Tag Archives: growth support

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!

Economist Online Fairs Presents: The Economist’s Franchise Fair

A GUEST POST by Elizabeth Pace, Marketing  & Online Fairs. The Economist Group (New York) __________________________________

If you are thinking about investing in a franchise, The Economist’s online Franchise Fair provides a unique opportunity to meet a variety of franchisers and consultants in real time. The fair is hosted by Economist Online Fairs and takes place on June 28th and 29th 2011. Admission is completely free, but space is limited so register in advance.

The Franchise Fair will feature over a dozen leading franchises and consultant firms that can offer free tips and advice to attendees, whether multi-franchisees or first-time investors. Exhibitors include Nationwide, Maid Brigade Valpak, Yogurtland and many more. For a full list of exhibitors, visit the registration site.

Fair attendees can join topical chat sessions, access testimonials and download resources. There will also be informational webinars hosted by franchise experts, where attendees can interact and ask questions, including:

  •  International Franchising: What to Look For When Purchasing a Franchise
  • Why Buy a Franchise?
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company: An Opportunity for Entrepreneurs

The state-of-the-art online fair interface is modeled after a traditional tradeshow.  Attendees can log in from their home or office computers and browse virtual exhibitor booths at their leisure. The fair will be open for a full 48 hours. There will also be several live sessions during this 48-hour period where exhibitors will be available to chat live.

Franchise Fair Live Sessions:

  • June 28: 9:00 AM EST to 1:00 PM EST  (1pm GMT to 5pm GMT)
  • June 28: 4:00 PM EST to 8:00 PM EST  (9pm GMT to 12am GMT)
  • June 29: 12:00 PM EST to 4:00 PM EST (4pm GMT to 8pm GMT)

 Register FREE today! 

Questions or comments can be e-mailed to CustomerSupport-OnlineFairs@economist.com.

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.

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.

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!

Think Smarter, Reap the Rewards

What I love about the economic climate at the moment is that people who should not have been raking in the dosh in recent years – are now finding it very hard to stay in the game.

The great thing about an economy tightening up is that everything that was taken for granted (like money growing on trees and houses always increasing in value) suddenly becomes a valuable commodity and people’s priorities start to shift. Focus swivels back to values and needs.

For franchisors who didn’t spend a lot of time qualifying the individuals that they brought on board as new franchisees, will start to pay the price because:

(a) they didn’t make sure those people had the skills to survive tight business climates; and

(b) they weren’t specific at all about where those people come from.

Unethical franchisors would have been making their money on signing up anyone with a pen, and now is when the universe will start to repay them.

A smart franchisor would really be checking out which avenues are not being targetted enough, and making sure that their qualification criteria are up to scratch. I am still amazed at the ‘boxed mentality’ some new (and old) franchisors have about where they recruit franchisees from and what they ‘look’ like. This is 2009 – do not let stereotypes blind you to the possibilties out there. Remember there are some key groups that have a lot to offer:

(a) People who fall into the 50+ category

(b) Women

(c) Ethnic Minorities

(d) Disabled

And a whole host of others!

I want to knock my head several times with a wooden spoon when I hear franchisors tell me that their offering would only suit an individual who is : male; ambitious; from a sales background and entrepreneurial (i.e. ‘just like me’…er them).  And don’t you worry I get the opposite too with particular franchised businesses that society would dictate are only ‘for women’ and the franchisor has been completely blinded to the opportunities that men can bring to the table.

Ladies, gents and cross-dressers (hey…you never know!)…let’s step up the game a bit. People need business opportunities and they need income – start playing the game and lets get the economy winded up again…ethically and sustainably.