Truly effective franchise training systems are never one-trick ponies. Covering a multitude of topics in a number of different ways ensures maximum knowledge retention, and the most efficient, engaged, and motivated personnel to populate your franchise network with.
The types of training you might want to feature in your program include:
1. Headquarters Training
This will often be the main part of your franchisee training program, but it should never be the only part. Classroom instruction can be hugely beneficial for new franchisees, especially when you include different types of training in order to keep attention levels high:
- Written segments and examinations
- Group discussions and seminars
- Video or audio case studies
- Lectures and informative segments
- Hands-on training at a sample or prototype location
The topics covered during a franchisee's initial headquarters training should include everything they need to know in order to become an effective franchisee - usually based on your franchise manual. In addition to dealing with how to handle standard daily operations, you might also need to include training on how to undertake:
- Properly targeted and effective offline and online marketing
- Online reputation management and crisis handling
- Accounting and business finance
- Effective people management skills
- Approved vendors for supply purchase
Most top business leaders will recommend that you have a hands-on knowledge of almost every part of your operation.
For your franchisees, this should take the form of "hands-on" training at an example or prototype location. This will give them a chance to see your systems in action, to try the system from various employees' positions, to have the logic and thinking behind the systems explained, and then a chance to put that thinking into effect themselves.
By illustrating in this fashion why you do things in a certain way, you promote franchisee engagement with your system.Key Benefit: Personal introduction to key staff
The success of your franchise network will rely in large part on how well the people involved communicate with one another. It's always better for people in your network who are going to need to interact - individual franchisees and your headquarters team being the obvious two here - to have a personal relationship on which they can build over time.
2. On-Location Training
Training sessions that take place in the franchisee's own store are a highly recommended part of franchisee education. Time spent in a classroom or sample location is all very well, but ensuring that a franchisee is ready and able to perform the daily tasks required of them in their actual location is vital.Key Benefit: Knowledge of franchisee strengths and weaknesses
Though initial training may serve to illustrate some of a franchisee's key strengths and weaknesses, a continuation of training in their actual store gives your trainer or mentor a chance to really get to know how an individual franchisee operates. It's this knowledge that is going to help your trainer or mentor adjust the type of training they will offer in each case.Key Benefit: Knowledge of franchisee strengths and weaknesses
Going straight from the classroom to facing the myriad concerns and minute-to-minute challenges and responsibilities of being in charge of an entire franchise location can be overwhelming.
That's why your opening team - and the other trainers who'll be responsible for the on-site training of your franchisees - are so important. In addition to the continued training they provide, they can be on-hand to offer advice as to how to solve problems in a brand- appropriate way on-the-fly.
3. Group Training
Group training has proven time and again to be a highly effective method of inducting new franchisees, and dealing with motivational or engagement issues displayed by longer-serving members of your franchise network.
The benefits of this kind of training are many and varied, but one of the best is:Key Benefit: Knowledge of franchisee strengths and weaknesses
One of the problems of franchisee education that group training can help you overcome is reluctant adopters. These are franchisees who resist following your franchise system, instead insisting that doing things their own way will be better.
By putting these individuals in a room with specially selected successful franchisees who've used the system highly effectively you'll make it easier for the reluctant adopters to come fully on board. They'll be able to keep their dignity while still engaging with your system.
4. Marketing Training
If you're permitting your individual franchisees to conduct their own marketing efforts, you need to give them guidelines and a framework in which to do so in order that their efforts remain consistent with your overall brand.
There will always need to be some flexibility here in terms of applying your brand to new and different markets, but consistency should still be present.
You should also be providing clear branding standards in the form of an extensive guide to all aspects of what your brand is, means, and believes. Having an online development and discussion space available on your franchise intranet or similar system is also highly advised.Key Benefit: Brand consistency
Consistency in terms of your brand is perhaps the most critical aspect of operating a franchise business. Effective training in marketing and brand standards are one of the key ways to ensure this.
5. Mentorship Programs
Pairing new or struggling franchisees with experienced, successful members of your franchise network is a tried and tested method of franchisee education.
Though all of the information needed to establish and operate their franchise on a daily basis should be included in your franchise manual, giving a new or struggling franchisee a ready source of advice and a sounding board for queries and ideas is very useful indeed.Key Benefit: Encourage franchisee information requests
A situation has arisen in the daily operation of one of your franchise locations. Your franchisee doesn't know how to resolve it, but they don't wish to approach you - their franchisor - though. To do so would indicate their own ignorance or inability to solve the problem themselves.
So what do they do?
They come up with their own imperfect, solo solution. This is barely on-brand, and not cohesive with the ways you've solved this problem before.
By having a more friendly, approachable person - crucially someone who can't be seen as a figure of authority - to which they can address their concerns is an incredibly useful resource for a franchisee.
It's brilliant for you as the franchisor too. It ensures that your franchisees do ask questions when it's required, meaning they keep all aspects of their operation consistent with your brand voice and values.Key Benefit: Manage franchisee information requests
Above we established that having franchisees ask questions in order to keep their actions and responses on-brand is a good thing.
However, having a hundred information requests an hour from all nodes of your network is not going to result in an easy life for your headquarters staff, or efficient operation from your network as a whole.
This is another way your mentor program will come into its own:
By being available to field most information requests from your franchisees, they take the strain away from your communication systems.