Tag Archives: smart working

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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Recruit SMART, Grow SMARTER

One of the (many) things I do harp on about to new prospective franchisors is: be specific and very clear about what a good franchisee looks like and then go out and with the precision aim of an assassin….find them, bring them on board and LOOK after them.

Franchisee recruitment is not dissimilar to normal business staff recruitment. You need to be incredibly mindful of the ‘job’ at hand, what the skills are that are needed to carry out that ‘role’ successfully and most of all…look for what the career growth path would be for that individual. The extra element that you want to perhaps plan for in recruiting for franchisees is cultivating a ‘perfect’ franchisee who will end up with the operational, hands-on experience that might well be useful to you in 5 to 10 years time.

What do I mean by this? Well, if you are smart (and I hope that you are) – you are setting up a franchise with two views:  1) To Grow and 2) To Exit. By recruiting some golden nugget type franchisees who have the special ‘putty’ to become fantastic, you will be sowing the opportunity for having a managing director, operational manager or even a team of super-staff who will add value and a glow to the business…making it even more attractive to a buyer. Having a team that doesn’t purely hinge on you or your operational knowledge makes a business very sellable.

Bear in mind, these individuals would not remain as franchisees should they start to work for the franchisor – so you will need to think about what you can offer them that will make the career move from business ownership more enticing. Some suggestions on what to offer them:

(a) Taylored package that is heavily incentivised by their results and input (commission %; target incentives like holidays; etc)

(b) Good company benefits (which are rare to find, especially in the UK, and will therefore be very attractive!)

(c) Small shareholding in the business (relative to their role of course)

(d) Input into how the business grows going forward (i.e. make them an integral part of the executive team)

I’m sure there are many more elements you could incorporate into  a package to tempt an existing franchisee into your franchisor fold, all I’m saying is – bear this in mind right from the beginning. Imagine having a team of strong franchisees who (at any point) you will love to be your right hand man/woman? Now compare this picture to merely having the recruitment criteria mindset that anyone with a pulse will be accepted to become a franchisee! (My fury over this point is enough to write a whole post just on this!)

So, what’s my message? When you are planning who you are going to have as part of your network: think long and hard about where you want to be in 5 to 10 years time and how much value you can add by recruiting the right people. By being SMART in your recruitment tactics, you will be growing your business in a much more planned and efficient way (i.e.SMARTER growth!)

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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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.

The 80:20 Rule at Work

Many an enlightened business owner will preach the benefits of working to the 80:20 Rule. In essence the rule outlines that 80% of the results are caused by 20%of the actions themselves – or in plain Pound or Dollar terms: 80% of your revenue is derived from 20% of your clients.

This is a great rule to have, but very few people are applying it – especially people in the one-to-one professions of consulting, training, coaching etc.

With every new client I go through a very simple exercise of ‘time management’ and ask the simple questions of:

  • How is the majority of your day / week / month spent?
  • How much of that should you NOT be doing at this stage in your business life cycle?
  • How much of your time could be released for more income generating activity?

My key point here is: when we start up in business we jump on that old treadmill (much like the one we were on as employees) and do what it takes to get business in and food on the table. Unfortunately not enough of us take stock every year to see how we have moved on and whether our business model needs tweaking.

This is a vital step when you are looking to grow or indeed exit your business at some point. In a franchise scenario, a prospective franchisor goes through this activity pretty rigorously because a solid franchise business plan has carefully worked out its ‘Winning Formula’ and can very clearly identify the priority activities and how much they bring into the business. Any activity that is highlighted as administrative or supportive, the franchisor will look at providing a solution that covers these needs, so that the franchisee will be freed up to heighten his/her income generating potential.

My advice to ANY business owner is to pretend that you are creating a franchise model. Why? Because you have to do the following:

  1. Document your business (spend time looking at your current way of doing things)
  2. Streamline where you can (reduce costs and increase your propensity for profit)
  3. Remove YOU from the equation (the business must not need your daily input)
  4. Succinctly identify your target client market
  5. Review your pricing strategy

These are steps I highly recommend any business owner undertakes. You will add value to your business for one thing, and for another you will have taken the time to work out what is making you the best return and stop doing whatever is wasting your energy and time. That, to me will bring you closer to your 80:20 rule of working.