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Feature Story:

What Are Your Customers Telling You? »

By Jack Mackey

Demolishing three customer experience survey myths

Without customers, you are out of business.
It seems to me that part of learning "how-to-make-customers-loyal" is to ask customers to give you feedback on their experiences of doing business with you. Yet some franchisees still push back against the idea of surveying their customers. Why is that? The arguments against measuring the customer experience usually start with these three:
Myth #1: No one takes these surveys. If you are a person who never takes surveys, it's easy to assume that no one else does. Guess what? Millions of people take customer satisfaction surveys every day. The fact that these survey-taking-customers don't think and act like you demonstrates exactly why you should ask them what they think!
The truth is a range of customers take surveys--from satisfied to dissatisfied...

Feature Story:

Teach Your Children: They Will Inherit Your Assets, Not Your Wisdom »

By Carol Schleif

"Death and taxes." Given that estate planning combines two of the most dreaded eventualities, is it any wonder that most folks have a difficult time warming to the topic?
A monetary legacy can provide an incomparable "leg up" and open a world of opportunity to the next generation--if that generation is adequately prepared. Inelegant handling of the training stage can, however, create generations of enmity, or breed unmotivated offspring with an entitlement attitude. Missteps are easy to make, since the issues are complex and multi-faceted. Here are a few key areas parents should consider as they grapple with intergenerational transfer issues:

Feature Story:

Business Busters: 10 Ways To Avoid Career Killers »

By Daniel C. Steenerson

Fundamentals are stressed in everything from sports to business. Focus in on basic tackling and blocking and success is much more likely to follow. Here are 10 ways to avoid career killers.

10. Set 'em and forget 'em goals. Successful people treat goals as "do or die."
9. Complex communication. You can't persuade people who don't understand. Keep it super simple.
8.  One-shot-wonder effort. If it's worth trying once, it's worth following up and persevering. Most achievements occur after several rounds of follow up.
7. Treating others how you want to be treated. Instead, deploy Tony Alessandra's Platinum Rule: Treat others how they want to be treated.
6. Trying to make brilliant decisions instead of facing the hard decisions...

Feature Story:

Customer Focus: 5 Steps To Keep Your Customers Loyal »

By Lisa Ford

Customers are fickle, demanding, and opinionated. That's why keeping your customers loyal, satisfied, and saying positive things about you is crucial. There are plenty of things that must be done via your technology, people, and processes to make your culture customer focused. Here are five strategies that need to be incorporated into your daily efforts.

Feature Story:

Plastic Fantastic: How To Create Key Tags And Loyalty Cards That Get Results »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Businesses that offer plastic membership cards, loyalty cards, and key tags to their clients and customers are giving their customers a great incentive to keep coming back and take part in their loyalty programs, promotions, and special offers. To make sure that your customers will want to join your program over that of a competitor, you should put effort into designing an eye-catching and effective key tag or membership card that will appeal to and attract more customers. These five easy steps to designing an effective key tag will help you get started.

Step 1: Develop your message
First it is important to develop the message for your key tag. What will it be used for and what is its key purpose? Ask yourself who will be the target audience...

Feature Story:

How Would You Grade Your Sales Team? »

By Marc Kiekenapp

How would you grade your sales effort? Is a "C" okay for your company? Are your competitors scoring higher?

With 2013 trending to be one of the best years in the recent past for franchising growth, we must make sure we are prepared to take advantage and grow our franchise brands.

To do that, we need to examine our systems and procedures and create a "scorecard" for success. Today's franchise buyers expect the best in marketing materials, in systems, and in professional sales consultants who can guide them to a franchise that can meet their financial and personal goals.

The franchise systems that will be most successful today will have taken the time and invested the capital to implement the critical changes they need for success...

Feature Story:

Making Real Estate A Core Value Of Your Franchise System, Part 4 Of 4 »

By Scott Simcik

Hopefully, you are adopting a standardized real estate process that encompasses a clearly defined all-in-one strategy for site selection, lease negotiation, and legal review. I realize that, as a franchise executive, you may not have the time, resources, or capabilities to put this process in place. This four-part series highlights 11 key points for standardizing your real estate process. Click to read or review Part 1, here for Part 2, and here for Part 3.


VIII. Building a Successful Real Estate Strategy
Site selection, lease negotiation, & legal review

Up to this point, we've focused on the importance of having a standardized real estate process in place to support franchisee success. Now let's take a look at the central components of this process, as well as the potential costs of not having a process in place...

