It’s almost a given that franchisors provide an induction training programme for their franchisees. New recruits both expect and need to be taught how to run their business. After all, it’s what a large proportion of their franchise fee is going towards.
But not all training programmes are made the same. And nor should they be.
The length, subject matter and delivery will vary, depending on the complexities of that particular franchise. Some businesses require practical application, others draw on softer skills. And while one franchise might be owner-operated and van-based, another will be a multi-site, management opportunity. What the first franchisee needs in terms of induction is very different to the second.
Assume that specific training is provided, and that it is built around the needs of that particular business. Then what about the individual needs of the franchisees themselves?
The trouble with a one-size-fits-all solution is that it assumes everyone enters with the same core skills and attributes. When, we all recognise, this is far from reality. Take Dream Doors as an example, where franchisees come to us from such wide and diverse backgrounds – and rarely from the kitchen industry. In my 16+ years with the company, I have recruited people who’ve come from the IT sector but never sold anything before, and I’ve also recruited people who were born to sell but thought office suites were something you sat on at work! Both parties were successful in their own right, but needed a very different approach when our business development team were supporting them.
And that’s where, following on from the induction course, a tailored support programme is essential. By all means, set new franchisees up with the basics, and deliver the core elements in a consistent manner. Referring to Dream Doors again, our product training isn’t unnecessarily nuanced; a soft-close hinge is a soft-close hinge, a door – bar a few literal material differences – is almost always a door…and it should open and close with the help of that hinge! But when it comes to coaching new franchisees on how to deal with a customer enquiry, how to ask the right questions, how to overcome or avoid obstacles, as well as the myriad challenges in managing installation teams, then those modules have many more subtleties to them. Importantly, though, they can be modified to suit the trainee’s needs.
What about the trainers themselves? As a franchisor, are you confident you have the right people in place delivering your intellectual property and best practice? Our business development team are all adept at supporting franchisees in every element of their business but, for the induction training, we tap into their individual areas of expertise. The kitchen industry experts deliver product and survey training, while those who come from a sales or commercial background coach those elements.
This approach to training has been developed over many years – a couple of decades, in fact. Dream Doors’ induction training course is now three weeks long, which is a marked improvement on the three days that were delivered when our business first franchised 20 years ago. The shortcomings we had back then, though, were as a result of inexperience and naivety. What’s more, most franchisees were recruited from the kitchen industry and simply had to supply and fit some doors. The business has moved on stratospherically since those early days. As a sales and management franchise, it doesn’t really matter what experience someone has, or how decorated their CV is. The core attributes that make a successful franchisee are application, work ethic and the ability to learn something new. Which comes back to training and how to effectively coach people with such varied backgrounds.
There’s no doubt that tailored – and in-person – support has had a huge impact on the rapid growth and increased profits our franchisees enjoy. A new franchisee who is finding their feet, perhaps making simple mistakes and lacking the confidence of someone more established, will be closely monitored and intensely supported. For us, this means weekly visits in person, helping that franchisee to deal with customer enquiries, make sales, manage their margins and their staff, as well as a dozen or more other key aspects of the business model. Conversely, a franchisee who is a decade in – who has a team in place, a well-structured business and is regularly topping annual sales of £1M – requires a different level of support. This will be more business development-based, looking at stretching sales and building more infrastructure to deal with additional growth.
One final thought on this, and something most other franchisors will know, is that you can’t ignore the amassed knowledge within a franchise network itself. Nobody understands the real-world practices of running your franchise better than your experienced franchisees. So, use that to help new recruits, encouraging mentoring and peer-to-peer support. This has to be balanced carefully, of course, as you don’t want to overly-burden your mature franchisees or pull them away from their own businesses. And it goes without saying, that you should only lean on those who are actually following the model, as there will be the odd maverick-minded individual who can’t help but try to re-invent the wheel!
This article comes courtesy of Alex Waite, director of franchisee recruitment at Dream Doors the UK’s # 1 kitchen makeover brand.