Category Archives: Great Franchisors

Millennials – A Potential Pot of Gold for Franchisors

I never really understood the term ‘millennials’ until I read this BNET (The CBS Interactive Business Network) blog article from Andrew Tilin aptly titled “What is a Millennial?”. Now, with his thoughts on what a cultural shift the emerging millennials will bring matched with the talent drain from the retiring Baby Boomers – its got me thinking!

If you are thinking of growing your business in the future, you need to seriously read this article and take heed of the global picture of what this cultural shift means for business in general. As a Franchisor, this will affect how you plan to market to prospective franchisees going forward – i.e. will you need to start some more community initiatives to grab a younger audience that will grow to be your perfect franchisee?

Andrew writes in his article that millennials have grown up in an environemnt which understands workloads, appreciates being appreciated, and thrives on technology – so they are confident in time scheduling, taking directions and are really comfortable with the online world (especially social networking). As a Franchisor, I would hope that you are ensuring that you are thinking really carefully about where you will find your new franchisees of the future, because it won’t be as easy as sticking an advert somewhere – the world is changing.

However – there is one main positive aspect which I really liked in this article and that is that this generation of “millennials” or Generation Y are a confident lot…we (because I am one) are happy to work hard, but we are only motivated to work for people in authority who deserve the respect and mentor us. To me, those characteristics are a great foundation for any franchisee.

Upon reading the comments that readers have also posted on this subject, I have to also point out that there are a lot of Baby Boomers who will not just disappear into blissful retirement. A lot of them still like working, even if in a more flexible manner – and this, to be honest, opens up another pool for Franchisors to delve into for prospective franchisees. These guys have life experience and have collected skills which are another goldmine for you – so don’t knock them out of the game just yet.

My message? Get more flamboyant with how you recruit franchisees – but also – think of the global trend of the age we now find ourselves in (the “Information Age”)…we have moved on significantly from the Industrial Age

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Celebrity Franchisees: Opportunity or Challenge?

I read a recent post in Advertising Age which talked about how there is a big trend for celebrities buying into franchises in the USA. At first I was quite taken aback and thought – what on earth? One major thing that jumped up for me:  How to Manage Them as Personalities!

As any franchisor will tell you, one of the big things you have to keep in mind when you recruit franchisees – its that you need to be looking for the personalities who are motivated, enthusiastic and cash liquid….but only semi-entrepreneurial. What I mean by this is you want franchisees who will take on all the responsibility for being a business owner…but be happy to toe the line (accept that the bigger decisions are really the franchisor’s to make).

Now, from what we know about celebrities – once they achieve a certain amount of success they don’t really like being told what to do (I accept that that is a very general comment to make of course, but bear with me). However, while I read further in this post from Advertising Age I couldn’t believe how many US celebrities (particular sporting celebrities) are ‘collecting’ investments in franchises!

I think this is a fantastic boost for the model, because with these kinds of people (who have a lot of money to look after) to find franchises as viable investment routes…that says a lot for the brands they buy, as well as the franchise business model as a whole. Obviously these guys choose models where they would hire teams that would manage the operations, so I guess my worry about managing personalities wouldn’t probably be a big problem in the practical day-to-day sense.

What I have tended to forget is the amount of social influence these celebrities have, especially when they have come from some tough backgrounds and many of them see investing back into their communities as ‘giving back’ and providing employment opportunities. The brands are clever about it too – they will approach celebrities who have a particular pull for a specific demographic that fits in with where they are trying to expand. Nothing wrong with that – as long as everyone wins in the end I say.

In closing I thought you may be interested in this list of franchises and their corresponding investor celebs (perhaps the UK could learn from this tactic?):

Have you come  across any celebrity investors that you could add to that list above? I’d love to hear from you….please pop a comment on this blog post or share it with me on my Facebook Page here.

Find Your Pizzazz Magnet

If there is anything that the economic climate over the last few years has taught us – its that you have to hold on to the people who are incremental to keeping your business going. Problem is…which business owners are mature enough to identify that they are nothing without the team behind, alongside and in front of them? Well…the answer is very few.

The franchising world is not different by any means – a franchisor is nothing without his franchisor team nor his network of franchisees. So, action must be taken to identify what your PIZZAZZ is…capture it, protect it and nurture it. Now, you’ll be asking yourself – what on earth is she on about?

