How does a franchisor translate franchise training for his international market?
A group of American franchise executives met recently to discuss the process of starting to offer their franchises in Quebec. They had already conducted marketing analyses and found that their franchise had the potential to succeed “north of the border.” They had decided to move ahead.
Then the discussion turned to training.
“We are already offering our training in both Spanish and English for the domestic market,” one of the executives said. “So, we can have our training materials translated into French, right? How complicated could that be?”
Actually, the process of adapting a training program to a foreign culture can be extremely complicated. If you are thinking of expanding into Quebec, for example, considerations like these can come into play . . .
The French that is spoken in Quebec (and other parts of Canada where French is spoken) is much different from the French that is spoken in France. You already knew that, of course. But there are more than just linguistic differences, because a whole range of cultural nuances and subtleties comes into play. One big mistake can be hiring an American translation service, unless that service is located in Canada or can document that they understand the differences. And once a translation has been done, it is essential to have it tested out by native speakers of Canadian French.
Re-translating training materials is an invitation for mistakes to creep in. This can happen when a company has already translated training materials into Spanish and then has those materials retranslated into French or another language. To minimize and prevent errors, it is always best to start with a fresh set of original English-language documents.
The goals for your training might change if you are going international. In a different country, your salespeople, marketing personnel and other employees might need different skills than they need in the U.S. One consideration?
If your franchise is already well-known in one country and not in the new country where you are starting operations, successfully winning new customers might require a different set of strategies for marketing, advertising and selling. That is another reason why successfully adapting your training requires more than simple translation.
There are many “moving parts” to consider. Signage, systems and even the name of your franchise might change when you go international. You can’t just translate training materials without first considering all those moving parts as you redesign your training.
And how will you deliver your training? This is another major question to consider. Options could include . . .
Sending company trainers to provide classroom and face-to-face instruction. This can be expensive. And if you are expanding into a country where a language other than English is spoken, you need to find and train trainers who are native speakers.
Setting up a computerized company training center in a central location in the new country or region. Crunch the numbers. You might find that if you are planning to expand to a new region where a number of new franchise locations could result, it could be an option to consider in the future.
Offering training on mobile devices. This is often the best idea for delivering training to a labor force that is spread across different locations. But even so, a number of considerations can affect the planning. How many employees in the new region, for example, already have smartphones that can work with your training materials? Will wi-fi be available in your future franchise locations? If not, what will the cost be of setting it up? An experienced training development company will know the right questions to ask.
Loading your training materials in tablets and sending them to new locations. This can be a good option, because the tablets your trainees use will not require wi-fi connectivity. Plus, tablets can be returned to headquarters when they require updating.
Don’t Shortchange Training!
The issues I outline in this article might seem off-putting, but they are not. If you consider them one at a time and make the right decisions, taking your training to other countries becomes a straightforward planning process.
Above all, don’t cut corners on training just because getting it right will require some planning and effort. Training can make all the difference in whether your expanding franchise will thrive or fall short. To put it in the fewest possible words . . . Train and succeed!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Evan Hackel is a 35-year franchising veteran as both a franchisor and franchisee. He is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company, and principal and founder of Ingage Consulting. He hosts Training Unleashed, a podcast covering training for business, and is the author of Ingaging Leadership. Evan Hackel is a popular speaker who can address your group about franchising success. To hire Evan as a speaker, visit evanhackelspeaks.com. Follow him at @ehackel.
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