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Feature Story:

End Of The Bond Bull?: How To Manage The Nearing Possibility »

By Carol M. Schleif

For the past 30 years, the U.S. has experienced the longest bull market on record for fixed-income securities. As interest rates declined, investors in bonds benefited. Fixed-income returns have been far above historical norms, even outperforming stocks during crucial periods, and investors have poured billions into them. The seemingly inevitable end of this run has many investors uncertain about the future.
There has been a great deal of debate recently regarding the notion that interest rates, which are hovering near all-time lows, may be set to increase, particularly as a result of the massive amounts of stimulus provided by central banks worldwide in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. What about the Fed's balance sheet? What will the impact be if quantitative easing continues? What are the ripple effects that may be caused if investors create a disorderly exit? Given the complexity of the issues, we can touch only on a few points here...

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:

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:

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...

Feature Story:

Partners In Arms: IFA Teams Up With Job Creations Network To Defend Franchising »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Franchising is fighting back.
Organized labor and activist groups have been hammering away at the franchise business way of life. But now the International Franchise Association (IFA) and Job Creations Network, an advocacy organization dedicated to educating employees about government policies that negatively impact their business, have formed a dynamic duo to help defend franchising.
The new partnership will provide IFA and its membership non-partisan education tools about how existing and prospective government policies affect their workplace, now and in the future.
"Millions of jobs and small businesses are now at risk due to the unprecedented nature of the recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that franchisors and franchisees can be designated as joint-employers," said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira, CFE...

Feature Story:

For Sale!: Ensuring A Successful Business Or Property Sale »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Corporations are holding record levels of cash, interest rates are low and the housing market is rebounding. The result? Merger and acquisitions professionals are buying more businesses and high-end homes are selling faster - Silicon Valley had a 26 percent increase in sales of $1.5 million-and-up houses in the first half of last year.
If you're considering selling a business or property in 2014 - while business is good and before mortgage rates climb - keep in mind: Focusing only on the price can short-change you in the long run. "A lot of sellers are rushing to close the deal because they're worried about what may be around the corner," says attorney John Hartog of Hartog & Baer Trust and Estate Law. "My first rule: Sell smart, not fast...

Feature Story:

Positional Power: 5 Ways To Find Common Ground With Your Business Partners »

By Dan Schneider

If you happen to be an active majority partner in a business, you may sometimes find yourself struggling for alignment with your minority partner or partners, especially if the minority partners are also involved in the business. They assume because they have some percentage of ownership that they may have the positional power to make unilateral decisions that move the business in a direction that suits their liking. In short, they throw their "weight" around; and they pay little attention to the unintended consequences of doing so.
If you currently find yourself in this position, here are some approaches that many have used successfully to get everyone moving in the same direction again. Your success with them will depend largely on how strongly you believe and how well you remember that the deceptive or coercive use of these principles can further complicate the situation...

Feature Story:

Phishing - Don't Get Hooked!: The Basics On Avoiding This Old-School Scam »

By David Ellis

Phishing may be old news, but it still works. Ongoing education about phishing scams is essential for anyone who uses your system. It doesn't matter if you have the most secure security system in the world. It only takes one untrained employee to be fooled by a phishing attack and give away the data you've worked so hard to protect.
As part of your security awareness program (PCI requirement 12.6.1), your personnel should be trained at least annually on phishing. I recommend sending monthly memos, or displaying a poster outlining the telltale signs of a phishing attempt. (You can also hang this article in your break room!)
Phishing continues to remain a lucrative criminal profession in our email-packed world. Hackers send out more than 150 million fraudulent emails daily, hoping just a few will click on attached links, documents, or pictures (80,000 people fall victim to these scams each day)...

Feature Story:

Anger Management: Handling Irate Customers And Difficult Situations  »

By John Tschohl

It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it.
Facing off with a screaming, unreasonable, irrational customer represents the ultimate test of any employee's service skills. It can take you to your breaking point if you are not aware and careful. Staying grounded and above the fray requires you to find inner strength, and persevere beyond the initial difficulties.
With many employees a screaming irate customer will ruin their day. It's hard to keep motivated when 20 minutes into your shift a customer lets you have it. The bad news is most employees have never been trained to successfully handle these customers. Their ego gets in the way. They call management for support. In some call centers the employee just hangs up thinking no one will know...

Feature Story:

Talent Management: Hiring, Training, And Retaining Great Employees »

By Eddy Goldberg

The benefits of having employees who are better trained, more engaged, and who stay longer are clear. You might even call it the Holy Grail of HR. What's not so clear is exactly how to achieve that cherished goal. Some multi-unit operators rely on their franchisor-provided training, but that primarily teaches new hires about the brand and how to perform their job. Others supplement this with their own programs, adding training and education in customer service skills, teamwork, coaching, and their organization's values and culture. But not everyone has the resources--or the know-how--to do that.
One basic choice in how to hire, train, and retain top-performing employees is whether to do it in-house, or to outsource parts (or all) of their employee and management training...

Feature Story:

Healthy Choices?: Franchisees Have Only 6 Months To Comply With The ACA »

By Kerry Pipes

It's mid-2014 and nearly every American is required by the government to have health insurance coverage as outlined under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, multi-unit franchisees, who have been anxiously tracking the ACA, were granted a temporary reprieve and are not required to offer full-time employees insurance coverage until January 1, 2015.
But that's not stopping some franchisees from taking a proactive approach, offering their full-time employees coverage now. Others are taking a wait-until-it's-required approach. They both have compelling reasons.

Just the facts
The ACA was passed on March 23, 2010, upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, and has been through more than 50 votes in the House to repeal, change, or otherwise weaken it...

Feature Story:

Negotiating Success: 6 Tactics To Becoming A Better Negotiator »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

If you think negotiating is about winning or losing, you have already lost and should keep reading.
Negotiating is about striking the best possible deal between parties without short-changing any party involved in the transaction. However, many negotiators disregard the goals of the process and allow their emotions to take hold of them. This could crash a productive or profitable deal.
To avoid simple mishaps, Jenny Q. Ta, entrepreneur, author and CEO of Sqeeqee.com, the first-of-its-kind social "networthing" site, offers six strategies to follow that will help you become a better negotiator:

1) Plan Ahead:
Make a list of meeting goals and items that should be discussed, as well as a list of possible outcomes...

Feature Story:

Neo Guerilla: 4 Fresh And Novel Approaches To Guerilla Marketing »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

The continuing evolution of media consumption has made it increasingly challenging for an advertiser to both capture and hold an audience's attention.
"A decade or two ago, media was relatively consolidated; advertisers knew they could reach a significant segment of their targeted audience via newspapers and television commercials, which almost seems quaint today," says advertising entrepreneur Patrick Walsh. "We live in what academics call the Age of Choice, where reaching a broad audience and funneling their attention to a business has become trickier than ever."
In the past, guerilla marketing - the unconventional and creative use of traditional marketing tools like stickers, print ads, and billboards - has been an effective means of jolting public awareness...



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