Advice & TipsAsk an ExpertCurrent IssueJanuary/February 2024

What questions should I ask about my franchise training program?

A big consideration when deciding whether to purchase a franchise is what kind of support you can expect from the franchisor. When it comes to franchisor-provided training, including initial and ongoing training, it’s important to ask questions to help you decide if a particular franchise is a good fit for you and your business goals. When reviewing any franchise opportunity, you should seek the advice of a lawyer experienced in franchise matters.

One of the most valuable benefits franchise agreements typically offer is the initial training program that new franchisees must complete. The initial training program offered by a franchisor will normally be based on best practices developed over years and through consultation with many different locations, and it may be this expertise that prompted you to reach out to the franchisor in the first place.

Franchise Training Questions

While the overall experience and expertise of the franchisor is important, you may also wish to ask the following questions. Some of these questions could be answered in the franchise agreement or the disclosure document you received from the franchisor, so those documents should be reviewed first with a lawyer before posing such questions to the franchisor directly.

  1. How much does initial training cost, including direct fees, and any travel, lodging, and salary costs of sending the necessary people to participate in the training How long is initial training?
  2. This may affect your business plan, as you cannot normally open your franchised business before the initial training program has been completed.
  3. How often do franchisees need to repeat some, or all, of the initial training before they are considered ready to open? You may need to account for a buffer period in the event one or more people need to redo a module.
  4. Can the franchisor terminate your franchise agreement if you fail parts of training? Do you get a chance to try again? Do you receive any refunds if the franchisor terminates your franchise agreement because of a failure to complete training?
  5. Does initial training include on-site training, either at your franchised business or at another location within the brand? If not, you may need to request additional, on-site training to familiarize yourself with the practical application of what was taught.
  6. Who needs to be trained? Sometimes, all the owners of the franchised business will need to be trained as managers, other times you will just need to select one designated manager. Keep in mind that bringing in a new manager will require that they first complete training.

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On a related note, you should ask what level of training the employees of your franchise must complete before you can open, including how long it takes to train a typical employee and what that process involves. Normally, this type of training will be a separate program from the initial training that managers must complete, will likely be administered by your managers rather than the franchisor, and your managers may need to fully complete their initial training before they can start training other employees. The timing of all of this may affect your opening date.

Once your franchise is open, it’s likely that you still have ongoing training requirements, although the exact nature of ongoing training is not usually spelled out in as much detail in the franchise agreement or the disclosure document as initial training. However, the following questions may help you better understand your obligations to keep up with training.

  1. Is there a need to travel to receive ongoing training? Is there a limit on how much or how often travel may be required?
  2. Is there an annual conference you must attend? What’s the cost of attending, including direct fees and any travel, lodging, and salary costs?
  3. Is there a distinction between mandatory and optional training? What are the consequences of failing to keep up with mandatory training?
  4. What annual time commitment is anticipated for mandatory training? Is there a cap on this?

The time and money required to open and maintain a franchised business will be significantly influenced by the training programs used by the franchisor, and understanding these programs is therefore critical for deciding if a particular franchise is a good fit for you.

Nikolas Sopow
Partner, Dale & Lessmann LLP
nsopow@dalelessmann.com