Training as the sine qua non for Franchise business success..
If you have a Franchise dream, training is your Stairway to Heaven.
Simple, but profound.
And yet, it requires a well thought through strategy.
So you’ve grown from 1 store (always the number when you start) to 20. You want to scale your franchise business here onwards.
More power to you, but here’s a note of caution: Scaling more requires a different mindset and approach.
And different systems. Yes, we’re talking about technologies here — smarter way of training your workforce through new age learning technologies.
Move backwards. See what’re the most important challenges faced by franchises?
Imagine yourself at the top of franchise business globe. How did you get there? What were the most important challenges? How did you attack the root of the problem in the first place?
Iterations after iterations, you’ll arrive at common points. The basic challenges in growing a franchise remains same:
1. Standardization of customer experiences
You have one coffee store at Vegas, one at Los Angeles, another at New York’s Times Square and one in the seemingly unspoiled countryside of Charlottesville. How do you ensure the Espresso that is served in Times Square outlet matches exactly the taste, flavor and aroma of the one served in Charlottesville?
Starting from the ingredients to the add-ons (be it the Vanilla Extract or the sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg on your coffee beans before roasting), every bit of the experience should be consistent with the principal brand message.
Your coffee at Franchise store X should exactly be the same as your coffee at Franchise store Y.
2. Training for Standardization
The question is, how can you standardize customer experiences across franchisees? The answer lies in training.
Let us reiterate. If franchise is your heart, training is the pulse that keeps it beating.
But you have a distributed workforce after all. It’s incredibly difficult and challenging to simultaneously train this geographically dispersed frontline, isn’t it?
This calls for some out of the box solution. Some smart technological solution.
3. The ever surmounting attrition rate
Alright, you are working towards a solution for the training problem we just discussed. But who are you training? Your employees, your staff. They keep coming, they keep leaving (no philosophizing, it’s a big problem).
In fact, this is the single biggest issue we need to address. You invested a lot of time, effort and money in training them — and then they switch jobs to join your neighbourhood pizza outlet.
According to Gallup, only 13% of the frontline workforce in a blue collar organization feel engaged. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also finds that the annual voluntary turnover rate in U.S. is somewhere around 23.4%.
What does this imply? Well, there is cost to company, but how hard that hits? So it’s generally estimated that replacing an employee costs a business anything from one-half to five times their annual salary.
Say, if 25% of your workforce quits and their average income was $35,000, get ready to bear the brunt somewhere between $438,000 and $4 million a year (assuming a 100 strong workforce).
And don’t think the effects of employee attrition ends there. You would be surprised to know, or probably knew but never thought about it, but the outgoing employees have their own negative impact on stayers who feel “overworked and undercompensated, and may have a desire to leave, themselves,” according to FurstPerson.
There is a huge backlog that gets piled up (and the stayers have to work on it without any extra compensation, mind you). You could work it around in professional sectors, but when it comes to frontline and franchise, where hundred percent attrition is not uncommon, loyalty does not come force-fed.
4. Continuous up-skilling & simultaneous Training
We are living at an age where market requirements change like never before. With franchise model, that change becomes incredibly difficult to replicate across stores.
Say if you add a certain flavor of cardamom in your coffee at store A, the same degree and proportion of mixture should be maintained at store B.
Simultaneously training and up-skilling geographically distributed workforce is a task that can certainly not be achieved with traditional instructor-led training sessions.
Employees are key in franchising industry. Giving them a systematic way for learning and development will make them stick to you for longer.
Employees are the most important factor in the success of a franchise. They are not just a cog in the wheel, they will decide your fate.
The difference between a successful franchise and the one that bites the dust is an actively engaged workforce that is job-ready. According to Dale Carnegie, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%.
It’s true money can’t buy love, or loyalty. But, your employees deserve better technologies and systems to stay updated and engaged. Your franchise workforce is right there at the front, facing customers all the time. Don’t you think they should be equipped with the best hard & soft skills to deliver best customer experiences? They are the first face of your brand, much before you, remember.
They will stick to you, if you provide them the right technology and show them the necessary learning & development roadmap.
You can not train franchise employees how to make pizza near 100 degree hot furnace!
Attrition is a market reality. More so in the frontline. But have we ever harped on why the blue collar staff quit jobs so frequently in franchise businesses?
Lack of empathy is one of the reasons.
So you have taken the franchise route for your pizza business, and you ensure your employees are given the necessary skill training in how to bake the dough. How long they will stay motivated to come to the store and stand near the heated furnace for hours trying to learn the skill from their seniors?
There is a better way to train. That is the point we are making. Leverage technology for better learning.
Can you train your employees with engaging and interactive learning videos which they can access anytime, anywhere in their own format? If you feel you can’t, know that there are specialized players out there in the market (about which we’ll discuss in subsequent paragraphs).
