Onboarding new franchisees effectively sets the framework for their success. Your franchisees have invested lots of resources, hopes, and expectations in your franchise business. For them, a lot is at stake.
As the franchisor, you need to support your franchise owners in running profitable franchises. This is vital because, ultimately, their success is your success. By providing a value-packed franchisee onboarding process, you can set up your franchisees to succeed.
How Good Onboarding Improves Each Franchise
A good onboarding process creates many benefits that help a franchise succeed.
Extend Your Company Culture
Ideally, your onboarding process should start with the sales process and not just after you sign the franchise agreement, especially if culture is important to you. Having an onboarding process can help you choose franchisees who fit with your company culture and align with your company values. The onboarding process will allow you to further ingrain your company culture, core values, and belief systems into your franchisees.
Build Franchisees’ Morales
Your franchisee onboarding process will also help build your franchisees’ morale. Franchisees invest a lot to start a franchise. Although the franchise model is generally less risky compared to trying to build a brand from scratch, it’s still a business, and every business has risks. Having a great onboarding process will encourage your franchisees and increase their confidence in your brand.
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Keep Franchisees Focused on Business Development
Your franchise business may be the first business venture some of your franchisees will undertake. So, they may not know the demands of running a business and the order of priority. Human beings tend to do what they like to do and not necessarily what needs to be done.
For example, if your franchise business is brick and mortar, one of the first things a franchisee needs to do is to get a space. There are other important things like hiring employees, fixing up the place, and opening a bank account. Without an onboarding process, you may have a franchisee that wants to discuss marketing ideas when they haven’t even gotten a location yet. Your onboarding process will provide the training they need to know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.
Tips To Develop an Effective Franchisee Onboarding Process
Developing an effective franchisee onboarding process requires some effort, but it will pay off. Here are some ways you can do so:
1. Have the Right Perception About Your Franchisees
Developing an effective franchisee onboarding process will start with having the right perception of your franchisees. Cheryl Bachelder, the former CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Chicken, credited her success as an outcome of focusing on the franchisees and treating them as their primary customers.
Why is this understanding important in developing an effective onboarding process? For every business, keeping your customers happy and eager to keep buying your products or using your services is a core part of what drives business growth. But, as a franchisor, you don’t have direct contact with most of your customers.
So, for your franchisee’s customers to be happy and feel valued, you must offer your franchisees a thorough onboarding process, resources, and systems that will facilitate franchisee growth.
2. Develop a Formal Franchisee Onboarding Process
A formal onboarding process gives you a system of training that every franchisee has to go through once they sign the franchise agreement. A formal franchisee onboarding process will help keep franchisees engaged and busy after they sign the franchise agreement.
However, keep in mind that every franchisee won’t learn the same way. So, your onboarding process should be flexible enough to adapt to different franchisees. You may do this by providing information in different formats and providing self-paced learning and structured learning.
Your onboarding process also needs to be relevant and stay abreast of changing trends and industry demands. Incorporate technology and tools franchises need to thrive in today’s business world.
3. Understand What Franchisees Need for Onboarding
Your onboarding process should equip your franchisees with the practical knowledge and skills they need to hit the ground running. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what you would need if you were to start a franchise without the expert knowledge that you have.
Design your onboarding process with a franchisee-first approach. The onboarding process is not about your business, and it’s not about impressing franchisees. It is to get them to a place where they understand what it takes to run a successful franchise and how to build one. If your franchise owners still feel confused about what to do after going through your onboarding process, that may be an indication that your onboarding does not meet their needs.
For example, if your franchise is a brick-and-mortar business, your onboarding process should include connecting franchisees to brokers who will help them find a location, training on how to negotiate a lease, and how to hire employees.
4. Create an Onboarding Plan That Includes In-person Training, Written How-tos, Videos, Etc.
Your onboarding program should include several modes of training and communication. After the franchisee signs an agreement, you may want to have an in-person meeting with the franchisee as soon as possible. If you’re onboarding more than one franchisee at a time, you can arrange to meet them at once. Not only does it save you and your team time, but it also allows the franchisees to bond and build camaraderie among themselves. If the franchisee is not close, you can have the first meeting on the phone.
Using different content mediums also helps keep things interesting and cater to people’s preferred content consumption methods. With videos and written how-tos, you can allow franchisees to learn at their own pace without overwhelming them with information. However, it’s still important to maintain a schedule and keep track of the onboarding process.
5. Don’t Assume They Know What They’re Doing
To be on the safe side, assume your franchisees are novices when it comes to starting and running a franchise system. Don’t mistake enthusiasm for expertise.
