Franchise Training Programs - the Basics
By Michael H. Seid, Managing Director, MSA Worldwide
Why do Franchisors Provide Training Programs?
The goals of any great franchise system are to achieve consistent, sustainable replication of their brand promise to consumers, and for the franchise system to be financially successful at every level. Training is a major component of achieving that goal.
Even experienced operators coming from other, similar franchise systems or independent operations require training in a new franchise system.
The reason is that while one franchise system may look similar to another, the culture of the company, how it markets its products and services, how it is positioned to consumers, its brand standards, methods of preparing products, its types of services, site selection and development, suppliers, POS and IT system, support, forms, procedures and requirements may all be different. Making sure that everyone in the franchise system understands how the system is supposed to operate is important to the success of both the franchisor and each of the franchisees.
Who Will the Franchisor Train?
Each franchise system is different, and who they are required to train will be specified in their disclosure documents and franchise agreement.
Generally, franchisors specify that they provide initial training for a set number of people for each franchise. While the number will vary depending on the franchisor and the industry, initial training usually includes the Franchisee and their Unit Manager.
More sophisticated franchise systems will also include a train-the-trainer program for the franchisee and, if the franchisee is employing a trainer, that person will be required to attend. In addition, if the franchisee is a partnership, a developer, or if the person responsible for the franchise is someone other than the franchisee, often a franchisor will require that the franchisee appoint an Operating Principal responsible for the relationship with the franchisor.
If that person is different than the franchisee, the franchisor will require them to take and complete training.
It is in the franchisor’s and your best interest as a franchisee to have as many people from your team trained directly by the franchisor. Generally, where there is available space in training, you can negotiate with the franchisor for them to train additional people at a nominal if any cost. You will of course generally need to pick up all of the travel and related costs for you and any of your personnel attending any training.
Where, When and How Long is the Initial Training?
The disclosure document you will receive from the franchisor will provide you with information about training, where it will be conducted, who will be responsible for conducting the training, and its duration. An outline of the subjects that are included in training are also included in the disclosure document.
Most franchisors provide both classroom and on-the-job training, usually at their headquarters or another training site.
The length of training can vary from a few days to many months, but for most franchisors is usually between one and four weeks. Initial training often is conducted within a few months of the franchisee's anticipated opening date.
Some franchisors will begin training almost immediately after signing the franchise agreement, on site selection and development. This is the first major item the franchisee needs to be working on, as the franchise agreement generally provides for dates that the site must be identified, the lease signed, and the unit developed for opening.
As technology changes, franchisors are taking advantage of pre-training modules the franchisee can complete at home. These modules may be provided electronically on the franchisor’s intranet site, or on a disk. Often the franchisee may also need to take and complete classes and certifications provided by third parties before they attend the franchisor's initial training.
For the initial training provided by the franchisor at its headquarters or other training location, not all participants may attend the same training. Some modules may be specific for the franchisee and operating principal, while training for the unit manager may focus more on operational issues. Many franchisors, however, require everyone to attend and complete all training to the franchisor’s satisfaction.
In most franchise systems, if pre-training is required, the franchisor generally will require you to show that you understand the material provided. If not, you may be asked to leave and return when you are better prepared. That additional training may come at a cost to the franchisee. When you attend training, in most franchise systems, if you do not complete training to the franchisor’s satisfaction, subject to retraining or training of a replacement person, the franchisor generally has the right to terminate the franchise relationship at that time. It is therefore important as a franchisee to understand the importance of training to the franchisor and that it is necessary to be completed.
It is fairly common for the franchisor to have one or more of its staff assist the franchisee during the opening period to help them stage the business, and to assist the franchisee in training their own staff.
In the past, the franchisor’s opening team trained the franchisee’s staff directly; however, more and more franchisors are now assisting the franchisee as they train their personnel and making certain that the franchisee is able to continue to do so for replacement personnel. The reason for this change is that it is important for the franchisee to maintain brand standards, and being an effective trainer enables the franchisee to meet that goal.