Well, one of the success factors in businesses that consistently grow and improve their profits year on year – is EMPLOYEE LOYALTY. If your team love the work they do, enjoy the environment they are in and more importantly are supported in moving forwards in their careers – you are more likely to have a business that is growing naturally and encourages profits to steadily increase.

One of the biggest elements I bring home to any prospective franchisor I work with is that if you create a business that is motivating, sustainable and full of potential…that in itself will attract fantastic franchisees your way. It costs time and money to recruit franchisees – so once you have brought one into the fold – the last thing you want is for them to leave.  In my strategic planning phase of work with a new franchise client – we map out the franchisee’s life span over 10 years (preferably covering two franchise terms approximately) – and plan for their growth as a franchisee and as a business owner. This way you can already have the right things in place to cater for the way the franchisee will mature and change…and as a result…their comfort needs will change. By pre-empting these need changes as a franchisor, you will give the impression of being emotionally intelligent, engaged in your business, supportive and more specificially…a franchisor worth staying with!

If you know what your Pizzazzz is in your business (i.e. the MAIN thing that attracts people to you/your business) – then make very very sure that you know how to maintain it and infiltrate it into your business model. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing your very own employees, associates or franchiseees (in a franchise case) “sell” you and/or your business to everyone they see and come into contact with. That in itself is priceless.

In the world of social sharing that we are in – you need to maximise the loyalty you have in your team, feed it, nuture it and then turn it outwards into the digital world – because that’s where your Pizzazz becomes viral and magnetises you as a brand and a business that people want to buy from, work for and buy into.

I’m interested to know what your Pizzazz is? Let me know by commenting on this post and please do share it with your colleagues, business contacts and your own readers – it would be really great to hear from as many people as possible!

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Find out more about social media engagement by checking out my other business called Social Intelligence….we teach you how to engage ‘intelligently’ and how to engage your team to use social media as a megaphone to shout about your brand and draw business to you. You can have a look at the website here, find us on Facebook here or follow us on Twitter here.

Rise of the Green-Collar Phenomenon

I’ve come across the term ‘green-collar sector’ and was intrigued to learn more. As a responsible person-of-the-planet I do feel that if you can choose to do something in an eco-way, then do it.

I was always brought up to believe as a child that ‘waste not want not’. For example: in South Africa (where I am from) you are very aware of how precious water is so you do not leave a tap running (while washing dishes, while brushing teeth, etc) because you never know when a drought is going hit. Also, at the dinner table…you never leave anything on your plate (because there are starving people all over the world and you do not waste food).

So, when I saw this ‘green-collar’ term being used, I was interested to read how this was infiltrating into the world of franchising.

As slightly predictable (at least in the UK), it seems the property market is being targetted as the ‘industry’ of choice when it comes to choosing a franchise business that is eco-friendly. The ones I could find are based on:

  • Eco-friendly property maintenance/home improvement
  • Improving air quality in the home
  • Enery efficiency reporting for properties

I’m sure there are more! I know of some children’s franchises that are aimed at the eco-market which are fabulous and are really just bringing things back down to the good old days when we used to just use what was lying around the house; keep using items until they were broken or worn out before buying a new one; etc.

I would be really interested to hear more about the evolution of green-collar franchises and hope that they will be both genuinely eco-minded and ethical in the structure of their business models.

How could you bring in some eco-ways to operate your business? Well, here are a few of my suggestions – take from them what you will and if you are doing some that I haven’t mentioned, please do drop me a comment and let me know!

  1. Only have staff come in on certain days (work from home on other days) – save on petrol/carbon emmissions
  2. Recycle everything that you can in your office (paper, cardboard, tins, printer cartridges, etc)
  3. Buy recycled goods (e.g. paper, folders, etc)
  4. Hold virtual meetings with national staff (avoid long travel and staying in hotels)
  5. Re-use folders (lever arch files) from one year to the next
  6. Use a server host who has eco-friendly systems
  7. Try to keep as much written communication saved on your harddrives (less printing) as possible

If more and more franchisors could incorporate a green ethos within the modelling of their franchise offerings imagine what a difference that could make in growing businesses for the future. Wouldn’t it be great if it almost became a STANDARD in all franchised businesses?

