Does the Training Method Matter in Franchising?
By Marla Rosner, Senior Training Consultant, MSA Worldwide
Franchise Training Is the DNA for Replicating the Brand
If, as a franchisor, you are evaluating the results of your franchise training program, consider whether the training methods you are using need an overhaul. In a franchise system, training serves as the “DNA” for replicating the brand from location to location. It is the key means of imparting the franchised business concept to franchisees; as such, it is a critical function requiring time, expertise, and investment by the franchisor.
In franchise training, corporate knowledge of processes and procedures is not only imparted to franchisees — it must also cascade down to all personnel. While franchisor intentions may be good, poor articulation of training goals and ignoring the best methods to achieve them can mean that training doesn’t achieve its intended objectives, and the system suffers.
Confusing “Telling” With “Teaching”
This is one of the most common missteps in franchise training. Armed with weighty operations manuals, and faced with the daunting task of imparting everything about their methods, franchise training programs often rely on subject matter experts in operations, marketing, and financial management to take turns standing at the front of a room, restating content from the manuals, or reviewing endless bullet points from PowerPoint slides. It’s not only emerging franchise companies that fall prey to this “firehose” method of training — so do some mature companies.
With the “telling” approach, by the time franchisees leave the class to launch their businesses, they are likely feeling overwhelmed. While sending corporate field teams to the new franchise location to assist with and help train employees during the business opening is critical, it typically does not compensate for the gaps in franchisee competencies left by the firehose training methods.
A Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and Franchise Agreement will specify the duration of franchise training; however, these legal documents typically only refer to the portion of the training program that occurs at the corporate office. While this may include time outside of the classroom, and in an actual franchise unit or simulated business setting, franchisors should think about training as a process that extends well beyond the initial designated time period at the corporate office. In addition, most established franchises have substantive ”pre-training” sessions that occur prior to the corporate office program, as well as varied means of building upon the classroom training once franchisees have opened their franchise locations.
Franchise Training Best Practices
Common franchise training best practices include:
- Multiple pre-training webinars and quizzes
- Classroom training for franchisees and general managers that utilize training methods requiring hands-on practice, role plays, case studies, and observation and participation at an actual franchise location.
- Post-training webinars and/or classroom days back at the corporate office once franchisees have gotten their feet wet in their new operations.
Determining When to Address Training Topics
When training objectives are well defined, many decisions about training programs become clear. To define your system’s training objectives, bring stakeholders and subject matter experts together and have the whole team consider the following questions:
- What attitudes do we want franchisees to have and to generate in their businesses? What is our corporate culture, how do we convey that, and how do we gain franchisees’ alignment?
- What should trainees be able to accomplish after participating in the training program?
- What is the desired level of such accomplishment, according to industry or organizational standards?
- What knowledge do franchisees need? What information is required?
- What skills does the franchisee need? (Note: Skills are different than information. Skills are made up of a set of behaviors, whereas absorbing information is essentially a cognitive function.)
Your answers to these questions will dictate the training methods that will be most effective for your franchise system.
Example: Rigorous commitment to customer service
Example: Overcoming prospect objections
Field Staff Also Need Training
Your field staff play a critical role in extending training beyond the corporate classroom; they need franchise training as much as franchisees and franchisees’ employees. Communication between corporate trainers and those field staff who will take the franchisee the next step in their training is essential. For more information, see: Developing Your Franchise System Field Staff.