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E-Learning In A Franchise World

Training is a universal need and e-learning works for franchise businesses as well as traditional businesses. Photo by Ted Sakshaug.

One of the biggest pitfalls a training department faces today is in trying to translate traditional stand-up training into web-based e-learning, this especially true in the small business world of franchising. Often the franchisor or franchisee has a vision of what a solution to their business problems are and what it should look like, but not the knowledge of instructional design or the authoring processes and technologies involved in communicating their vision to their people. That’s why training companies like Tortal, a driven brands company works so closely with all their clients during each phase of development in order to draw out their vision without their having to be e-learning experts. To provide a better understanding of this unique and complex world, a quick summary of franchising will follow.

What is a business franchise?

A franchise is the agreement or license between two legally independent parties which gives a person or group of people (franchisee) the right to market a product or service using the trademark or trade name of another business (franchisor). The franchisee has the right to market a product or service using the operating methods of the franchisor and the franchisee the obligation to pay the franchisor fees for these rights. Finally the franchisor has the obligation to provide rights and support to franchisees.



Owns trademark or trade name Uses trademark or trade name
Sometimes financing, advertising marketing and training Expands business with franchisors support
Receives Fees Pays Fees
Provides training and direction on the business system Successfully implement the business system


Types of franchises: Product and business format

Product distribution franchises simply sell the franchisor’s products and are supplier-dealer relationships. In product distribution franchising, the franchisor licenses its trademark and logo to the franchisees but typically does not provide them with an entire system for running their business. The industries where you most often find this type of franchising are soft drinks, automobiles and gasoline. Some familiar product distribution franchises include:

• Coca-Cola • Goodyear Tires • Ford Motor Company

Although product distribution franchising represents the largest percentage of total retail sales, most franchises available today are business format opportunities.

Business format franchises, on the other hand, not only use a franchisor’s product, service and trademark, but also the complete method to conduct the business itself, such as the marketing plan and operations manuals. Business format franchises are the most common type of franchise.

Some popular business format franchises include:

Fast Food Health & Beauty
Wendy’s Jenny Craig Weight Loss
McDonald’s Great Clips
Hardees’s Pearle Vision, Inc.
Burger King


There are many types of support offered to the franchises and franchisors. Training is one of those solution options. They can turn to a fellow franchising company like Tortal or go to any one the of the training solution providers available in the open market. Time, quality and cost are the big drivers of the decisions and this is where a small business like Tortal which grew out of the franchise world itself really has a niche market. Such businesses work with organizations to deliver efficient and effective online training, reduce overall training costs, and provides cost effective online alternatives for organizations that are faced with regulatory compliance training.

They key principles to take note of here are that the solution provider must help the client determine if training is the solution the business actually needs and then determine the level of complexity and functionality required from the solution to address the problem. For simplicity’s sake, Tortal uses three levels – bronze, gold and platinum – which range in complexity up to and including fully-animated simulations, interactive games and video clips. They have created an online application that is particularly effective in satisfying the needs of companies from an infrastructure perspective. Their Learning Management System (LMS) provides an economical solution with a user-friendly front-end and sufficient back-end administrative functionality. The site can be customized with the look and graphics of the customer and is SCORM complaint. The following is a quick example of just how a small company can make a big difference through e-learning in the franchise world.

Glass Doctor, a subsidiary of the Dwyer Group, which recently turned to Tortal following a training seminar and a demonstration of the new Tortal Learning Management System at the 2010 International Franchising Association convention. “I have always believed training needs to be in a format that can be distributed to the masses quickly, yet be viewed on one’s own time. In our business, we must have an ongoing learning process for our franchisees to reduce the learning curve for new technicians and other employees. Tortal understands franchising and was able to meet Glass Doctor University’s needs completely,” says Vice President of Franchise Relations and Training Douglas Dotson.

Organization Profile: “Glass Doctor” Glass Doctor offers complete glass repair, replacement and services to the residential, automotive, and commercial markets at more than 300 locations in the United States and Canada. Glass Doctor began franchising in 1977, and in 1998 joined The Dwyer Group, Inc., an international franchisor of eight service industry companies.

Challenges Faced: “Training Address a Business Need” Building on a 10-year relationship, Tortal continues to help GDU enhance its training of new and existing franchisees and technicians as Glass Doctor takes those programs to the next level.

The Investment:  “What’s involved” A conversion to Tortal’s simplified new Learning Management System was needed to achieve a high rate of continuing franchisee participation. An investment in the creation and organization of intellectual property continues.

Benefits: “The Bottom Line”

  • Ongoing education of franchisees and their employees
  • Enhanced uniformity of franchises
  • User accountability for specific assignments

Getting Ready: “What it took” Tortal President Cordell Riley demonstrated the new system for us and we started looking at it and really thinking about our training in general. Once you get your template established, you think of more and more uses for it.

Success Strategy: “A Challenge Met” We have tons of information, and now there’s a place where people can access it and use it, there are a lot of unique ways of using this tool. It’s just a matter of how you produce it and what media you use. It’s not that complex once you get into it. Of course, Cordell and his group can also develop classes all day long if you want them to.

Implementation: “Where the Rubber Meets the Road” Glass Doctor University developed a blended approach to acclimate new franchisees to the learning process before they got to class by providing online training to them before they arrive for their new owner classroom training. GDU incorporated six new Tortal classes and even shortened training to six days from nine.

Glass Doctor then extended and expanded the training experience with a series of post-basic training courses. And if franchisees forget something, they now have a resource where they can go back and refresh their memory. The process is a continuous one. Classes can now be developed from existing material that was never available once they left company headquarters in Waco or if it was, it was really hard to find. Glass Doctor has over 20 courses in the system so far. The Glass Doctor relationship with Tortal also has a big technical component, like a class on how to read a tape measure, something that anybody that’s been around for a while simply takes for granted — but maybe nobody has ever taken the time to teach the technician how to read a tape measure properly.


Training is a universal need in business. This is true in the big corporations and your local business on Main Street. Franchising businesses have that same need and as in the Case of Glass Doctor have benefited from an e-learning solution. With its diverse populations and geographically separate franchise units spread throughout the world, e-learning is an effective solution in the Franchise world.

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