A critical element of your research is to assess how well you’ll be taught to run your franchise
More people seem to be searching for ways to retain some of the perks of working from home in the last 18 months. Perhaps chief among such benefits has been having more control over when and how you get your work done. Could franchising be the answer to your quest for greater flexibility and work-life balance?
If you’re looking into franchising for the first time, it’s possible to get lulled into a false sense of security about what might lie ahead, including less risk, much greater chance of success, someone to hold your hand if you ever run into difficulty and consistent profits delivered by an already proven business model.
But one element that isn’t always quantifiably clear from the start is just how well you will be trained to run your business successfully.
Franchisees become successful by working hard and embracing the training that teaches them how to follow the franchisor’s system. Alongside the power of the brand, product or service, it’s the systems and training you’re investing in.
There’s no generic list of what a franchisor must include in a training programme because every franchise is different, but it needs to be extremely thorough. Basically, you’ll need to be trained on every single aspect of running the business, as laid out in the franchise operations manual.
The better you’re trained in the franchise system, the better you will follow it.
If a franchisor expects customer service to be uniformly excellent across the network, it needs to be able to show you precisely what excellent looks like as part of your training.
Brand uniformity is important in franchising, but it will never be achieved if each franchisee is simply doing their own version of the essential elements.
While it’s okay for a franchisor to devote slightly more or slightly less time to a particular aspect of training depending on a franchisee’s prior experience and needs, no one should get a free pass.
Remember, in the beginning, you won’t necessarily know what is or isn’t of critical importance to the business.
For example, you might have lots of marketing experience from a previous role, but if you’re allowed to start trading without marketing training specific to your new brand and business what’s to stop you accidentally spending a fortune on an ineffective marketing campaign?
It can often be the simple things that get overlooked in training.
The franchisor knows the business inside out and often it’s easy to assume certain things are obvious.
Franchisors can add significant value to training by sharing anecdotes: “I remember once when I first opened…”, “I had a member of staff who…”, “You’ll not believe me, but one time a customer actually…”.
It’s often these kinds of stories that stick in the mind and come to the rescue of a franchisee when something similar happens to them. If your franchisor isn’t naturally forthcoming, ask lots of open questions that draw on its experience.
Also, ensure the training programme covers how to operate the business financially. The last thing you want is to be stressed out by not understanding tax returns or not knowing how to deal with late-paying customers.
The bottom line is if you think your prospective franchisor is simply providing the bare minimum walk away.
It obviously isn’t invested in the future success of its franchisees and possibly just wants to sell, and then resell, franchises.
Besides, the cost of properly training a new franchisee should be included in the initial franchisee fee. You’re paying for it, so there’s simply no excuse for franchisors to do it badly.
Suzie McCafferty is CEO of franchise consultancy Platinum Wave.