Are Your Franchisees Able to Absorb the Information They Need?

Working from the premise that franchisees are smart people who have already been successful at previous careers, we charge ahead to download mega gigs of information into their heads as soon as they join the system. We rarely contemplate the fact that they may not be able to absorb the information we have to offer. Once I heard a Zen story about a university professor and a Zen master. This story changed my perspective about franchisee training and started me on my path to learn more about the psychology of franchising and franchisee success. The story is as follows:

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

We are so eager to teach our franchisees all we believe they need to know to successfully run the franchise business that we rarely consider that their minds may be like the cup in the previous story: already filled. So, we keep pouring information into the franchisee’s mind not realizing that nothing we are sharing with them is going in.

It is critical we help franchisees adopt a Beginner’s Mind as they start their training on your franchise opportunity (to borrow another Zen concept). It’s only from this mental position that true learning can take place. A Beginner’s Mind is an empty mind, one that allows new concepts to come in.

For example, if we have never seen or heard about a bicycle and are being trained to ride one, our minds would be empty of pre-conceptions and we would be able to truly listen to any instructions given to us. Our minds would be teeming with questions and requests such as: “What is this? What do I do with it? How do I do it? Show me. Help me.” However, if we are familiar with the concept of bicycles, even if we haven’t ridden one in years, most likely we would attempt to get on the bike right away and try it on our own. The questions of the Beginner’s Mind would leave us replaced with statements such as: “I hope I don’t fall; this bike is not as good as the one I used to ride; and so on.” In other words, fear and judgment take the place of curiosity.

The facts are simple:

  • We cannot learn anything if we think we already know it.
  • Our preconceived ideas and judgments influence our understanding of the new, preventing us from true learning.
  • If we are always thinking about how we can do it better, we can’t possibly learn the way it is being taught; which is the new way and could be much better.

Because new franchisees go through massive change when they first join a franchise system, they feel vulnerable and their tendency is to seek safety in what they already know. This natural response to the emotional upheaval they experience challenges true learning.

It’s important you help your franchisees deal with these emotional states; help them empty their cup before trying to pour in more information; help them embrace a Beginner’s Mind. Ask yourself: “Are my franchisees ready and able to absorb the information they need to learn?” and “How can I help them create the mindset that will allow learning to take place?

If you want to learn more about what makes franchisees successful, keep reading this blog, you’ll be able to find similar posts under the Franchisees tab. Also, consider reading my book Franchise Succcess: The New Formula.