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Feature Story:

Time For Common-ism?: Managing Uncertainty Through Cooperation »

By Darrell Johnson

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation, potential minimum wage increases, and likely overtime rule changes add to the ongoing challenges of managing the expense side of any business. For multi-unit operators, the implications are increased costs. However, there are a few efficiencies to be gained from the scale multi-unit operators enjoy that can lessen the impact.
The ACA represents one opportunity for efficiency for larger multi-unit operators not shared with smaller franchised and most non-franchised SMEs subject to the 50-employee trigger. Managing a larger pool of hourly labor employees allows greater flexibility. It also comes with additional costs in the form of management time; but therein resides the efficiency, in that incremental additions to labor, in theory, should not have similar incremental additions to management time if management is operating efficiently...

Feature Story:

In-House Or Out?: Focus On Your Best And Outsource The Rest »

By Eddy Goldberg

Franchising is all about outsourcing. Someone comes up with a great concept and essentially outsources its growth to franchisees so corporate can focus on its core task of system development. Why not take that idea and apply it to your own multi-unit organization? After all, if the prevailing wisdom at larger companies is to focus on their core competencies and outsource the rest, why should it be any different for you?
"The important thing to remember is to take on the responsibility for the things you do best. Outsource the things that are time-consuming or a challenge for you, so that you can focus on strategy and growth," says Sean Falk, a multi-unit franchisee with 12 units in the food sector.
Key questions in making a decision to outsource include: What are your core competencies? Can you afford it at this stage of development, or are you still feeling you have to keep doing it yourself? What should you outsource, when, and for how long? And perhaps most important: Can you let go?
Smaller and younger companies often don't have the $150,000 to $175,000 to hire an in-house CFO, or an in-house sales person at $60,000 to $80,000 a year plus 5 percent of sales...

Feature Story:

A Balanced Approach: Fundamentals And Feelings Can Co-Exist »

By Carol Schleif

If the nation hadn't been in the midst of a government shutdown and debt ceiling debate, last year's Nobel Prize winners in economics probably would have received more attention and commentary. Two of the three winners--Eugene Fama of the University of Chicago and Yale's Robert Shiller--are as different as Tea Party Republicans and Democrats in their theories about the rise and fall of stock prices and other assets. Investors can learn a lot from both.
To Fama, markets are efficient systems where relevant information is immediately and rationally reflected in stock prices. So, for the most widely researched portions of the market, such as domestic U.S. large cap stocks, that means active management is nearly impossible.
Numerous studies show just how difficult it is for active managers to consistently outperform the market when operating in the most efficient and liquid asset classes, since thousands of other individuals are able to simultaneously adjust to each bit of information just as quickly...

Feature Story:

Creativity Under Pressure: 4 Ways To Come Up With Brilliant Ideas When The Pressure's On »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Here's an intriguing idea from New York Times best-selling author and writing coach Michael Levin, "Creativity is a muscle; use it or lose it."
Levin says anyone can grow their creativity just like any other muscle. "I define creativity as 'the ability to develop great ideas while under pressure,'" he says. "Pressure creates diamonds, so why shouldn't it also create great ideas?"
But sometimes, pressure paralyzes creativity.?"I've experienced it when writing under deadline pressure and writing under the pressure of my own high expectations," he says. "Over time, I've developed several tricks to stimulate my creative muscle and help me come up with great ideas for whatever challenge I face - whether it's writing or figuring out how to arrange a busy family weekend schedule so that everyone's needs are met...

Feature Story:

Brain Power: Five Ways Brain Science Can Help To Build A Better Business »

By Michael Vaughan

Business owners and managers today face a myriad of challenges--a tight market with strong competition, workforce issues, slimming margins, and the need to keep pace with technological advancements to name a few. Add to these a rapidly changing environment and a barrage of noise generated from the Internet, smartphones, television, and other media.
How do owners and managers stay in step with daily competing priorities and deadlines, filter out the noise, and keep their businesses on the fast track to productivity and profitability? The answers can be found in neural leadership.
Neural leadership is part of brain science, which studies how the brain works and how business leaders can leverage brain function in themselves and their teams to create a more robust work environment...

Feature Story:

Service Recovery: '5 Golden Rules Of Customer Retention' »

By John Tschohl

Every company makes mistakes that could make them lose customers. I don't care what business you are in, something will go wrong. But the smart companies know how to recover a customer and turn them into loyal customers for life.
However, less than 2 percent of companies use service recovery techniques. That's really bad. All companies make mistakes. All companies have things go wrong. Many companies and most employees run for cover instead of solving the problem.
The problems are only getting worse thanks to social media. If customers aren't happy, they'll post the problem on Twitter and Facebook. They'll do it fast. Then you'll have a massive public relations problem that will take time, effort, and money to fix.
Instead of handling problems quickly and efficiently, most employees pass the buck or even lie! That's because people don't like confrontation...

