4 Franchise Training Mistakes To Avoid
The quality of a franchise training program is the most influential factor in the success or failure of the franchise business according to a study conducted by Professor Steve Michael at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Yet, many franchisors tend to focus their efforts on the day-to-day operations of their central business, rather than on their training programs. These are four of the most common and easily correctable mistakes businesses make when creating a franchise training program.
1. A Long, Dull Operations Manual
An operations manual is the bedrock of any franchise training program. It’s the blueprint for your brand. The operations manual is a legally enforceable quality control document, one that allows you implement systems standards. It can also shield you from vicarious liability suits.
But because of their legal nature, operations manuals tend to be torturously boring pieces of literature, often exceeding 500 pages. It’s foolish to thump a cinder block of information in front of would-be franchisees and expect them to absorb all of that detail.
Instead of a technical paper that is predominantly thrown into a desk unused, your operations manual should be digitized and easily accessible online. It should include a search function, interactive questionnaires, and multimedia features that keep your franchisees engaged.
Yes, an operations manual must give you the legal capacity to enforce consistency among your operating partners, but it is also an everyday guide that encourages success and compliance before you have to legally enforce it.
2. Going Straight to Headquarters Training
After sending out the operations manual, most franchisors will bring their franchisees straight into headquarters for in-person training. Don’t do this. Between the cost of transportation, housing, and instructors, in-person training can be expensive. Most of the time, the franchisees you are training will come in with a huge variation of background knowledge. Some will have decades of relevant experience while others will lack the basic terminology of your industry.
Instead of wasting time and resources bringing everyone up to speed, every franchisee should go through online pre-training before coming into headquarters. Online training is a cheap, easily enforceable way of guaranteeing everyone comes in with the same base knowledge. Your trainers will be able to begin teaching immediately, without having to guess what the franchisees already know or don’t know.
3. Not Using An Opening Team for Franchise Training
Dave Hood, the former president of Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels, recalls one franchise opening when he used an opening team. The launch was a hit, and they were selling pretzels as fast as they could churn them out. In all the chaos, Hood noticed that the franchisee was nowhere to be found. He finally located him in the back storage area, curled up in the fetal position on the floor.
The moral of the story is that you never know how your franchisee is going to react to the anxiety and chaos of running a business. All the training in the world can’t predict how a franchisee will perform, so be safe. Use a pre-trained opening team to avoid a catastrophe that could harm your brand.
4. Never Stop Training!
Once your initial training program is done, it’s tempting to move on and let the franchise operate independently. But if you want your business to thrive, you should never stop training your franchisees. Consistency is paramount to the success of a franchise, and to guarantee uniformity, you must train, retrain, and train again. We know in-person training can get pricy, but digital training is a low cost option to provide constant company updates, issue compliance surveys, and connect with franchisees through video conferences. If you stop training, you will see your franchisees delineate from your central brand blueprint, and that can be a death sentence for a franchise.
The key is to never underestimate the importance of your training program and, when in doubt, bring in professionals to optimize its efficiency and effectiveness.