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Building a Highly Competitive Franchise with Hands-on Training
The franchise industry is highly competitive. Jim Judy from Forbes Coaches Council writes that there are nearly 2,900 franchise brands out there. That’s 2,900 independent networks that can evolve into high-performative, self-supporting connected communities. To make that growth possible, franchise networks should embrace the culture of learning and communication.
Sadly, most issues in the franchise industry occur due to a lack of learning and communication. For instance, while headquarters may be totally employee-centric and treat their workers as their customers, franchisees could be conducting bad business practices, underpaying their workers (when the minimum wage is rising), cutting paid breaks and more. In addition, franchisors might be so focused on selling as many franchises as possible, that they don’t have enough resources to pay needed attention to standardization and corporate climate control or franchisees’ employee training. And here’s a pill that’s hard to swallow: without a well-connected collaborative, communicative learning environment within a franchise network, buying a franchise stops being a path to success. It turns into a burden for franchisees that directly reflects on the franchisor’s profits.
If franchisors are treating franchisees equally as team players, growth becomes not only possible but unavoidable.
Align your business goals with future team players
A constantly upcoming issue in the franchise industry is that there are no common business goals between the franchisor and franchisees. Sometimes, franchisees aren’t seen as partners or team players; they’re perceived as buyers, and that’s a critical mistake.
On the first stage of signing an agreement, you have to communicate the brand-specific goals and values you need to achieve. It’s the specifics of products and services, marketing, sales—all matters relating to the franchise brand positioning. If you see that a buyer doesn’t agree with you on all core values at the negotiation stage, it’s not worth it. Yes, you’re selling a business—but you are also sharing your name, platform and your experience with a future business owner. This is much more important. Both of you can have different motivations to get to certain goals, but your goals and values should be common.
Make sure future franchisees understand that they’re becoming a part of the team. So, how can the power of collaboration be unleashed from the beginning?
Promote franchise success through a scalable culture of learning and communication
A culture of learning is what provides an environment to expand participants’ potential, learn constantly and reach new heights. It also helps franchisors translate brand values, train franchisees for growth and communicate with all parts of the network no matter where they are—locally or internationally. New learning technologies, packed in the mobile online tool, deliver on-demand training right on the spot. Such a culture of learning helps people to gain knowledge, apply that knowledge at work and share knowledge with each other. Here are five steps to take to establish a basis for the learning culture.
1. Integrate hands-on learning into daily operations
Employees in a franchise should learn new skills and upgrade them constantly. Training in franchise needs to be integrated into daily activities, so franchisees’ employees can learn without interrupting their job duties. Data used to build a training program should be tightly integrated into a franchise’s systems, being driven by performance, marketing, operational data, and other relevant sources. This is when training becomes truly effective.
Performance-based training triggers specific tasks that are necessary for franchisees’ employees to improve productivity and to fill skill gaps at specific time points. By definition, performance-based training is a form of hands-on learning, which means employees learn something when it’s needed and apply this new knowledge right away; the outcome is immediate. Such a reactive approach allows franchisees to accelerate onboarding, quickly deploy new marketing initiatives or make operational changes. It’s also highly engaging because employees are constantly involved in work and in learning.
2. Make training continuous
Training is the foundation the franchise industry stands on; it’s also the main transmitter of standardization rules and growth recipes. A franchise network is an ecosystem that should be constantly prepared for the smooth and quick sharing of information—it can be a new dish, product, service or the most successful business policies introduced. This process cannot consist of 90% theory and 10% practice: knowledge without practice is useless. Mark Siebert, franchise consultant for Start-Up, recommends asking yourself when evaluating the needed amount of training: “How much training would you want someone to have if you were going to let them run your company store for that month without you?” In an industry that requires flexibility, it’s never enough.
3. Provide scalable, on-demand training
Another element worth implementing is an on-demand learning platform. Various laws and regulations, often specific for different states or overseas locations, need to be taken into account. The same goes for all standardization rules, new marketing initiatives and best practices for products and services. A person rarely remembers everything clearly to the last detail and applies it immediately without practice, so make sure you can provide franchisees and their employees with on-demand online training. Scalability is a must for franchisee training and the learning culture in general for franchises. Franchise owners and employees should have constant access to the training, no matter the distance between franchisees and franchisors.
4. Establish an environment for knowledge transfer
Franchisees and their employees often complain that a franchisor abandons them as soon as they get behind the training for starters. So, provide your franchisees with the possibility to speak and be heard and to share knowledge with their teams. Create a culture of communication: more experienced team players can communicate with new members, the headquarters are constantly connected with distant franchisees, and the franchisees can share their best practices with each other. Also, sharing experience is usually followed by the establishment of trust, a feeling of belonging, which is vital for the next step we’ve learned from working with the franchise companies.
5. Encourage engagement
A lot of people who buy franchise businesses already have a business background. They surely would like to apply their knowledge and experience, developing a franchise in the locations where they know local specifics. Their experience can be useful for you, so make sure:
- they can apply it to help their franchise location grow, implementing lessons from their experience and knowledge of local customs;
- you are able to measure and evaluate the efficiency of their business decisions to navigate franchisees in the right direction.
Engagement is a source of motivation: if people are truly interested in what they’re doing, they’ll do it passionately and persistently. Also, you often don’t know the local traditions or specifics of a target audience, so be open-minded about what franchisees do—they probably know all place-related nuances better than you do. Let them participate in creating a training program, give them the opportunity to align brand guidelines to the local markets; make them mentors, let them expand their expertise with other franchisees in the network.
Power-up training with servant leadership
By implementing a culture of learning and communication, you create an environment that becomes the source of strength and support for your franchisees. Such an approach is called servant leadership. In 1970, Robert K. Greenleaf reinvented this term, defining it as leadership that doesn’t absorb power and influence and use it for its own benefit, but instead shares this power and helps people develop, learn and perform at their best. For franchisors, implementing servant leadership means investing in the development and growth of their franchisees. It also includes building a well-connected, hands-on training program which reaches franchisees’ employees in distant locations and creates an environment for the franchise community to share knowledge and experience. In such an environment, members of the community will grow as highly performative specialists, each in their own domain.
Franchisors often shy away from servant leadership because monitoring remote franchisees’ performances is hard and requires a lot of resources. But without attention and care, there will be no improvement in operations; and without these improvements, the quality of services will be poor. It will hurt headquarters, because customers may relate a franchise restaurant in Utah where they were served a not-so-fresh sandwich with the same brand restaurant in New York as they share the same name and, consequently, the same reputation. Poor service will affect your brand directly with a damaged reputation and a loss of profits.
Training integrated into daily operations, powered by hands-on learning and open communication, can make your franchise network collaborative, highly performative and successful—invest your resources into people’s growth, and they will contribute back to your business’s growth.
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