Franchise training and support

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Franchise training and support

One of the biggest questions facing an investor trying to find a franchise is whether the franchisor offers the support you need to succeed. Here, we take a look at the different types of support offered and how franchisees can tell whether a franchisor is providing sufficient guidance and assistance. Then, at the end, we offer advice to franchisors regarding how they can best support franchisees.

Franchise Training and Support

For franchisees

What support do you need?

The level of support required will vary from franchisee to franchisee. For instance, a franchisee who has experience in the franchise sector will probably require less support than someone whos never operated a franchise before. However, the very nature of the franchise model means that all franchisees will need some level of guidance so standards can be maintained and the correct procedures are followed.

It's also important to consider the fact that the franchisor may be responsible for performing specific tasks such as national advertising on behalf of all franchisees. Although you may have the skills required to do this yourself, allowing the franchisor to step in can take some of the strain off individual franchisees and ensure that they havent got too much on their plate.

Initial set-up

Many franchises assist their franchisees in locating and setting up their business premises. This is an incredibly important step and often requires a great deal of experience and expertise to get right. Establish your franchise in the wrong location, and you'll probably struggle to bring in enough customers. Get the store refurbishment wrong, and it's likely you'll have to invest more money in rectifying your mistakes at a later date. Most successful franchises understand precisely what a franchisee needs from a location and will have the infrastructure in place to facilitate a search and help arrange the lease. In some cases, they may be able to offer reduced rates for shop fitting.

Training

Training is probably the most critical aspect of franchise support and is likely to play a prominent role in all franchise support systems. This is predominantly because an effective training programme is required if a franchise is to standardise all operating procedures and processes and ensure all franchisees are meeting a minimum level of service provision.

However, the amount of training a franchisee receives will vary from franchise to franchise and will depend on the resources at their disposal. Larger franchises are likely to operate longer, more complex training programmes that guide franchisees through a wide range of topics. Smaller franchises are going to be more limited with what they can do and are likely to offer shorter training programmes that only cover the fundamentals.

Advertising and marketing

Most franchises will offer franchisees a great deal of marketing support as they prepare to open a new unit. Whether this continues after the initial opening stretch depends on how a franchise organises its marketing department. Some franchises will require a monthly contribution from all franchisees to cover national advertising costs. Others will use this contribution to pay for both local and national advertising campaigns. Some franchises will request no advertising fee and leave all marketing up to individual franchisees, while others will provide basic marketing materials and offer advice but allow franchisees to pay for and implement the campaigns themselves.

Ongoing support

In the vast majority of cases, the franchisor will continue to provide support and guidance once a new franchise is up and running. A franchisee cant learn everything they need to know in a training camp and, as the new business grows and expands, theyll be faced with problems that theyve never encountered before. Consequently, most franchises implement a support structure that ensures franchisees receive the support they need as and when new issues arise.

This is the type of support that franchisees often feel like theyre missing and can become embittered about. However, not all franchises commit to a large amount of long-term franchisee support and prospective franchisees need to be sure that they understand exactly how much help they're realistically going to receive.

How do you know what level of support youll receive?

There are three main ways of working out what kind of support you can expect to receive from a franchisor. They are the following;

  • Look for details in the franchise agreement the responsibilities and rights of both the franchisor and franchisee are explicitly stated in the franchise agreement. In theory, everything you need to know about the level of support youll receive has been written down in the contract.
  • Ask the franchisor the vast majority of franchisors will be happy to provide you with information as to what support and guidance they provide. All you need to do is ask!
  • Ask existing franchisees once you have collected information from the franchisor, its a good idea to contact existing franchisees and request their opinion. Theyll be able to tell you whether the franchisor is being honest about the amount of sport they provide and whether they keep the promises set out in the franchise agreement.

What you need and what you expect

Its also important to consider the difference between the level of support you need and the level of support you expect to receive. Expectations are very subjective and sometimes bear no resemblance to the reality of the situation. Consequently, its a good idea to think about what help you need and what skills youre lacking, rather than focusing on all of the different types of support youre going to receive. A prospective franchisee that knows what their weaknesses are and demonstrates a desire to learn and improve is an attractive prospect for any franchisor.

Conclusion

The best business opportunities are those franchises that provide each franchisee with the amount of support and guidance that they require. No two franchisees are the same and franchisees will have different skillsets and abilities. When it comes to finding a franchise that offers the right amount of support, its important to check the franchise agreement, talk to the franchisor and contact existing franchisees. These sources should give you sufficient information to make an informed decision as to whether youll receive all of the help you require.

For franchisors

How can franchisors support franchisees?

In return for their investment and ongoing payments, franchisees will want to be trained to a high standard to be confident about all aspects of the business. Its in your best interest to help franchisees reach their full potential, as their success is your success. They are representing the brand that you have worked so hard to create and establish, so not only does supporting your franchisees protect your investment, but it is also the key to the growth and longevity of the franchise.

Supporting franchisees beyond the franchise agreement

Here are three ways you can make sure your franchisees feel supported and satisfied with their investment, beyond what it outlined in the franchise agreement.

1. Listen to your franchisees views

Its best to treat franchisees as business partners rather than employees, as this is what they are at the end of the day. This means keeping them in the loop at all times. Changing operational processes without informing franchisees is only going to frustrate them and put pressure on the trust and respect in the relationship. You might even find that if you had spoken to your franchisees, you would have done something differently.

Create an environment where you and your franchisees can easily communicate and share your ideas with each other. Transparency is key for a positive franchisor-franchisee relationship, as well as the overall success of the franchise. Franchisees should feel comfortable giving their feedback and you should encourage it. If you act on the feedback, you are well on your way to maintaining a sense of community and companionship in the franchise network.

2. Dedicate yourself to the development of their business

Ongoing support is just as important as initial training, as its crucial in the franchisees development. Franchisees - particularly those who have previous experience in the franchise world - will become displeased if their needs arent being met when they are up and running.

Ongoing support doesnt just have to come in the form of lengthy classroom training sessions that take franchisees away from running their business. You could decide to visit your franchisees at their individual franchise locations. This gives you a chance to pass on your expertise of the industry and exhaustive knowledge of the business system with a hands-on approach. This also proves to them that you are willing to take an active role in their development. Franchisees will respect a franchisor who shows they care and is willing to put the effort in.

3. Organise events where franchisees come together

Being able to mingle and share experiences with other franchisees will help give them a sense of security as well as a source of inspiration and motivation. Meetings and conferences are a good chance for franchisees to interact. This again contributes to franchisees feeling like they are part of a community.

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