Brian Duckett is Managing Director of Howarth Franchising,

Brian Duckett is Managing Director of Howarth Franchising,

Brian Duckett is Managing Director of Howarth Franchising, and has many years of experience as a franchisee, franchisor, and franchise consultant. He writes at Franchise Chat:

Initial and ongoing training in all aspects of the business operation is clearly a benefit of becoming a franchisee – as opposed to starting an independent business. Most franchisors are very good at training the technical and operational aspects of the business because it is what they know – running a restaurant, cleaning cars, whatever. But many of their franchisees may not have run businesses before, so they need training in more than just how to operate the restaurant or clean cars.

Initial technical training, either in the classroom or on-location at a company-owned outlet, or with another franchisee, generally follows the structure of the Operations Manual and gives a good grounding in the knowledge and skills required. How long this takes varies from days to months depending on the complexity of the business involved, but it is only a start. Refresher sessions should be available, as should programmes to introduce new products or methods. Where these sessions are held, and who pays for what, will again vary from franchise to franchise.

Trainers will usually come from within the franchisor’s, or maybe a supplier’s, staff but it should be remembered that just because someone is very good technically they are not necessarily a good trainer. Transferring skills and knowledge has its own skills and there maybe a need for some “train the trainer” sessions to get the best results.

So what about non-technical training, such as business planning, budgeting, accounting, understanding cashflow, recruiting and managing staff, health and safety issues, and so on? It’s fair to say that the majority of franchisors are poor at providing this sort of training themselves (probably because they are poor at doing it for themselves!). But because the principles of these issues are common across all businesses, these sessions can often be outsourced. One way or another though, it is the franchisor’s responsibility to make this training available to his franchisees.

All training should of course have clear objectives and some evaluation afterwards to make sure that the desired outcome was achieved, or to arrange further sessions if it was not.

If we accept that the franchisor’s role is to provide the tools, and the franchisee’s is to use them, a key function for the franchisor is to keep his franchisees, and his staff, up to speed with the latest developments and techniques in their respective roles and responsibilities. To grow a world-beating franchised network there must be continual training and development of everyone concerned so the importance of this activity should never be questioned – indeed it could be said to be the whole raison d’etre of the franchisor.

What else is he there for?