Tag Archives: value

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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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.

Being a Franchise Consultant – A True Story

While pondering and flicking through my gazillion blog and newsfeeds to find something to ‘refresh’ you with, I came to a realisation: I am brain boggled. What does this mean? Well, I am quite literally overwhelmed with information, emails, proposals, call-backs, chase-ups, reminders, social media, ….you name it…I’ve got it on my desk, laptop, Blackberry…and even printed on my forehead.

The life of a franchise consultant is one that requires a certain amount of patience, flexibility, diplomacy, balance, compassion, understanding and a whole lot of caffeine, chocolate, cheese and potatoes (my comfort food). So my post for you today is a small window in to a Day in the Life of Me.

My (work) day always starts at 8am (my actual day starts at 5am with small child en tow) and I start with my ever present four quadrant to-do list. What does four quadrant mean – well the great Stephen Covey would tell you that it is in fact being able to distinguish the priorities of bits on your to-do list as:

  • Q1 = Urgent, Important
  • Q2= Not Urgent, Important
  • Q3= Not Imporant, Urgent
  • Q4= Not urgent, Not Important

But what my actual page looks like is this:

  • Business 1 – what needs doing now (includes mainly client to-do’s and work)
  • Business 2 – what needs doing now (includes mainly client to-do’s and work)
  • Technical issues – adminstrative bits and pieces re my own busiensses that need chasing up on or doing
  • Home – anything that needs doing to maintain the four walls that house my family

With my Franchise clients, there is a certain amount of mothering that I have to do, in order to make sure that I am keeping on top of the things that they need to be doing and putting in place. I am very conscious that everything that I help them with today not only gets them closer to their business dreams, but also helps secure those dreams for the future. Franchising is (should be) quite due diligence based – do your homework thoroughly and get your ducks in a row before you start to bring franchisees on board who will immediately start ‘wanting’ things from you (and quite rightly so). (Here add items to to-do list related to these things!)

So, my next morning step is to double check all of my expertise  feeds. By this I mean, any new blog posts or emails subscriptions that might bear some nugget of information that may be important to me, my followers (social media), my businesses and/or my clients’ businesses. I also check my communities on my social media accounts and post any of these nuggets, or answer any comments that my followers may have posted over night. That should all take about an hour or so….then I move to the kettle and make a BIG cup of COFFEE to actually start my day.

With Franchising, there are so many elements to guiding your clients around the model and its intracacies that my day can literally turn up side down when a client refuses to take the path I’ve advised them and totally side step all the advice he’s received. This makes any consultant’s life a living nightmare, because you know the consequences of going down the ‘easy’ path and not the one that has been advised by you (for good reason.)

Unfortunately I have the added complication of franchising not being regulated in the UK and therefore any advice and guidance that I am giving my clients is really based on generally accepted best practice, bits of competition law and not a lot else. (Best practice of successful and ethically run franchise operations and the franchise professionals who helped them get there I might add)! So, I have to (diplomatically) drive my clients through self-made minefields when they have chosen the more exciting FAST route. Now, I might also add that minefields are not my favourite thing…especially for a suspected control freak who likes to be prepared every step of the way (er, like me). So, my other great skill is in foreseeing where I think my clients are likely to go and stop them in their tracks before they jump into that 4×4 to head into the minefield. This can take me up to lunchtime!

In between the minefield avoidance, I will of course have new prospective client meetings to organise or attend; put together new proposals; answer calls from random individuals who have no idea why they are calling me other than because they were ‘referred’ (that’s always a fun conversation) or even better… have decided that I should definitely, definitely meet up with them so that they can ‘pick my brain’. Super. Look forward to that taking me up to the end of my day…when I get to pick up my bouncy little girl who has had a fantasic day organising the play things in the kindergarten room she is in and playing in paint.

Where did it all go wrong? I loved kindergarten…why did I have to grow up, go to University and earn my drivers license for a 4 x 4 to drive through Minefields? Who knows….but guess what? Tomorrow is another day!

PS – Phew…overwhelm has subsided and I actually feel productive now! What bugs you about your day and pushes your buttons?

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!)

A Business LifeBoat…Key to Breaking Career Ceilings

This is Me!

This is Me!

I  have found myself carefully cherry picking my way through my professional contact list and really being honest with myself in asking these three questions:

–  Is this someone I will know in 10 years time?

–  Is this a person who will push me by inspiration and challenge to be where I want to be?

–   Can this person add the kind of value I need to get to where I want to be?

Now, instantly you may look at those questions and think – wow, thats cold. But hang on a bit…hear me out. How many times do we read professional business books that keep telling us to value our time more, and quite clearly say in order to progress…you need to think progressively and consistently challenge your comfort zones? I constantly receive great feedback from people about how I add value to them and open their eyes to a view that they hadn’t considered. Thats super for them – because they have identified that they would like me in their Business Lifeboat. That doesn’t automatically mean they will be in mine though – unless of course they have the knowledge and skills in areas that I don’t have and their business persona intrigues me. There’s nothing wrong with that – its just making sure you remember where you are in the order of things.

Many a small business owner makes the mistake of spraying a whole lot of time at everyone and everything that they come into contact – hoping for something to stick. That works for about 5 minutes and you are exhausted and without any recognisable return.

My message is be “brutally” professional – annihilate the time wasters and hangers-on and carefuly cultivate the real professional relationships and contacts that you know will support you and to whom you can also offer value to in return.

With franchisor clients I really bring this home to them in that they have a fantastic vantage point to be looking out for the future of their network of franchisees. They are in a position to recognise valuable branding joint initiatives and professional alliances that the franchisee wouldn’t have dreamed possible as a stand alone Joe Soap. Zone in on this power of professional alliance and heighten your franchise offering overtime – by doing this you not only create emotional loyalty from your franchsiees – but, hell, you are also creating a fantastic case for economic loyalty too.

Follow me on Twitter if you want to see who is in my Business Lifeboat, or find me on Linkedin.

Plan for Sabbaticals

A BreakWhile driving my car through some pretty yuck roads near home today (note to self: I need to ask my local council where exactly the road spend is going to…my wheel alignment is getting worse by the day!)..I had a thought. Rare, I know, but all the same….

Wouldn’t it be really genius of an insightful franchisor to build in a proper exit and relief strategy into the franchise offering. What on earth do I mean, you ask?

Well, I have a super business contact in London who I love to have coffees with and just pick his brain. He is really passionate about small business owners having a proper exit plan that they can live with. He has seen time and again how really successful small business owners get to retirement age and fall foul of retirement pressure and end up losing out on the value of their life’s work.

So, my thought was around a franchisor actually building in a plan that will help the franchisee revisit his/her exit at whatever point is comfortable for them – with a set structure in place to give them value for their investment of time and money in the business. But, over and above that, it may well be a plan to fit in sabbatical periods for the franchisee. We all know that we work damn hard to get our businesses on the go and could all do with some time out to remind ourselves of where we are going, whether we are enjoying the journey and re-energise ourselves for the years ahead.

Emotional loyalty is pretty key for a franchisor who wants to retain franchisees – same rule applies as for all other businesses: it costs more to get in new franchisees than it does to retain existing ones. To keep franchisees engaged – my advice is to always look at how to enhance the model and add value over time. Sabbaticals may well be one more thing that is worth looking at.

I am not saying SPEND more, I’m saying be creative and offer the opportunity of relief and support during that time. I know that I could have done with being offered that at my five year anniversary of being with a company in my last employed role. Who knows I may well have remained with the company for longer!

But then my inner entrepreneur junkie would not have stayed quiet for much longer 🙂