They're a winning combination. Your franchise training and franchise operations manual will be the main draws that attract new franchisees to your network. Why?
Because they represent invaluable insider knowledge of the industry the franchisee wants to be a part of.
These materials show the franchisee how they can open up a business, and start making money.
It follows then, that your franchise training program needs to be top notch. Because as well as being one of the best bits about your network from a franchisee's perspective, having properly trained franchisees and staff is going to be key to keeping your brand successful.
Here's how to do it:
1. Your franchise operations manual
This is the fulcrum about which the rest of your training will turn. This means that your franchise manual needs to contain everything about the operational systems you use in your network.
Your manual tells your franchisee how they will go about fulfilling the obligations you've laid out for them in their franchise agreement.
As a starting point, you might want to consider including these elements in your operations manual - and then expand on them within your training programs:
- Initial site selection and store build-out - this is one of the deciding factors that can make or break a new franchise. You should provide clear guidance as to where you recommend, and the approval systems you have in place to confirm a franchisee's choice.
- Operating standards and procedures - should all be described in detail using a technical writing style which conveys as much information as possible clearly and concisely.
- Technical operations for providing the service or product - again, all systems should be included, and in detail.
- Merchandising - all merchandising should conform with your brand standards guide, explained in your franchise manual.
- Recruitment, retention, and management of employees - never take the risk of leaving hiring, job descriptions, and employee retention and management systems outside of the bounds of the standards you specify in your manual and brand standards guide.
- Training of employees - the programs and systems you insist upon to keep employee skill levels high and consistent across your network should be clearly laid out.
- Marketing, advertising, and public relations - responsibilities relating to these should be spelled out in your manual. Consider the best way of achieving a consistent, brand-oriented profile across all platforms and materials - internal standards or external professionals?
- Financial management and controls - these operational systems and how to implement them will be a key part of your manual, including key metric s to be used.
- Administration and reporting - the technical information provided in your guide should go beyond operations. Logical administration and reporting systems should be set up.
- Point of sale systems - as well as any equipment that needs to be operated - should have their own manuals and instructions included within your manual.
- Approved suppliers - if you require your franchisees to source their own supplies, you should designate an approved list with locations and contact details.
And that's not all. In fact, we've written an entire article on how to write your franchise manual. It's well worth looking at if you don't have yours in place yet.
By writing your manual intelligently and well, you'll provide an ongoing resource for your new and existing franchisees throughout the length of their agreement.
Always ensure that you've protected yourself legally when distributing vital brand documents such as your franchise operations manual. This means you'll almost certainly have to consult with legal experts to ensure you have airtight protection.
2. Training new franchisees
The most important step to take when implementing a franchise training program for new franchisees is to determine their levels of competence and experience.
While your operations manual should always be written as if directed at a franchisee with zero experience or knowledge, properly tailoring your training to the skills of new franchisees can offer significant benefits.
Your primary goal for your training should always be borne in mind though:
Every franchisee must come out of your training program being able to represent the very best of what your brand is.
3. Training at your location
Your initial training period for new franchisees will almost certainly begin with headquarters training at your main franchise location.
This is a recommended step for a number of reasons:
- You can include a tour - few things are as effective at imparting the knowledge of what a franchisee should be aiming for as an example to live up to. Your prototype franchise location provides this.
- You can include "on the job" training - many franchisors include a section of training that involves the franchisee actually taking on short-term roles at the main franchise location, or a non-trading example workspace.
- You can introduce them to key headquarters staff in person - being able to build on a personal introduction in future communications is immensely beneficial. You'll be encouraging good future internal communication.
- You can go beyond your manual - though your manual should form the basis of your "curriculum", having some formal classroom instruction allows you to discuss topics in your manual in greater depth.
It is suggested that you use as many different formats as possible during your franchisee education courses, so as to promote information retention. You might consider:
- Hands-on training, as suggested above
- Video sections
- Written sections
- Seminars and discussions
4. Onsite training at their location
Following their time at your headquarters, you'll usually follow up with onsite training for your franchisees.
This should be more flexible than the other sections of your franchise training courses:
Each franchisee will have different levels of skill and experience in different areas. A franchisee with experience in your industry may already have relevant knowledge about day-to-day operations, while another that has more general experience in a certain field - such as management - will obviously require a different training schedule.
The trainers you send to each franchisee location should be experts in identifying where your franchisees' strengths and weaknesses lie.
They can then amend the rest of the onsite training portion of your franchisee education to focus it where it's required.
A vital part of this?
Your opening team. Whether your trainer forms a part of this is up to you, but by sending an opening team to assist your franchisees during their sometimes overwhelming first week or two on the job facilitates a smoother start up for any franchise.
5. Ongoing Training
Once your onsite training is finished, it doesn't mean that all of your training is done.
Barring you having recruited the most perfect candidate imaginable, even after completing their initial training, your new franchisee will still have areas of strength and weakness. Your trainer should evaluate these and discuss them with the franchisee in a positive manner. These can then be monitored, and addressed in ongoing training.
But even that hypothetical perfect franchisee should still be given refresher and ongoing courses to ensure standards don't slip. These can include:
- Refresher training and performance monitoring - this allows you to check that the standards you imparted through your initial training and franchise manual are adhered to. This should be done for both your franchisees and their key employees.
- Qualification training for new key employees - each franchisee should know exactly how long they have after hiring a new employee to institute their full training.
- Training in new products or systems - every time you deploy a new system, training needs to be properly delivered across your network.
It's worth noting that franchise online training should only ever form a part of your ongoing training methods. Providing online resources is a highly recommended part of successful internal franchise communication, but there's often no substitute for in-person teaching.
6. Can there be such a thing as too much training?
You might think that you can't have a team that's trained "too" well. In an ideal world, this might be true.
But in reality, there is of course one thing that means you should carefully measure the amount of training you choose to provide:
The costs involved.
You might want to consider, for example:
- Cost of time away from working - the financial costs of this can become increasingly large if you consider the amount of time spent on training all of your franchisees and their key staff members combined.
- Cost of training staff salaries - your trainers are key members of staff, and key members of staff cost you money.
It becomes a balancing act between providing enough training that you can happily let your franchisee loose controlling their operation, and not expending excess funds to teach staff to use a fairly straightforward set of systems.
The information that will most help you decide where to site this balance?
7. Test and measure your training results
As with any system, you can't know whether your franchise training courses are working properly until you test them.
This testing should, firstly, be of your franchisees' understanding of the headquarters-based section of their initial induction training. Make sure to include practical as well as written tests in your examination procedures.
There's an important point to make here:
Not all new franchisees should pass your training tests. Or at least, you should have systems in place to judge whether their results - or any other skill deficits or personality issues that have arisen - warrant further attention.
The people in the best position to judge this will be your trainers. Thus, your trainers need to have the power to mark a franchisee's record. Or in - hopefully - rare cases, mark them down as having failed their training course. This makes your franchise consultant training vital.
You simply cannot run the risk of sending a franchisee out to start up a new location without the knowledge, ability, or attitude required to succeed.
It's the entire reason that you've set up your training system in the first place.
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