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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...

Feature Story:

No-Fear Feedback »

By Dr. Tasha Eurich

It’s a give and get strategy that can reap great rewards

Because most of us dread being called out for mistakes or weaknesses, leaders who hope to give honest feedback run the risk of angering employees and decreasing their productivity if it isn’t delivered correctly. This explains research findings revealing a negative relationship between feedback and employee engagement—it’s often given ineffectively. In one study, researchers analyzed more than six hundred studies of performance evaluations.* Their results were astonishing. In 30 percent of cases, performance reviews made performance worse. I’ll pause for a moment so you can read that again. The authors suggest that as feedback feels more and more personal (and less about behaviors or tasks), it becomes less and less helpful in driving improvement...

Feature Story:

Aim High: Achieving A Great Reputation Requires High Standards »

By Jim Cathcart

When you drive up to Disneyland the message is clear: "The Happiest Place On Earth."
That not only announces their intention, it also defines their performance standards. If what you are doing as a Disney employee (correction: "Cast Member") doesn't produce happiness, then you need to reconsider how you are doing it. They hire people who will keep the place happy, manage to the measures that have been shown to produce happiness, and discharge people who do not fit their culture. Consequently, they are the happiest place on earth.
FedEx tells us up front that we should choose them when "it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight." So timely delivery is built into their policy manual, their training, their hiring practices, and the metrics they track each hour of each day...

Feature Story:

Franchising For Veterans »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Four questions military veterans should consider asking
More than 5,000 veterans and military spouses have become franchise business owners in the past two years, according to the International Franchise Association. In addition, the IFA reports that about one million veterans will be returning from Iraq and Afghanistan over the next three to four years and returning to the workforce.
One brand, Maid Simple House Cleaning - the home-based cleaning franchise from Maid Brigade - asked its veteran franchisees to reveal what makes them successful franchise owners. And the four questions veterans should answer before making the move to franchising.
1. Am I a natural leader?
Running a successful business requires hard work, dedication, and superior leadership skills...

Feature Story:

Favor The Customer: Allow Empowered Employees To Create Profits »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Companies can make more money when they empower employees to make decisions that create over-happy customers, says John Tschohl, president of Service Quality Institute.
"Employee empowerment is defined as allowing employees to make fast decisions - on the spot - in favor of the customer. Empowerment is the single most difficult skill to get employees to utilize. That's a problem for businesses and government because if you don't have empowered employees, you will never be a service leader," says Tschohl, who is the author of Empowerment: A Way of Life.
"It is critically important for businesses to give employees the power to make decisions on the spot because one policy can't cover everything. There are too many weird things that happen every day...

Feature Story:

Need For Speed: Customer Service Must Be Delivered Quickly »

By John Tschohl

Need For Speed: Customer Service Must Be Delivered Quickly

By John Tschohl

Among the many tools and tactics companies can use to improve the customer experience, speed is the most overlooked. That's unfortunate because a major factor in creating a positive customer experience is speed. There are three major obstacles to improving the customer experience through speed:

Feature Story:

Engaged For Success: Creating Real Employee Engagement From The Ground Up »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

These days we hear plenty about employee engagement. We know disengaged employees are bad for business. We know an office full of innovative, collaborative employees who feel like "owners" is the key to surviving a brutal marketplace. We may even know the statistics like Human Capital Institute's revelations that companies with highly engaged employees enjoy profit growth at three times the rate of their competitors, and that increased engagement reduces turnover--one of the largest hidden costs in business--by 87 percent.
So, yes: We know. Why then is it so incredibly tough to move beyond the "buzzword" phase and truly transform enthusiasm fakers, paycheck collectors, and clock watchers into employees who truly feel like they have a stake in your company's success?
"Frankly, it's because in many cases employees really don't have a stake," says Michael Houlihan, coauthor along with Bonnie Harvey of The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America's #1 Wine Brand...

Feature Story:

Can Money Buy Happiness?: 3 Tips For Changing Your Attitude Towards Wealth  »

By Doug Vermeeren

Although we live in the richest and most advanced society the world has ever known, many of us say we need more money in order to be happy, notes best-selling author Doug Vermeeren.
"Even some of those in the top percentile of earners often feel like they don't have enough money," says Vermeeren, an international speaker who consults with celebrities, business executives, and professional athletes.
"The math is simple: More money does not equal more happiness. It's our attitude toward money, not the amount, that influences our happiness the most."
Happiness researchers Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, professors at the Harvard Business School, recently published research indicating that it's not money that makes people happy, nor the things people buy with it...

