Tag Archives: business model

Top Tips: Capturing Your Winning Formula

One of the very first questions I ask my prospective franchisor clients is ‘What is Your Winning Formula?’….and generally I get a blank look in return! That’s ok though, because that is a normal response.

How many of us business owners ever stop to work out what is working in what we are doing every day and what isn’t? The answer: few….but more than you would think. In franchising this is a crucial thinking step that needs to be taken before you can even consider growing using the franchise model. I’d like to give you some help though – its pretty difficult trying to step outside of yourself and work out what your formula is.

TIP 1: Listen to What Your Customers Say

When you get feedback from your customers on you; your customer service; or your product/service what do they actually say? I mean – look at things like:

  • The service you gave when they approached you
  • The service level by which you managed them through from “order” to delivery of the service or product
  • The way in which (system or process)  they were looked after (and communicated with)
  • The actual service or product delivered
  • Follow-up contact

TIP 2: Study What Comes Absolutely Natural to You

This is the hard one, because most people look too hard and can’t actually identify what that looks like. The best thing to do here is to engage your business circle of friends, contacts, staff and possibly even some trusted clients and ask them this question: What Would You Say is My Natural and Unique Ability?

I did this exercise a good few years ago – via email, so that I could record all of the responses – it was fab! Mainly because my circle very nicely highlighted what they perceived to be my strengths as a consultant – which helped me to be better placed to ‘market’ myself.

Purpose of this TIP is to really get to the crux of what makes your business stand out from the competition because of what YOU actually add to the mix.

TIP 3: Describe the ‘System’ By Which You Work

Everyone has a process cycle they have created in their business – what does yours look like? So, from the point of starting to market your product/service to the end result of having sold something to a client and having successfully completed the cycle….jot this down…step-by-step. (And if you have a good client follow-up or retention scheme…then of course add this in.)

TIP 4: Map It Out

Take your observations and notes from TIP 3…and map it out on a big A1 size flipchart. Then, in different colours, take the feedback and notes you have made from TIP 1 and TIP 2…and bulk up the detail around the flow diagram you have drawn of your process.

TIP 5: Stand Back and Observe

Now, after having completed the TIPS and exercise described above…stand back from the flowchart and have a good look at what you see.

  • What stands out clearly for you (as a Unique Selling Point) of your process
  • Are there any bits that could be taken out (in order to streamline the process and create a tighter model)
  • What is missing (if anything)..and if you just added that one thing it would really make the whole model

In closing…

By steadily working through those tips – you should get a pretty good idea of what your winning formula is. It will become clearer to you perhaps even a few weeks after you have done the exercise – because other seeds start to drop in your mind and you go “Ah, hey…that’s another thing that makes my process (formula) work smoother and convert custsomers faster. Let me jot that down…”

This is an exercise that can go on for weeks….so don’t try and do it overnight and set yourself up for disappointment when it doesn’t all become very clear instantly. You will get there – I promise. And when you do – and you have “bottled” that formula…you will be ready to replicate it!

Let me know how you get on…by commenting on this post (ask me questions too if you need to!) and/or going to my Facebook Page which you can find by clicking here.

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Franchising Going Digital?

I knew it would come, in fact, I was waiting for one of my news feeds to have brought me a story about it a long time ago. An American serial entrepreneur, Jim Piccolo, has not only jumped into the world of franchising (for what seems the first time), but he has also leaped into the ‘new’ fandango world of digital marketing. Digital marketing is a relatively new field which has grown off the back of the rise of social media and all the channels that it opens up for business owners in marketing their businesses online.

Piccolo reportedly expects to invest $45million in starting the BizziBiz Franchise business, with the franchisee paying $18,000 for  a franchise with two employees and $25,000 for a franchise with unlimited employees. The franchisee will in essence be selling localised digital marketing – i.e. encompassing social media, search marketing, free and paid media, and blogging.

As ever, I am more than pleased to hear of new and innovative franchise models, but I do still hope that certain rock solution keystones are in place:

  • The Franchisor can recoop what he has invested in building the model
  • The franchise model is sustainable long term
  • The Franchisee can recoop his investment within a relatively GOOD period of time
  • The franchisee’s profitability is secured (i.e. the model isn’t based on a loose wing and a prayer)…obviously matched with a hardworking, amibitious franchisee!
  • The Franchisor makes money in the long term success of the franchisee (and not in the upfront fees and/or a wish for a quick exit at a high return)

So, I wish Piccolo the  best – its great to see a digital marketing franchise take to the stage – I will be very interested to watch how it progresses and grows over the next year.

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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Family Franchise Businesses

More and more the trend nowadays is for a family to come together to make a business work.

