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Guide to Franchise Training . . . why franchisors need to provide great training in their systems


Evan Hackel

Franchise executives are among the smartest businesspeople anywhere. They need to master a range of disciplines that include entrepreneurship, branding, marketing, supply chain management, retail and POS technology, negotiating real estate deals, and many others.

But have you noticed that when it comes to training, even very capable franchise leaders sometimes seem to have blinders on? Some think of training as little more than an unavoidable cost of doing business. They want to provide just enough franchise training to get their new franchise owners up to speed quickly, and not much more. And when it comes to helping their franchise owners train their employees, some don’t want to become involved at all.

When you ask them about training, they are apt to make statements like these . . .

  • “Our franchise owners have developed their own systems and solutions for doing business and don’t want us to interfere.”
  • “Training is not worth spending a lot of money on – it’s expensive and because staff turnover is high, you end up training people who leave.”
  • “We launched a new franchise training program a few years ago, and only 10% of them signed up.”
  • “Training only pulls people away from their work, so profits fall.”

When thinking like that sets in, negative things happen. Franchise leaders spend as little money as possible on training, nothing improves, and they seem to be happy with that. That is an immense mistake.

There is a better way. Let’s look at some of the benefits that effective training can provide.

A Franchise That Has Well-Trained Owners and Employees Is Dramatically More Profitable

This is probably the most important, and most evident, benefit of offering good training to franchise owners and their employees. When they have the skills they need to operate a franchise’s systems, there is less time lost, and profits rise. When employees are equipped with training to better understand the products and services they offer, they sell more and provide a better level of customer service.

There are other benefits too. Better trained employees experience greater levels of job satisfaction, so they tend to stay with you longer. Through training, the entire enterprise operates more efficiently and generates greater profits.

Franchise Training Promotes Compliance

When individual franchise owners create their own systems for doing business, the entire franchise suffers. The brand becomes diluted and devalued. It also becomes more difficult for individual franchise owners to sell their locations to prospective owners, who are most likely to buy franchises that offer consistent and proven systems for doing business.

Training is the most effective way to assure compliance throughout a franchise. When a parent company provides excellent initial training and then follows up with additional training as needed, that company is taking a vital step toward assuring its own success.

Training Supports Expansion and Growth

If your franchise invests time and money to develop electronic training – including training that can be delivered on mobile devices and tablets – that training can be rolled out cost-effectively as a franchise expands to new locations.

The result? Your franchise can grow organically without having to develop new training courses and materials every time a growth phase occurs.

Franchise Training Encourages Owners to Operate for Longer Periods of Time

When franchisees are trained to better execute your business plan, they sell more. That makes them happier, longer-lasting franchisees and helps to increase revenues.

Well-trained franchisees also enjoy greater operational efficiency, which further increases their profits. They become happier, sell more, and profit more. That is a win/win/win proposition for everyone.

Your Franchise Becomes More Attractive to New Owners

Prospective franchise owners are much more likely to buy franchises that offer them comprehensive training, for a very simple reason. They want to know that they will succeed as owners of a franchise because the franchise company “has their backs” and offers training to make sure they have the knowledge to succeed.

The best way to provide that level of confidence is to offer the kind of training that makes them say, “I can prosper in this franchise because it will train me to be successful. Plus, the risk of failure will be minimized.”

It is an excellent idea to not only tell prospective buyers how good your training is, but to let them participate in your training programs while they are deciding whether or not to buy one of your franchises. When they experience how good your training is, they will be much more likely to buy.

Well-Trained Franchisees Become Better Validators

When a prospective franchise buyer calls one of your current franchise owners and asks, “Is this a good franchise to buy?” you want that owner to answer, “Yes! The franchisor provides great training and support.” Remember that just one negative comment can prevent a prospective franchisee from buying – and you know the high cost of recruiting them and convincing them to buy. This is another payback that training offers you.

Training Prevents Franchises from Failing

Better profitability and training reduce the number of individual franchises that fail and close their doors. And when prospective buyers are looking at your franchise, they want to see that a very small number of locations have gone out of business. It’s critical.

Who Needs a Franchise Training Program?

Many franchise owners and top executives believe that training is something that should only be delivered to retail salespeople, product installers, call center representatives, service personnel, and other front-line employees who interact directly with customers.

While it is important to provide those front-line employees with training, a franchise can also benefit from training a wider range of personnel, who can include . . .

  • Individual franchise owners, who are critically important professionals to train.
  • Executives and managers in franchise headquarters, who can only benefit from improving their knowledge and skills in critical operational areas that are important throughout your franchise locations. One good approach is to have them take the same training that is being given to individual franchise owners and their employees. In that way, personnel in headquarters stay acutely aware of what is really happening in every level of your enterprise.
  • Employees who work in individual franchises, whose effectiveness has the biggest impact on the franchise’s overall success.

How to Develop Cost-Effective Training for Your Franchise

Here are some steps to follow . . .

  • Identify jobs and positions where improved performance promises to provide you with the greatest ROI on the investment you make in training. In a franchise system, for example, you might decide that your organization would profit most by investing in training for your salespeople, store supervisors, front-desk personnel, or product installers. Once you have identified these jobs, put them in priority order and then develop training for your top priorities first.
  • Carefully identify the specific tasks that will bring about the greatest benefits in each job if you trained employees to perform them better. If you train your front-desk hotel staff to deliver better customer service, for example, how much benefit could you expect to receive? Or if you could train each of your retail salespeople to increase the size of each sale by 10%, how much impact will that have on your bottom line? Remember to talk to the employees who are currently performing the functions where your training will focus. They are uniquely positioned to offer suggestions about which of their functions need improving and training.
  • Develop training that focuses on only a select few of the skills that promise to deliver the most meaningful results if they were improved. Resist the temptation to try to develop a program that teaches dozens and dozens of concepts and skills. Experience shows that trainees retain and improve more if they are trained on only three or four main concepts in a training session. Remember, you can add more training modules later on.
  • Define measurable metrics for your franchise training curriculum. Do you want your product installers to increase the quantity of the appliances they deliver daily, or to achieve 50% better customer reviews in surveys? Measure those metrics before and after training to determine whether your training is delivering the results you need.
  • Make the best decision about how you will deliver your training. If your franchisees are within a small geographic area and can travel to headquarters, consider delivering live training there, or design training that they will take in a central franchise training center. If your franchisees are working in far-flung locations, you might consider developing training that is delivered to employees’ mobile phones or to tablets that you place in every facility. There is no one answer that works in all situations, so evaluate where your employees are, what they do, and make the best decision. Remember that an experienced training development company will be able to help you make the best choices.

The Big Picture

Step back, look at your training as a profit center and ask, “If we had great training, how much would that increase our sales volume? Would it lead to our selling two, three or possibly even more new franchises a year, and what would that be worth to us? If it encouraged our owners to stay with us for longer periods of time, what would that be worth?”

When you crunch the numbers and define the benefits of training, you will see that its value greatly outweighs the cost of doing it right.

Creating a Brand with Alex Sanfilippo

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