Training Success of Little Kickers: the vast majority of employees are already coaches
By Sonia Gottfried
5/3/2016

 
 
 
 

Franchise TEA, a newsletter about the three behaviors that differentiate high performing franchises from low preforming franchises, got an opportunity to ask a series of questions about the training practices of Little Kickers.

Little Kickers, an International soccer program for youth, started in the UK in 2002. The focus was on building a brand around “fun first,” while developing soccer skills in at a young age. Programs were created that deliver high quality soccer skills, combined with important pre-school learning concepts such as color and number recognition, sharing, following instructions and using imagination.

With a network of 1,500+ coaches and 247 franchises in 16 countries, Little Kickers is now the world’s biggest and most successful pre-school soccer academy. Little Kickers is constantly enhancing classes.
The following Q&A with Head of International Training and Support, Nick Francis Empson, is a deeper look into Little Kicker's training success. 

Q. What training programs does Little Kickers encompass? 
Little Kickers Unit Franchisees receive three full days of business training with a dedicated member of the Head Office team, reviewing the Operating Manual and covering all aspects of running a successful franchise from initial set up, to finances, to health and safety, recruiting, managing and ongoing training for staff, marketing and advertising the business, merchandising and sales preparation and training. In addition to this initial training there are two further days; one involves a full day Little Kickers Masterclass, where the new franchisee has the opportunity to observe and participate in the program with a ‘classroom’ style overview of how each session operates. The second day of training is scheduled by the franchisee at their discretion and focuses on the Little Kickers bespoke IT Business Systems. Enabling the franchisee to set the timing of this is important, because certain things must be achieved (finding locations etc.) before they can receive this training. 

Little Kickers Master Franchisees receive all of the above training (so five days total) with an additional two days on top, however these additional training days are only completed after the Master Franchisee has completed their ‘pilot’, which involves running a unit franchise for a period of 6 months. The pilot serves two purposes. First, to give the Master Franchisee experience so that they are better able to train and support their Unit Franchisees. Second it enables them to customize the training materials for their local market. The additional training focuses on teaching the Master Franchisees how to recruit, train and support a network of Unit Franchisees. 

              
Head of International Training & Support
Nick Francis Empsom


One key thing to note about the training success of Little Kickers franchisee’s is that every member of the Head Office Team, that makes up the training staff, currently own or have previously owned their own Unit Franchise. This results in a broader training experience for new franchisees, as the knowledge and expertise are not simply coming from the manuals. 


Q. How does Little Kickers ensure continued training?

Continued training is done on a needs basis. First, every franchisee has a dedicated member of staff whom to report into and who contacts them twice a year (more if requested) in order to discuss progress and any training needs. Second, any change in legislation, company policies or working practices are communicated with the franchisees and they are given a time frame to implement changes into their businesses. Third, we have a monthly Masterclass (practical training) that is open to all franchisees and their coaches. In addition to this we have monthly forums for marketing, IT and coaching for franchisees to join. Last, we hold an annual conference open to all franchisees for networking, training and business updates including new initiatives. 

Q. Do different roles get assigned different training curriculum?
All new franchisees receive the Unit Franchisee training and Master Franchisees receive additional training. 

Q. Why do you feel training is important to Little Kicker’s business model?
Little Kickers Franchisees come from all walks of life but the one thing they all have in common is their passion for getting children involved in sport from a young age, giving them a positive environment to learn and thrive in and to develop a love of physical activity. With such a diverse range of backgrounds, it's important that all franchisees are given the initial training in order to teach them the Little Kickers methodologies and systems in order to ensure high quality and uniformity across the business. 

Overcoming the following training challenges franchisors typically face: 

(For more information about the main challenges of franchisors please click the links below.)

Challenge: Franchisor Assign Training Goals: How does a franchisor make sure franchise employees are properly trained?
A. The vast majority of Little Kickers’ employees are soccer coaches. It is the responsibility of the Unit Franchisee to hire and train up new coaches, following the guidelines established during Franchisee training. To ensure that the quality of classes is maintained throughout the network, there is a dedicated member of Head Office - the Director of Coaching. They are effectively the ‘head coach’ and are responsible for visiting every franchise area twice a year. They assess the quality of classes, provide coaches with feedback on the day as well as a written report that goes to both the Franchisee and Franchisor. 

Challenge: Making training compulsive without direct management: Franchisors cannot require training or establish minimal performance standards to employees of franchisees simply because they are not the employee of the franchisor. How do you encourage training of non employees?
A. To further maintain the quality of the franchisee’s businesses, each franchisee is subject to contractual minimum performance targets (MPT’s). Franchisees who are below these targets after a given period of time on a refresher training program called the Performance Enhancement Program (PEP). This gets the franchisee to focus on some agreed targets for the coming months, with a review from the Franchisor every three months.

Little Kicker's is headquartered in Toronto Canada and currently has over 247 units in 16 countries including.

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Latitude CG, home of Latitude Learning, an industry leader that drives performance through training, communication, measurement, incentives and consumer engagement provides a compelling newsletter for franchisors about the behaviors that drive performance. Franchise TEA is a newsletter about the three behaviors that differentiate between high performing franchises from low performing franchises, Training, Engagement and Analytics.


     





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