Training

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

 

Remote Monitoring

How a franchise operator enhanced security through innovative cloud-based technology.

By Lisa Ciappetta

Securing franchise businesses with multiple locations can be challenging. A cloud-based integrated security system can secure each location and serve as a management tool allowing business owners to administer and monitor their operations from anywhere, at any time.

Century 21® Action Plus Realty is a New Jersey real estate agency employing more than 250 sales professionals across seven franchise offices. For Tom Hogan, president and owner of the business, attracting and retaining the best agents is key to his agency’s future.

He operates a customer service center where operators handle incoming calls and efficiently distribute inquiries to the agents for prompt follow-up. Most importantly, providing a safe and secure working environment for his agents and clientele was one of his top priorities.

Not Secure

Among Hogan’s challenges were the security systems for his buildings. The locations had outdated access control systems with limited capabilities and were hard to administer, time consuming and costly. For example, changes to his operating schedules had to be made from a dedicated computer located in one of the offices. This required someone to travel to the site to re-program the system or lock or unlock doors to accommodate business requirements.

Common to real estate agencies, he experiences high turnover of associates and contractors, making it difficult to manage access cards. Agents also have a tendency to share cards, which made securing the premises even more difficult. Finally, the system did not provide for any reporting or integration with video footage and updates to the existing software were unavailable, leaving the system exposed to potential hackers.

“The system was not very secure or nimble,” Hogan states. “If we needed to remotely lock the door during the business week, it was a big process and could only be done through one stationary computer.”

A Better Way

Looking for a better solution, Hogan engaged a security company to explore alternate means of securing his operations. He was looking for the latest in cloud-based access control systems that could be integrated with advanced IP-video technologies.

The access control systems are cloud-based, eliminating the need for local servers and software and fixed capital expenses and maintenance costs to maintain them. The new systems are software as a service (SaaS), which allows for automatic software updates ensuring the site is secure from the latest cyber threats.

To streamline administration of the systems, he can now remotely manage and control his physical security at all sites from a secure connection to any connected device – from anywhere. The systems also provide alerts of critical events via email or text and ensure compliance through customized reports. 

Hogan also has installed new IP-video cameras in his offices that are fully integrated with the access control systems in the cloud. He is now able to monitor live video streams or review clips linked to important events. Cameras are placed both inside the offices and outside for a view of the entrance and parking lots.

The cameras are separated from the Internet on an isolated, protected network so they can’t be compromised or used maliciously. Furthermore, the systems can automatically receive updates without having to send someone on-site, saving time and money

A New Way

Hogan has also adopted new way of granting access to his building through the use of a mobile app, eliminating the need for physical keycards. The application makes it simple to activate and deactivate access privileges, is easy to use and requires no special hardware. It also solves the problems of lost or misplaced cards and card sharing.

Panic buttons and motion detectors are monitored at a central station and can be integrated with the video footage. When the button is pushed, a central station operator can immediately dispatch local authorities.

Hogan now has a standardized access control system across all locations that can help address safety concerns and improve operational efficiencies.  And a single browser controls both the access control and video systems.

The new video solution allows for customized views. As an example, one layout allows him to see all of his parking lots on a single screen to determine whether parking lots have been plowed after a snowstorm or if an office should be closed for the day.  It can also provide documented evidence of fraudulent activities on his properties.

Hogan is now able to remotely monitor his offices to ensure they are fully staffed and provide video escorts for employees who are uncomfortable entering or leaving the offices alone.

“My new security system is doing much more with a lower cost per user,” said Hogan. “The ability to remotely change the locking schedule on a bad weather day or to remove a repairman’s access to the building when a job was completed was the flexibility we needed. I am thrilled with this solution.”

Lisa Ciappetta is senior director of national accounts for Protection 1 Security Solutions. She can be reached at lisaciappetta@protection1.com.

 

Tax reform

A changing landscape: What upcoming tax law changes could mean for franchise owners.

By Cramer Soebbing

Since President Trump took office, there has been speculation in the franchisee community about the country’s future tax laws and the laws’ effects on their businesses. Now that the president and the House have seemingly moved on from their attempts to overhaul our nation’s healthcare law, tax reform appears to be the next item on the administration’s agenda.

Engagement

Engage with employees even before you hire them to lay the groundwork for fruitful relationships.

By Darren Findley and Kim Shepherd

Employee engagement is a widely accepted best practice, but a lot of companies are missing a great opportunity by starting engagement programs during or even after onboarding new employees. The recruitment experience influences engagement, and a deliberate approach will help ensure the experience lays the groundwork for a long, mutually beneficial relationship between employer and employee.

Personal branding

Pitch perfect: How thinking like a news reporter will get media coverage for you and your franchise.

By Bill Corbett Jr.

What’s the secret to getting the media to cover and report positive stories about you and your franchise? The answer is simple: Think like a reporter or editor. By understanding what these professionals need, you will then be able to craft effective pitches and obtain the coverage you desire.

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