The culture or philosophy of a franchise system is conveyed to franchisees through its training programme. Some leading franchisors, e.g. FEDEX, require that you must not know anything in their business line before joining their franchise system. This is because it is easier to train a fresh brain to do what your system requires for success than it is to first un-train, then retrain an experienced one. The latter risks falling back to old ways which often might conflict with yours.
If a business is not easily trainable, it is not replicable, hence you should consider other growth options. Together with adequate financing, training is the lifeblood which defines growth or death of a franchise system. It ensures continuity from one outlet to another, making it possible to replicate a franchise system.
First the importance of training. Training creates consistency and high standards required by franchisors in products sold and services offered.
To achieve this, systems and standards are developed for the franchise system and communicated to franchisees through training.
The training is guided by a franchise operations procedures and training manual generated at the systems development stage. In this document is contained every detail that makes it possible for a person without prior experience to run a franchise on the same scale as the owner of the original business. The manual covers all seven systems needed to run the business, namely leadership, management, finance, sales, delivery, marketing and branding.
Additionally, structured training avails the following advantages to the franchise system. First, competent and high performing franchisees differentiate the system from competition.
A franchise system that leaves franchisees guessing what to do at any point during service delivery will have as many service levels as there are franchisees. Solid training unifies service delivery and breeds competent high-performing franchisees.
Second, brand and message consistency are maintained. The message communicated by the brand needs to be consistent across the franchise network. You might have seen some brand and message inconsistencies in some leading franchise brands, particularly when there’s a dispute under litigation. Needless to say, such a scenario is undesirable as it waters down the brand.
Third, training ensures improved system-wide performance by franchisees and company-owned stores. This results from the group sharing best-practice knowledge first from the franchisor and eventually, any franchisee innovations considered and approved by the franchisee advisory council.
Fourth, training avoids costly and avoidable mistakes, thereby reducing risk of failure of the franchise system. The franchisor already made mistakes and perfected the franchise system prior to franchising. If a robust training program is not in place, franchisees will make the same mistakes, some even worse that could prove costly to the franchise system.
Finally, ongoing training is a vital component of the franchise relationship.
It keeps the parties engaged and updated on new developments. Any system upgrades or changes need to be communicated to franchisees through training.
Last the types of training. Mainly, these are the initial training, given before the franchisee starts running their franchise and ongoing training during the tenure of the franchise relationship.
The latter is needed for new products, services or procedures and to minimize erosion of a system’s standards over time. Costs of initial training are included in the joining fees while ongoing training is charged additionally. The trainings are done both at the head office (for theory) and on site (the practical part). Prototype units are used for on-site training.
The writer is a Franchise consultant helping indigenous East African brands to franchise, multinational franchise brands to settle in East Africa and governments to create a franchise-friendly business environment.