Franchise Training and Support: Getting Started
Amanda: Welcome to “Franchising With Purpose.” I’m your host, Amanda Lepore. Today, I’m continuing my conversation with Mike Magid, Chief Operating Officer of Griswold Home Care, about the launch process for your franchise and what you can do to give your franchise a strong start. And now let’s join the conversation. All right, welcome back to another episode of “Franchising With Purpose.” Recap, so we’ve gone through this whole process, some different amounts of steps depending on the industry and the company and all those things, but talked about all the different people that you want to get advice from, or answer questions, answers some questions and all that kind of stuff.
Left off most recently with discovery days, which may be called something different, meet the team day, but the concept is that you get to come into the corporate office, meet the people who are going to be supporting your business on the franchise side of things and potentially see a live operation, whether that’s a company-owned office or a warehouse or a manufacturing plant, again, depending on the industry. Go back, mull it all over, all the information that I’ve gathered because discovery day alone sounds like a lot of information. And we factor all of my validation calls and my conversations with folks into that mix. Mull it around. The franchisor meets internally to decide whether or not I’m a good fit for the franchise as well as whether or not it’s a good fit for me. And then we have a pretty big decision to make, right?
Amanda: Awesome. So here again with Mike Magid, our chief operating officer of Griswold Homecare, 28 years in the franchise industry. And I’m sure you’ve seen quite a few of these processes take place over 28 years.
Mike: Quite a few.
Amanda: And we get to the culmination of what is months if not longer than that of hard work, of conversations, of really figuring out, you know, what the next step is for me personally. And it all leads to this, deciding whether or not I’m going to sign on the dotted line, right? So that’s kind of where we’re picking up here. So we mentioned on the last episode that after discovery day…. And our discovery day is typically kind of the end of the process or does that fall at different places?
Mike: Falls at different places. In our process it’s at the end, but for other companies, it may be in the middle, it may be at the very beginning.
Amanda: Okay, so for our purposes, today, we’ll talk about it being at the end. You know, once I’ve done all of the other steps, and I’m deciding, you know, like I said, that franchise agreement that I’ve read through as part of my FDD, whether or not I’m going to sign and pay that money. So the franchisor is actually kind of taking the first step in that and deciding whether or not they’re going to award a franchise to me, franchisee buyer, whomever it may be, right? And then it’s up to me, the buyer, to decide whether or not I want to accept that award. Is that…
Mike: In most cases, some buyers will tell you they’re ready to buy. That happens, but typically, it’s the franchisor that initiates the award and then the buyer would accept.
Amanda: Okay. So why don’t we talk a little bit about kind of what comes next. Because we don’t want to feel like we’re jumping off a cliff, right? Nobody wants to sign and say, “Okay, well, now what?” So we want to educate everyone on what they can expect to come next. Because that is also a deciding factor, and whether or not I signed, right, what’s going to happen, who’s going to hold my hand through this process, because it’s something that unless I’m kind of a serial entrepreneur, I probably have never bought a business and started it from the ground up. So it’s important that we talk through what steps are involved, what that process looks like, what kind of support I’m going to get from signing my agreement, and then moving on. So kind of set the stage for us. Is there anything, before we just dive head first into this process, what should we know? You know, what’s kind of… So lay the groundwork a little bit.
Mike: Well, I mean, all the steps are done, right? So there’s really nothing left other than the decision. It’s probably from the buyer’s side, the most anxious time that they’ll face, because they now know, they’re through the end of the process, they now know whether the company is awarded or not. And if they have, they now know the company is waiting for a decision. So the buyer is sitting there knowing that an award has been offered or made, they now have to decide whether they’re buying or not. And if they do, they know they’re going to have to sign a contract and pay money, and so it’s from their side, a really, really difficult time because it’s a huge, huge decision. I liken it to buying your first home, or getting married or having…making decisions to have a family, right, huge decisions that cause anxiety, and nothing different in this environment.
And then from the franchisor’s side, it’s a very exciting time, because once the franchisor has taken a candidate through the process and makes the award, they are saying, “We want you. We think you’ll do wonderful in our system. We think you’ll fit our culture. We think you’ll be able to sustain and grow a thriving business.” And now they’re sitting there waiting for a decision. So that’s kind of the groundwork to where we’re at. And at that point, information is over, relationships have been set, decisions mentally have been made. And it’s, do I make the decision or not? And more often than not, I’m going to say, you know, 7 or 8 out of every 10 times that you complete a discovery day, you’ll have a decision to move forward. People just don’t go that far with as many companies if there’s not a serious interest.
