Think about your favorite franchised business. Whether it's a restaurant, hotel, gym, or other service, one thing is for sure: the customer experience is equally great no matter what location you go to. In customers' eyes, it's a key part of why they trust the brand. And, the franchises that successfully pull this off have achieved success beyond the businesses themselves; they've also nailed the training aspect required of any great franchise.
When a franchisor first establishes a franchise business, he or she places focus on building a franchise model and rolling it out for a few franchisees. This model will include some type of training program for new franchisees. Two groups in particular within a franchise will need quality learning and training opportunities. First, the management and franchisee owners need a means of learning how the franchise operates top to bottom, and how their business can be successful within this system. Second, the employees of every franchisee need training to understand how they can individually contribute to franchisee success.
Take McDonald's for instance, perhaps the world's best-known franchise. The fast food franchise has always taken a proactive approach to learning across its network. It revolutionized business learning by opening its 'Hamburger University' in 1961, designed to teach managers and franchisee owners the secrets of opening and running a high-quality franchisee. Since then, McDonald's has maintained its forward-thinking approach to training for franchisees, managers and their employees, and the approach has undoubtedly contributed to ongoing success — and again, a totally consistent customer and employee experience whether you're in Paris, Texas or Paris, France.
Since learning and training are so important, the franchisor must create a strong culture of learning that permeates the entire franchise. Here are three reasons why cultivating this culture of learning can lead to a successful franchise:
1. Consistent, replicable standard across franchisees
You've heard the phrase, "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link." The same applies to franchises and their "links": the franchisees. A franchisee running their business sub-optimally will damage the franchise's reputation and pull the rest of the franchise down with it. One crucial way to avoid this situation is to ensure better learning systems are in place. Franchisors should not expect franchisees to already possess all of the skills required to run a particular business. An advanced learning strategy and system and positive approach to learning will highlight franchisees' areas of weakness, and will facilitate further training before these weaknesses translate into poor performance.
2. Providing a basis for innovation and adaptation
A culture of learning is one that likely goes hand-in-hand with a culture of communication. A franchisor setting up learning systems that will benefit the franchisees and their employees is one thing. But when the franchisor can also learn from the franchisees and their employees, this setup allows for the real possibility of innovation. The franchisee is likely to have a better understanding of customer needs, while the franchisor can gain valuable learning by communicating with franchisees and using this learning to adapt and better direct the franchise.
3. Giving power to franchisees
For a franchisee to be successful, its owners requires a certain degree of freedom to be able to meet the specific needs of the business. Franchisee owners will constantly encounter challenges specific to their circumstances, and they will need access to the tools required to overcome these challenges without having to report to the franchisor. A culture of learning is required so that the franchisee either possesses the skills required, or is able to learn them effectively through a centralized learning management system (LMS). A digital learning system is a good starting point for fostering a culture of learning because it can not only easily support a number of successful franchises, it's also the easiest way to deliver and track courses / course completions across the broader business.