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Feature Story:

On The Take: How To Deal With Employee Theft »

By Patrick Barnett

Employee theft is a common crime that is not even regarded as such by most people who commit it. Taking an odd pen or few sheets of paper home is regarded by many as being a right rather than a crime and something that even the most senior managers can be found guilty of.
It's estimated that 95 percent of all companies suffer from employee theft, but it's probably closer to 100 percent. Serious theft, however, is a different thing entirely. There is a world of difference between the theft of a few pens and the steady depletion of stock through organized crime within a large organization. This sort of employee theft is estimated to cause more than 30 percent of all company bankruptcies, and many companies are in desperate need of a means of controlling it...

Feature Story:

Is It 2012 All Over Again?: Will Congress Finally Act Fiscally Responsibly In 2013? »

By Darrell Johnson

In all likelihood, 2013 will feel a lot like 2012. Only two significant factors could change the economic environment in 2013 from the past two years of choppy, but painfully gradual improvement.
One factor--global conditions--is unpredictable and largely out of the control of any of us. Global weaknesses are outside our control, but weigh heavily on the recovery. And it's unlikely many positive shocks are looming in the next year or two internationally. We can't expect much from Europe any time soon. BRIC countries are unpredictable, led by China's apparent slowdown.
The other factor--our own Congress--is within our country's control. Unfortunately, I don't have very high confidence in a positive outcome. If the politicians in Washington somehow are overwhelmed by a strong dose of common sense (I hold out very little hope for this), the influence a compromise will have initially is big, in that it removes uncertainty...

Feature Story:

Make It Personal: Your Credibility Is Anchored In Character And Integrity »

By Timothy Bednarz

Personal credibility is based upon a leader's character and integrity and the actions and behaviors that stem from them. Far from perfect, many of the influential American leaders I surveyed possessed character flaws and displayed at times, questionable ethical behaviors. Yet their personal credibility remained intact.
So it is safe to ascertain that perfection is not humanly expected and attainable as a leader, but self-awareness of one's strengths and weaknesses is essential. It reflects both maturity and authenticity, which only then serves to enhance a leader's personal credibility.
An observance of the absence of self-awareness resulted in a strong emergence of arrogance and hubris that diminished and ultimately destroyed credibility on all levels...

Feature Story:

Succession And Growth: Everything May Not Be As It Seems »

By Loyd H. Rawls

"What are your goals?" is the common question I present to clients and prospects.
"We want to grow," is the common response I get from business owners who have found a way to make decent money in indecent times. And as though we were talking about buying filters for an air conditioner, they continue with, "and we would like to pick up a couple, three maybe four more locations. We know the management formula; all we need are the deals."
This has been happening so frequently that I rarely pursue dialogue on the subject as if I did, it would take up all my time. I just generally state, "That's impressive. Good luck, as I understand from first hand experience that growth can be fun, and growth can also be a challenge." In light of more pressing subjects on the agenda, I rarely press my opinion regarding succession and growth...

Feature Story:

Family Business: Not Child's Play! »

By Michele Chandler

Three families succeed where many have failed

Operating a successful franchise business is challenging enough. Add in family members and things can get really interesting. Who's the favorite child? Who gets to be CEO, president, COO? When does the founder let go of the reins (and what if he won't)? Issues such as control or favoritism can sink an otherwise healthy enterprise. And then there's the problem of taking the business home or leaving it at the office. Here are three stories of family-run franchises showing that potential problems with family dynamics not only can be overcome, but can be the source of unique strengths that can be channeled into building a prosperous, healthy enterprise--and family.

His three sons
Ever since his sons can remember, Matt Holker has been an entrepreneur...

Feature Story:

Masters Of The Customer Experience »

By John Tschohl

What kind of value do you provide your customers?

I am often asked how I define exceptional customer service. Here it is in a nutshell: Speed, price, and technology--all built around service. That definition is especially appropriate today, given the fast-paced life we live and the budget constraints many of us face. When we are looking to make a purchase, we want to do it conveniently, we want it now, and we want it at a good price. That is true whether we are purchasing a car or carpet cleaning, an air conditioner or airline tickets.
How do you provide that exceptional service? Take a good look at how you deal with your customers, from initial contact to closing the deal. Are you welcoming, whether customers walk through your physical doors or virtual doors? Do you call them by name? Do you have a smile on your face and in your face? Do you provide the information that will help them make an informed decision regarding their purchase? Do you deliver what you say you will as quickly as possible?
Let me give you examples of three companies that go above and beyond to not only meet, but exceed, customer expectations...