Amanda: I was gonna say, this is not a flipping process. So I think by the time you get to the point of making a decision, you probably are pretty sure, you know, which way this is going to go.
Mike: And there’s pitfalls to that. Because, you know, as much as your circle of influences throughout that process have supported your research and you’ve learned a lot, you’ve developed a great rapport with a franchise development manager, that you’ve met the team and you feel really good about it, you know, when push comes to shove, as much as a spouse may be supportive throughout that process, when it’s time to write the check, dynamics change and second guessing comes into play. And then there are times when people say, “I’m not ready. I haven’t done enough,” and they want to keep going and doing more.
Typically, when you get to those steps, they’re not buying. If you’ve done your job and you’ve been involved in a responsible process with a responsible franchise company, at the end of that day, when the award comes either that day or the next day, you’re making a decision. So that dynamic goes into signing a franchise agreement because I would have already had a candidate working through a review of the franchise agreement with their attorney or whomever is in their circle of influence is. I wouldn’t wait till the end of the process comes and say, “Okay, now take time to go review the franchise agreement.” So those things are happening simultaneously.
Amanda: Right. That’s kind of running in the background.
Mike: Yeah. And so that’s the groundwork. And then what happens is they make their decision. And like I said, 7 or 8 out of every 10 times, they’re likely to say yes, sign the franchise agreement, pay their franchise fee. And now they’re sitting there going, “What happens?” And from the development side, it’s a very difficult time for the development individual who’s worked with the candidate. It’s also a very difficult time for the candidate because they have literally had their hand held through that entire process. And if done well, there’s a real bond. And then at that point, there’s this passing of the torch. And even though I’ve met people at discovery day or talked to people on the phone, I’ve been living this life for two months, three months, four months with this individual and I don’t necessarily know if I want to leave that individual.
And so there’s a lot of trust during that process that’s built up to say to a candidate who signed on the agreement and paid their money, “It’s time to hand you over but you’re in better hands than you were with me.” And typically what will happen is that the development manager will set up a call with this new franchise owner. And whoever the individual is, that’s either running your launch program or your grand opening support program or your operations support program, in our vernacular, it’s a launch, and you get on a call, and the development manager passes the torch to the launch manager.
And at that point, the launch manager is there to take them from signing to grand opening. And there are a lot of things that have to happen. I think we’ve counted about anywhere from 125 to 150 different steps, some very small, some very big, that have to take place to take somebody from becoming a new franchise owner and getting them in a position to open up their business. And in a well-thought out, well-oiled launch process, that individual guides that new franchisee through all those steps.
And typically we’ll have weekly calls set up with them with tests assigned and accountability to meet those tasks. And sometimes, you know, candidates fly through it and others stumble through it because they don’t want to move as fast or they’re, you know, it’s… The reality is, “I’m getting closer to opening up my business.” But a well-designed launch process will help them through that.
Amanda: Awesome. And I can tell that you’ve done this a lot just the way that you talk about passing the torch. You guys can’t see it because we’re only on audio but there’s a little tear in my thigh right now talking about this because it is, right, you get attached especially this is not a decision to take lightly and it’s something that you work very closely with somebody for months and months and months. And then there’s gonna come a time where you gotta spread their wings and fly, right, and move in…
Mike: It’s like being a parent, you know, raising a child and having to send them off into the world. And I don’t mean to say that disparagingly to a new franchise owner, but they come in like a child. They’re trying to learn, they don’t understand and it is your job to help them learn and, you know, put them on the right path and teach them lessons and get them what they need to be a productive, you know, adult in the world. And it’s kind of that passing. And so, you know, if you’ve ever done franchise development and you’ve been in that process, there’s typically a strong bond that’s built between a potential franchisee at the time and the development manager through that process.
Amanda: Absolutely. And I’m sure, you know, the feeling is mutual for the franchisee. Now at this point, I can stop saying potential franchisee because at this point we’ve signed on the dotted line and we’ve paid now where we’ve purchased the franchise.
