Tag Archives: efficient working

How You Can Contribute to Fostering Global Business Confidence

Confidence is an elusive concept, yet it defines how we move forward and by how much, doesn’t it? Being a specialist in the field of “small business” which is what franchising is at the end of the day – I am fascinated to see the very real link between how a country moves on from a recession/hard times and the health of small businesses. Unsurprisingly there is a strong correlation (and you may agree or disagree on this)…because, at the end of the day, our economic world as we know it revolves around people…their perceptions and their experience of the world. Is it as simple as that? Yes, I think it is.

It is my (perhaps naive) thought that if everyone decided tomorrow that they are going to get up, go to work and do what needs doing to get to their next phase of growth or development – the economy would start to balance out. Which means:

  • make that stationery order that you need, to print off the handouts for that course that you want to run;
  • hire that extra member of staff you need to relieve you to go out and get more business;
  • get that bigger office you have needed for the last 18months and make sure your staff are comfortable and you have the extra space for that new staff member;
  • go on that course you know will give you the knowledge or skills to pump back into your business.

There is only so long that you can sit waiting for the Economic Gods to turn around and annoint you “able to get on with business”. I realise there are some very real issues for people at the moment around cashflow and the inability of bank managers to actually deal with good customers the way they should be – and I can appreciate that – but there are little ways that you can start to get money moving in the economy again – and…that stationery order could just be it.

Here are some thought provoking elements for you to consider:

A. Good CEO’s Think Before They Spend

But – they do spend. They realise that they can only move forward by investing in tomorrow. They properly weigh up what needs doing, what needs investing in, prioritise it…and then DO IT. Are you a good CEO?

B. EMPLOYMENT IS DOWN WITH START-UPS

I read an article recently about how the trend over the last decade has been that on average a small business does not hire more than 5 people – whereas years gone by it used to be an average of 7. That has a massive impact globally – meaning that there will have to be many more start-ups before they can actually contribute signiifantly to reducing unemployment. My point – if you know damn well you need that extra member of staff – don’t hold out – hire them. Your business and country will be better for it.

Techonology has played a big part in this to be fair (i.e. you can do more with less nowadays), so big business needs to pull rank on helping more in the employment %.

PS – Don’t hire indiscriminately! There is an important element of still identifying the real need for extra skills/helps which will make a big impact to the business.

C. YOUR SPOUSE IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT INVESTOR

In tougher times, this can’t be stressed more. If you do not have the support at home to get up every day and keep at it – you will burn out and lose the plot altogether. So, if you want to boost your own confidence in your business, maybe start at home – take your partner out for a nice meal and a bottle of wine and give them an insight into how the “dullness” of the confidence in the economy is affecting you as a business owner and that you want to make stand and not “go with the flow”. You might be surpised how this can help turn things around.

D. DO NOT NEGLECT THE “BRAIN” IN YOUR BUSINESS

Without harping on about this one – because you do know it all – your brain in the business is the reason you are in it. Your Business Plan. Now this could be a flowchart on your wall; a 10 page structured document; or a simple collage of things on your notice board. Whatever that brain looks like for you – make sure that you have revisited it to check where you are, so that you can adjust if need be and you’re not pushing dung (yucky business you’d rather not be doing) up a hill for a client that doesn’t actually need it. In short: make sure you are deliveirng what your customers want and will pay money for it…and that you are paying your bills. Simple as that.

Now – go forth and knock the negativity on the head and start to share good things, freely give positive support for your fellow business owners and let’s just crack on out of this economic puddle of poo (sorry – had to carry the dung beetle metaphor forward here!)

Please comment below and share any thoughts you have on how we can all collectively bring our powers together to lift things into a new, more vibrant year next year. I’d love to hear from you!

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3 Ways to Build Your Business to Franchise It

If there is anything that this recession has taught me as a franchise consultant – its that if people were afraid to grow before, they are damn near petrified to do it during a recession. Its such a pity – although you can understand when part (or two thirds) of the recession is based on the bank’s poor management or utilisation of financial tools. The small entrepreneur doesn’t have the support or resource of funding from a “trustworthy” institution to help spur and encourage his growth.

So, after reading a blog article about the ways to build your business on a budget, I thought that after the year I have had on the consulting front – it wouldn’t hurt to put together my Top 3 Tips on how to build you business towards franchising…so that you can do it in the next 2 years and not wait for the banks to sort themselves out.

TIP 1: PROVE AND DOCUMENT THE MODEL

Everything you are doing now is fantastic, but want I’d like you to think about is actually taking it a step further. Take an extra 30mins to an hour a day to reflect on the system or process that you enacted or initiated in that day – map it out and put it to one side.

At the end of the month – pull out the maps you have done through the month and stick them on your wall so you can stand back and look at them. This is a nifty way of trying to “third” position your business and pretend you are looking purely at the flow of actions. Do they make sense? When did you last update them? What is the most effective way to do something? What obstacles have you overcome?

These elements are the bits that will heighten your value to a prospective franchisee.

TIP 2:  PRICING FOR PROFIT

We all know that when we first start out in business, we don’t actually know how to price our services and proucts. Make a concerted effort to really make sure that your pricing:

  • Includes a true reflection of the time and effort you put in to market and deliver the service/product
  • Covers all costs incurred to put that service or product together (don’t forget delivery and collation where applicable)
  • Includes a good margin for profit (anywhere between 15% and 30%) – don’t forget that this is why you are in business

If you haven’t done a good competitor litmus test on pricing – make sure you take the opportunity to …and compare like for like. Pricing is big hurdle for newbies to business – but having this sorted for a franchisee and having proof that the product/service sells (well) at those prices – that’s a big PLUS.

