIY look and would require creative scripting.
Tips and Cautions for DIY Video Training
- Begin with the end in mind. Is your system prepared for video use? How will videos be accessed? Where will they be viewed? For example, watching cooking videos in the break room is not nearly as effective as viewing them in the kitchen where product is prepared; in fact, they may never be viewed.
- Anthony Ackil, featured above, had adequate sound and lighting. These are two of the major pitfalls in any DIY video venture. Imagine spending hours filming and then discovering that the sound is barely audible or the shots are too dark. Without the proper equipment, you can waste a great deal of time and energy. Create a short pilot test before investing in hours of filming to see if you need to make adjustments to your equipment or the filming environment. Or bag it and hire a professional.
- In demonstrating scenarios that involve dialogue, filming and editing become more complicated. Usually two cameras are used; e.g., one on the salesperson and one on the prospect, or one on the manager and one on the employee. Also, more substantive editing is required, which is why the skills of professionals are essential for more complex videos.
DIY video training is good for a select few who can pull it off. As with any training video, identifying the critical skills that have the greatest leverage to your bottom line is the place to start.