Mike: Amazingly, they don’t linger too long in their disappointment at that big transition.
Amanda: Oh, they’re excited to get started.
Mike: And they don’t ever forget you but they’re ready to move forward.
Amanda: Yeah. And there is, you know, for as anxious as it is, there’s also I’m sure a ton of excitement that comes along with a new venture and a new chapter, right? So it kind of balances it out. You know, we talked about it’s a difficult decision to make and there’s a lot of anxiety around it, like if you’re buying a house or getting married, or all those big steps in life, but there’s also the excitement and the eagerness to get started.
Amanda: So I know you don’t take it personally when that has happened in the past. So then we move kind of into that launch process. And before we kind of break down, we won’t spend…you know, we won’t go through all 120 steps of it. But is that something that I, as I’m deciding, you know, it’s important to know what’s going to happen after that. And it’s not a cliff, it’s just a hill, and then we’re going, you know, on our road here. But can I see what that looks like beforehand? Is that something that can be shared with me or…
Mike: It happens at discovery day. It’s your first introduction to launch.
Mike: So as you move through the departments before you get to operations, which takes over post-launch, you need to meet with the launch manager. They will give you a breakdown. They’ll give you a list of items that you’re going to go through. So it’s not anything proprietary that we have to, you know, protect. We can share with you our plan before you ever buy a franchise so that you understand what that hand-holding looks like once you’ve paid your money and signed your franchise agreement. So you get that at discovery day. And of course, you reintroduce yourself to that individual when launch happens officially.
Amanda: Is it typically one person that kind of takes me through that process? It is my guide, if you will, through the launch or opening process? Or should I be prepared to kind of interact with different people? I’m sure there’s interacting with different people but do I have…just like I’ve had thus far, you know, I may have talked to other folks in marketing or technology, but I’ve had that one constant. Is that pretty standard throughout the launch process as well?
Mike: So consider the launch person like the conductor of an orchestra, right? They have all the control and they call the shots and they direct accordingly. So there’s multiple people during launch you’ll have to interact with. There’s compliance you’ll interact with, because, you know, if you need licensure or you need compliance support, you’ve got to interact with them. And the launch individual and for another analogy like the quarterback, you know, connects you with compliance in that process or, you know, when we start talking about, you know, preparing for a field visit, you know, at your grand opening, we’ll quarterback that and get you in contact with the field support individual so you can talk about what that process looks like.
You’ll be in contact with the individual running training because once you’ve gotten into launch process, one of the things you haven’t gotten to yet is training. And so you’ll be in contact with the manager, you know, director in overseeing training so they can prepare you for what you’re going to need coming to training, what you’re going to need at training, and what happens post-training and their follow up with you as well. They quarterback that process. So they conduct that process.
Amanda: So what are some of the big ticket items?
Mike: Licensure, corporations, banking, you know, arrangements, training, since you gotta learn the system, that continuum.
Amanda: It’s like space…
Mike: Websites marketing, you know, the things that will get you prepared so that you have your website ready to go, your marketing strategies ready to go. I think technology is big in there because you have to understand the systems and, you know, how they operate and what your role is within those systems. So, you know, marketing, technology, training, compliance, in the process, finance become the bigger picture items that need to be quarterbacked.
Amanda: I mean, so how granular does this get? I mean, are they going to tell me when or recommend, you know, something computer related like what kind of printer should I buy? Or help me set up social media accounts or all the stuff that goes into that? You know, we talked about the big picture stuff, but it’s how much am I going to have to kind of figure out on my own here?
Mike: The process gets very granular. It has to. The beautiful thing about launch is there are no FTC regulations like it is before you buy the franchise. There’s only so much a company can do. There’s only so much intellectual property they’ll expose. There are controls in place to guard against, you know, unethical practices. Like there’s things that govern that relationship. Once you sign a franchise agreement, the vaults open. You get to look and touch and feel and see everything. And so, you know, when it comes to finance, you know, as granular as you need to get, you know, including if you want to help setting up a business plan, if you hadn’t done that before, that can certainly happen then including what financial projections are and whether they’re realistic or not because once you’ve bought, there are no guidelines around earnings claims.