Feature Story:

Retirement Advice: Expert And Software Creator Shares Tips For Calculating Retirement Withdrawal »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

"Who has my back in retirement?" That's the question pre-retirees and retirees want answered when it's all said and done, says veteran financial planner David Zolt.
Baby boomers have been retiring in droves in recent years, and will continue to do so throughout the next decade - 10,000 of them a day, the Pew Research Center estimates. Unfortunately, the average boomer is about $500,000 short on their savings, according to a recent survey by TD Ameritrade.
We have already entered an unprecedented moment in retirement history; never have so many people, with such variability in financial wealth, retired at once, says Zolt.
"Clients want to know when they can retire, how much they can withdraw from their savings, and how confident they can be that they won't outlive their money," says Zolt, who created retirement income planning software for financial advisors...

Feature Story:

Corporate Culture: 4 Cultural Values And Behaviors Of Successful Companies »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Whether you're launching a new business or wondering why your existing company isn't performing as well as predicted, longtime corporate executive Larry Katzen suggests taking a careful look at your business plan.
Did you include a section describing the workplace culture and the steps you'll take to foster that culture?
"When you look at why businesses fail, it almost always has something to do with the culture," says Katzen, author of, And You Thought Accountants Were Boring - My Life Inside Arthur Andersen, www.larrykatzen.com. "For nearly half of the startups that fail, incompetence is cited as the major cause, according to Statistic Brain. Tolerating - or not tolerating - incompetence is part of corporate culture."
Katzen, a former managing partner at one of the world's top five accounting firms, says his experience taught him a great deal about what kind of culture results in successful businesses...

Feature Story:

Utterly Charmed And Captivated: What's The Secret To Profitable Same-Store Sales Growth? »

By Jack Mackey

At the 2013 Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators conference, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy explained how the company plans to grow in the future. For context, let me remind you that their average unit volume (AUV) has grown from $2.7 million in 2010 to $3.1 million in 2013, the highest of any QSR concept. Considering Chick-fil-A operates only six days a week, the profit and cash flow generated by these sales are stunning.
Cathy posed the question, "How does a high-end restaurant get a $35 check average for food when we have a $7 check average? They are not giving five times the food we are, so what is it? Is it fresh flowers in the dining room, tableside ground pepper offered on salads?" If you haven't dined there lately, these elements have become part of the Chick-fil-A experience...

Feature Story:

Loyalty Through Service: Front-Line Training Keeps Customers Coming Back »

By Eddy Goldberg

When a customer ordered a sandwich at one of Mike Knobelock's restaurants in North Carolina, it came with pickles on it. "They didn't like pickles," says JJ Villafranca, COO at Knobelock's company. "They were a little irritated about it, but commented on how friendly the employees were."
So how did the company respond? The manager contacted the customer and asked them to come back and be treated to a lunch or dinner with him. Sometimes the area supervisor will make the offer. Villafranca says they are working on implementing this policy in all their restaurants. Regardless, he says, "We answer all our complaints."
"We preach that there's always something we can do inside of our four walls to make the experience for the customer better," says CEO Knobelock, whose company, MSK Enterprises, operates 47 Church's, 20 Little Caesars, 3 Sears Appliance & Hardware stores, and 1 Dekker's Mesquite Grill (his own concept)...

Feature Story:

Come Together: CEO Shares Tips For Encouraging Productive Collaboration In Meetings »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

In survey after survey, company meetings get knocked by everyone from employees to senior executives as being among the biggest waste of work hours.
In one poll, by Office Team, 45 percent of senior executives said their firms would be more productive if they banned all meetings at least one day a week!
"The problem that often occurs - beyond the obvious, like lacking a clear agenda - is the underlying current of competition that each person brings to the table," says Berny Dohrmann, chairman and founder of CEO Space International, and author of Redemption: The Cooperation Revolution, (www.ceospaceinternational.com). 
"Competition pulls people apart; cooperation brings them together. Signs that competition is causing unproductive meetings include one or two people dominating the floor; individuals touting their achievements; people consistently failing to contribute their ideas because they fear being criticized or ridiculed," he says...

Feature Story:

Giving Credit: 4 More Reasons Franchise Owners Should Explore Prepaid Expense Cards »

By Toffer Grant

Corporate prepaid credit and debit cards offer a new approach to managing day-to-day employee spending that, until now, was available only to the largest corporations. Unlike standard business credit cards, a prepaid expense card ensures employees never have direct access to the company’s business credit line. Employers no longer need to worry about exceeding credit limits or getting hit with late fees or interest charges.
Franchisees across a wide variety of industries across the globe are implementing prepaid expense cards to streamline their business expenses. Here are four more reasons to consider a corporate prepaid expense card program for franchise businesses.

1. Prepaid expense cards are less limiting than credit cards...

Feature Story:

Employee Credit: 4 Reasons Franchisees Should Explore Prepaid Expense Cards »

By Toffer Grant

As a franchise owner, your employees are likely making purchases on behalf of you and your business, which can conflict with the strong need you have to control expenses and limit risk. The dilemma here is that many franchise owners are uncomfortable handing over a business credit card to their employees.
Your comfort level when it comes to providing spend authority can be managed based on the type of tool selections you select. However, most options on the market for expense management are credit-based. These require a personal credit guarantee by the business owner to accept the responsibility of the debt if your company cannot pay. It's a big decision.
Companies with workers on the road now have a game-changing option: corporate prepaid expense cards...

