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Feature Story:

Keep It Simple: Customer Service And The Simple Stuff »

By Lisa Ford

Every organization has a chance to deliver a positive customer experience. That experience has many starting points and touch points along the customer interaction. Each touch point will affect the customer's perception of your business and even their loyalty.
To remain competitive, take a look at the simplest of interactions and decide how those interactions represent your company. The simple stuff came to my attention with some recent experiences. As I was checking out at a national retail chain, the employee at the register answered the phone. Here is what she said, "It's a great day at the Dunwoody Large Chain Store, this is Corrine, how can I help you?" Whew! Do you think the customer wanted to hear all of that? And do you think the employee wants to say it multiple times a day? The customer is poised and ready with their question but instead have to wait out this long greeting...

Feature Story:

Ten Years After: Reflection On A Decade Of Change »

By Jack Mackey

In 2004, the first words I ever wrote for Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine (then called Area Developer) were:
"Vast amounts of energy and treasure have been invested to understand why customers do--or don't--come back. Few questions are more important, since same-store sales growth is built on the backs of loyal customers." That connection between customer loyalty and sales growth remains true to this day.
What's different now is that franchisees better understand the value of customer loyalty and, for the best operators, how to improve the customer experience and gain market share by winning customers away from not-so-smart competitors. From my perspective as a 10-year columnist here, here is a brief history of how we far we've come...

Feature Story:

Avoiding 7 Common Negotiating Mistakes »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

While even the word "negotiation" can evoke fear, stress, and anxiety for many, the intent is quite simple: to discuss and ultimately agree on a deal. The negotiation process is a lot like a chess game where strategy reigns supreme--one thoughtfully considered move at a time.
"Even when faced with the most daunting of deals, regarding the act of negotiation as a 'game' may alleviate the apprehension and give you the confidence to make power plays that will ultimately facilitate your desired result," says veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of Think Like a Negotiator (www.ThinkLikeANegotiator.com). "Unlike strategy games like chess, however, the most effective deals are a win-win proposition for all parties rather than a winner-loser result...

Feature Story:

Making Headlines: How To Use The Media To Get The Word Out About Your Business »

By Ginny Grimsley

Reporters love sources who understand their needs. Getting a call from a reporter who wants to quote you as an expert for his story, review your products or services, or invite you to write an exclusive article for a publication, is a major coup. It means that your marketing efforts are paying off.  Who would blow such an opportunity?
Unfortunately, a lot of people do. Those who don't understand journalists' deadlines and needs are liable to be quickly passed over in favor of sources who do. That lack of knowledge can also rack up lots of wasted time and money for those who take a shotgun approach to blasting their message or products to any and all journalists. If you don't consider their individual needs, you're likely making a futile effort...

Feature Story:

Here Comes 2015!: What Do You Still Not Know About Your Business? »

By Steve Lefever

Now that we're nearing November, it's time to refocus on the business with an eye toward planning for 2015. I'd like to suggest that you look a little farther ahead and reflect on the issues I've outlined below.
Over the years, I've encountered far too many business owners who spend weeks planning their vacation (if they take one at all!) and virtually no time planning for the business that makes those vacations possible.
Watch cable news, scan a few TV commercials, or flip through any newspaper these days and it would seem there are no mysteries any more. Let's face it, we know far too much about far too many people's habits, problems, and proclivities. We have more factoids, tidbits, inklings, stats, blogs, and so-called expert opinions (legal and otherwise) than we can use in a lifetime...

Feature Story:

4 Top Leadership Myths »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Leadership author, speaker, and consultant Roxi Hewertson has compiled a list of 4 leadership myths that when fully understood can change the way you do business and your bottom line. Here they are:

1. If you are a star performer in your field or discipline, you will surely be a star leader of others. From the day we were born, all the applause has been about "what I have done well," not "what we have done well." The exception is teamwork within or outside your family. The skills, attributes, and even motivations required to lead people successfully are entirely opposite from those required to be a successful individual contributor. Consider this: if the roles and skills weren't so opposite, it would be a walk in the park for someone to move seamlessly from being a great violin player to being a great conductor...

