Finding the best way to train and support franchisees is something emerging and established franchisors wrestle with as they expand their franchise systems. Training franchisees isn’t too logistically complicated when you have just a handful of locations close to the franchisor. You can send a corporate team over to get them ready for operations.
But, what happens when you add franchised locations further away, say in other states or regions beyond a day’s drive, or in other countries? Expenses for traveling to train new franchisees far afield can add up, along with the time spent in transit. If your franchise is growing at a good clip, the need for adequate training and support can outpace your resources.
You may want to consider using a learning management system (LMS) as franchise development accelerates.
What’s a Learning Management System?
A LMS is a software platform commonly used to convey knowledge to a network of eLearners, which makes these systems useful for training new franchisees. They also have the capability of tracking the learning progress of individuals, as well as educating them on new offerings by the franchise.
Since the information is typically stored in the cloud, anyone with a login and password can access it whenever they need to from anywhere in the world. Self-hosted LMS software, which must be downloaded, is also fairly common.
How do LMSs Help Franchises?
There are several ways these types of learning management systems are useful in the franchising industry, including:
- They scale to all learners in the franchise system no matter where they are in the world
- All franchisees have access to the same material so they can be trained in the same manner, which contributes to consistency of the franchise brand
- Training material can be quickly updated and deployed
- Franchisors can easily assess the effectiveness of the LMS they are using and the training they are providing
- LMSs can be customized to your industry and/or brand to provide the most relevant training to franchisees.
Is an LMS Right for Your Franchise?
The larger the franchise and the more dispersed franchise locations are, the more sense it makes to use an LMS. If you’re an emerging franchisor with just a few locations, an LMS isn’t necessary yet. Besides, your first franchisees will require a lot of personal attention from you and your franchise management team as they ramp up operations. But, when you have more units and the need for consistency among franchisees increases, it makes sense to implement an LMS. However, LMSs will also get more expensive the more units that are on the system, so plan accordingly financially.
Some franchise concepts may benefit more from using an LMS than others. For example, food franchises may be best served by an LMS because of the complex nature of their standards, the typically large number of units and the sheer volume of employees. Combined with large turnover and the absolute need for best practices and consistency because of federal, state and local regulations, you must have a solid system in place.
What to Look For in an LMS
Do your research and consider what you need when looking at learning management systems. They vary widely in price and functionality. A system with all the bells and whistles may not be affordable in the beginning, so having a flexible platform that allows you to add functionality and management control as you grow will work better. Consider whether you want an LMS that can:
- Accommodate multiple access points (mobile, desktop, etc.) for users
- Be used for content creation
- Allow you to track individual progress
- Create certification programs that can be easily managed
- Serve as a loyalty platform, dispensing awards and accolades
- Enable gamification to improve engagement and more
You might also want to allow your franchisees to use your LMS as a communication platform from manager to employee individually and to a group to create a sense of community.
For larger franchisors, it may make more sense to build their own platform, but that will still come with ongoing costs. The problem is that using existing third-party systems with user licenses gets very expensive. Find a vendor that can deliver all the functionality you want, but will offer enterprise-wide licenses so that the number of users can be limitless.
Keep in mind, you cannot force your franchisees to use the system, unlike in a corporate setting where it can be a part of the job demands. Therefore, you cannot be assured that every franchisee will be properly trained, but you can certainly measure and benchmark users versus non-users to encourage best practices.
For help deciding whether an LMS is right for your franchise, contact Winmark Franchise Partners. With 30 years of franchising experience and more than 800 franchise owners representing over 1,200 locations for five brands, Winmark Franchise Partners can help you build a strong franchise system. Contact us here or at (844) 452-4600.