Feature Story:

Generation Gap: A Crash Course In Managing 'Millennials' »

By Jennifer Kushell

Millennials provide a unique challenge for businesses today. Many business operators are struggling to understand this generation and how to get the most out of the employer-employee relationship. Here is a quick guide to those born after 1980 and how you can turn them into some of your biggest fans and assets.

Communicating: They do it differently than you. Let's start there. Veterans like face-to-face meetings, Boomers like phone calls, Generation X prefers email and Millennials do most of their communicating via cell phone, text messages and social media. Interpersonal skills and presentation skills often need work, so be prepared to explain what is important to you and expected in your line of work. But be open to letting them develop relationships through the channels they're most comfortable with...

Feature Story:

Cover Your Assets: Tips For Safeguarding Your Wealth »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Litigation is America's fastest growing business because plaintiffs have everything to gain and nothing but a few hours to lose, says Hillel Presser, author of Financial Self-Defense (Revised Edition), www.assetprotectionattorneys.com.
"Even if a case seems utterly ridiculous - like the man who struck and killed a teenager with his luxury car and then sued the boy's family for damage to his bumper - defendants are encouraged to settle. It's sometimes the only way to avoid potentially astronomical legal fees," he says.
If you haven't already taken steps to protect your assets, that's one New Year's resolution you'll be glad you made and followed up on, Presser says. And while it helps to have the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in asset protection, there are many things you can do yourself...

Feature Story:

Sizing Them Up: 10 Tips For Evaluating Franchise Brands »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Ellen Hui spent years as a multi-brand franchisee in the San Francisco Bay area. Following the sale of her business, she has turned to helping franchisors and franchisees improve their operational efficiencies. And with her background in banking, she's also astute on the financial side. We asked what she looks for when researching brands.
Here are her 10 tips on how to evaluate a new brand.

Feature Story:

Performance Review: Using Assignments To Assess Employee Growth And Development »

By Timothy Bednarz

Effective leaders manage by keeping their fingers on the pulse of their employees' key activities. When tasks and assignments are delegated, leaders must take the time to review each employee's progress against goals to determine what, if any, additional training and coaching is needed to successfully complete the assignment or to enhance their skills.
There is a two-fold purpose of an assignment performance review. Leaders are receiving a progress report on the delegated task or assignment. They are allowing the employee to provide details and input on what has happened to date, and the results. The employee is also providing feedback on any problems, issues, and concerns that may have surfaced. This allows the leader to provide insights and to suggest possible courses of action, if needed...

Feature Story:

'Brand' New Pick: Adding New Brands Takes Careful Consideration »

By Eddy Goldberg

Aziz Hashim, who was an engineer before deciding he liked restaurants and franchising better, has a detailed, systematic process for evaluating potential new brands. With 50 units (23 Domino's, 13 Popeyes, and 14 Rally's), first and foremost he's looking for brands in the restaurant sector. Three of his top considerations are:

Feature Story:

The New And Improved Normal »

By Darrell Johnson

New Tools Boost Franchise Lending Prospects
Previously, I described one of the few positives from the recent financial crisis: In the world of small-business lending, franchising has gained a competitive edge in the battle for access to capital.
We're now in phase two of a small-business credit recovery that started in late 2011 and will last a few more years. This phase is defined by the banking community's gradual return to small-business lending, the result of banks beginning to feel earnings pressure they didn't have following the 2008 financial crisis. Investor expectations for banks are gradually changing from capital preservation to earnings--and banks make money by lending.
The early part of phase two starts with banks searching only for lower-risk lending opportunities (e...

Feature Story:

Local Store Marketing 101: Molly Maid Case Study »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Twenty-year-old Michael Silva-Nash's family bought the Greater Little Rock Molly Maid franchise in 2005. "If you were part of the family, you had to come to work at Molly Maid, folding rags, filing, weekends," he says. Soon he was making customer phone calls and beginning to take on marketing-related activities. Now he's appearing on a local television station sharing cleaning tips on the air.
About a year ago, they revamped their marketing. "We started doing radio with a local personality we enjoy listening to and who spoke to our clients, the women we were trying to reach. She's almost a personal endorsement, like a friend," he says.
For someone so young, he seems to have his fingers on all the right marketing buttons. "You have to adapt your marketing to the local area and tie all your marketing together," he says...