Feature Story:

Word Of Mouth Power »

By John Tschohl

Just having a satisfied customer and giving them service that is simply good enough will not get anyone talking. You've got to go above and beyond the call of duty if you want your customers to talk about you.
Word of mouth is instrumental in driving your company's success. Verbal buzz about your business or product passed from one reliable person to the next is still the most cost-effective way to build a loyal following, expand your business, and reach new customers. How does it start? Give them an amazing customer experience and encourage your customers to think of themselves as partners in your business. Like I've said before, the organization chart at your business should show the customer at the top.
How your customers feel about you and what they are prepared to tell others about you can influence your revenues and profits...

Feature Story:

Are You Ready?: New PCI Security Rules Will Require Changes »

By Giles Witherspoon-Boyd

Hopefully, you've heard that the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) has changed... again. In November 2013, the PCI Council released PCI DSS version 3.0 and set the compliance deadline for January 2015. With only a few busy months remaining, many businesses (including franchisees) aren't even close to compliance with the new standard.
Why change the standard? Changing technologies often improve business efficiency, but aren't bulletproof to the weaknesses consistently found and exploited by hackers. New security regulations like PCI 3.0 are released to protect new technologies against recent hacking trends.
In my opinion, Requirement 4.1 is the biggest PCI 3.0 change for franchisees. Many franchises and chains use satellite communications to connect locations...

Feature Story:

The Difference Between Leadership And Management »

By John Tschohl

"Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become
a leader it's all about growing others."-- Jack Welch.

Everyone who has a job has a boss or manager, but does everyone have a leader? You never hear people complain about leaders, but every day someone somewhere complains about their boss or manager. Firstly, leadership is action, not position. Just because someone is in a role of control does not mean the person is a leader. According to John Tschohl, best-selling author and customer service strategist, "the best leaders are typically poor managers and the best managers are typically poor leaders. All managers have to do some leading and all leaders have to do some managing. Finding the right balance for the job is what is really important...

Feature Story:

Coping With Difficult Coworkers »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Coworkers must work together to be as productive as possible. It can be difficult at times. Here, Geoffrey James, author of Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know, outlines 10 different types of coworkers and explains how they can keep the peace and work better together "It's not difficult once you've spotted the behaviors," he explains.
Here are 10 of the most difficult coworkers and how to deal with them:

Feature Story:

Employees Show Customers They Care »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Caring about customers is one of the best ways to differentiate your business and gain long-term consumer loyalty. But how can employers operationalize such a "soft" skill?
"Your best strategy is to teach your employees what caring about customers looks like in action," says Jon Gordon, best-selling author and speaker. "Suggest specific tactics they can employ. When they see how good it feels to care--and how good caring is for business--you'll receive your team's buy-in and continued participation."
Gordon notes that most of the tips he shares can also apply internally.
"Employees can apply these principles to their interactions with each other, too," he says. "How you treat your coworkers is how you'll treat customers--you can't separate the two!"
Here, Gordon shares 11 strategies employees can use to show customers (and each other) that they care:

Be present...

Feature Story:

6 Takeaways For Stay-at-Home Business Operators »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Being young and inexperienced can be intimidating for stay-at-home entrepreneurs, but it doesn't mean you're making mistakes, says veteran businesswoman Renae Christine.
Fresh out of college at 23, she thought she'd done something wrong when the wholesaler for her stationery company assigned her a personal representative.
"In reality I was doing so much business with them that they wanted to ensure my satisfaction," says Christine, a serial entrepreneur who has created dozens of successful home-based businesses for herself and others. She shares practical how-to advice in her new book, Home Business Startup Bible, (http://richmombusiness.com/).
She was the busy mother of a 2-year-old and she'd just returned home - to the mess left in the wake of last-minute packing -- when the rep showed up, she says...

Feature Story:

Financial Advisors Should Work In Harmony »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Individuals and families with large estates have enough to worry about - they shouldn't have to wonder whether the advisors they depend upon have their best interests at heart, says financial advisor Matthew T. Shafer.
"Many don't realize that wealthy people are targets for criminals and opportunistic people; that's why an estate should have a good team of professionals who work well with each other," says Shafer, author of The Future of Your Wealth, (http://mattshafer.us/).
"Wealthy families - and many middle-class families - have multiple advisors who specialize in different disciplines, including attorneys, tax specialists, insurance agents and the like. A family could find the best specialist in each field, but if these experts do not work in harmony, the results can be dreadful...