Next, why can’t you give your franchise workforce the necessary financial assurance for future? If you offer them health insurance schemes or assure them of taking care of their family, you’ll see the level of attrition will go down significantly.
According to BMG Research (2017), “levels of employee engagement increase by 31% points amongst employees who believe their employer cares about their wellbeing.”
When your employees feel assured that franchise owners are there to protect the interests of their family, they will go out and serve the best tea to their customers who walk into your store. Franchises business soars when employees working at the outlets deliver 1.5x productivity each day. For that to happen, you will have to win their trust — show them empathy, provide them right learning technologies.
You probably needed a mobile “learning and engagement” platform yesterday!
We were talking about changing times. Probably you are still stuck in the LMS age. Move beyond.
It’s time (it’s high time) your Franchise training got a mobile makeover. Today, smartphones are everywhere. With all the apps available right on the fingertips, mobile learning & engagement platforms are the need of the hour.
Disprz, the mobile training platform of the year 2016, was therefore a product of the times (that are changing). In franchise stores, when employees are faced with problems on the spot, their immediate access to peers and white collar senior execs has to be ensured at real time. This sharing information, sending alerts, and getting real-time answers need a specialized solution these days, that is well thought through. All such real-time communication can only happen best on mobiles.
World’s First Franchise Readiness Platform, Disprz promises to grow your business!
Recently, one of the premier used car dealership store in South Florida market, Florida Fine Cars, entrusted Disprz with equipping and updating their distributed franchise workforce with the right skills & training to bolster their business growth. Having most of their workforce on ground, onboarding and engaging them was a challenge. But Disprz’s strategic mobile learning platform and journey-based customized onboarding mechanism for individual employees helped them raise their productivity cutting down on their overall attrition rates by a significant margin.
Before them, a leading company in the global delivery food market approached Disprz for systematically onboarding, training & continuously engaging their franchise workforce, and the collaboration resulted in a 3X engagement of their employees, along with a 20% savings in people development expenses.
They also saw their 30-day attrition remarkably falling by 55%. Effective onboarding and higher engagement naturally leads to reduced attrition, and in turn, increases business output.
So how did Disprz, which is in fact the world’s first strategic franchise readiness platform, helped these businesses grow?
When conceptualizing Disprz, the team did an extensive market study of all the challenges and problems faced by franchises on day to day basis.
While the industry came across cynical, given the alarmingly high attrition rate and an equally worrying 10% turnover, Disprz smelled an opportunity to solve the most fundamental problems that exist in Franchise world. They developed smart learning technologies to enable Franchise workforce stay up-to-the-minute trained, upskilled, and work-ready using an interactive & engaging learning platform.
1. Virtual Onboarding
The changing times called for a strategic departure from the old school employee handbook approach, and Disprz pioneered a one of a kind digital onboarding mechanism to onboard franchise staff with gamified microlearning modules (containing videos, flashcards, games, polls and assessments).
This saved valuable time and money for franchise owners. Since in the traditional onboarding approach, you had to wait for batches to hire new employees. Today, Disrpz lets you onboard employees every day, keeping them engaged right from day one, saving crucial time to productivity.
2. Live Training
Disprz helps franchises conduct simultaneous training for distributed employees across franchisees through engaging & interactive online sessions (and no, they are not like your boring webinars).
There are polls, assessments and quizzes dispersed in such an engaging two-way activity that employees actually look forward to the next training sessions, showing a marked increase in their store performance overall with the learning they acquire this way.
3. Social learning through ‘Buzz’
Disprz platform provides a unique social feed called Buzz where participants can actually learn in the flow of work.
Buzz can be used for informal knowledge sharing and peer to peer communications at real time.
There is also a powerful chat function (both one-on-one as well as group chat) which is very secure and can help resolve all your grievances and problems right on the spot.
4. Powerful Analytics to track store-level performance
With Disprz, managers at every franchise outlet can track and assess the learning performance of every employee (cascading all the way up to the top). This is possible because the platform uses the most advanced AI-based algorithms to continuously monitor real-time activities.
Franchise management can thus identify skill gaps across stores at real time and accordingly take corrective actions based on the analytics data.
Don’t delay. You had a franchise dream — you should be honest with getting the right resources in place. Your Franchise workforce is capable of doing that wonder. Give them the technological solution they need.
When you have a professional enablement & readiness platform that has a proven track record of amplifying employee productivity by 1.5x everyday, you must at least consider taking a FREE trial. With Disprz, every staff in your franchise network will sing the song your franchise dream got conceptualized with. Across Franchisees. In chorus.
Co-founder and CEO of Disprz, the mobile learning company of 2017 and #3 small start-up to work for in 2017.
A serial entrepreneur, Subbu loves translating ideas to products and products to companies. His earlier two ventures were in the enterprise and ed-tech space. Subbu is an alum of IIT-Madras, ISB-Hyderabad and McKinsey.