21st Century Franchising

Although I am an advocate for keeping business simple and always stick to the basics to keep your business model solid and sustainable – there is one more thing I definitely am an avid fan of: TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION.

These are two areas where I really do feel that Franchisors have to step up. When I work with prospective Franchisors who are planning their ‘start-up’ three years as a new Franchisor, we spend a lot of time making sure we have not only highlighted what kinds of support and tools he/she will be providing the franchisee, but we back that up with a sustainable plan about how the Franchisor will offer that support or tool.

Now, in the world we live in today, this does not mean the Franchisor would have to set-up a big office, hire lots of staff and work tirelessly to try and break even, much less enjoy the growth path! My advice is to look at what is important in the delivery of the support/tool and how or what is the best way to deliver it that is not only cost effective, but promises to be personalised and professional.

This is the fun part of the Franchisor drawing board for me. We start to do some research on who is out there in the market in terms of being good at creating, developing and delivering the support service or tool that  we want for the franchisees. Partnering up with specially selected (and qualified) providers can really help a start-up Franchisor be able to hit the ground running and deliver the business support promised from the word go. There are some fantastic outsource providers you can use to provide professional support to your franchisees – just be open to looking for them and finding them! Some suggestions on the support side:

a) Personalised Virtual Assistants to take care of administration, call answering, customer care/follow-up, etc (carefully chosen – recruit the business as you would a staff member)

b) Business mentors/coaches – again select as you would any staff member you would normally employ. By getting these guys on board you are providing your franchisees with professionals who are proficient in their subject and will make the world of difference

c) Franchisee Incentives. Find a business that will help monitor the great performance and also manage incentive /loyalty/ performance plans – so that good franchisees feel appreciated and ‘not so great’ franchisees are picked up on and perhaps then highlighted for more support or training (or at worst – disciplining)

Also, there is a huge amount technology out there (some free) that you can build into your franchise model to ease the day to day management of the network (as well as for the franchisee’s day to day business).

By being open to technology and innovation, you will be better placed to keep creating systems that not only work very well and are cost effective, but they also don’t depend on you (the Franchisor) having your hands on everything all the time.

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Strategic Partnership Choices

This is a really crucial subject that many business owners don’t look at hard enough when they are mapping out their business models.

I am a firm believer in businesses keeping their focus on what they are good at delivering, however I also believe that they should be grabbing viable opportunities when they arise.

This means that if there is something that your clients are asking for time and again, and your standard response has been “We don’t do that” – please realise that you are losing out on income every time you say that! (Or worse…pushing clients towards your competitors.)

So, what is the solution?

Forge some solid strategic partnerships and ‘white label’ them. What does that mean? Well, you engage businesses as ‘partners’ for all intents and practical purposes and they deliver what you need them to – but under your name.

What is the catch?

You need to be careful in your strategic partner choices. My top tips in securing long term, sustainable partners are as follows:

1. Interview them as you would a valuable employee
Remember that they will be the ‘face’ of your business – so there is a definite need to ensure that the partner business shares your values and has the same ethical business practises as you do.

2. Get References
Don’t take the prospective partner’s word for it that they are ‘fabulous’ – get some examples of their work and speak to their clients. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

3. Don’t jump at the first attractive proposition
I always ‘watch the waters’ for a while and see if the partner business remains consistent in their communication and that their reputation in the connected business circle ‘rings true’. The partnership must be lucrative for both parties – so make sure its attractive for you and the partner. Anything that is profitably unbalanced is fishy!

4. Have a trial period to test the relationship
As with a new employee – make sure you build in a probation or trial period, where you and the partner can work out if this is a partnership that will be lucrative and sustainable for both of you. You will also need the time to work out any ‘kinks’ – because you don’t know how anything will work out practically.

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Can you franchise your business? Want a quick answer? Get your own Analysis done in 10 minutes for FREE, just go to www.expertfranchiseguide.com and click on ‘Want to Grow An Existing Business’.