Through a survey I did towards the end of 2009  – I’ve found that the growing trend is that people are pushed out of employment and into self-employment for a variety of reasons. Some of these are:

1) Dissatisfaction with the quality of management within their current job

2) No incentive provided in the workplace for any initiative or true involvement in the business (in fact any ideas are squashed before they are even heard), and most of all…

3) No real financial reward (vs the time and effort put into the job) that matches expectation (this includes time in lieu of many hours of overtime above and beyond the call of duty).

So, what does this mean? Well, you will probably be so unhappy that your family around you may well say ‘Hey, why don’t we just do something for ourselves?’. This is why franchising then becomes an attractive idea – because:

  • There is a lower risk at start-up (especially with established franchise models with proven statistics and performance from current franchisees)
  • Any money invested upfront is going towards business support, set-up etc – and this has all been worked out for you
  • Working with people you know and trust (your family) helps to eliminate the worry of employing unreliable staff

Now, of course, we could have a whole discussion on the dangers of going into business with family – but there are more than enough families out there making a go of it than you think!

The top tips for making a family run franchise business work?

  • Everyone needs to have their own roles very clear from the outset
  • Someone is elected as the Boss (end of story)
  • Someone is elected as the Organised One (every business needs one of these) – to whom everyone needs to listen to in order to be efficient and cost effective
  • Someone is elected as the Finance Person (every business needs one of these – this maybe outside of the business)
  • Everyone needs to be earning a salary (or at least agree what that WILL be in the future…give a date…if there is a consensus to hold off for the first few months)
  • A Team meeting needs to happen at least every two weeks to have a talk around the table to clear any issues, or PAT anyone on the back for a job well done

Respect who you are working with and they will respect you – this goes DOUBLE for family run businesses. Mom, Dad, Daughter, Son, Aunty, Uncle….those titles are not relevant during the work day.

Have you had any experiences working in family-run business? Please do let me know about it in the comments box below! I want to hear good and bad stories!

Will the Banks Step Up Now?

One of the crucial keys to keeping businesses moving and healthy is a trustworthy source of ‘Parent Finance’.

What do I mean by Parent Finance? Well – that’s what I call the ‘back-up-plan-for-when-the-fat-hits-the-fan’ option. Nowadays its hard enough growing up, but trying to afford to buy a house, start a business, grow a family….these things are becoming more and more difficult for each new generation.

Now you could argue that older generations were less materialistic and more realistic about what they could afford and well…credit cards hadn’t been invented. I would definitely agree in part with this – however there is a huge chunk of reality that slaps new generations in the face:

(a) out-of -reach mortgages (home loans),

(b) property prices and

(c) the cost of living being at an all time high.

My worry is that this will adversely affect the sprouting of new businesses and the future entrepreneurs out there. Heck I have a daughter that is 4 months old and my biggest wish is for her to be able to do absolutely anything her heart desires and florish at what she is (will be) good at – what I don’t want is money to stop her being all that she can be.

I have never been one to lend money – but you can see why you need to…when it comes to trying to start and/or grow a business. For franchises – financing is pretty crucial especially for a start-up franchisor. He/she has a lot of work to put in, in order to get his/her model into a healthy franchisable position and be able to support a new growing network of franchisees. What I don’t understand is banks that have dealt with some business owners for years (even in a personal capacity) are not willing to sit down, have a chat mano-e-mano (or womano) and see what is POSSIBLE…as opposed to immediately jumping on to the fence of ‘NO WAY…not possible’.

I dare any bank to revert back to the good old of days of healthy client relationships based on give and take…and most importantly trust. As with disciplining children….parents oddly end up punishing the good kids…because one bad kid messed up. I feel that the ‘loan requirements’ nowadays are a result of years of bureaucracy and once off fraud cases….and have become as stifling as a mole that can’t find away back up to the light.

What are your experiences or thoughts on the subject?

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Franchise Agreements: Negotiable or Not?

I have just seen a conversation on Linkedin about the subject of being able to negotiate on Franchise Agreements.

I am of the strong opinion that in the UK, these agreements are not up for negotiation because if the model has been put together ethically and profitably for both parties in the first place there should be no need for negotiation. In my humble opinion it would indicate a weak system and/or franchisor if he/she did negotiate the terms – all franchisees should be on the same terms and be subject to the same compliance issues, advantages, etc. (Of course there are some models that have to have an exception to this – especially mixed models.)

Of course the law is different in other countries (and even in states in the USA) and sometimes the option is not even available. What I do like is that if an agreement is altered for one franchisee – it is made public and everyone will know about it. Unless I have misunderstood that point?

What do you think? I would be interested to know.