Simon Bartholmew
National Franchise Coordinator
Oscar Pet Foods

Oscars is a family run pet food business that, in 1993, started its own franchise operation. The Oscars franchisees don’t simply sell pet food; they are also able to offer nutritional advice to pet owners. Over the last 15 years, the franchise business has expanded across the country and now the company boasts a national network of local Oscar nutritional advisors offering friendly, expert advice with the aim of making life easier for pet owners.

The issues:

Five years ago, new franchisees were trained by a director, along with two of Oscars’ most successful franchisees. Back then, the focus of the training programme tended to be on the nutrition of pets and while the two franchisees ran excellent businesses, neither had formal training backgrounds. The sessions were informal and successful in so far as they built a lot of passion for the brand and the individuals received a lot of nutritional knowledge. However, Oscar’s felt there was room for improvement and wanted to review the process and rebuild it. There was also a concern that many of the new franchisees struggled after their initial 12-week induction programme but the training at that point was patchy.

The results:

The initial phase of the work involved MD&T carrying out a thorough review of the existing training process. This highlighted the fact that many of the new franchisees would benefit from a more rounded approach with advice on actually running the business — and core areas like sales and marketing.

From that point, Oscars and Liz McCormac of MD&T started work developing a far more structured franchisee training programme for the company. They realised that the aim of the programme was to better prepare franchisees for the challenges they would face as they tried to establish their businesses and enable them to flourish. The whole programme took around six months to develop.

MD&T put together the training modules and also trained Oscars’ in-house team so that they could carry on the training process — making it sustainable in the future. Rather than the training programme being the sole responsibility of one director, more members of the management team played a part in the process. The idea of using franchisees was developed further too, but now they were trained so that they were better able to pass on their experience and knowledge.

Today, the training programme doesn’t end after 12 weeks. The franchisees are revisited at regular intervals.

MD&T also introduced the Assess System — a personality testing tool which relates directly to particular competencies  — so Oscars could see what was required to be a successful franchisee. Through this work, Oscars became much more aware of the strengths and weaknesses of franchisees and are now able to tailor-make the training to suit each candidate.

Oscars’ National Franchise Co-Ordinator, Simon Bartholomew, says: “With the Assesstool we now understand where the challenges lie  — some personalities are better suited to looking at the details of an operation, whereas others are more suited to dealing with people. The training is the same for all franchisees, but we can now tweak it to suit an individual’s needs.”

The franchisee recruitment and training programme that has been developed helps people identify the skills they require to be successful and, while Oscars now feel able to give anyone the tools to be a successful franchise owner, their improved process helps potential franchisees identify at an early stage of the recruitment process if it’s not for them.

Simon says:

“The results speak for themselves. Our training programme has reduced the time it takes for a new franchisee to reach breakeven by three months, which makes the first year for our franchisees much better.

“We also believe the new franchisee training programme is good for Oscars and the individuals who go through it, because it produces franchisees who are much more motivated and much more rounded. My message to other franchise operators is simple: If you get the chance to work with Liz McCormac and the MD&T team, take it. It will make your franchisees better motivated, produce better equipped individuals and make both them and you more profitable.”



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