Supporting Franchisees at Every Stage

16/11/2022

As a franchisor, you’ll already know that supporting your network is critical for success. Any new franchisees will be looking for ongoing support as one of the most important factors for the success of the business.

There’s always a careful balance to be maintained when running a franchise network: the franchisee is a business owner and entrepreneur, but the franchisor ultimately sets the standards – and should provide the support for everyone in the network to reach those standards. Building and maintaining trust between franchisor and franchisee is key for a successful relationship over many years. Don’t be afraid to open up honest communication in both directions; it benefits everyone to be transparent from the planning stages through to the franchisee running their operation successfully.

Elearning can be a great tool helping you to deliver franchise training and to support franchisees throughout their journey with you. From setting standards early on, to sharing expertise as your network grows, having a flexible elearning platform in your toolkit can help you support your franchisees at every stage. 

Onboarding new franchisees

This early part of the relationship with a new franchisee really sets the tone for how you’ll work together, so it’s important to get off to a good start!

You’ll have a lot to cover during initial training with a new franchisee. They need to learn all the processes, and become familiar with your Franchise Operations Manual, as well as completing compliance training that needs to take place.

It’s often the case that initial training will mostly take place face-to-face, and hands-on experience of how the franchise works is really important. But having additional materials online for franchisees to access on demand, and refer back to at any time, will make it easy for your network to stick to the system. By having the documentation in the franchise operations manual online, you can make it interactive so franchisees are constantly reaching for it as a living resource.

With elearning, there’s a great opportunity to make content bespoke, giving new franchisees the benefit of your experience. You can create custom courses which include a fully labelled photo or video screengrab showing a process. As elearning can be mobile friendly, it’s possible to have step-by-step instructions on a device to follow exactly while completing new processes.

Elearning is really convenient for users, as they have access to the learning straight away, with no travelling to attend training and the flexibility to take the courses when they have the time to.

All of the initial training that you provide does more than just share essential knowledge – it also sets expectations, so it’s a great opportunity to show that you’re organised and prepared! It can really help when attracting the best people to join your franchise.

The first three years

After the initial training period, there’s still a lot to learn. Your franchisees are getting to know how to run the franchise on a daily basis, but it’s good to keep in touch to make sure they are feeling confident and are able to follow your standards as planned.

One of the appeals for franchisees is the idea of working ‘for yourself, but not by yourself’. As your franchisees get settled into running the franchise, you’ll still want to be on hand – and elearning is a great way to provide that support. Refresher courses on key information can be accessed regularly, and with a learning management system (LMS) you can easily track who has completed the courses. Elearning can sit alongside your existing programme of coaching and ongoing support as your franchisee gains independence, so that any valuable face-to-face time you have together can be used for personalised support.

One great advantage of elearning is that any updates to courses can be made quickly and available instantly. If there’s a new piece of legislation, or a change in circumstances, then with the click of a button all updates can be live for all users. Or what if a new product launch is coming? It’s simple to either edit existing courses or make new content, and updates are available across the network instantly.

The three to five year dip

According to a 2021 survey by Workbuzz and the British Franchise Association, franchisee satisfaction really starts to fall after around three years in business. To try and keep motivation high during the ‘three to five year dip’ elearning can be used to keep franchisees engaged.

Consider supporting franchisees to tailor learning for their own staff at this stage. It’s a good moment to really make sure you’re listening to the franchisees’ voices. Work together to identify any issues and share best practice.

Depending on the business, some franchisees may be taking on staff of their own. By having standardised training materials ready to go, you can feel confident that your standards are being maintained across your network as it grows.

Experienced franchisees

When a franchisee first buys a franchise it’s quite common to initially commit to a five-year term. Hopefully the time has flown by and it’s been successful for both parties, so what next?

This is where that open, honest relationship you set up in the beginning can really pay off! Your franchisee might want to discuss renewal, extending their franchise contract for a further term.

Perhaps they’ll look to buy multiple units. Research from the British Franchise Association shows that multi-unit ownership is on the rise, with 36% of franchisees now running multiple units, a rise of 7% from the previous survey. This indicates that some franchisees are staying in the industry and expanding, building up their portfolio as they become experienced.

The elearning needs of your most experienced franchisees might look quite different; you can provide advanced training such as leadership skills, and you might seek to collaborate with them to co-create new training sessions to share, raising standards across the network.

So whatever stage you are at with your franchisees, there’s always an opportunity to add value to their experience with you through elearning.

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