There’s few things more critical to the initial success of a franchise business than the level of on site training and support a Franchisee receives prior to opening.  At Smokin’ Oak Wood-Fired Pizza, we have put together a comprehensive training program for our Franchisees that we execute at their franchise location so that we are training in the environment they’ll be working in, and we’re able to train a large amount of Team Members in a short period of time. 

It starts with our pre-training materials.  Our Franchisees and their Managers start reading our comprehensive Operations Manual, training guides and begin to memorize all of our menu items. 

About 40 days prior to opening, the Franchisee is sent the detailed training plan.  It breaks down each day that the corporate training team is on site, and lists what activity will be done, and who needs to be there for it.  For example, the first few days it’s focused on training the Franchisee and the Managers on morning prep activities (lighting the fire, making dough, making sauces, etc.) and also how to push dough and top pizzas. 

A few days later, prep cooks and pizza toppers begin to come in for training and they are then trained by the Franchisee and the Managers.  We find that by quickly training people and then having them train others, we’re able to watch the team come together and identify who is strong at what activity and who needs further training to be the best they can be at a specific position.

We have comprehensive training guides for all positions in the restaurant, along with training checklists to ensure all team members are on a clear path, and also utilize simple items like flash cards so that Team Members can quiz each other.  We also utilize menu quizzes and positional quizzes to check the readiness of a Team Member to take on the position and provide additional coaching when needed.

The corporate training team comes at the start of the Franchisee and Manager training, and is there every step of the way to make sure that all operational procedures are being followed and trained correctly.  We also cover items such as guest relations, point of sale training and if the Franchisee has a Taproom, how to operate the tap wall and trouble shoot.

We believe that serving actual guests is the ultimate test in how ready the Team is.  We have three soft opening events, primarily friends and family of the Franchisee, the Managers and the Team.  On the grand opening day, we celebrate the opening of the restaurant by offering free pizza to everyone from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.  All other menu items are available for purchase.  The corporate team works side by side with all Team Members to ensure this busy day goes off without a hitch.  The corporate training team then stays for a couple more days to ensure the operation is running smoothly, and then leaves the Franchisee and the management team to serve terrific wood-fired pizza and other menu items to their new guests.