Feature Story:

Getting It Right: 10 Tips For Hiring Winning Employees »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Earlier this year we interviewed representatives from companies that specialize in helping business operators hire smarter. These experts identified characteristics of the best hiring strategies and processes that can be utilized by multi-unit franchisees. Some of these may seem like no-brainers, while others may provide an "Aha!" moment. Implementing these practices into your hiring process will generate improvements in the performance of both your front-line employees and your bottom line.

Feature Story:

Whose Gift Card Is It, Anyway?: Navigating The Tricky Waters Of Escheat Law For Franchises »

By Ronald Tramazzo

Gift cards! Often viewed as giveaways or as marketing ploys. You may want to think twice before you throw them into your offerings mix -- there are potential obstacles you may not have considered. Franchisors sometimes offer gift cards for their franchisees to sell, usually through programs funded by the franchise system's ad fund. The big question to consider is, once the franchise system collects the funds, what happens with the unused portion (the "breakage") of these gift cards? Are these funds kept by the franchisor? Are they turned over to the franchisee?
Many states have "escheat" statutes (the process of re-assigning legal title of unclaimed or abandoned assets to a state authority) that require these funds be turned over to the state after the passage of a prescribed period of time...

Feature Story:

E-Satisfaction: Everything You Do Should Focus On The Customer »

By John Tschohl

"A business that fails to satisfy its customers is worth nothing."

I made that statement in e-Service, a book I wrote in 2001 about how to build a successful e-commerce business, and it's as true today as it was then. If you don't give your customers what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, you won't be in business long.
If you want to survive--and thrive--especially during these tough economic times, it's critical that you focus on customer service. If you don't believe that, look at Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of amazon.com, which had sales in 2011 of $48 billion, a 41 percent increase over the previous year.
Amazon has 164 million customers, more than 20 million products - and a reputation of providing unprecedented customer service...

Feature Story:

Shifting Control: Survey Finds Employers And Employees Reaping Rewards Of Healthy Choices »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

More employers are offering benefits that encourage employees to improve their health in 2012, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released this past summer.
Over the last five years, benefits that reward employees for improving their health have jumped - a sign that organizations recognize employees value these benefits and are looking for ways to cut business costs. For example, the percentage of employers offering health and lifestyle coaching jumped from 33 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2012, and rewards or bonuses for completing a health and wellness program increased from 23 percent in 2008 to 35 percent in 2012.
"Employers recognize that providing employees with the opportunity to improve their health can increase morale, confidence, and productivity," says Mark J...

Feature Story:

Guerrilla Marketing In The Real World »

By Eddy Goldberg

Innovative, creative, low-cost marketing tips you can use

Many consider a mailer not delivered by mail--placed on the hood of a car or on a doorknob of a house--to be guerrilla marketing. This is like comparing a paint-by-number portrait to the Mona Lisa.
True guerrilla marketing is much more bold, creative, and, most important, surprising. In fact, all successful examples of this type of marketing feature unexpected placement, timing, or messaging.
Apples on trees in the middle of winter, a carton of undamaged eggs on a baggage claim carousel, a crushed car in the middle of a valet parking lot--you must understand what is expected in a situation and then do the opposite.
It's not a marketing medium for those who prefer to play it safe...

Feature Story:

Above & Beyond: Creating A Culture Of Surprise And Delight »

By Jack Mackey

The Multi-Unit Franchising Conference was held in Las Vegas this past April. Would it surprise you to know that 70 percent of all revenue generated by Las Vegas casinos is non-gaming revenue? It's true. You can walk around the Strip and see that Las Vegas offers many experiences other than gambling, and that, after years of having the reputation of being "sin city," Las Vegas is becoming a family town. When someone pointed this out to me, I started to notice all the inter-generational activity. For those who attended, did you notice how many older men were with their 30-something daughters? It was great to see how the family is getting back together in Las Vegas.
I couldn't resist telling you that story, and I have a point to make. I continue to admire how Southwest Airlines is the only air carrier that uses humor to surprise and delight customers...

Feature Story:

Veteran Experience: 2012 Military Friendly Franchises List Is Out »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

The total number of veteran-owned franchise businesses among the most military-friendly franchise companies jumped nearly 35 percent to a record 11,469 in the last year, with the average percentage of veteran-owned franchise businesses in military-friendly franchise systems climbing to 28 percent, a spike from 17 percent just a year ago.
As a result, veteran-owned franchises generate more than $41 billion annually and employ 1.5 million people. You can see which brands made it onto G.I. Jobs' 2012 Military Friendly Franchises list here (http://www.militaryfranchising.com).
The list satisfies veterans' need to know which franchises they should consider, which ones give them the best financial incentives and training, and which have the highest number of veteran franchisees...



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