This month we’re pleased to introduce Computer Troubleshooters, a happy Litmos customer since July 2009. Many of you will be familiar with them as the largest ‘international network of franchisees providing onsite computer services to home and business users.’ Launched in 1999, Computer Troubleshooters now has more than 475 franchises in more than 20 countries. They provide a comprehensive range of computer / technology solutions to small business owners (typically with 1 to 25 staff) and private home users. Whether it’s technology issues, problem prevention, virus and spyware remediation or website development, they can help.
Before using Litmos, CT provided regular training for their franchisees via workshops, in-class training, and occasional webinars but attendance was “hit and miss”, according to CEO Chip Reaves. “If you couldn’t afford to travel for a class or if you missed a webinar, you might be missing out on important information. With our industry (small business technology support) changing every day, this was a problem.”
Not only did Litmos provide a training platform for Computer Troubleshooters to consolidate all their franchisee updates, there was also an unexpected benefit: “We’re now able to provide most, if not all, of the in-class training through the Litmos platform. As a result we’ve been able to open franchise locations in places like India, Nigeria, and the Phillipines where previously the cost to travel to the US or UK for our in-class training would have been prohibitive.”
Computer Troubleshooters continues to enjoy a long history of awards from the likes of Entrepreneur Magazine, Franchise Business Review and AllBusiness.com.
I stumbled upon a good post by Bob Brogan of Interactyx the other day called Franchise Training Fails Customers and Franchisees. I felt it very worthy of a mention considering he has ‘nearly 20 years of professional experience within the franchising business arena’.
Brogan points out, as have I, that delivering a consistent customer experience is integral to creating and maintaining a successful franchise. By their very definition, it’s what a franchise needs to provide to its customers. The way to achieve that brand consistency is through education; the induction and on-going training of franchisees and their teams.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts there seems to be lack of realization of just how important training is in this industry, and therefore a lack of investment in it, or perhaps even worse money is being spent on the wrong tools. Both of which can ultimately only lead one way…and that’s down.
Brogan rounds off his post with these thoughts:
“With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, the ability to deliver collaborative knowledge management and training environment to increase franchise employee proficiency to business performance objectives are a relatively new phenomenon. By leveraging a variety of media to provide video snippets, simulations, core on-line course curriculum, franchisors can now affordably augment event learning with a continuous learning environment for all franchisees and employees. The addition of collaborative tools that allow for the enablement of effective knowledge capture, storage in a readily accessible location, and facilitating knowledge transfer to new learner communities of interest and on-going communities of practice are critical components in solving the franchisor / franchisee training conundrum.”
Hopefully, as the economy begins to show signs of improvement any excuses for not providing training will fade in to the background and many of the accessible and cost-effective online training options on the market will be utilized. In fact, it’s simply that franchises can’t afford not to train their people. Not if they plan to be around next year, and the year after that..
Australian franchise Hungry Jacks announced yesterday that it had broken through a number of online training records.
For those who are unfamiliar with the brand, Hungry Jacks is the ‘exclusive Australian master food franchisee of the Burger King Corporation‘. Basically, when the BK franchise moved in to Australia the name “Burger King” had already been trademarked to a business, and so they chose to operate under a new name.
Hungry Jacks uses an online training platform as its ‘official communications, human resources and training tool’ as do many franchises in an effort to more effectively manage their brand message in a cost-effective way.
The article on Franchising magazine’s website reports that they “smashed standard online training statistics with 1.5 million staff tests completed and over 7 million questions answered in its e-Learning platform over three months.” Most definitely some very impressive figures for such a short time frame.
Click here to read the full article.
The most successful businesses invest a lot of time and money in achieving brand consistency, whether it be in their marketing or sales message, or in how their employees actually represent and embody the company’s values.
Geographically disperse organizations have more of a challenge maintaining brand consistency because although the offices all share the same brand, it is generally managed centrally from a head office. Franchise businesses and retail chains suffer this exact problem by their very nature with many outlets spread out across a city, a country or internationally, often with each one owned by a different person.
Coming back to brand management, you can imagine that the chance of a franchise brand becoming diluted or distorted along the way is actually quite high because of the number of people involved and the geographic distance. Yet the promise behind the franchise business is to provide customers with a consistent experience no matter which store they may enter. Therefore, brand consistency is paramount.
Lately we’re noticing an increase in interest from franchise businesses in our product. It turns out that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products are proving to be just the solution that Franchisers have been looking for whether it be a CRM, accounting package or online training system. Basically any system that centralizes data and facilitates fast communication helps franchisers to manage the many franchisees and their staff.
On further discussions we’re finding that their interest in SaaS products is for the following reasons which all make a lot of sense:
- Ease of account set up and maintenance
- Low cost – pay for what you use each month
- Scalable system
- Connectivity between all levels
- Accessible from any Internet connection
- Zero infrastructure
Look out for more franchises making the switch to SaaS products as they drive brand consistency and improve team collaboration.
