Franchising has exploded in the last century. By 2001, there were more than 767,000 business establishments in all domestic franchise systems, employing nearly 10 million people and contributing an output of $625 billion and a payroll of $230 billion. These metrics have only grown in the last 16 years as more businesses are leveraging franchises to expand. Franchising is a powerful expansion tool to create national and even global brands within short time periods. The boutique fitness craze, for example, has leveraged franchising exceptionally well in recent years, with brands like Barry’s Bootcamp and Orange Theory, and beauty franchises like drybar, experiencing rapid growth in consumer interest and subsequent spend.
The franchising industry has experienced especially massive growth in recent years, expanding from a simple fast food and automotive services industry to a multi-faceted sector in which many innovative brands are deciding to franchise. With this movement, many entrepreneurially inclined people are also expressing interests in franchises, not to create their own, but to be a part of an existing one by owning and operating one or various specific locations of the franchise. In fact, more than half of all franchise units in the U.S. are run by multi-unit operators, who are leveraging this business model to build their own personal capital.
While there is a clear monetary advantage to this, these operators often lose sight of the professional staff they employ at their franchise locations, and many employees aren’t receiving the information they need to be successful in their jobs as a result of this distance. This lack of information and adequate training is exacerbated by the rotating workforce franchising knows too well, with an average turnover rate of about 130 percent for hourly workers.
That’s why, as the franchising industry becomes a greater force, employee training programs should become stronger, more detailed and more frequent to ensure all staff are properly on-boarded, aligned in key branding guidelines and delivering the best service to customers. Better training programs are the only way the franchising industry can overcome the growing pains it’s experiencing and an ever-changing workforce, a combination that can prove damaging over the long run if not addressed in the present. Here are specific ways to transform your training programs to beat these challenges.
Train More Often
It’s a universal truth that people forget information they don’t regularly use. This forgetfulness is only made worse by the ubiquity of smartphones, where troves of information is available literally at our fingertips.
This forgetfulness is affecting the workplace too, and is hurting the productivity and profitability of businesses. A January 2017 survey of more than 1,000 employees across the U.S., conducted by Bridge by Instructure, found that 45 percent of respondents report spending at least 15 minutes per week looking up information that was taught in company trainings. For an organization with 1,000 employees, this means workers spend at least 5,800 hours a year looking up information previously covered — nearly 6,000 hours of productivity time wasted.
The survey also found that 78 percent of respondents participate in company training quarterly or less frequently. In the franchising industry, with new employees regularly joining, this training cadence could impair time to productivity and potential revenue.
There’s a simple solution: train more frequently! Once every three months does not suffice. Make training at least a monthly occurrence and a significant focus of on-boarding, with greater frequency depending on your unique workforce.
Focus Training on Branding
Today’s popular franchises are branding experts, in part because they train their employees from the highest executive to the most junior worker on how to deliver the experience specific to their brand. Riders know, for example, the experience they get when they attend a SoulCycle class, whether that’s in New York or Newport Beach. You’ll be greeted by a chipper employee at the front, you’ll be told by the instructor to live your best life surrounded by candles and flashing club lights, you’ll listen to upbeat music and you’ll sweat for 45 minutes. SoulCycle has championed the “360-degree lifestyle brand that celebrates fashion, fitness, friendship, music and everything in between,” according to Melissa Shapiro, investment president at Blue 449, and has leveraged this lifestyle branding to create die-hard brand loyalists.
Similar can be said for Sport Clips, a hair salon chain that has tightly branded customer experience and was recently ranked number nine on Entrepreneur’s 2017 top franchises list. When a man or boy walks into Sport Clips, he will be in an exciting sports environment and receive an inexpensive but high-quality hair cut from devoted hair stylists embodying the Sport Clip “Heart of a Champion” culture.
Like these two successful franchises, all franchises need to train their staff on what customers expect from their services, what representing the brand looks like for their particular position and how their franchise is unlike any other.
Training more often and focusing it on branding can help today’s franchises fulfill their potential. Not only will they experience greater productivity but their employees’ better service will create brand loyalists who keep coming back, surging profitability and revenue.
Matt Bingham is VP of product for Bridge by Instructure where he is responsible for driving product management and product marketing. With over 17 years of experience driving product messaging, strategy and development for software companies, he has developed extensive experience in global product marketing, product management, digital content marketing, and in building teams and partners both US-based and international.