A franchisee may have been impressed and attracted to your business because they enjoy some aspect of your business. But, business involves lots of moving parts, and franchisees need to take charge of those parts.
For instance, a franchisee may be drawn to your restaurant franchise business because they love your recipe and they love cooking. However, running a successful restaurant is more than just having the best recipe. You will need to teach them the nitty-gritty of running a successful restaurant and implementing them.
6. Check Back In and Be Available
Training franchisees is only one part of the onboarding process. You will also need to check on your franchisee periodically to know what’s going on, where they are, and the steps they have taken.
Franchisees, especially new franchise owners, need ongoing support, particularly in the first business year. Don’t just provide training and dish out information, but also be available to answer questions, provide motivation, and offer guidance.
Franchisees need to feel valued and to know that you have their back. It also helps them feel they are part of something big and will foster team spirit in them.
Also, if you put in the effort to help franchisees have a great start, they will have fewer difficulties later on. Doing so also helps to build franchisee loyalty, which will help your franchise to run smoothly and reduce incidences of franchisees going rogue.
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7. Set Expectations and Timelines
Let your franchisees know what you expect them to do and the timeframe they have to do them. Then, follow up to ensure they stick to the schedule. Some franchisees erroneously think that once they sign the franchise agreement, the franchisor does everything that is required to get their franchise business up and running. So, communicate their responsibilities to them in clear and professional terms as part of the onboarding process.
Develop a routine for checking in on your franchisees. You may decide to call them every 10 days or every week to ensure they are following through with what they need to be focused on at every point. How frequently you should check up on them depends on the step they are in. For example, if they are constructing the franchise location, you may contact them once every 15 days. However, if they are at the hiring stage, you may want to check in more frequently.
You don’t want them to be side-tracked. You want them to be committed to moving to the next step. Keeping tabs on what your franchise owners are doing also provides an opportunity to discover any challenges they may be facing and help them to navigate past them.
Although expecting franchisees to meet deadlines may seem like you’re micromanaging them, you’re actually providing a system that allows your onboarding process to be coordinated and requires your franchisees to play their part. By holding them accountable to participate in the onboarding process, you can achieve success in the franchise system. Doing so also creates additional value for your franchise community and shows that you trust the process you’ve created and tested.
8. Review Your Onboarding Process
You should keep reviewing your onboarding process to ensure that your training is relevant, workable, and up to date. Many franchisees will agree that the franchisee onboarding process can be better. And sometimes, improving your onboarding process is easy. Simply ask your franchisees for feedback and suggestions on ways they think you can improve the onboarding process.
You can also have your team review your processes quarterly, yearly, or any other time you decide on. Your franchise development team, accounting department, company leadership, and any other team involved can come together and compare your onboarding processes against your expectations, pinpoint any challenges, and brainstorm how to move forward.
9. Sell Your Business Process and Culture
Every franchise has business processes and systems. These include your accounting system, marketing programs and strategies, unique selling proposition, and the business tools you use. Instill confidence and trust in your business process.
The onboarding process is your chance to communicate your business processes to the franchisee. But more than that, you can go further to make your franchise owners buy into your processes and understand why you adopted them, how they work, and why they should follow them.
The franchise system requires the different franchise owners to adopt your business mission, core values, and culture. The onboarding process is a great time to not only share your company culture but to demonstrate it and get your franchisees to experience it firsthand. If you can demonstrate specific, practical behavior standards that reflect the franchise culture and get your franchisees to imbibe them, you will have made progress in promoting your company culture.
If you can convince your franchise owners to believe in your business processes and company culture, it will be easier to get them to follow them than when they comply just because of the agreement they signed.
10. Offer Peer-to-Peer Networking Opportunities
Providing networking opportunities for your franchisees to network among themselves is a great way to support their growth. Introduce and add them to communities and online forums where they can interact and learn from other franchisees.
You can host webinars or training sessions to discuss topics that are relevant to your franchises. You can also ask successful franchisees to share their success story. This will inspire both old and new franchisees and also provide an opportunity for knowledge sharing.
You can also encourage peer-to-peer mentoring and pair new franchisees with older, successful, and established franchisees. This will provide new franchisees with an additional support system and guidance, which will help them reach their goals faster. Franchisees that are trained and have mentors are more engaged, report higher levels of job satisfaction, and have a better chance at succeeding.
Another way to foster networking is by providing opportunities for new franchisees to attend industry events and interact and connect with other franchisees.
Ultimately, providing your franchisees with a great onboarding experience will lead to business growth and profitability, which will positively affect your bottom line.
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