Thinking about buying a franchise? Ask if they're social.

Bart Puett, President and CEO of Maid Brigade, Inc wrote a great blog post entitled “Evaluating a Franchise Training Program: Five Essentials to Ensure Your Potential Franchisor Will Provide Adequate Support“ Reading his post inspired me to ask the question “If they're Social?” If you are evaluating a franchise ask how they incorporate social media into your training and ongoing success.

Intensive Pre-Opening Training Your pre-opening training will usually involve physically attending a training class. But ask what pre-training is offered. Most people learn best when material is presented in several smaller modules. But this is not practical when you travel to an intensive training. Training becomes more effective when it combines pre-training learning activities, classroom training and follow-up to address retention and transfer. This pre- and follow-up learning is easily delivered online via e-Learning and social interactions.

Mentoring Mentoring is a great form of social learning. When a new franchisee has questions, can they contact a “mentor” franchisee to get answers? My mentor benefits from this relationship by becoming better at their own job. It is the oldest form of training. It’s how parents train their kids. The challenge in this is that everyone does not make a good mentor and there not always engaged in teaching. Sometimes there just too busy running their own business. The solution is to have group mentoring (social mentoring) where you post questions to the group and those with the answers can share. Then as people add to the knowledgebase, it grows and becomes more valuable to the community of franchisees as a whole.

On-Site Team Trainers On-site team training is important. It gets the “pro” to your site and they have the ability to see the things that you as a new franchisee don’t. But the questions to ask are:

• How often will they visit? • How much time will they spend during each visit? • What are their goals for the visit? • How do these goals align with your needs? • What happens when they don’t? Can you add to the goals of the site-visit?

Your ability to consult with them at any time is important. What technology do they employ to engage with franchisees virtually? How simple and how quickly can you leverage this technology to solve your daily issues?

Franchise Consultants Consultants can help you run the franchise and are an important tool. How will you communicate with them? E-mail? Telephone? Which consultants stand out from the rest in your specific industry? Are there ones near you that have a proven track record of success? If so, are they rated somewhere? Where can you look them up? A strong franchisor either has all of this information already gathered, or is utilizing an enterprise social network to gather this data right from their franchisees who are in the front lines. An enterprise social network can be a huge benefit to a franchise system, but also to consultants as well. A consultant has the opportunity to share his or her expertise, and to become known and recognized as an expert in your industry through their engagement with a franchise system.

Ongoing Support and Training The best ongoing training and support happens When you need it, Where you need it and on What device you need it. Email, databases, newsgroups are all passé. The new way to support the franchisee is through a social network designed just for the franchise that offers the security to talk about operational issues privately and securely. An Enterprise Social Network gives your franchise the way to connect franchisees and deliver learning experiences far beyond what a ‘training event’ can. It also becomes a resource where you not only can research answers to your questions but also post new ones and join in on the conversation with other franchisees. Two heads are better than one, three are better than two and when everyone collaborates we all benefit.

One way to better engage your employees in today’s economic climate

In this depressed economy many training departments find themselves forced to deliver results with fewer and fewer resources.  There’s a risk of entering into a downward spiral that should be avoided by learning and organizational development leaders.  At the same time that training and development budgets are shrinking, employee disengagement is growing, dissatisfaction is brewing, and a growing number of employee surveys are reporting that employees are planning to leave their current jobs; this turnover will lead to even fewer resources to do the job necessary for the organization to succeed.  Many organizations are at risk of being left with unengaged employees who reluctantly stay for lack of a more vigorous job market.

“84% of staff are more committed to employers who invest in their training and development.”

-Hays Workplace Series survey

How can your organization avoid this downward spiral and engage its employees in today’s economic climate?

Training, Development and Engagement.

People want to learn and they want to succeed.  They also, as adult learners, want to control their learning experiences and they want them to be relevant to their career goals and aspirations.  They want their learning to lead them to new successes.

Empower your people so that they stay and remain engaged.  Provide them with informal development opportunities they need whenever they need them to perform, wherever they may be, and on whatever device they want to consume them.  That’s the new WWW!  Put the employee in the driver’s seat and get out of their way.

Today’s social technologies provide the means to accomplish this. Integrating an enterprise social network into your organization and combining it with an LMS gives you the power to deliver training, provide development and coaching resources, and engage with and enable your people to engage with each other.

Karen O’Leonard in her blog “Corporate Spending on Social Learning” did some analysis on the trends in spending on enterprise social networks.  She found that “Although spending is fairly low today, we expect these figures to grow considerably in the coming years as companies focus on building their internal learning capabilities.” It’s not a question of if your organization will integrate this new WWW technology; it’s a question of how you can do so before your competition.