Are you a franchise? Do you hold an annual convention for your franchisees and prospective new owners? Good! Your Annual Franchise Convention is a great place to train current franchisees and onboard new ones too!
Everyone in your organization – or most of them – are in one place at one time at your convention, which offers you a significant opportunity to educate them effectively, consistently, and compellingly. Yet what kind of training should you provide? And how should you deliver it?
Those are critical questions. Let’s take a closer look.
Motivate Your Owners and Fire Them Up to Succeed
You have concrete skills that you would like to teach everyone, of course. And it is important to cover them at your Annual Franchise Convention. At the same time, it would be a mistake to cover only “hard skills” and tasks, while ignoring entirely the opportunity to get your franchisees excited and motivated to succeed.
Many training opportunities offer a chance to motivate and inspire your franchise owners, at your Annual Franchise Convention, including:
Inspiring Keynotes Given by Professional Motivational/Educational/Inspirational Speakers
The right keynote from the right speaker can energize your attendees from the very start of your convention. The right keynoter with the right message who fits your system culture can help you open the hearts and minds of your franchisee. The result of a Wow! opening keynote experience is that franchisees will be more motivated to learn what you want them to . . . and more likely to apply what they learned after your convention is over.
When selecting a keynoter, keep these considerations in mind:
- A keynote speaker should have a message and a personality that “fit” in your industry and resonate with your culture to truly connect with your owners. Think carefully as you consider which speakers to use. Just because someone has some level of notoriety or celebrity recognition does not make them a relevant and meaningful keynote speaker for a franchise audience. A great example of this is a recent choice of a franchisor to use a semi-well known football coach. Though the coach’s talk was energetic, and the CEO was a big fan, the keynote actually fell short with 50% of the franchisees who were not sports fans. As you watch videos of speakers you are considering, keep asking, “Is this right for our audience?” Another approach is to send your franchisees links to videos from the speakers you are considering, and to invite them to vote on whom they will hear.
- Consider having your founder, CEO or another one of your top executives offer the keynote or lead key sessions. Do this only if he or she is a strong speaker who is able to make a compelling presentation. But if one member of your top team fills the bill regarding those skills, he or she could be a great choice to fire up your people and get them motivated.
- Train your team! Invest in presentation-skills coaching for all of your team members who will be on the platform addressing your franchisees. This includes everyone who will be on the mainstage to those who will be leading breakouts. Investing in your team to help them put their best foot forward will create an immeasurable positive return.
- Have your most enthusiastic and successful franchise owners give a panel presentation and tell their success stories. If they are fired up about being part of your family, they will inspire your other franchisees too. This is always a great option AND keep in mind, that moderating a panel effectively is a skill. If no one on your team has that skill, consider asking your keynote speaker to stay on to lead a panel discussion or bring in an expert outside facilitator. A panel discussion not expertly guided can run amuck and end up creating the exact opposite effect you had hoped for – bored, disengaged franchisees!
Teach Current and New Owners about Your Brand
In training sessions, let people know who your company is and how you go about doing business. In other words, train them to understand that they are part of an important brand that lends value to their businesses. Some ways to present your brand include:
- Show videos about your company that tell your story. These videos could tell the story of the individual who founded your company and the history of the product or service that built your success. You can also use video to profile your owners, employees and most important customers and bring the brand to life.
- Let your franchisees participate in creating and/or selecting signage, store designs, products, and more. (See “Case Study: Ingagement Creates a Stellar Convention” in Chapter One for a case study that explores how doing so worked at a convention.)
- Have interactive training sessions where your franchisees discuss what your brand is, and what it means to your customers. Your convention is a place where teams are born – teams that are made up of strong brand champions and ambassadors. Be sure to take advantage of this valuable, once-a-year opportunity.
Train Your People on Your Franchise Manual and System
Ample research has shown that when the majority of franchisees adhere closely to the instructions and systems that are laid out in their franchise’s operations manual, that franchise becomes impressively more successful and profitable. When individual franchisees go their own way, the integrity of the brand suffers because:
- Customers don’t know exactly what they can expect when they visit different locations.
- Individual franchisees use different vendors and even sell different products, which creates a situation that is difficult for the parent franchisor to control.
- Signage and displays are not used uniformly throughout the company, which can affect sales and the core business proposition.
Your convention offers an opportunity to prevent issues like those. In presentations, be sure to explain not only what rules franchisees are expected to follow, but why. When they come to view your manual and required activities as opportunities to sell more and increase profits, your entire franchise will benefit and become more profitable.
Train Your Franchisees on Key Functions
If you are currently using unified Point of Sale (POS) systems, for example, your convention offers an ideal setting to train people how to use them. The same is true if you want all your franchisees to use company displays and signage properly.
And then there are other key functions you should provide training for, depending on what services or products your franchise provides:
- If you sell food or beverages, you can train your franchisees to observe proper protocols for food preparation, storage, and maintenance of food preparation areas.
- If you provide cleaning services or smoke remediation, you can offer training on procedures and how business should be done.
- If you are an automotive service franchise, you can offer training on how to write service orders, how to upsell customers to higher-end tires and components, and more.
- If you are a painting franchise, you can offer training on how to prepare homes to be painted, how to remediate mold in interior areas, and other critical skills.
Remember that the vendors you use – the companies from which you buy the food you sell, the paint and cleaning products you use and other key supplies – are often able to provide presentations and training on how to use their products. And if you invite them to do so, the training they provide will be free.
No matter what business you are in, you are selling something, and you need to please customers. Because these are two fertile areas for improvement in any franchise, consider offering focused training at your Annual Franchise Convention that can improve them.
Offer Onboarding Training
If you brought new franchisees into your franchise system the last year, your Annual Franchise Convention is the ideal place to offer them special onboarding programs. You don’t need to travel to visit them or have them visit your home office. Simply plan an afternoon of onboarding training on your key systems, bookkeeping protocols, HR basics and other fundamentals. Often time, this is best scheduled as a pre-opener activity to the overall convention. Have new recruits come in the day before and partner them with convention “buddies” or mentors who volunteer to introduce them around.
Introduce Distributed Training Programs at Your Conference
Do you offer training that your franchisees and their employees can take on their smartphones, tablets or other devices? If you do, how many of your people are using it? Your conference is a great setting to train everyone in your organization how to access and make the best use of the mobile training you offer.
Teach Your Franchisees to Use Your Learning Management System (LMS)
Many companies today use sophisticated Learning Management Systems to track the training they provide. These systems allow companies to know how many employees have enrolled in training programs, how many have completed the programs they started, and more.
If you are currently using one of these systems, your annual conference offers the opportunity to train your owners how to use it. Just one training session can increase the number of locations that use your LMS.
Offer Informational Presentations on Real Estate and Insurance
These are core concerns for your franchisees! The good news is, real estate experts and insurance agents will often be willing to deliver talks at no charge for your franchise owners. Why? Because they might welcome business that your franchisees will bring to them. A word of caution here… be sure that whoever you put in front of your franchisees has honed his or her presentation skills. No one will learn if the presenter is dry as toast! Get professional help in pre-screening possible presenters or ask members of your franchisor network who they have used.
Also Consider Giving Seminars on Accounting and Tax Law
If your franchise system uses a platform that tracks your franchisees’ finances, you might not need to offer sessions on these topics. But if your franchisees are responsible for keeping their own books and preparing their own tax returns, informational sessions on these topics could be of great value to them.
If you want your annual conference to result in system-wide improvements that boost profits, result in happier franchisees, and more, the message is simple. Use your conference as a place to provide thoughtful and high-quality training experiences.