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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:

Feature Story:

Retirement Planning: Knowing When It's OK To Play It Safe And When It's Not »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

As people get closer to the age when they hope to retire, traditional wisdom calls for moving into more conservative - safer - investments, such as Treasury bonds and many fixed-income mutual funds.
"The problem is, what is 'safe' for one person may not be 'safe' for another, given the amount of money in their portfolios, how their investments are allocated, and what their retirement lifestyle goals are," says financial advisor Haitham "Hutch" Ashoo, co-founder with advisor Chris Snyder of Pillar Wealth Management, LLC.
"Some investors believe Certificates of Deposit and U.S. Treasury bonds are safe investments because of their backing, but the income they generate is so low, they may not be safe in terms of producing the income you need for 30 years of retirement...

Feature Story:

Businesses Unite!: Three Ways To "Share Local" And Make Your Business Stronger »

By Eric Groves

Local businesses are stronger together than alone. Your competitive advantage is derived from the local and industry knowledge you possess along with the market power (resources that enable you to attract and retain customers) built. As you forge relationships with other local businesses, you all grow stronger by gaining access to the collective knowledge and power of each other.
One of the simplest ways to demonstrate support for local business, while encouraging other local businesses to lend support back to you, is to "Share Local."
Share Local is the simple act of sharing something another local business is doing with residents. Successful local businesses have resources (typically email lists or Facebook followings) for sharing interesting content with customers...

Feature Story:

Raising The Service Ante: Location Analytics Validates A Wow Experience »

By Jack Mackey

Customer expectations today are dramatically higher, thanks to the likes of Amazon, Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, and Chick-fil-A, to name just a few of today's customer experience leaders. Once your customers have exceptional experiences dealing with companies like these, their expectations are permanently raised. This means your business is evaluated in the customer's mind in comparison with the best businesses in the world. If you deliver just an ordinary customer experience, rather than a highly satisfying (wow) experience, your business is just average in the customer's mind. And your customer's repeat visit behavior will reflect that judgment.
SMG recently demonstrated how much more effective highly satisfying customer experiences are in driving return visits by using location analytics...

Feature Story:

Implementing The Affordable Care Act »

By Benjamin Geyerhahn

What franchisees need to know about the ACA rollout

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has introduced widespread changes to the healthcare landscape. It has increased the availability, quality, and affordability of health insurance for the general population, regardless of age, gender, or pre-existing medical conditions.
The ACA has also altered the guidelines for employer-sponsored insurance, which has thrown many small- and mid-sized businesses for a loop.
In 2015, the ACA employer mandate will require employers with 50 or more full-time employees (defined as an average of 30-plus hours per week) to offer a minimum coverage health plan at affordable rates (less than 9.5 percent of an employee's household income).
Additionally, companies with 200 or more employees are required to automatically enroll employees in employer-sponsored insurance with a waiting period of no more than 90 days...

Feature Story:

Goals And Visions: Survey Says Business Owners Should Take Risks, Earn Respect, And Inspire Action »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Accomplishing goals is the most essential function of running a company, according to 46 percent of entrepreneurs polled by The Alternative Board (TAB). By comparison, 38 percent place more importance on providing a vision for their business. Despite acknowledging how crucial that vision is to the company's success, most leaders need help communicating it: participants averaged just 7.1 out of 10 when grading themselves on how effectively they expressed their vision to their team.
"It's important that the leader establishes and communicates a vision. But it's even more important that they accomplish goals," says David Scarola, vice president of TAB. "One without the other has little value."
After surveying 336 small business owners and CEOs worldwide (roughly 70 percent of whom have companies earning over $1 million a year), a common profile of the modern business leader emerged from TAB's study...

Feature Story:

Emotional Rescue: Understanding Relationship Dynamics In The Family Business »

By Jeff Faulkner

Recently one of my partners and I were facilitating a meeting between a father and his daughter to work through some mismatched expectations between them in the family business. We had already had several prep meetings laying the groundwork for aligning their expectations, which were all positive and headed in the right direction. They were both excited that we were going to be able to help them get some things out on the table, as they typically would avoid one another and leave issues unresolved.
However, once the meeting started, the dad took the opportunity to unleash on his daughter with unanswerable questions and acted like a prosecuting attorney trying to corner the defendant into a guilty plea. My partner and I were completely unprepared for this, and of course, the daughter was equally caught off guard...



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