Best Practices in New Franchisee Training
By Marla Rosner, Senior Training Consultant, MSA Worldwide
Franchisee training is an essential investment for both the franchisor and the franchisee. Evidence presented by FRANdata at the International Franchise Association franchisee convention showed that effective training, along with field support, makes a strong contribution to a franchisee’s first-year success. So, what does effective training look like?
Gone are the days when the only options for new franchisee training programs were talking heads in a classroom.
The growing popularity of distance learning via the internet - as well as the general recognition that a fire hose to the head does not support training retention - have combined to increase utilization of “blended” training techniques stretched out over a longer period of time: a combination of online learning methods, classroom and on-site training, and hands-on practice of practical aspects of the business.
As you develop your training program, think about 3 buckets into which you will pour your training content:
Pre-training typically occurs prior to the classroom program at corporate headquarters. Franchisors can provide in-depth exposure to operations by pairing new franchisees with selected seasoned franchisees who serve as mentors. Programs such as this should provide the mentor with a structured checklist for activities that should be accomplished with the new learner.
Franchisors can also make good use of webinars to convey topics that don't require face-to-face communication. Examples of topics that could be conducted in this manner include marketing, managing finances, reports due to the franchisor, etc.
2. Classroom Training at the Corporate Office
Classroom training remains an integral part of new franchisee training programs; not only can the franchisor impart highly valuable operational information, the classroom time offers a critical window for establishing relationships with franchisees and conveying the corporate culture.
Make no mistake - the first training that new franchisees attend at your corporate office will be the time during which they are most receptive to every word you have to say. This is your best opportunity to impress upon franchisees both your company priorities, and “the way we do business around here.” While hours may wisely be reduced in the classroom as a result of pre- and post- training, don't cut short these valuable interactions. Remember too to use varied training techniques: promote active participation in the form of paired exercises, role-plays, and case studies.
Hands-on training can also be scheduled during the corporate office training days. Having franchisees observe an actual unit in operations near your corporate office, with the seasoned eye of an operational expert by their side, helps franchisees know how to discern good and poor operations in their own units.
Also, if you have practical activities for franchisees to accomplish in their own locations, let them get practice with these during this phase of training.
Post-training activities provide the franchisor with an opportunity to spread out the dissemination of important training modules. What topics can be addressed either via webinar or during a field representative’s site visit after franchisees have left the corporate training session?
The same topics that lend themselves to pre-training might alternatively be delivered in a post-training webinar. For some manual tasks and interactions involving personal skills, training videos might be a good choice.
Remember that your field staff who visit new franchise locations can be used to deliver training modules during the first few days of site openings, in addition to coaching and hands-on assistance. Providing field staff with structured training modules developed by training experts ensures quality and consistency of training delivery, and allows franchisees to digest content at a time and in a location where they can apply it immediately.
By taking advantage of the full timeline available to train new franchisees, a robust, high-quality training program can support better absorption and application of learning, leading to faster, better business ramp-ups and increasing the likelihood of each new franchisee’s success, as well as strengthening the system as a whole.