Training Support You Can Expect From Your Franchisor
The brand is the heart of any great franchise. What makes a brand? It is no surprise that a customer’s experience is the most important aspect of retaining a brand’s identity. Training franchise employees aims to ensure the experience at every outlet is consistent. The franchisor has to educate and instruct its franchisees on how to duplicate the original.
Consequently, most franchises provide training programmes to ensure all those representing the brand are aligned with the franchisor. But what training can you expect from the franchisor? A franchisor is only obligated to provide support and services underlined in their franchise agreements and disclosure documents, so this should be a key reference for you before selecting a franchise.
Franchise training generally includes both classroom and on-the-job learning. Initial training would be at the franchisor’s head office or other training facilities, but ideally, they should also send training staff on-site to help train employees and assist in the opening of the location. Finally, look out for a level of ongoing field support.
While the cost of training is typically included within your initial franchise fee, it would remain your responsibility to pay for all travel, hotels, food, and other costs for you and your management and staff while attending training.
There are five broad types of training support:
1. The operations and procedure manual is the franchise system’s rule book covering all aspects of the business the owners need to know to run a franchise. This is probably the most important piece of any training programme: it includes:
- the franchise goals,
- daily procedures,
- customer service,
- staff (human resource) topics and training employees
– everything that makes the franchise unique. Typically, the operations manual is written as if the franchisee has absolutely no experience in the industry and no prior skills. The operations manual acts as an extension of the franchise agreement and, as such, forms a legally binding compliance tool. Luckily in these times, operations manuals are an online tool to log into for easy access to FAQ and documentation and not a hard copy manual you need to page through.
2. Head office training gives new franchisees hands-on training, including a tour of the facility and the business in action. A good franchisor must develop a formal training agenda for its pre-opening training course at head office. During this phase, franchisees see how to operate prototype machinery and personally do or make whatever the franchise offers, for the first time. Here is the opportunity for the new franchise owner – and preferably in the company of a manager or senior employee, as this knowledge will have to be transferred to other employees on-site – to grasp each concept to operate the business. The franchisee must become familiar with the utilities, processes, customer service training as well as knowledge of all business procedures.
3. Mentoring and assistance are carried out on-site for the grand opening/launch of the new franchise location. By now the franchisee should be one step from being an expert and in need more of mentorship than training on systems. A good franchisor should have developed a detailed training agenda for this programme. Depending on a franchisee’s prior experience and sophistication, the on-site portion of the training experience differs markedly from one franchisee to the next. Assistance may be offered on aspects of franchise establishment, such as hiring and training of new staff for specific roles such as cashiers, customer service, and office positions.
4. Ongoing training through field training programmes should be provided once the new franchisee is up and running with the daily operations of the business. The bulk of what is needed is by now mastered, but a few functions may still need tweaking and ongoing training would otherwise focus on working out the kinks or obtaining perfection through repetition. This training seeks to minimise the destruction of system standards over time. It would be accomplished by webinars, on-site visits, and conferences. It would later also include keeping franchisees informed about business improvement tips, new products or services, and future advertising and marketing campaigns. One area of growing importance is how the franchisor provides you with train-the-trainer instruction to provide regular education to your staff.
5. Assessments or evaluation of franchise units are often conducted by the larger franchises. During these annual meetings, franchisors measure the performance of the location or territory and are a chance to discuss what is working and not working for the franchise. It can also be used as an opportunity to schedule refresher training sessions. Most franchisors understand the importance of staff being trained and will be looking to see if you are taking staff training seriously. In fact, this is such an important issue for most franchisors that your franchise agreement may allow the franchisor to terminate the relationship if you do not conduct training to their satisfaction.
In conclusion, people often wonder how much training is needed. The answer is you can never have too much training, though there are always trade-offs involved. Training can be expensive, and time away from the job can be a significant financial drain. Therefore, it becomes incumbent on you to measure the cost-benefit ratio and keep those costs as low as possible by on-the-job training out of shop hours.
By Eamonn Ryan