Step into any Ford’s Garage restaurant, and you’ll instantly understand where the name comes from. Decked out with vintage Ford vehicles, gas pumps, and other retro fixtures, each location is designed to look like a 1920s service station. Between the quirky theme and delicious menu offerings — gourmet burgers, craft beer, and a variety of classic American comfort food — customers can’t get enough.

What started as just one restaurant in downtown Ft. Myers, Florida in 2012 has turned into 26 locations (and counting) across the Southeast and parts of the Midwest, with new locations opening all the time. But as Ford’s Garage grew, their legacy learning management system (LMS) wasn’t able to keep pace to deliver a quality of service that matched the brand.

Opus positions us as the franchisor of choice. With Opus, we’re active partners with our franchisees, their frontline teams, and in their overall success.”
- Michael Johnson, VP of Operations

Challenge: A Rapidly-Expanding Business Experiences Training Growing Pains

With the majority of Ford’s Garage’s growth driven by franchising, new locations meant new franchise owners, each with their own priorities. Unfortunately, the legacy LMS they used at the time wasn’t addressing those needs.

Employees weren’t completing the necessary training due to the logistical barriers their LMS posed, the gaps in its training library, and its unengaging content. Training could only be done on desktop computers, which required expensive hardware investments from franchisees and limited accessibility for employees. The content itself, meanwhile, consisted of off-the-shelf courses created by third-party vendors that was too generic to address the specific needs of different locations.

As a result, operational standards weren’t always met which threatened the overall brand. Plus, investments corporate made in products and promotions weren’t having the impact they had hoped for — hampering both their relationships with existing franchisees and their ability to attract new ones.

Ford’s Garage needed an agile LMS that could roll out effective and consistent training while allowing individual franchise locations flexibility and control to address their needs — so they decided to switch over to Opus.

Solution: Opus’ Instantly Customizable, Mobile-First Training

The ease and accessibility of Opus have caused adoption to skyrocket. Employees can complete training on their own time on their smartphones, and unlike the previous LMS, they don’t have to create an email address-based account — which posed a serious hurdle for the 70% of frontline workers who didn’t have an email address.

The content itself is more accessible as well, incorporating translation into Spanish, Creole, and other languages commonly spoken by Ford Garage’s frontline workers, as well as curated learning paths for different roles and locations.

Opus’ mobile-first capabilities also mean franchisees no longer have to invest in desktop computers for employees to train on. Managers, meanwhile, are able to track progress, coach on the floor, and verify trained skills in their own version of the app.

The Ford’s Garage corporate team has found the Opus platform more accessible as well. Director of Training & Development Angelina Sabatini and her team are now able to own the entire process, from course creation to deploying it to franchisees and frontline workers and providing insights back to the teams — allowing them to move more quickly than ever before.

Deeper Dive: Improving People Skills in Hours

In one instance, after speaking with a Regional Director about a workforce issue, Sabatini was able to find a relevant module in the Opus course marketplace, review and edit it to fit the stores’ needs, and roll it out to them — all within two hours of their discussion.

“With Opus, I was able to provide new custom training that a franchisee group needed within two hours. I felt like a superhero,” Sabatini said.

Results: Higher-Performing Employees at a Fraction of the Previous Time & Cost

Higher Adoption, Higher Performance

With dynamic content available at their fingertips in their preferred language, Ford’s Garage shared that “engagement is unprecedented” among frontline workers — in fact, 82% of frontline workers have trained with Opus.

No matter which specific location or franchise group they work with, they all have access to the effective, on-brand training they need to improve their work performance. And the feedback they share through the platform allows the corporate team to continuously improve the content that they create.

Opus provides Sabatini and her team real-time visibility into frontline worker performance so that they can identify those who are most in need of training. It also offers the tools her team needs to triage and get frontline workers up to speed. And early results suggest that the overall boost in performance is paying off in a tangible way — Ford’s Garage has seen online customer reviews trend upwards, especially in stores with the highest training engagement.

Time & Cost Savings

Opus has significantly improved efficiency on the frontline, reducing new-hire training and new restaurant ramp-up times. Managers report spending less time reminding employees to complete their training as well. And because trainees and managers can access Opus right from their phones, there’s no need to buy desktop computers, lowering overall training costs.

“Opus has improved our new store opening profitability substantially.” 
Michael Johnson, VP of Operations Ford’s Garage

Opus has streamlined operations on the corporate end too. Creating content modules can be done in just a couple of hours, versus months. This has freed up time for Sabatini to dedicate time to strategic projects and franchisee engagement.

A Stronger Franchisee Value Proposition

Now that there’s a solid training system in place, franchise employees have access to engaging and on-brand training that helps them level up their service, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, sales. This has strengthened the corporate/franchisee relationship, and helped ensure greater buy-in for future corporate initiatives.

Ford Garage’s investment in a best-in-class training solution has even helped corporate increase their appeal to potential franchisees.

Opus positions us as the franchisor of choice. With Opus, we’re active partners with our franchisees, their frontline teams, and in their overall success,” Johnson said.

Moving forward, Ford’s Garage expects to continue growing at a swift pace. And while that can be demanding, they’re ready to rise to the occasion. With a high-performing team on their side, Ford’s Garage knows they’ll be prepared.