So it gets very, very granular with each of the departments that you need to interact with. And it’ll get as granular as you need it or want it to be. So it’s about the franchise company saying, “Here’s what we need to accomplish. These are our goals. These are the individuals you’ll be working with in getting you prepared for grand opening. We’ll make sure that everything that has to be done is done. But if there’s other things you want, there’s other needs you have, that’s where you express it and that’s real.”
Amanda: So I’m picturing this in my head right now as just a big, giant to-do list of things that I have to do.
Mike: Exactly what it is.
Amanda: But are there timelines associated with this?
Amanda: So, you know, by X day, I have to have done X, Y, and Z. Because it can be, you know, we’re talking about 120 to 150 things, it can be incredibly overwhelming. I’ve just made this huge decision. And now I have a 150-item to-do list. But, again, we’ve got that person who’s going to guide you through this process, what has to be done when so that it’s, you know, more manageable, it sounds like.
Mike: So it is a big, giant to-do list and it is regimented week to week. We talk about the continuum of your model and training. It’s kind of launch has its own continuum. There are things that have to happen sequentially and there’s things that can happen organically depending on how they play out when they play out. I don’t want to misrepresent that 120 to 150 things is going to take a year. I mean, you can do that in a month, you can do it in three months. It depends on how quickly or slowly you want to move and how much the launch manager keeps you accountable to the steps. You might be able to do most of those things or just small things that, you know, you wouldn’t be thinking of where you may not as a new franchise owner be thinking that you need to do, that we don’t want you to have to worry about whether you miss the small things or the big things.
That’s our job to say, “Yeah, you could do these 10 things in 35 minutes. Get them done.” But you may not know those 10 things, likely you won’t know those 10 things. The beautiful thing about launch, in a very organized launch process and a very mature launch process, is big or small it’s all figured out. It’s all sequenced. And it’s all managed so that you don’t miss anything. If you went through that process alone, you might miss a ton of things you don’t know about because you don’t know the industry, you don’t know the model, you don’t know specifically what you should be doing or not doing. And either, you’ve got to figure it out or pay somebody to figure it out. You’ve already written your check, you’ve got free support at that point. You take advantage of it.
Amanda: So this person, and my most recent thing I can equate this to, you know, we talk about buying a house a lot and being a huge decision, this person kind of becomes your realtor, right? And they’re walking you through and telling you, “Okay, at this point, you need to schedule an inspection and you need to get an appraisal and you need to X, Y, and Z,” all the things that go into that. So it kind of mirrors that process a little bit.
Mike: Yeah. And you know how the relationship works. Sometimes you move faster on things and other times you don’t. But there are some things you have to move for deadline purposes just because they have to get done. And that’s similar to this launch process.
Amanda: Absolutely. And there are things that are…you know, we talked about it can be done in a couple of months or it can be stretched out. And it’s a lot of it is obviously in your control as the new franchisee. But there are some things, and we talked about licensure as an example, that’s going to depend on the state and government and there are other parties at play here that could potentially hold that up. But it’s going to depend. Again, it’s all state by state and what’s required. You know, it’s not regulated by the FTC but there’s things that have to happen.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, things like licensure, that’s more of an organic process. The state has their licensure requirements. They have a process for processing that license. So it just happens as it happens. And the goal is if you’re in a licensure state, as an example, that we have a good feel for how long it’s going to be in that process. And that we trigger that process to happen in a timeline that keeps the process moving forward so you’re not delayed, because ultimately, most of what you’ll do in launch, including applying and receiving licensure happens before you come to training. So that training is kind of the back end. We talked about discovery day being the back end of the process. When you’re in the development process, training is the back end of the launch process.
There is very little that should happen after training prior to your grand opening other than follow up things your training has to make sure that you’ve done what you need to do to have caregivers in place, etc. But there’s very little that happens after training prior to grand opening. Mostly everything happens prior to you going to training. And the reason for that is because once you’re trained…
Amanda: That was my next question.
Mike: Yeah. The reason for that is because once you’re trained and it’s there in your mind, you’re more likely…the quicker you get in business to be able to execute the things that you’ve learned because if it’s a two, three-month delay, you pretty much will forget most of what you learned in training just because training is like drinking from a, it sounds cliché-ish, but it’s like drinking from a fire hose. There’s a lot that comes at you in this continuum. There’s a lot to learn. You’re going to retain 10% of it, 15% of it. And then when you get back, you’re going to go back to your training manager and say, “I forget this. I forget that,” or you’re going to go back to the compliance manager to say, “I forget this or forget that.”
