For franchisors, training new franchisees presents many challenges. The main focus obviously needs to be operational, and the pressure of time constraints often leaves little time to cover much else.
Both parties, the franchisor and the franchisee, want the training process to be as quick as possible so that the new franchisee is up and running and operating in their store or service area.
One area that can get overlooked in the rush of the franchisee training process is essential business management education. It is also one area that can have the biggest impact on the future success of a new franchisee and in turn, the royalties that flow back to the franchisor.
For many franchise businesses this creates a conundrum on how to easily and efficiently integrate some business management and financial education into the training process for new franchisees.
NightOwl is one franchise that recognised this gap in their training and went searching for a solution.
“You only get a short time with new franchisees in training as everyone wants to be in and out and operational as fast as they can,” says Richard Hurley, NightOwl Training & Development Manager. “Training programs are therefore very much focused on operational matters, but we identified that there was an important gap missing in the basic financial and business management understanding of franchisees.”
This led NightOwl to the Franchise Business Management Essentials eClasses.
These short online classes provide the business management fundamentals for franchisees to effectively manage their new small business.
The eClasses are presented in six easy modules that cover everything from preparing budgets and cash flow forecasts, managing staff and supply chains, marketing, managing growth, franchise conflict causes and resolutions, and profiting on exit.
The modules have been specifically designed to boost the overall financial and business management understanding of new franchisees, and NightOwl saw the opportunity for them to be incorporated into their training processes.
Richard says the Franchise Business Management Essentials eClasses are now rolled out to all new NightOwl franchisees as part of their training, and are also offered to all existing franchisees as well as the company’s field team.
Since embracing the eClasses early this year, NightOwl has already seen multiple benefits flowing throughout its franchise network.
As Richard explains, the dominant focus on operations in new franchisee training, meant the area of financial and business management was previously only touched on very briefly.
“There was no real structure, guidelines or consistency in this area but now we have a standardised tool that gets everyone on the same page,” he says. “It has definitely added an extra dimension to our training. It compliments and enhances what we already provide and it was also an easy and cost-effective solution that we didn’t have to develop ourselves.”
New franchisees go through each module of the Franchise Business Management Essentials eClasses at the NightOwl support office as part of their training. NightOwl field team members are also encouraged to complete the modules to upskill and ensure consistency.
Richard says the eClasses help to nail down the basic financial and business management understanding for new franchisees. This foundation of knowledge can then be built on further over time, in conjunction with their field team.
He says one of the biggest benefits is that it clearly highlights to new franchisees right from the beginning of their franchise journey, how small changes and improvements across various areas of their business management can lead to a huge difference in profitability.
“The focus on profitability right from the start is good for everyone as it is all about building a stronger, more profitable franchise network,” Richard says.
“Another big benefit is that it opens up conversations that quite often get missed. It initiates discussions and gets people considering long-term about things like their exit strategy which they otherwise wouldn’t be thinking about yet.”
“It helps to promote these important conversations on topics that can get left to one side as everyone is so focused on day-to-day operations. People invest a lot of money in a franchise and need a return on investment. This type of training that shows the small changes that can make a big difference to profitability and their long-term goals is therefore very valuable.”
By also covering topics such as conflict, the eClasses help to demonstrate that franchisors are not just waving a big stick but are there to support their franchisees to succeed.
NightOwl franchisees that have completed the Franchise Business Management Essentials eClasses have provided positive feedback on the way it provides a better understanding of how to grow a business and manage everything that goes with that.
Richard says there have also been wider whole-of-business benefits, as the eClasses help to refresh and upskill the knowledge of the NightOwl field team, and promote consistency of messaging throughout its franchise network.
He says the top-down executive support of this training has been crucial in promoting and encouraging its use throughout the NightOwl business, as an ongoing tool to build franchisee profitability for the benefit of all.
“Franchisee training is a challenging area and we have found that these eClasses are delivering lots of important benefits to us,” Richard says. “As well as being an easy and cost-effective addition to our training, they are also very flexible in that they can be viewed online and expanded on with specific examples related to our business. We can also provide summary print-outs and utilise them at events such as our franchise conference.”