Leading the way in training
One of the biggest challenges facing Australia’s franchise industry is the need for improvements in the key area of franchisee training. Franchise systems need strong leaders to be the driving force in their franchisee’s ongoing learning and development.
Franchisee training is an integral part of every franchise system. Franchisors are not just selling a business, they are selling a particular business model that involves the need to train people so they can run that business consistently and continuously.
Franchisees come to the system with a vast array of different skills and it’s up to the franchisor to ensure they are each equipped with the right tools to be able to own and operate a successful franchise business, not just for the first three, six or 12 months, but way beyond.
Franchisors with strong leadership skills value the diversity of their franchisees who bring life to the brand in their local markets. All highly successful franchisors are leaders who promote respect and integrity within their teams and throughout the brand. They set the path; share the end destination and make the best decision at the right time with the best information. This is leadership. They have taken on the responsibility to grow a business, to expand the product or service offering, to increase market share and to increase brand awareness.
Successful franchisors are not shy in sharing their plans with the team members who choose to live and breathe their vision. The level of leadership differs amongst the franchise network; some require the detail, the how, when and where; others require just the overall perspective and are committed to the cause. The franchisor’s responsibility is to deliver all these needs and continue to share the message in all available learning and development forums on a regular basis throughout the network.
This ‘sharing of information’ becomes the backbone of the brand’s training programs, either formal or informal. Whilst the traditional ‘one size fits all’ training and induction program for franchisees may be cost effective, it is probably not the best way to ensure each individual is adequately trained and has the confidence to run a business.
Franchisors have a responsibility to allocate funds and then use those funds in the best way possible to develop all team members. Best practice in franchise training programs is blended learning using a balance of internal core and external specialists with a mix of formal training, on-site learning, eLearning and regular information sharing sessions e.g. meetings and mentoring. Franchisee training is not just about sitting in a classroom and completing a module. Franchisees should come away from learning and development sessions understanding their worth, how they contribute to the overall goals of the franchise and how their contribution will make a difference.
Franchisees commit their future to the belief in the vision of the franchisor. A franchisee buys into a brand and in return should acquire a potentially successful business. In many instances when I speak with franchisees they share with me that their final decision was made as a result of their discussions with the founder and their inspirational commitment to their brand.
Does your franchisor lead the way?
All franchise systems provide some level of induction training, but what about ongoing training? As part of your due diligence before buying into the system you need to establish the franchisor’s level of commitment to training.
You need to identify what systems have good training and development programs driven by franchisors who are dedicated to the success and long-term retention of their franchisees:
• Is there a training plan that supports ongoing business skills training for the franchisees and their senior team members?
• What methods does the franchisor use to evaluate franchisee performance? If gaps in skills are identified, what learning programs do they recommend?
• Is there a formalised mentoring program for new franchisees? Are there experienced franchisees who new franchisees can call upon for advice?
• If the new franchisee is struggling to operate the business in the first three months, what further training is available?
• Is there a franchisee management program available to further up-skill in communication, team management, conflict resolution, local area marketing, coaching and mentoring of team members?
• Are there regular forums provided for franchisees to be up-skilled in new requirements such as industrial relations, workplace health and safety and carbon emissions?
Every franchisor should have a structured franchisee induction program which consists of classroom and on the job training, ensuring integrated operational and managerial learning outcomes. A complete franchisee induction program will be competency-based. This means case studies and assessments will be completed by the franchisee to ensure they have understood and acquired the skills throughout the induction program.
Regular health checks throughout the induction program will assist the facilitator in monitoring the new franchisee and their understanding of the environment within which they will be operating their business. The franchisee induction program should include leadership and management modules for a new business owner. Regardless of whether the franchise system is service, retail, mobile or food, a well executed training plan is a business objective which contributes to the business’ bottom line. Leaders are courageous Strong leaders with purpose possess courage: the courage to make the best decision for the betterment of the group as a whole at all times. Brands in their lifetime will confront challenges, remove obstacles and create an opportunity from the potential diversity - this is expected from the franchisor as they lead and protect the brand.
As a franchise system grows and evolves, so does its training requirements. Through industry based research we have established that the key challenges facing the franchise sector in 2013 are all about leadership and it is up to the industry to take responsibility to drive the changes forward. Leadership motivates and empowers people to excel beyond what they believe is possible both as an individual and as a team – this motivation inspires us to raise the bar and therefore excel beyond what is expected. A motivated and empowered franchisee is more often than not a successful franchisee.
Corina Vucic is the Director of FC Business Solutions and is the driving force behind the training and human resources function of the business. Corina, who was named the FCA’s 2012 Woman in Franchising for Victoria/ Tasmania, has been involved in the franchising industry for more than 15 years and is dedicated to the growth and development of the systems she works with.
Corina is a great believer in the professional and personal benefits of lifelong learning and her academic achievements include a Bachelor of Arts and Commerce and Masters in Human Resources.