For prospective franchisees, the best franchises are the ones that prioritise the development of their franchise units and invest in quality support. It is both the initial and ongoing training that makes a franchise investment so appealing to entrepreneurs. Potential franchisees want reassurance that the training programme will provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to replicate the franchise system and the success the franchisor has achieved.
What questions will franchisees ask?
Training is incredibly important when it comes to franchising. Many franchisees will come to your business from different sectors and some may not even have experience of business ownership. As a result, your training will need to be up to scratch if you’re to effectively expand your business. What’s more, prospective investors will want to be sure that you’ll offer the right support to enable them to make the most of their investment.
For this reason, franchisees are likely to ask lots of questions about the training and support you’ll offer once they’ve signed on the dotted line. Here are the types of questions you may be asked about your franchise development programme:
- Does the initial training include both business management and technical skills for a complete learning experience?
- Will ongoing support be provided?
- How will the initial and ongoing training be delivered? Will it be online or face to face? Will I have access to mentors and coaches when I need them?
- Will you provide a clear and easily understandable training manual that I can take back to my business once I’ve completed my induction?
- Do the individuals presenting the training have relevant qualifications and experience?
Some prospective franchisees may also ask to speak with existing franchisees to verify the information you provide. You should encourage this, as you should be looking to recruit a well-informed candidate. If they decide to join your business with full awareness of what's in store for them, they are more likely to be a good fit for your franchise.
Try to avoid pointing them towards one or two franchisees in particular, as potential investors could see this as a red flag. Instead, give them a list of contact details and let them decide who to get in touch with.
Why is the initial training so important?
Quality training is the foundation of a robust franchise system. For your franchisees to be successful, they must replicate your business model consistently. Your brand only gains trust from customers if they experience the same level of service each time they visit a franchised location. The best franchises achieve this brand consistency through comprehensive training.
You should ensure that your franchisees understand the importance of the initial training before they sign the franchise agreement. Some franchisors even stipulate in the contract that the franchise agreement can be terminated if the franchisee fails the initial training. The success of your franchise system depends on your franchisees’ ability to learn the skills and knowledge required to run your business, so the training should be prioritised.
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What to include in a franchise training programme
The development of the franchise depends on your franchisees’ ability to adapt to your way of doing things. You may have recruited a franchisee because of their business ownership experience, but this may cause difficulties when they're asked to leave their pre-conceived ideas at the door. You must stress how important it is that they adopt your business methods if they are to achieve success as a franchisee.
The primary objective of the initial training is to make sure that franchisees have all the necessary know-how to duplicate your business model successfully. Most prospective franchisees have chosen the franchise route to business ownership because they don’t want to reinvent the wheel. With this in mind, they should eagerly learn the skills needed to replicate your brand.
As well as introducing your franchisees to the franchise system, the best franchises also offer coaching in all aspects of running a business. The main areas covered as part of the initial training programme are:
- Operating standards and procedures
- The recruitment, retention and management of employees
- The training of employees
- Marketing, advertising and public relations
- Financial management
- Business administration
- Point of sale systems
- Approved suppliers
Preparing your franchisees as much as possible before they launch their new business should help prevent problems further down the line and present a quicker path to profitability.
Training programme structure
You can choose how long the training programme lasts, where it takes place, and whether franchisees are charged. There are no perfect answers; the structure you choose should be dependent upon and based around the needs of your franchisees.
Give some thought to the type of training that will work best for your franchise. Will classroom-based training give your franchisees everything they need to know? Would hands-on training at an existing franchise be useful? Should franchisees have supervised training at their actual unit location before the business’ launch? It's essential to develop an appropriate training programme if you’re to give your franchisees the best chance of success.
However, most franchise training schemes involve a mixture of the above. Studies have shown that learners retain more information if sessions are interactive. This means it can be beneficial to break up long talks with discussions, videos and hands-on work. Not only will this mean your franchisees don’t fall asleep in your training sessions, but they’ll be more likely to actually look forward to attending them, which is good news for everyone.
Where to carry out training schemes
Also, give some consideration to where the training will take place. Many franchisors deliver their training from their head office. Although this provides franchisees with an excellent opportunity to spend some time at the head office and get a feel for the business, it can be expensive for franchisees.
Very often, franchisees are expected to cover the expenses of attending training, and this means paying for transport and overnight accommodation. If this makes it a costly training scheme, it may be worth putting on more localised training sessions for groups of franchisees, as this will make them more accessible. You could even consider delivering informative talks or one-to-one training via online videocall sites like Skype. This often proves popular with franchisees, as they can learn from the comfort of their own home without paying a penny.
Charging for training
You’ll also need to think about how much you charge for the training you offer. The fee should be enough to cover the resources you use, but not so much that it’s off-putting for prospective investors. Some franchisors include the costs in the initial franchise fee, whereas others apply a separate charge. Again, there isn’t a correct answer, but if you want to prove that you’re serious about franchise development for your franchisees, you may want to avoid asking for a lot of separate fees, as this will go against the image you want to portray.
With all this emphasis on initial training, it can be easy to overlook ongoing support. In reality, this follow-up training is just as important as the franchisees’ introduction to the business. Standards may naturally drop over time if you don’t make the effort to refresh your franchisees’ knowledge and review their performance.
Ongoing support can take two forms: refresher training and development training. The former should involve regular sessions that go over the business’ values and core strategies. Their principal objective should be to ensure franchisees uphold the franchise’s standards. You may find it worthwhile to assess your franchisees through regular tests to ensure they have the necessary knowledge.
Development training will furnish franchisees with additional knowledge and skills as they progress through their contract term. Franchisors who prioritise the ongoing development of their franchisees will demonstrate that they respect their investors. Not only does this make the franchise opportunity more attractive to potential franchisees, but it may also boost the profitability of the business as a whole. In turn, this will help you expand your business at a faster pace and enjoy higher profits.
Starting a franchise business can be a steep learning curve for franchisees. Not only do they have to be taught about your franchise model and how to become a successful franchisee in your company, but also about being a business owner as well.
Whether you offer a low-cost or fairly expensive franchise opportunity, investors will be handing over a significant amount of cash when they get on board. As a result, they’ll want to be confident that you have the resources and inclination to deliver a decent training programme. You should be able to demonstrate that you can give them the tools to launch and manage a profitable business, as well as foster their ongoing development throughout the contract term.
Don’t underestimate the power of training programme that’s developed and delivered well – it will give franchisees confidence as well as hard skills. This will be lucrative for you both in the long run, so providing quality training should be in your best interests as you expand your business.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©