When you think of successful franchises, the first ones that probably spring to mind are fast food chains like McDonalds and SUBWAY®. Whether you like these brands or not they are undeniably successful, and it is ‘training’ that has played an integral part in that success, yet each has achieved it through a different training mechanism.
McDonald’s say they have just over 31,000 local restaurants, in 118 countries on their website. This franchise realized the importance of training from day one. The world famous Hamburger University that opened in 1961, was built to emphasize consistent restaurant operations procedures, service, quality and cleanliness. It actually provides such a high level of training that the restaurant manager and mid-management curriculum is eligible for about two years of college credits. To top it off, they teach the curriculum in 28 languages just to make sure no one is disadvantaged. Ray Kroc, Founder of McDonalds, began his empire saying: “If we are going to go anywhere, we’ve got to have talent. And, I’m going to put my money in talent.”
SUBWAY® is similarly spread across 31,000+ locations in 90 countries around the world. But in contrast to McDonalds, they offer their training online at the University of Subway. Since they moved online in 2006 they are seeing huge returns on the investment they have made in their staff.
Two different franchises, two different training systems, but both hugely successful proving that either method can work. My question is – how much money do you have to spend on training? In reality not many franchises have the kind of money McDonald’s has to throw at a 130,000 sq ft training facility, but nor do you need to these days. Training online is proven to achieve similar results, and online training systems do not have to be expensive. An added bonus is that some have become so intuitive and easy to use, you can pretty much get your program up and running all by yourself.
If you already run hands-on training sessions, you’re half way there. Just take all of that content, push it up online in to a training system, tweak it for online viewing and you’re ready to create accounts for your trainees. Not only is it a fast, efficient way to deliver a consistent message to large numbers of trainees at once (many more than can fit in a classroom), it’s also the ideal mechanism to keep tabs on the progress of your teams. You’ll be able to spot weaknesses in real-time, see knowledge gaps and fix them pronto.
An added benefit is that changes can be rolled out almost instantaneously. If a law changes, a product needs to be taken off the shelf or important news needs to be announced, you can be sure your online training system will get everyone up to speed immediately.
Good quality, consistent, on-going training is paramount to ensuring franchise success. While hands-on or classroom-based training might do the trick, it is very expensive and slow. An online training system achieves those same results while catering to the needs of each and every franchise, no matter how big (or small) the budget.
Why not sign up for a free trial of the Litmos online training platform now?
Could there be another industry out there more reliant on training than franchises? From start to finish, it’s about ensuring a high-quality, consistent experience every time, to every person, in each location, and that requires a clear strategy, explicit policies and procedures, and an entrenched learning culture.
I read that the worst-case scenario is customers referring to a franchise as ‘hit or miss’ depending on which outlet they go to. Why? Because it means the franchise is not achieving its goal of creating an experience that should be replicated no matter where you go; a service people can depend on.
The paramount importance of training in franchises is a no-brainer. Now here’s 5 solid reasons why franchisors should be using an online format to deliver that training:
- SUBWAY® has been voted entrepreneur.com‘s #1 Franchise for 16 years and more recently their success has been directly attributed to ongoing eLearning initiatives and follow-up support that ensure brand quality and service consistency. I think that one speaks for itself.
- Training Consistency is the Franchise Operation’s Key to Success and what better way to achieve consistency than one published eLearning strategy. Especially one that can be linked with overall business objectives, which allow personnel to ‘see how their efforts directly relate to the success of the operation’ (2007 study by Synapsys).
- Geographic Distance can be a Big Expense so why not minimize travel costs by handling all possible training online. Sure, there may be some necessary on-site training which is expected of the franchisor (like being present at the grand opening and during the first week of business) but the rest of the training modules about finding the right real estate, dealing with leases, hiring employees and other how-to’s, can be covered off online. Make sure you’ve got a good reporting suite in your training system and you’ll have most legal requirements ticked off too.
- Store your Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) Online along with your operations manual, and any other important documents that should never be more than an arm’s length away from your franchisees. This way your online training system doubles as a document management tool. Save special offers, approved advertising and any other related materials online so your franchisees always know where to find it – no excuses.
- Support your Franchisees and Build a Community Around the Brand through a shared but secure online space. Your franchisees have a wealth of experience amongst them and what better way to connect them up than through a closed online learning eco-system of forums, discussion threads, bulletin boards and internal messaging so that even if you (the franchisor) are not around to provide immediate support to someone, they’ll probably find someone who can help. Use it to post up news items, feedback on training, send out sales figures, industry-related news and announcements in one hit.
According to many people franchising defeats most who try it because it requires a very specific skill-set beyond a can-do attitude. With the most common complaint among franchisees being the lack of adequate training and on-going support, doesn’t implementing an online training system just make sense? Yes, it does.
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