Feature Story:

MU Domination Grows: And What It Means For Franchising »

By Darrell Johnson

MU Domination Grows: And What It Means for Franchising

By Darrell Johnson

Ten years ago, when FRANdata began tracking the concentration of units controlled by multi-unit franchisees, it totaled 45 percent. Today, multi-unit operators control 55 percent of all franchise units. The pace of change has been consistent and rather predictable, with a current rate of about 1 percent each year. Whether this growth rate continues, speed ups, or plateaus has important implications to the franchise business model on many levels, including development, training, and support.
This trend has two big drivers. The first is that we raised a generation of franchisees with growth on their minds. They pushed through the older "buy a job" mentality with business plans aimed at multi-unit expansion from the time they started...

Feature Story:

Techniques To Hook Customers Online »

By Eric Groves

Before picking a date for a promotion or event it's important to understand how the various online resources at your disposal can work for your business. Since you want to attract and catch the attention of new customers, it's important to understand how they find information and -- more importantly -- how to ensure information shows up when and where they are looking.
When individuals look for information about events and promotions that might be of interest, they typically look in one of two places: online search engines (ponds of information) and social media (rivers of information).

Search Engines - Fishing in a Pond
Google and other search engines are constantly crawling websites for relevant content for their users...

Feature Story:

5 Tips For Small Business Success »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Ambit Energy, a national retail energy provider, released a blog post earlier this year in which it provided leadership tips for successfully building a small business. The company followed that up last summer by hosting their annual "Ambition" event in Dallas, where thousands of its consultants gathered to share their personal success stories, attend training sessions, network, and have fun.
In the blog post, the company provided five simple and highly effective tips for leading a small business to success. These tips include:

Feature Story:

Create Your Personal Tagline: The Secret To Career Success Is Knowing Your 'Fascination Advantage' »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

"You don't want to change who you are," says Sally Hogshead. "You just want to become more of who you already are."
On the surface, this seems identical to the ethos often attached to Millennials, a generation accused of forsaking practical stuff (like, you know, making a living) in the quest to discover -- and then stay true to - their authentic selves.
But Hogshead isn't recommending that everyone quit their day jobs quite yet. "It's not a matter of woo, woo! Be yourself," she says. "You don't live on a desert island. It's about figuring out the specific aspects of who you are that are very valuable to people, and the ones that aren't."
Hogshead has built a career around coaching individuals to isolate what makes them both unique and valuable, what she calls their "fascination advantage," a term she coined during her time working as a creative director for brands such as Coca-Cola, BMW, Nike, and Mini Cooper...

Feature Story:

Declaration Of Extreme Leadership: Create A Written Proclamation Of Who You Are And What You Believe  »

By Steve Farber

A declaration is a powerful thing.
By making a declaration, you not only announce something, you proclaim it to be a true and accurate representation of who you are and what you believe in. You make a vow to anyone who reads or listens that you will abide by and live up to the words. And they can count on you for it.
Here in the US, we celebrate Independence Day, which was codified for posterity (that's us) in the Declaration of Independence.
Wherever you are in the world, and whatever tradition or history you come from, I invite you to read another declaration-a Declaration of Extreme Leadership-which you can find below.
I don't mean to suggest that this declaration rivals the other, but you may find that these words resonate with you, inspire you, and compel you to change your piece of the world for the better...

Feature Story:

Mid-sized And Growing: A Stellar Leadership Team Can Take Your Operation To The Next Level »

By Robert Sher

Successfully operating a multi-unit franchise--typically generating millions of dollars in revenue from many locations--requires a keen awareness that leading multiple units is fundamentally different than leading a small operation. Unfortunately, too many multi-unit franchisees rely on the leadership approach they used when they were a small business, running the business themselves or promoting from within without the proper training. The result? Derailed profitability, stunted growth, and high management turnover.
The only way for mid-sized multi-unit franchisees to grow and prosper is to plan for and invest in a trustworthy and competent leadership team. As proven time and again, the bigger the investment in leadership, the bigger the potential return...

Feature Story:

Added Value: Is Your Leadership Personality Helping Or Hurting Your Business? »

By Sally Hogshead

As an entrepreneur, you're often the face of your company, and your ability to capture attention, to fascinate others--clients, employees, strategic partners, influencers--can make or break a business. Every time you communicate, you're doing one of two things:



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