Marketing the Franchise Proposition

This is one of the main elements that need to be planned out along with the main strategic bits when embarking on franchising your business. The actual franchisee model will dictate a little of how the proposition will be marketed and to whom. What do I mean by this? Well…your marketing plan will consist of two parts:

(a) Brand positioning

This is where you are clear about where your position is in relation to the competition, and what the target customer looks like for the physical service or product that is provided as part of the model (i.e. these are the franchisee’s prospective customers). Why do you have to focus on this? Because this is how the brand will be identified as a whole in the market place and is how you will initially attract any interested prospective franchisees.

As a start-up franchisor: your marketing plan should include the following:

  • a pre-phase 1 step of brand pushing (i.e. before you even start to try and recruit franchisees, take a few months to do some real brand awareness about your service/product, the reputation of the brand..and educate your marketplace about your business. I would advise a minimum of 6 months in staggered proportions in various media.)
  • a preliminary step in marketing to the people that already know about your business (so this may be your current business contacts, client base etc)..and let them know that you have created a fantastic business opportunity and are looking for interested parties

(b) Targetted franchisee recruitment

This is integrated into the above  (even for an existing franchisor) although there needs to be more of a focus on what your message is in your recruitment campaign regarding the business opportunity. My biggest advice on this score is to have a staged plan of recruitment advertising and marketing, leading up to an opportunity for any interested enquirers to come and see you either at a Discovery Day or personally. Interviewing takes up a lot of time, and shouldn’t be rushed, so my advice here would be:

  • Carefully profile your perfect franchisee (in terms of  their identifiable skill set, character and ‘drivers’), so you can easily identify them when they are talking to you
  • Create an enquiry process that makes it easy for prospects to get in touch, but also gives you the opportunity to reduce the time wasters and the mystery shoppers
  • Have a fabulous, eye-catching and attention-grabbing prospectus

By perhaps using a few dates to hold Discovery Days, it will give your sales team some clear time goals to get the prospects in by a certain date and you can plan your recruitment enquiry influx better. Discovery Days are opportunities for people to come and hear a presentation from the franchisor about the franchise proposition and what it can offer them. Make the day interesting and perhaps build in a viable FREEBIE…that will be useful for them when they walk away, like a tool that can be used again, even if they don’t go with your opportunity. You will be remembered forever.

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Marketing is such a touch and go scenario, because of its subjective nature, but if you are responsive and listen really well to the feedback you receive (or don’t receive), you are already a step ahead. Here are some of my top tips which may help you cope:

1. Don’t be too proud to outsource for help

It is easy enough to outsource the preliminary enquiry processes – but make sure they are professional providers and a great ‘face’ for your business. First contact is very important!

2. Only stick with the advertising routes that work

It is expensive to advertise, so make sure you weigh up the payoffs with the cost of the route you choose. Do not continue to advertise in top broadsheets (national papers) when you don’t actually, physically get any response from them! (When you are big enough and able to…then advertising in these papers are more for brand awareness than recruitment.)

3. Think outside the box to find your prospects

Consider the options of looking at Vetfran (ex-military), disability organisations (as long as the disability isn’t a hinderance to operating the franchise), minority group associations (women, ethnic groups etc) and other kinds of organisations that have a ‘listening’ of individuals who are actively looking for alternatives to employment and want to start their own businesses.

4. Plan how you are going to manage filtering people through your application process

Always plan for best case scenario – so plan that 10 franchisees are going to signup in one month and ensure that your resource framework can handle this. If there is one time in a franchisee’s life you don’t want to mess up – its in inducting and welcoming them into your network. Make sure you have the support and training in place, so that all you need to do is ‘flip a switch’ and your systems swing into play. Smooth running is what you MUST aim for. People who don’t ‘make the cut’ need to be handled expertly and professionally…so that they are left with a great impression of how you deal with people as a business. (You never know – they may refer someone to you!)

5. Enjoy the growth and sharing your business with others

Although recruitment can be hard work, enjoy this time of sharing your business model with others, but also make sure you protect yourself in terms of how much you share at each point in your marketing and recruitment. Your adverts and marketing message in terms of the franchise proposition aimed at prospective franchisees must be ethical and wholesome, but attractive and competitive at the same time. Your enthusiasm, passion, pilot evidence and prospectus will be your main selling tools in the beginning – so use them wisely and don’t over promise (a trap you may fall into).