Franchising expert highlights pros and cons of training academies

An expert says training academies can be an ideal way to educate franchisees without damaging the reputation of the brand, after Retail Food Group revealed details about its training academy.


Retail Food Group is the franchisor and intellectual property owner of Donut King, Michel’s Patisserie, Pizza Capers, Brumby’s Bakeries, bb’s cafe and Esquires Coffee Houses.


In April last year, RFG opened a new training centre complete with coffee machines, baking ovens, donut makers, a simulated storefront, and computer and theory classrooms.


During 2011-12, the facility trained more than 200 franchisees, which, according to RFG, is the highest number the company has ever trained in a 12-month period.


Depending on the brand, new franchisees complete courses ranging from three weeks to eight weeks. The courses included practical, theory and computer-based lessons.


The franchisees then practise their skills in an operational store within their home state.


According to RFG national sales and leasing coordination manager Faith Manning, the training academy has set a new benchmark for franchisee education and development.


“We are proud of this fantastic training facility and consider it an investment in the futures of our motivated franchisees,” Manning said in a statement.


Manning said the centre’s facilities cater for the variety of training required before franchisees begin operating their own store, and ensures franchisees are trained to the highest level.


“It is here that franchisees learn the art of making the perfect cup of coffee, decorating donuts, muffins and cupcakes, baking the perfect loaf and giving exceptional customer service,” she said.


“The facility demonstrates how modern franchise systems need to deliver the essential practical knowledge and tools franchisees will need to be successful in the outside world.”


Jason Gehrke, director of the Franchise Advisory Centre, told StartupSmart any franchise training requires a combination of classroom and in-store or workplace learning.


“It is entirely appropriate to have people in a classroom for certain aspects prior to unleashing them in a business,” Gehrke says.


“[But] I don’t think you can effectively train someone in a classroom-only environment.”


“Any training environment… will never replace the store in terms of dealing with customers, staff, etc.”


Having said that, Gehrke says training centres can be an ideal way to educate franchisees without hurting the brand’s reputation.


“It provides franchisees and their staff with an opportunity to become familiar with the key elements of the environment – the equipment they’re using – in a controlled environment,” he says.


“If something goes wrong, it won’t be damaging to the reputation of the business. When they do move into the store, they can be as efficient as possible.”


“The benefit of a simulated environment is if everything is positioned as it would be in any store, then you have someone that can move more rapidly from a classroom [setting] to the real world.”


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