Training Tips for Franchisees

Employee training is critical to your success

Marla Rosner, Senior Training Consultant, MSA Worldwide.

As a franchisee, properly training your employees may be one of the most important investments you can make. After all, they are the folks who interface with your customers and have a direct impact on customer satisfaction, repeat business, and referral business. Investing in employee training also reaps other rewards; employees who feel confident and competent stay on the job longer, reducing the cost of turnover.

At a minimum, in most good franchise systems, the franchisor will provide you with material to use in training your employees such as checklists and manuals. As franchisors grow and mature, many are able to invest in distance learning methods such as webinars and e-learning to provide training directly to your employees. But what do you do if your franchisor doesn’t provide you with employee programs? You create them yourself. Many multi-unit franchisees create their own infrastructure for training and find the need to supplement training provided by the franchisor. This may include designating a position devoted to training unit managers and employees within their organizations, and conducting group training programs that include employees from more than one location.

One effective training method franchisees can employ is role-playing. Role-playing allows your staff to experience different customer service situations and practice different solutions.

You provide a “what if” situation to a new employee and then they practice how they would handle the situation, with you in the customer role. It gives you a chance to evaluate their strengths and to give them pointers on what to do in different situations. Additionally, from the standpoint of retaining information, the active learner is far more likely to absorb information than one who passively listens to a presentation by a well meaning manager.

For developing strong customer service skills, role-playing is a very effective technique.

Manual or technical tasks, on the other hand, are better trained by using a combination of demonstration and skill practice. Before jumping into a training session, however, break the job down into small easy-to-understand tasks or skills. Don’t overwhelm the trainee or try to teach too many different skills at the same time. If the job is to clean the customer seating area of a restaurant, first work on how to mop correctly, or how to sweep correctly, or how to wash off the tables correctly. Don’t try to teach multiple tasks at the same time. There are different tasks to be learned and each is important. Once you have broken down the tasks, take the learner through the following three training steps:

1.  Demonstrate

Whether it is you or a staff member who will demonstrate the task, the learner should first be provided an overview of the steps. Then let him or her observe the task being performed. The person demonstrating should articulate the steps they are going through in a systematic manner. This gives the learner the opportunity to ask questions and to understand what will be expected.

2.  Let try and observe the employee practice

Once they have watched someone else do the job, the learner should practice while being supervised.

A classic training pitfall is to show someone how to conduct a task and then walk away. Early practice should get the benefit of immediate feedback and coaching to ensure that the new task is learned correctly. After a couple of rounds of receiving feedback, ask the trainee to explain each step he or she is taking. This further embeds the learning for the learner. As needed, continue to provide them with coaching and feedback, but the goal at this point is to see how much they understand for themselves.

3.  Follow up

Finally, have them do the task at full speed without providing them with any coaching or feedback. This will tell you whether they are ready to do the job themselves and to work with real customers. Periodically observe them and make certain that they are continuing to do the job correctly.

Reinforce the right way to do the job if you see them taking shortcuts or doing the job incorrectly.

Training can be time-consuming, and it can be expensive. But a thoroughly trained employee, who serves your customers well, will quickly pay dividends on your investment.

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Marla Rosner is the Senior Training and Employee Development Consultant for Michael H. Seid & Associates, LLC (MSA), a domestic and international franchise advisory firm. She has excelled as a training professional for over twenty years.