Feature Story:

6 Keys To Keep Your Franchise System Growing »

By Steve Olson

To stand out among the more than 3,000 active franchise opportunities in today's market, you must seize your buyers' attention with benefit-driven programs and systems. Stay tuned to the cycles of the economy, your industry, new competitive influences, and buyer interests. Savvy franchisors do what it takes to 1) maintain compelling franchise programs, 2) remain sensitive to their buying audience, 3) understand what those buyers want, and 4) know how to package their opportunity to successfully recruit them.

Here are 6 key tips on how to keep your successful franchise system moving ahead in today's marketplace.

Feature Story:

A Business Call: Giving Call-In Customers Great Service »

By John Tschohl

You have only one chance to make a first impression.
While that statement is something you've probably heard at least 1,000 times, many of us think of it only in terms of meeting someone in person. We fail to realize the importance of that first impression when meeting someone over the telephone.
The truth of the matter is that, when interacting with a customer on the telephone, you must work even harder to ensure a great first impression than you would if you were meeting face to face. Why? Because your voice--and your words--must compensate for the lack of visuals that would connect you with your customer when talking to each other in person.
Here are some tips I urge you to put into practice in order to provide your call-in customers with the best possible service:

1...

Feature Story:

Cheating The Family »

By Lois Lang, Psy.D.

How to Handle Embezzlement in a Family Business
Hearing about embezzlement in a public company rarely shocks anyone, but when it happens in a family business, people are often stunned. "How could he steal from his own family?" "Doesn't she know she's hurting her siblings/cousins/parents?"
As tough and painful as embezzlement is, it's not as uncommon as many of us would like to think. Sure the kind of embezzlement that results in jail time is rare, but other levels of it happen daily.
How could this happen? Many factors lead to embezzlement, including chronic financial strain, a general sense of family entitlement, lack of internal company controls, and the reality or perception of being overworked and underpaid. To make matters worse, often the embezzler doesn't even know that what he or she is doing is wrong...

Feature Story:

Work Order Relief: Track Your Facilities Assets To Save Time And Money »

By Kellie D'Andrea

How much maintenance information do you have on all of your locations? Do you know how many of your HVAC units will need to be replaced this year? Are your signs still under warranty? What maintenance is the landlord required to do, and when? How often do your floors need to be stripped and waxed? When should your backflows be tested and fire extinguishers inspected? Do you know how much you are spending on repairs, and are those charges consistent at different locations?
Tracking your facilities maintenance transactions may not be a priority; treating this as a reactive component to your business is standard practice. However, if you believe that your locations are your #1 asset and that maintaining them could lead to more business and a better customer experience, you would want to simplify this process, correct?
If you had a work order management system that was easy to use, you could quickly find all of this information and automate your maintenance programs using the following key features found in work order systems:

Feature Story:

Quick Service Restaurants Missing Big Opportunity: Study Finds Satisfied Customers Are Four Times More Likely To Recommend QSR's »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

A new survey that asked consumers to weigh in on food, order accuracy, speed of service, menu, and other items at the top 62 QSR brands found that, not surprisingly, the likelihood of a return visit to a QSR increases from 20 to 81 percent when guests report a higher satisfaction rate. The study was done by Empathica, which provides customer experience management (CEM) solutions to multi-unit enterprises.
The Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Benchmark Study surveyed 10,000 U.S. consumers on the 62 top QSR brands, measuring food, order accuracy, speed of service, menu, restaurant atmosphere and cleanliness, staff, and value. Results determined brand rankings in these categories as well as the drivers behind customer loyalty and satisfaction...

Feature Story:

Productive Failure: Turn Your Mistakes Into Learning Opportunities »

By Dr. Nido Qubein

We learn by doing. Think about the basic skills you've acquired in life. You learned to walk by pulling yourself up, turning loose, and taking a step. You fell the first time, but you got up and tried again. Each time you did it a little better than the time before. You were learning by doing.
You learned to drive a car by taking one out on the highway with an experienced teacher who could give you instructions and point out your mistakes as you drove.
With each endeavor, you started as a novice, and you learned proficiency from the mistakes you made. It's that way in any undertaking. When you take action toward your goals, you will make mistakes. Don't worry about it. Everybody makes them. Successful people learn from theirs...

Feature Story:

Family Inheritance: 5 Tips For Family Business Succession Planning »

By Lois Lang

When it comes to family business succession planning, one thing is certain: Most family business leaders don't do it, they don't do it well, or they wait to do it until it's too late. While the CEO longevity in non-family businesses is an average of six years, for family owned businesses CEOs tend to stay for 20-25 years.
Sure that long tenure contributes to leadership stability and consistency, but it can also fuel flat growth, narrow business focus, and decreasing leadership drive. Additionally, when the CEO and other top level executive family members do not step aside in a timely manner, it causes a high level of frustration in the next generation who is ready to charge forward and make their mark. Once it becomes clear that the children might reach their mid- to late-fifties before taking over, it becomes hard to hold on to the ambitious ones...