And that’s the value of franchising, right? You have to learn the continuum and understand it in its entire complexity. But when you leave training and you’re close to opening up your doors, you’ll be able to rely on those people to say, “Fill in the bucket again. I don’t remember this. I don’t remember that.” And then you’ll have operations that picks up after launch to be able to support you post-grand opening.
Amanda: Absolutely. I don’t leave that training room and say, “Okay, here you go. Figure it out. Go open your doors and open your business.” Those people are still available to me and will continue to be available the duration of my business.
Mike: Very dependent until they’re up and running and start to get it. Very dependent. And then once they get it, they’ll become less dependent.
Amanda: We talked about, you know, franchise training programs and what’s involved in that. And you said that’s kind of the tail end of the process, right? And for good reason.
Amanda: Yeah, for a good reason. I mean, we talked about it being a to-do list. Is there anything else that I should be aware of as somebody who’s never done this? I’m very much dependent and leaning on the people who built this process and these checklists to guide me through it and tell me kind of what I need to do when. But is there anything else I should kind of be aware of or have in my hat?
Mike: I don’t think so. Not in the launch process. I mean, you can get the process at discovery day. You can review it and see all the steps and what has to be done. If there’s questions that you have about it, you’ll ask either before you purchase or after you’ve purchased, you’ll ask those questions. But the launch is really not about what you have to worry about, it’s more about what the franchisor has to worry about. It’s their job once you’ve signed an agreement and paid your franchise fee to help you get your doors open.
And if you had enough trust to sign a contract and pay a franchise fee, then you would have enough trust to say they’re going to take you through an organized process, step by step, very sequentially. They won’t miss anything that you need. They’re not to miss. And at the end of that process, when training is done and I finished up any final pieces, I’m opening my door and I don’t have a worry in the world other than how’s my business going to grow? And where’s my first dollar coming from?
Amanda: Absolutely, right? Because then that’s it. You’re running…
Mike: It’s where the rubber meets the road.
Amanda: Yeah. So the tail end of the launch process being the training, what are things I should be looking for? What in your opinion creates the best franchise training program? Remember the hard one.
Mike: It’s not a hard one. It’s just a broad question. It depends on the model. It depends on the company. There are models that are very complex. There are models that are, you know, very simple. I mean, you know, homecare is not a complex model. It might be a little bit complex, depending on what state regulations are in homecare. Other than that, it’s a pretty straightforward model. So I think we structured our training in this continuum concept to be able to close all the gaps and paint the right picture so that you can look at the continuum and you know what the story, where it starts and how it’s going to end and what happens in between, chapter by chapter.
I don’t know that I can tell you that in a more complex model, whether you get into food or automotive that requires, you know, brick and mortar, where you’ve got many more components in that process that can delay grand openings, whether it’s real estate, lease negotiation, things like that. So, you know, training around those models may look a lot different than ours. I think ours is it’s pretty straightforward. It’s pretty simple. The continuum was very clear. And you get all the components that you need in that training program and beyond to be able to open up your doors and execute and grow.
Amanda: Yeah. And, you know, as we talk about the way that adults learn versus the way that you learned in elementary school, and I’ve been, you know, at this point, I’m probably in my second career or moving, you know, into more close to the retirement age, and I’ve been out of school for a while, so you’re telling me I’m going to come here and I’m going to go back to school, essentially, to learn this business and learn how it works. You know is it important to look for a training program that’s learner-centered, that’s geared towards the adult learner? Because I worry that, you know, somebody is going to come present this information to me, but that’s not how I personally learn. And I know that’s a lot of people’s concerns as well. I don’t learn best by hearing. I need to see it or I need to do it or I need to…all of those things. So is that something that I should be looking for a training program to take into consideration?
Mike: Yeah, I don’t think buyers think that way. I think that’s more of a franchisor approach and how they look at learning and development, how they understand adult learning, how that fits into their model and how that then manifests itself in the type of training that they provide. I don’t think you have new franchisees that have bought that really understand because they haven’t been connected to training and education in their life for quite a while. I mean, they may always be educating themselves, but informal classroom training, I don’t know that people are up to speed when they sign a franchise agreement, nor do I think they have the capacity, if you will, to be focusing on something like that with so many things going on and the anxiety of getting close to opening up a business and trying to meet payroll day one. So I think they come in hoping that you are prepared for adult learning and how the best methodologies are in adult learning today. And they’ll trust that you will do that the way it needs to be done.