Feature Story:

Twitter Makes Changes »

By Marsha Friedman

Social Media Strategist Shares Pros and Cons of 4 New Measures

A couple of months ago, our lead social media strategist at EMSI Public Relations started noticing interesting changes involving the Twitter accounts we manage for clients. Tools were suddenly disabled. Twitter's technical support, which hadn't been good, improved.
So when news broke in late September that Twitter had already formally taken steps toward going public back in mid-July, Jeni Hinojosa, a social media strategist at EMSI, wasn't surprised.
"The changes appear designed to make Twitter more appealing to investors when the initial public offering is finally made," Hinojosa says. "In some ways, they're also improving the experience for users. But in other ways, some users will be disappointed...

Feature Story:

Dominate Your Competitors: Focus On A Customer Service Strategy »

By John Tschohl

If your company thinks "customer service" is limited to greeting a customer and dealing with their complaints, you're missing the big picture - and tremendous profits.
The reason most companies are weak on customer service is because they don't understand the financial impact a strategic customer service plan can have on the bottom line.
Make no mistake about it: The customer experience is the one true way you can dominate the market, crush your competitors, and have money flow from the sky. It is the only strategic weapon that cannot be copied - and you'll have a 10-year lead time before your competitors figure out how to duplicate your success.
For example, many companies overlook customer service and take the easy way out...

Feature Story:

Building Success: Business Lessons From A Small Business CEO »

By Marsha Friedman

I found a fascinating website while trolling around the Internet recently. It's called Statistic Brain (www.statisticbrain.com) and it has data and rankings on all kinds of topics, from hair loss to consumer spending.
The numbers that caught my eye had to do with start-up business failures. Did you know 25 percent of start-ups strike out within the first year? Thirty-six go down in the second, and 44 percent in the third. Nearly three-quarters of businesses that start in one year will be shuttered 10 years later.
Why? "Incompetence" is the No. 1 reason, according to Statistic Brain. My fun new website cites specific pitfalls including "living too high for the business," "lack of planning" and - this one's a doozy - "non-payment of taxes!"
All those numbers made me want to pat myself on the back...

Feature Story:

Failing To Lead: Avoid These 3 Leadership Myths »

By Erick Lauber, Ph.D.

Bradley was failing, and failing badly.
Not only did the members of his team avoid him in the lunchroom and never stop by to say “good morning,” they had begun taping a target to his back every day and everyone had signed up for archery lessons. Bradley’s leadership style just wasn’t working.
Unfortunately, Bradley’s core problem was that he suffered from several leadership myths he’d picked up from pop culture. Like many of us, he didn’t have any formal training in leadership so his beliefs came mostly from watching movies. Leadership to Bradley was square-jawed men taking on insurmountable odds, rallying the troops with award-winning speeches, and humbly waiting for passionate kisses from pretty co-stars. Bradley thought he was prepared to be a great leader because though he didn’t have a square jaw and no one had tried to kiss him in years, he had been practicing his motivational speeches in the mirror...

Feature Story:

Get It In Writing: Do You Have A Written Income Plan For Retirement? »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

"Age 85 is a bad time to go broke," says retirement planner Jeff Gorton. Personal savings, various investments and, yes, Social Security may prove to be short of what you'd expected.
"Budgeting how you spend money before retirement can often be a misleading measurement of how you'll actually spend it during retirement," says Gorton, a veteran Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner, and head of Gorton Financial Group (www.gortonfinancialgroup.com).
"Spending 40 hours a week at work not only earns you a paycheck, it also keeps you from spending money on more vacations, matinee screenings at the movie theater, extra trips to the mall, or shopping online. You need to be exceedingly realistic in your planning, and the five years before retirement are actually the most crucial in solidifying post-employment stability...

Feature Story:

Break The Habit: 4 Things To Stop Doing To Improve The Customer Experience »

By Lisa Ford

The customer experience is all about doing things that will be memorable and of value to the customer. Start with the basics and fundamentals. Once you have gotten them right, you will have earned the customer's trust and repeat business. To keep them loyal, break out and be different. There are plenty of companies offering what you offer, so be decidedly different. With that being said, there are things you must stop doing if you want to stand out.

