LMS for Franchise Growth: Jamba Juice + Wisetail

If your business is a franchise organization, chances are you’ve had an ongoing goal to improve communications among franchise business owners, team members and the corporate office.

Too often, franchisees don’t know each other even though they could be learning from each other, encouraging each other and boosting achievement. We wanted to shine the light on a company going above and beyond to improve communication, learning and development among its 12,000 team members at more than 800 franchisees around the globe. Huge thank you to Zoe Maduros, Director of Organizational Effectiveness & Learning at Jamba Juice for sharing her insights. As a 9-year veteran of the award-winning California-born leader in nutritious smoothies, Maduros has played a lead role in making sure a brand known for its freshness and fun has learning and development programs that infuse these values into new team members the moment they begin training.

LMS for Franchise

The Jamba Juice L&D Team at the Wisetail HQ

Q: In what ways is the process for selecting and vetting an LMS unique for a complex, franchised, multi-unit operator organization like Jamba Juice?

A:  We issued a request for proposals and had a committee charged with reviewing the RFPs to help us identify the right LMS to meet our goals. The committee was created because the LMS we had previously been using was simply not meeting our overall needs as we were becoming more and more of a franchise organization. It was not as flexible as we needed it to be, the reporting capabilities weren’t great and it was difficult and time-consuming for us to update our training materials. The reporting capabilities on our previous system were so bad that we really didn’t have a way, without making it a full time job, to measure engagement with the system. We didn’t have a benchmark. Now, after selecting Wisetail, we know that in the coming months, we can be tracking user engagement much more closely.

Q: What factors ultimately led the review committee to select Wisetail?

A: One of our goals was flexibility. In our previous system, it was harder to update courses, harder to manage organizational changes, harder to reconfigure courses and modules in the system. We were looking for something that was more responsive to changes.

Ultimately, we chose Wisetail for a lot of reasons but these were the top priorities of our committee:

VALUE: The features for the price couldn’t be beat.

INNOVATION, ALIGNMENT WITH MISSION & VALUES: We really liked the philosophy of Wisetail as an organization committed to powering great places to work. We appreciated their customer-focus. Additionally, we saw that Wisetail is committed to constant innovation. There is an entrepreneurial feel to them that, for us, felt like a really good fit for Jamba Juice in that it was similar in how we operate in a lot of ways.

AN LMS WITH DEEP ROOTS IN THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY:  Wisetail’s experience in the restaurant industry was really attractive to us. It was really helpful to us that they understand the compliance, hospitality and service standards that all restaurants aim to achieve. A lot of LMS’s don’t understand the restaurant industry and cater to office environments. Having a partner that understands who our employees are has been great.

SOCIAL COMMUNICATION: Another big factor among members of the selection committee was the fact that Wisetail felt much more current and looked a lot more like the kinds of interactions we wanted to be having among our team members, among franchisees and in our corporate/franchise relationships – the social aspects of Wisetail really made sense for us and were a good fit.

LEADING EDGE REPORTING FEATURES: Being in a field-based franchise organization, we really liked the reporting features that allowed each organization to help view very localized data. The way we’re able to set up administrators at each franchise and allow them to see their own organization’s performance without having to wade through thousands of other stores is tremendous. It gives our franchises a lot more freedom and flexibility in enacting their own individual business plans. For example, if they have courses that they do independently; or maybe they offer a few menu items we don’t offer in the rest of the organization, the way Wisetail is set up, they can customize their own learning portal to reflect some of those local and unique businesses. They can take a deep dive into the reporting just at their organization. Their ability to manage and maintain their own user base works much better than anything we had seen out there.

“We really liked the philosophy of Wisetail as an organization committed to powering great places to work.”

Q: In Jamba Juice’s case, the company went through some major changes shortly after choosing Wisetail. Did that give the selection committee pause or create a situation where you wanted to go back to the drawing board and issue a new request for proposals?

A: Between the time that we completed the RFP and selected Wisetail and the time we began rollout; the company had gone through a big reorganization and expanded the scope of our franchising. At that time, we were 60 percent company stores and 40 percent franchise stores. During the implementation with Wisetail, we have moved to a ratio of 10 percent company stores to 90 percent franchise stores. A lot of the things we first planned we had to go back and retool. Fortunately, with the system we chose and the people helping us navigate our new LMS, Justin Bigart, Ryan Wilson and others, really made it work for us even though we had such a big organizational shift. This showed us that they really cared about the mission of improving employee engagement, communication and helping us to continue to be a great place to work – those values rose above any of the logistical challenges that took place during our implementation process.

Q: With improved reporting capabilities, what are some of the ways you’re measuring success?

A: We will be tracking engagement in a way never possible before. It’s something you take for granted, but we’ve never experienced any down time with Wisetail; the web responsiveness is great; it works great on a tablet or a phone. So many of our users don’t have access to a desktop computer so it’s exciting to see them using their smartphones to complete training. We are also measuring success in terms of how we can better create a team and sense of community across our 800 stores and 12,000 people using the system. When we were launching a new product last year, we ran a contest to all of our stores to upload training material for best practices. We were able to use user-generated content for best practices and send it back out across our community. A lot of our stores had a lot of fun and helped create a community atmosphere across a franchise organization.

“Being in a field-based franchise organization, we really liked leading edge reporting features that allowed each organization to help view very localized data. It gives our franchise a lot more freedom and flexibility in enacting their own individual business plans.”

Q: What advice do you have for other learning and development professionals who work in a franchise/field organization?

A: We have more than 800 stores and around 12,000 people using the system.

In a franchise organization, it’s really important that guests have a consistent experience regardless of where they go in the U.S. and regardless of who owns the store. Customers expect and deserve a strong consistent level of service and products. Using an LMS like Wisetail can help protect franchisees by making sure their team members are trained consistently and thoroughly.

Our franchisees are small business owners. The most effective way to encourage them to embrace a new system is to show them how it will help them grow their business. We help them see that they can save money by reducing the training time. If they can save 2 weeks from training a new manager and they are training one manager every 1-2 years that adds up quite a bit. Through Wisetail we can show with video rather than tell – training is higher quality. Franchisees can upload their own best-practices from users across the system and that’s a cost-savings for everyone. Our franchisees also have the ability to better control the training and communication within their organization by using the Now@ feature or posting their own content. And the ability through reporting, for them to be able to really keep tabs on what is happening and be able to “inspect what they expect.”

Q: What’s next?

A: We have a lot of non-traditional and international stores that were not previously on our LMS and we are looking forward to expanding to those areas this year thanks to Wisetail. In terms of engagement, we’ve been trying to partner with some of our franchises to really drive use with communications tools and using reporting more robustly. We’ve found that a lot of our users are not always aware of how much they can do on Wisetail so they haven’t taken full advantage so we are looking at more outreach this year.

Q: Any final words of wisdom?

A: Creating some buzz can really help people get excited about all of the new tools available with a new LMS. We knew when we launched this system, we wanted our franchisees to be excited about it. The content we had in our previous system was pretty outdated. We launched a whole new set of courses for our stores, shift leaders, and managers.

We wanted to create some excitement early on. For us, the early wins were truly a combination of new courses that immediately helped reduce training time. It was validation for our managers and leaders that the change was worth it.

Zoe Maduros

Jamba Juice

Director of Org Effectiveness & Learning