Training Franchisees to Succeed is Direct Energy’s Priority
By Sara Trzemzalski


One of the most intimidating factors for potential franchisees is the learning curve of how to transition from an employee to a business owner. This is where Success Academy VP of Training, Lance Sinclair, steps in and leads the way to help their franchisees grow their bottom line.

Direct Energy unleashed an on-going training environment, Success Academy, to allow their franchisees to learn, stay current with best business practices and continue to build on and develop their existing skills.

Direct Energy’s Success Academy offers training sessions in the following areas
  • Sales
  • Communications
  • Customer Service
  • Management
  • Leadership

  • However, Direct Energy is making this program available to all team members in their franchise system, including exclusive training for Direct Energy and its additional franchise organizations, which contain brands, such as One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Mister Sparky.

    Making a difference in daily business operations

    In 2016, more than 5,264 active users completed over 42,294 courses online with Success Academy. This year, users completed 24,240 classroom hours. Classes were offered 111 times in 22 states and 36 locations throughout North America and their courses were delivered in three user-friendly methods: Instructor Training in Classroom, Web-Based Training (live webinars) or Self-Paced Online Training (computer based). Success Academy online is leading the training activity by 73.1%.
    Direct Energy/Success Academy offers brand-specific training online called General Education. This nine-module program complements onboarding provided by their independently owned and operated franchisees. Their franchisees have OpX to draw on for onboarding, which is Direct Energy’s online documents for Operational Success.

    To ensure ongoing training continues after those prerequisites are met, they release a new program on a weekly basis, every month.

    An example of one of these programs may include our Success Profit Network module, which focuses in sales and communications for the first week of the month. The second week showcases a new safety video because safety is a critical role in our culture. The third week covers technical training comprised of three separate online programs, one for each brand. The last week is one of my personal favorites, we call it Retro Week. During this week, we highlight a previously released online program to draw attention to it. Believe it or not, we have over 300 online programs, all developed internally, so we’re never short on retro programs to explore,” Sinclair explains. “Plus, it allows our franchisees to continue building their knowledge base.”

    While all the ongoing training programs with Success Academy are great, it’s important to understand who they train and if they’re assigned different programs while considering this potential opportunity. Direct Energy trains every position—from call takers to owner-operators, along with everyone in between. They continuously train their own corporate support team. And yes, different roles receive different training curriculum because each job function concentrates in different areas.

    An example role and their training may be a General Manager. General Managers would complete the General Education bundle for their brand, complete safety, technical and a Success Profit Network every month. In addition to those, classroom training could involve Introduction to Call Taking, On-Time Technician, Advanced Sales, Train the Trainer and the four-part Leadership Series, among many more.

    To go along with training, Direct Energy knew they needed to make reporting easier, especially for franchisors who own multiple units. Their solution comes in the form of their Learning Management System (LMS). This platform is decentralized and allows a franchisee to input multiple locations and even multiple brands into the program. Once set-up is completed, they will be able to let franchisees generate reports by brand(s) and location then provide choices to review or print a single report or other franchisee preferences. This lets a franchisee really look at their business and understand what’s working and what’s not. The opportunity to evaluate their brands and/or locations allows them to also see how the Success Academy training programs are influencing everyday operations.

    All of this without calling corporate
    This makes LMS one of their greatest franchise model assets. These LMS reports can track training in a variety of ways so franchisees can review those analytics specifically. However, it’s important to remember that accountability rests with the franchisee. Direct Energy’s responsibility is to show the value in training and make it easy to register, take and complete all the training they offer. Together, their franchisees and the parent brand work to create well-versed employees and successful franchisees.

    ROI is an influencing factor when it comes to ongoing training and Direct Energy understands that as well. After each course, they request testimonials to discover feedback on their courses. They learn positive things occur after participating in training courses, such as their average ticket increased by 20% or their location’s quality score went up 10 basic points. Results like this make it easy to comprehend the benefits of ongoing training with Success Academy. Direct Energy is in the middle of a major project called Return On Learning, which will use four different levels of measurements to determine ROI for a specific class.

    “In the end, Success Academy only has one single focus,” Sinclair admits. “Deliver effective training to our clients and teach them the franchise way.” Franchise brands should be considered teachers as they have a lot of lessons to share with their upcoming franchisees, such as the culture they’re trying to create, their franchise philosophy, their long-term vision and mission statement. Franchisees must understand the franchisors guarantees and their operating principles. Lastly, the brand needs to find their ideal candidates who are willing to unite and be together as one so their brand can continue to grow because as we all know, certain franchise models are not for everyone.
    One thing is clear when it comes to Direct Energy—they want their franchisees and their employees to be knowledgeable and continue building their education so they can provide the best service and be successful in their franchise endeavor and with their Success Academy, they are doing just that.

    About Direct Energy
    Direct Energy operates in 46 states in the United States and in Canada. They have more than five million residential and commercial customer relationships. Direct Energy Services is one of North America’s largest home services providers and offers a wide range of services to homes including HVAC, plumbing and electrical services through their service brands of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing®, Mister Sparky® Electric and One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning®. Their Corporate Headquarters are in Houston, Texas and they currently have over 700 units operating in North America.

    About Franchise Training Series
    As part of our own expansion and growth, we’re excited to continue our Franchise Training series. This series encompasses a wide variety of franchise topics designed to help franchisors and potential franchisees gain knowledge of successful business practices.

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