1. Stop asking the customer to repeat information they have told you already. This includes asking them to repeat identifying information already keyed in while listening to prompts. Make certain transfers are smooth and seamless by sharing key information with the next team member...

Feature Story:

Getting Press: 4 Steps For Writing An Effective Press Release  »

By Marsha Friedman

As a rule, I believe most press releases are not worth the time it takes to write them.
Newspapers, magazines, and online news outlets publish articles, not press releases, which means publishing your news will require extra steps for them. And we all know how quickly extra steps can derail a close!
But that's not to say a press release is never appropriate, particularly for announcements that editors aren't likely to devote much space to.
For business owners, press releases are great for announcing upcoming events, awards, or reaching a milestone. There is a chance your release will catch the interest of a reporter or editor who then decides to interview you and write a story, but the odds aren't great, which is why my public relations company doesn't use them as part of our standard operating procedure...

Feature Story:

Maximize Your E-Sources: Using Social Media As A Recruiting Tool »

By Nate DaPore

"Google," which became a verb in June 2006, is among many new verbs that have transformed the way we speak--and interact. Today we "friend" someone on Facebook, "bookmark" a website, "blog" an article, and "text" from our phones. Social media is rewriting how we connect with each other--and it's happening in every aspect of our lives. Twitter transformed how we get our news; Groupon revolutionized how we consume; Foursquare revamped how we "check-in"; and now, social media is redefining how we hire.
More than a decade ago, HR saw the emergence of job boards that allowed employers to reach an expanded talent pool with the click of a few buttons. Since that time, virtual hiring portals have dominated candidate sourcing. As social media infiltrates everyday life, franchisees must leverage these resources to connect with both their consumers and candidates...

Feature Story:

Growing A Franchise: Lessons Learned Along The Way »

By D'onn Genovese

As many in the beauty industry have likely noticed, Massage Envy has experienced explosive franchise growth in the last several years. A provider of therapeutic massage, facials, and other spa services in the United States, Massage Envy has expanded to nearly 840 locations in 46 states. While this growth is exciting, increasing demand for a franchise can pose challenges for individual franchise owners to manage, especially when it comes to quickly hiring, onboarding, and managing staff.
I started our first Massage Envy franchise with my husband, son, and daughter-in-law, because the idea of running a business with family appealed to me. Furthermore, I was supportive of the spa industry's overall mission - I think we can all get behind the idea that there is too much stress in this world, and the long-term health repercussions from this are huge...

Feature Story:

The Human Element: Drive Performance By Managing The Whole Employee »

By Marty Martin Psy.D.

The term "human resources management" is essential in business. But have you noticed that the majority of the literature about the topic focuses on the "resources" and the "management" aspects but barely addresses the "human" element? As a result, most managers see their employees as resources to be managed, and not as a whole person that can contribute so much more.
Managing the whole person means acknowledging that everyone is multi-dimensional and has numerous roles to balance in life--all of which affect job performance. However, this goes much deeper than simply work-life balance. It's about recognizing all aspects of an employee to ensure a work-life "fit" that benefits the company and each individual. In fact, when you focus on the whole person rather than just on an employee's work performance, you build more meaningful connections with employees, resulting in greater loyalty and productivity...

Feature Story:

Beyond Just Surviving: How To Awaken The Steve Jobs In You »

By Michael E. Gerber

Just like everyone else, small business owners get caught up in their personal economic successes and woes. They're trying to find more time; trying to deal with the exigencies of life; trying to just survive.
The latter is both the cause and result of the broken and failed businesses we see in such large numbers. I know because I've been helping entrepreneurs fix their businesses for 40 years. In that time, I've also found a few small business creators who have discovered the secret of what I call "going beyond." They go beyond the ordinary. They go beyond the seeming limits of their personal economy and the barriers that keep so many others consumed with just getting by.
Early in my career, the driving question became: What's the difference between the survivors and the thrivers? What's the difference between entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and the Murray Smiths who were my clients?
With only $5,000, Jobs and his partner and an unlikely idea they called the personal computer created what would become the most valuable enterprise on the planet: Apple, Inc...



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