Feature Story:

Wasted Time: 12 Reasons Why Employee Training Fails »

By John Tschohl

Most of the money and time companies spend on training is wasted. That's because the majority of companies use outdated training ideas and boring training methods.
Training that is poorly presented goes in one ear and out the other. It's no wonder employees don't change their attitudes or behaviors after they attend a badly presented training session.
After working in the training field for more than 40 years on six continents, I've seen 12 reasons why group training fails:

Feature Story:

10 Rules For Managing Franchisee Innovation »

By Jacob Grosshandler

Develop a System-Wide Vetting Process

Who is responsible for innovation? For many franchise concepts, innovation is the sole domain of the franchisor as it safeguards the brand's equity: "Do only things that I say, and do them exactly as the operations manual specifies."
Franchisor-led product innovation is most prominently seen in food-related brands in the form of the centralized test kitchen. However, franchisor-led product innovation often leaves an invaluable resource untapped: the franchisee. Think McDonald's Filet-O-Fish, invented in 1962 by franchisee Lou Groen to make up for slow Friday burger sales.
Also, despite the positives provided by franchisor-led product innovation, a brand runs the risk of becoming entrenched in its own singular manner of thinking--a competitive threat in the face of ever-changing consumer tastes...

Feature Story:

Customer Differentiator: The Key To A Successful Customer-Focused Culture »

By Lisa Ford

Customers want a consistent service experience. It seems like that would be easy to deliver yet it is not the norm. Since it is not the norm, consistency becomes a customer differentiator. Check how well you deliver consistency with these strategies.

1. Be reliable. Get it right the first time. Whatever the customer needs, they want you to be reliable and accurate. Customers don't want to deal with an organization multiple times due to your shortcomings. Deliver what you promise.

2. No surprises - unless they are positive ones. Most surprises are ones where the company does not deliver as promised. Surprises can include interactions with challenging employees, lack of follow-up, and slow responses to social media communication...

Feature Story:

Extreme Mentoring: Don't Hesitate To Give The Gift To Someone Else »

By Steve Farber

What if you could give someone a really special gift that would cost you no money at all? And what if that no-cost gift could significantly change another's life? Well, you could and it will.
You can give yourself as a "gift" to someone you love, believe in, or admire by taking that person on as your Greater Than Yourself (GTY) Project. Think of the Greater Than Yourself approach as Extreme Mentoring, if you will.
I'd highly encourage you extend yourself in this deeply meaningful way. I think you'll notice all kinds of payoff. And to help you make this relationship official (whether or not you already have a GTY Project), we've created this gift certificate for you to use.
Please read the following text from the certificate...

Feature Story:

Preparing For Departure: Experts Share 3 Crucial Planning Steps For Leaving The Business You Built »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

More and more small business owners are selling their companies, with sales hitting a four-year high in early 2013 in the United States, and Canada predicting its largest small business turnover ever in the next five years.
"Many of our CEOs are baby boomers approaching retirement age," says Kathleen Richardson-Mauro, co-author with Jane M. Johnson of a practical new guide, "Cashing Out of Your Business," (www.richardsonmauroandjohnson.com).
"We're about to see a tsunami of ownership transitions and Kathleen and I worry that too many of these small business owners are not taking steps early enough to plan for it," adds Johnson.
Richardson-Mauro, a Certified Financial Planner, and Johnson, a Certified Public Accountant, specialize in helping business owners successfully transition out of companies and achieve their goals...

Feature Story:

Technology Backlash: Good Old-Fashioned Personal Touch Can Bring Business Success »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Hello? Is anybody there?
One of the biggest problems sales people face with social media and technology is the lack of real, meaningful contact and communication.  Sure, it's quick and easy. But when it comes to closing deals, does it really produce the results you need? These lessons can also apply to franchisees and their employees.
Joanne S. Black, author of the new book Pick Up the Damn Phone! How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal, is on a mission to help people learn the importance of personal contact.  Her manifesto is simple - to make a real connection and achieve true, meaningful communication, you have to make a personal and even in-person contact. Her goal is to get people to tweet less and talk more to the customers and contacts who really matter...

Feature Story:

Relying On Protection »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Three "players" you need on your business' offensive line

Peyton Manning just completed his most productive season ever as a pro. If anyone is surprised by that, they shouldn't be. According to ESPN, what many fail to realize is that statistically the Denver Broncos have the number one offensive line in football. The fact that Manning was rarely sacked last year and was sacked less than anyone else in the league contributed greatly to his banner year. If you're a business owner who wants Super Bowl-level success for your business, says Sean Castrina, you should put together an offensive line that can provide your business the same level of protection.
"Offensive linemen are paid to protect their quarterback," says Castrina, author of 8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Start-Up Success...



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