How to successfully onboard a new franchisee

Entrepreneur and business mentor Rebecca Newenham discusses starting your new franchisee off on the right foot with the best onboarding process.

How to successfully onboard a new franchisee

Getting onboarding right can make the difference between success and failure. It can mark the beginning of a positive and productive working relationship or spell disaster for your new franchisee from the start. It’s worth investing time upfront in onboarding to boost your new franchisee’s chance of success.

But onboarding can be tricky. You don’t know what your new franchisee doesn’t know, and they don’t know either. Of course, you want to give them the tools to succeed, but they must also find their way in their new business. How do you strike the right balance?

Here are my top tips for getting the induction process right:

Use a set template so you both know you’ve got everything covered

If you’re relatively new to franchising, your onboarding process might be all in your head. Though you know your business inside out, it is worth investing time in creating a more formal onboarding process. Not only will this save you time in future as you welcome new franchisees, but it also ensures vital consistency as your business grows.

Having a professional induction process installs confidence in your new franchisee. They know they can count on you to do things properly and provide the support they need.

Don’t be afraid to give franchisees’ homework’

You don’t have to cover everything in your very first induction session. Point them toward further resources you think will assist them as they get started. Suggest regular check-ins with yourself or other experts in your business to further develop their business learning.

It can be difficult for new franchisees to take everything in at once, so written resources, videos or websites they can return to as they come across things in their business can be beneficial. It also allows you to focus on the points that you really want to get across to them and enables them to soak up some of the information in their own time.

Tailor your onboarding process to each franchisee to ensure they get the maximum benefit

If your franchisees come from different backgrounds, they’ll have different training needs. There’s no point wasting your time on LinkedIn training if your new franchisee is already an expert in that area. Whilst you’ll have a core set of information you need to cover, identify with them the areas they might need the most support on, like finance or company registration. That way, you’ll focus your time together on the areas of most significant benefit.

Consider how and where you deliver your onboarding

Major international franchisees may have well-established onboarding processes that are completely online-based. Doing things online is certainly time efficient, and by asking new franchisees to work through an online process, you’ll have clear evidence that they have been given and completed everything you feel they need to know to run their franchise successfully.

However, if possible, I urge you to consider at least some face-to-face elements. It can make a real difference to your long-term relationship. I do all of my inductions in person. We spend time getting to know each other and building a working relationship, not just covering how to run the franchise.

I always use onboarding sessions to introduce new franchisees to other team members to help them integrate quickly. It can also help to take new franchisees to an event, like a networking event or an exhibition, so that they can see you and your brand in action. This gives them real insight into how they can run their business going forward.

Buddy your new franchisee up with a fellow franchisee

As your new franchisees get underway, they’ll likely have more questions. Whilst you can be on hand to support them, they may find it easier to talk to another franchisee rather than you. I have recently introduced a ‘buddy’ system, pairing up a new franchisee with an existing one. It’s more informal support than our formal onboarding process. Still, I know franchisees have found it beneficial to feel there’s a friendly face on hard to support them, who’s been through pretty much everything they have. No questions are silly, and new franchisees have commented how much they value support from both myself as their franchisor and their franchising colleagues.

Onboarding is a crucial time for you and your new franchisee. You have both come a long way through due diligence and decided to move forward together. A thoughtfully designed induction process can set you both on the path to continued business success.

Rebecca Newenham
Rebecca Newenham