Why the franchising industry needs training more than ever, and how to deliver it.

By Matt Bingham

The franchising industry has been completely transformed over the decades. One of the most famous examples is the metamorphosis of McDonald’s: Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald’s in 1955 in Des Plaines, Ill., and now the franchise is a multibillion-dollar business with thousands of stores in more than 100 countries, with a large percentage of those stores owned by individual franchisees. Today the franchising community as a whole accounts for more than $800 billion in annual sales and makes up more than 40 percent of all retail sales in North America.


Indeed, the franchising industry has experienced massive growth in the past 50-plus years as more entrepreneurially minded people are drawn to the apparent benefits of owning and operating their own part of a franchise. Today, many entrepreneurs are leveraging franchises as a way to extensively grow their own personal capital, rather than employing themselves in one store. More than half of all franchise units in the United States are run by multi-unit operators, and some even boast hundreds of units and tens of millions of dollars in revenue. These operators employ professional staffs, complete with unit and store managers, to run the day-to-day of these franchises while they focus on big-picture growth and strategy.

Multi-unit franchisees need strong training programs to ensure all staff are properly on-boarded, aligned in key values and delivering their best work. As more franchises adopt this trend, employees are not receiving the information and training they need to be successful. And without adequate employee training, franchisees feel the brunt of the burden in terms of low productivity and high turnover. For some subsets of the franchising industry, such as quick-service restaurants, average turnover for hourly workers is around 130 percent.

Not to fret: There are concrete ways that companies can overcome the challenges of a distributed workforce. It’s all in implementing workplace training to ensure workers are up-to-date and maintaining a frequent training cadence. This effective training program keeps your franchises competitive and keeps employees happy – a win-win. 

Train More Often

The truth is that people tend to forget information if it’s not something that is refreshed frequently. Our minds are increasingly experiencing what some researchers call “digital amnesia” from the advent of the Internet, and a May 2015 study from Russian-based cyber-security company Kaspersky Lab found that almost one-third (29 percent) of its 1,000 respondents would forget a fact as soon as they used it.

These people, who could be workers at your franchise, spend time looking up information they’ve forgotten. This is precious productivity time that could be spent driving the business forward. Our own survey in January of more than 1,000 employees across the United States found that 45 percent of respondents reported 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 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 often fresh in their career entering your workforce, this training cadence is not only unacceptable, but could seriously damage productivity and potential revenue.

Train Mobile

Employees in the franchising industry have different shifts and hours in different locations, so it’s difficult to put them all into a room and train them all at one time — not to mention expensive and impossible to avoid interruptions by customers. Because of this, going mobile is the best solution for the distributed nature of the franchise workforce.

Franchises can make training accessible anytime anywhere through mobile-optimized training on learning management platforms. The training, delivered through a medium that’s convenient and engaging, will help employees keep top of mind the information that is critical to their positions. Most employees are turning to their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices for continuing education already, so providing mobile training meets them where they already are.

Focus on Customer Service

Ensuring customers are served by employees with positive attitudes and happy smiles is one of the most essential concerns for an owner, if not the most essential. Making customers feel cared for and important is almost a surefire way to guarantee a swift return, and a great strategy to ultimately create  loyalists. Take California native In-N-Out — the food chain took the top spot in each of the eight customer experience categories created for a 2017 Market Force study of more than 11,000 customers. In-N-Out beat all other burger chains in qualities like service speed, staff friendliness, cleanliness and atmosphere.

In-N-Out has built a nationwide reputation for delivering exceptional customer service, and as such has won the loyalty of many a burger connoisseur. As you train your employees to provide strong customer service, your business, too, will be seen as the standard.

The bottom line: We need better training programs for employees to help businesses fulfill their potential. These trainings need to be frequent, mobile and focused on critical factors that will drive profitability and revenue. This optimized training program will make for more engaged employees and, in turn, happier customers.

Matt Bingham is vice president of product at Bridge by Instructure


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