TIP 3: PUT IT IN A PRETTY DRESS

We all know that it takes a lot of hard work to make a business successful and there are no “real” easy fixes, however…we also know that if we love what we do …the degree of “hard” diminishes. If you are thinking of growing your business and want to consider franchising…make sure you make the proposition attractive enough to get the deserving interest.

I’m not saying lie about what the business entails – I mean make sure that you build in the elements that would make the business look exciting and enticing to join (look at elements of branding, support, tools, alternative avenues for revenue, etc). A pretty dress attracts the interest, but its the person (or business) wearing it that will retain the attention – if that makes sense at all!

So – take those three tips and build your business towards the opportunity of growth (while we wait for the dearly mis-directed banks to get their act together and see that businesses need them to help them grow and pick the economy up!)

If you have any comments. questions or feedback you would like to give about your experiences of trying to grow in this environment – please share them with me below!

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.

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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Social Media: Branding and Franchise Recruiting Tool?

A good social media campaign will act as a very powerful brand building and recruitment tool for start-up franchisors (or those thinking of franchising their businesses in the next year or so).

One of the first things I look at when a prospective franchisor approaches me is a good brand image (or at least the beginnings of one). The next thing I look at or question is its impact on the customer target market (is it well understood; is it well respected; is it something they will tell their friends about; etc).

For any small business trying to build a brand, it is very clear from the outset that very few can afford to spend a ton of money on marketing and advertising to get their brand in the forefront of the consumer’s mind. Now, with the advent of social media and its prevalence in the new generation of consumer – growing a brand couldn’t be easier. Of course it still takes careful planning, design and message architecture, so please don’t minimise the importance of that!

Now – where do you start? What kinds of social media should you be using? Well – it does depend a bit on what your target audience is:

1) As a franchisor
(i.e. which prospective franchisees do you want to attract), and

2) As a business
(i.e. the target customer of the product or service).

The things I would suggest you look into are:

BLOGGING: This is an often misunderstood platform and a lot of people fear it because they think that they have to be writers to do it. Not so. I mean – yes its important to not make huge grammatical and spelling errors because this will lead to an unprofessional reflection on you and your business by default. The thing about blogging is h however two-fold: the number of blogger readers in the world is staggering (we are talking in the 100’s of millions) and Google loves the constantly changing and rich content.  For some blogging tips have a read of this article – Top Ten Easy Steps to Starting a Business Blog – by Denise Wiseman.

Denise rightly says : ” Blogging should be one of the cores of your business. It should be right in the middle of your social media mix—the bulls-eye, the main target.”

FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE: This is VERY important to set up and I mean VERY important. If you don’t already have a presence on Facebook, then I strongly suggest you get started today. Again – please pay attention to your brand, your message and what you want to get out of the exercise. If you want to know more about what Facebook is about have a listen to my podcast here and it you need tips on how to get started on Facebook, think about buying some very easy to understand guides by Kirsty Wilson of Interim Business Solutions…click here.

Through this Facebook Business (Fan) Page you will be able to engage with an audience, find out what people think about your brand, and run recruitment campaigns for new franchisees! Never minimise the importance of creating (and sustaining) a buzz about your brand or business culture.

I think to start, these two major platforms are good to go with, I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much in one go! As a business you will also need to look into Twitter and some of the social news bookmark mediums – but we’ll save that for another time!

Do let me know how you get on!


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Go to: www.facebook.com/expertfranchiseguide

Develop a Standalone Business Model

With my background in franchising, it’s quite natural for me to look at just about every business and wonder what the ‘model’ is behind it. What I mean by this is – what do the cogs look like; what do they do and what results do they generate. I have to look at businesses in a structural way, because that is why franchising is a successful growth or exit model: it’s about finding a winning formula, sticking to it and repeating it over and over.

A trap that most business owners fall into very early on is in trying to do everything themselves for one of two reasons: 1. fear of losing control or 2. not trusting that anyone else can do the job properly. The biggest learning for a business owner to latch on to is to build a business that does not depend on him/her.

Even if you have not franchised your business, you should be following the principles – starting with removing yourself from your business. This is your first step to creating a Standalone Business Model.

Do you want to be frazzled for most of your business life because you can’t walk away for a few weeks? No? Then ask yourself some of these questions which will help you to make a good start to identifying what you can automate in your business:

What are you doing right now that can be delegated?

Make a list of what you do today – everything, down to filing, reading emails, opening post, stamping something etc. Bear in mind processing of enquiries, sales meetings, staff management etc. This will lead you on to the next question…

How much of your business is outsourced right now?

You may already have done an exercise this year to see what you could streamline and where you could save on overheads and staff time. If you have – make a list of what these things were and also look at what you have experienced since actually outsourcing those things (benefits/payoffs). What else are you doing that could be outsourced?

What do you do every day that is repetitive behaviour?

The way to find out what works and what doesn’t is to look at which actions or activities bear which fruits. So, what are you doing that actually doesn’t contribute anything directly to your bottom line? How can you change this and create an action or activity that turns it around and does add to your bottom line?

You may also have certain activities that you HAVE to do, which DO bring in direct business and/or sales – and these need to be repeated and actioned more! This will form a part of working out what your winning formula is.

What are you doing in one area of your business that you can easily replicate elsewhere?

You have some areas in your business that are running really well and very smoothly. Ask yourself what you are doing right in those areas and find a way to replicate the process or structure that you are using there on another area.

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If you can answer these questions in your business, you will be ahead of the game in formulating what business model you are working with and be in a better position to establish how to develop it to be less dependent on you…even if you have to put some things in place that will only create a Standalone Model in a year’s time.

Be smart. Review your model frequently to ensure business longevity and more importantly…your sanity.