Appeared in Franchise Canada Magazine July/ August 2008 As a Tutorial
Once you have been granted a franchise one of the first things that will happen is initial training. This training provides you with the knowledge and skills to duplicate the franchisor’s proven business model and replicate the customer experience.
Training is the foundation of a strong franchise system. Successful franchising is all about duplication and consistency. A brand is strongest when the customer has the same experience each time they visit a franchised location, no matter what time of day or which location. The only way that brand consistency can be accomplished is through training. Initial training is so important that it is typically mandatory. Some franchisors will even go so far as to stipulate in the franchise agreement that if initial training is not successfully completed the franchise license can be terminated or that the franchisee must repeat the training until all the necessary skills are learned.
During training new franchisees must set aside any pre-conceived ideas of how the business should be run and be open minded to learning new methods that are being trained by the franchisor. This can sometimes be difficult for franchisees that have been in business for themselves before, especially if it is in the same industry. The franchisor will be assessing your ability to learn and adapt their method of doing business.
The goal of initial training is to ensure that a franchisee has all the knowledge they need to be successful and duplicate the brand. Someone wanting to get involved in a franchise is usually looking to be shown how as they don’t want to have to figure it out themselves. In addition to training the critical elements that make the brand, strong franchisors will also provide training in all aspects of running a business. Key areas that are typically covered in an initial training program include the following;
- Initial site selection and store build-out
- Operating standards and procedures
- Technical operations for providing the service or product
- Recruitment, retention and management of employees
- Training of employees
- Marketing, advertising and public relations
- Financial management and controls
- Point of sale systems
- Approved suppliers
The duration, costs and where the training is conducted will vary from franchise to franchise, depending upon the maturity of the franchisor, the complexity of the business model and the industry. Some franchisors provide training in a group setting at the head office, while others provide training one on one at the new location. Some franchisors provide initial training for few days while others have training that lasts a few months. Some franchisors include the training costs in the initial franchise fee, while others charge a training fee over and above the initial franchise fee. Costs for flights, accommodation and meals while attending the training are typically paid by the franchisee. Who attends the initial training will vary from franchise to franchise. In some cases it is strictly the franchisee, other cases it includes the franchisee and key management, and with some franchises the training may include all new staff.
As a result of the large variations, the only way that you will know what the details of the initial training are is to carefully review the disclosure document provided by the franchisor and ask a lot of questions. Often the disclosure document will provide a training outline. Ask the critical questions to the franchisor so that you have a good understanding of what the initial training entails; who, where, when and what. Talk to existing franchisees and get their input and impressions of the initial training. Some franchisors may let you review the operation manual or sit in on a part of a training program so that you can get a sense of the quality of the initial training. Don’t be afraid to ask the franchisor to learn as much as you can about the training.
There is a lot to learn when you are starting a new business, especially when it is in an industry that you have had no previous experience. Good training is more than just how to make the product. It is all about how to duplicate a complete, proven business model. A good initial training program provided by the franchisor will instill you with confidence and start you off on the right track to building a successful business.