Feature Story:

Making Real Estate A Core Value Of Your Franchise System, Part 2 »

By Scott Simcik

Hopefully, you are adopting a standardized real estate process that encompasses a clearly defined all-in-one strategy for site selection, lease negotiation, and legal review. I realize that, as a franchise executive, you may not have the time, resources, or capabilities to put this process in place. This four-part series highlights 11 key points for standardizing your real estate process. Click here to read or review Part 1.

II. Looking Closely at Legal Strategy

Don't let legal language limit your real estate services.

To identify the root of this hands-off real estate approach motivated by self-preservation, we must take a closer look at the current legal strategy in play. Franchise agreements are consistently drafted so that franchisees have the right to select their final choice of location...

Feature Story:

Lead Generation Success: Measure Results To Improve Performance »

By Steve Olson

Audit your advertising and increase results

What you don't know, you can't measure. And what you can't measure, you can't improve! Successful recruitment programs invest in marketing intelligence and monitoring tools to 1) determine their most productive selling sources; 2) create compelling, direct-response advertising for each media source selected; and 3) stay ahead of or in step with the competition.

Good news for you smart execs! Many franchise companies still don't track their marketing performance - which provides competitive advantages for those intelligent franchisors who do successfully monitor, measure, and modify their lead generation programs. By knowing where you are and where you want to go, you build the shortest road to get there...

Feature Story:

Customers As Consultants: Ask Them Questions And Listen To Their Responses »

By John Tschohl

Who are your customers? Do you know what they want? Do you know what they think about you and your products and services? If you don't, you have some work to do.
It's critical that you know your customers, so that you can give them what they want. You must be proactive. Instead of waiting for your customers to start leaving you and wondering why they are heading to your competitors, you must research their needs and determine their opinions of your business.
As soon as I mentioned the word research, most of you are probably thinking, "Oh, great. Now he wants me to spend a lot of money; money I can't spare."
The type of research I am talking about doesn't have to cost you anything. And it basically involves two steps:

Ask...

Feature Story:

Performance Issues: 4 'Bad Leader Behaviors' That Affect Productivity And Profits »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

What can business leaders and managers learn from watching the earnings of publicly traded companies?
"Plenty," says Kathleen Brush, a 25-year veteran of international business and author of The Power of One: You're the Boss (www.kathleenbrush.com), a guide to developing the skills necessary to become an effective, respected leader.
"When looking at the corporations reporting lower-than-expected earnings, you need to read between the lines. They are not going to admit that the reason is a failure of leadership, but 99 times out of 100 that's what it is."
She cites Oracle, the business hardware and software giant, which recently reported a quarterly revenue shortfall based on a decline in new software licenses and cloud subscriptions...

Feature Story:

Trust Factor: Change Cannot Be Achieved Without The Building Block Of Trust »

By Timothy Bednarz

The need for trust in the workplace and communication therein is understood by many leaders to be the foundational building block of the organization. The degree of trust developed will impact employee performance and retention, the development of teams, and implementation of organizational change. Regardless of size and industry, organizations are comprised of individuals who desire the same thing: the ability to trust those they work with. People cannot trust an organization, but they can trust their superiors, employees, and associates.
Issues of broken trust and personal betrayal are far from just the result of restructuring, downsizing, or other major organizational events. They are the product of the numerous micro-decisions that leaders and managers make every day...

Feature Story:

Control Issues: Even When You Can't Control Events, You Can Control How You Respond »

By Moe Glenner

As a professional pilot, I meticulously pre-plan my flight including strong and continuous consideration and planning for the weather. I can't control the weather, but I can control how I react to it, including choosing to divert or not fly in it at all. However, there are times that, despite the planning, Mother Nature has her own little surprises. Regardless, as Pilot in Command (PIC), I must continue to safely fly the plane.
It is no different with life's surprises for any of us. Sometimes we can anticipate them and pre-empt either the change itself or its impacts. Other times we may not be able to control the events themselves, but we can certainly control how we react to them and our consequential actions afterwards.
Ask yourself this question: Do events control you or do you control events? Or better yet, are you influenced by life events or do you influence life events? How many times are we faced with a situation that seems hopeless and resign ourselves to whatever fate presents?
Typically, this will happen at what I call a "failure moment...



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