Amanda: Absolutely. And that’s kind of where I was going with this is launch as a whole is very franchisor driven, right? At this point, I’m very much leaning on that person to know the best ways for me to absorb the information, right? To know what steps I have to take and when and when those, you know, the licensure process has to begin. You know, my thinking as a potential franchisee, and leading up to this point is really on the front end of this, right? The decisions, the validation calls, all of that stuff. And at this point, I’ve got to… Like you said, you hopefully trust this person at this point. If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t have signed your agreement and paid your money. But then it’s the burden is…I shouldn’t say burden, but the burden is on the franchisor, right, to provide the best experience and get you prepared to open your door. You know, it’s just as much for you to be successful as the franchisor to be successful. Nobody is going to put you in the field and get ready to open without being prepared.
Mike: And so to put it in perspective is…a good way of putting it, because as you put it, the burden is on the franchisor. But understand it’s a welcome burden. Franchisors have a vested interest in making sure their launch process, the training process is tight and that we stick to timelines because although you’ve paid a franchise fee, franchise companies don’t get rich on the franchise fees that are paid by people that have joined their system. Where franchise companies make their money is on the royalty side. So they have a vested interest in making sure that everything you need, when you need it, how you need it, is delivered in a timely fashion that lead to a grand opening so that you can start building your business because when you build your business you pay royalties. And for companies to sustain over a long time, they are able to sustain based on the strength of the growth of their system and the royalties that are paid into that.
Amanda: Right. The franchisor is not successful if I’m not successful. So it’s in their best interest to help me be successful, right?
Mike: And candidates that went through the process, that bought, know that. They know that the franchise company is in business to help them grow so they can make the royalty fees.
Amanda: Absolutely. Any parting comments on launch? Anything we didn’t talk about that you want to make sure our audience is educated on?
Mike: No, I think that pretty much speaks to the support in the process, you know, both pre-decision and post-decision. Again, this is a big decision and, you know, as you’re going through this process, whether it be at discovery day or in validation or with the team that you speak to, make sure you know what you’re buying and make sure that what you’re getting is real because it’s a huge decision. But if you do that right, then you’ll in most cases enjoy a very successful career as a business owner and be able to build the equity that you dream, that you build in a business and live that American dream the way you may have dreamed it to be when you were younger. And partner with franchise companies that take that responsibility very seriously. And you’ll know by talking to companies and how they operate whether they’re in this for the right reasons. But yeah, I mean, it’s an exciting time. And if you’re considering business ownership, I’d love to talk to you about opportunities. We got plenty more.
Amanda: Awesome. Mike, thank you so much for being here and sharing such great information, as always. Just I’m excited. You know, we talked a lot about the different folks that are involved in this process, from operations to marketing and technology and September brings with it. We’re actually going to start talking to some of those folks. That’s where we’re headed. You know, we’re going to start talking about them and start talking to them about the support that they provide our franchisees and what that looks like as well. So, again, thanks for your time today and I look forward to talking more.
Mike: And, Amanda, thanks to you. You do a great job on these podcasts. And whether I’ve been a part of them or I’ve had a chance to listen into them, you’re a wonderful host. And if I was looking to seriously consider buying a franchise, I’d want to listen to your podcast.
Amanda: Well, thanks.
Mike: You’re quite welcome. Great job.
Amanda: Thank you.
Mike: Take care.
Amanda: See you next time. Thanks again for joining us on “Franchising With Purpose.” You can find us on Twitter. I’m @Amanda_GHC. Our guest today is @MikeMagidGHC. And don’t forget to visit Griswold Franchising on social media for lots more information, Griswold Franchise Opportunity on Facebook, @GriswoldFran on Twitter, and Griswold Home Care Franchise on Instagram. Make sure to subscribe wherever you get your favorite podcast, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and check out my personal favorite griswoldhomecare.com/franchising. If you like what you’ve been hearing, make sure to rate and review the show on your favorite app. We really appreciate it. I’ll see you next time.