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Feature Story:

Check Your Franchise Agreement Before You Sell »

By Scott A. Augustine

Franchisees around the country are breathing a collective sigh of relief as the post-recession rebound officially sets in. For many who weathered the economic downturn, earnings have increased, profits are up (thanks to strategic management decisions), and potential purchasers are again lining up to enter the market with finances in hand. And for others, fair market value for the business has reached a point where it may make financial sense to sell, particularly for those who held on to see a better day.
But before you make plans to sell the franchise, whether now or in the next few years, there are a few simple steps that you should take to prepare and avoid unwanted surprises. After all, preparation enhances the value of your business; surprises cost money and time...

Feature Story:

Information Retrieval: FDDs Need More Useful, Actionable Detail »

By Darrell Johnson

When evaluating a brand, experienced operators have two big advantages over first-time prospects. First, they know what questions to ask. Second, most of the time they know what a good answer looks like.
The first advantage really isn't all that much of an advantage. Common sense leads prospects to ask many of the most relevant questions. In addition to how much they will be asked to invest and how much can be made from that investment, some of the more frequently asked questions include: the franchisor's financial position, the experience of the franchisor's management team, the amount of training and support, brand marketing efforts, and the performance of units and franchisees.
The second advantage is usually considered the big one...

Feature Story:

Can Energy Management Systems Really Work? »

By James Walton

Energy management systems (EMS) are great in theory but often prove problematic in practice for many multi-unit franchise owners. The reasons tend to vary but a common theme centers on the administration of the intelligent thermostats, the pre-conceived cost of installation and complexity to ascertain, analyze, and effectively apply the data.
All of these are valid points against EMS for entrepreneurial multi-unit franchisees who operate in environments with razor thin margins and who may have limited internal resources. These owners simply don't have the bandwidth or dedicated staff to effectively administer, monitor, and analyze the fire hose of data associated with energy management systems.
As a result, multi-unit operators often discard the notion of embracing energy management systems and the significant financial benefits and operational efficiencies they provide...

Feature Story:

Franchisees Testify NLRB Actions Could Shut Them Down »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Two franchise business owners urged Congress to address regulatory overreach by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to expand the definition of what constitutes a joint employer during a hearing February 5 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee. The franchise business owners testified that recent actions by the NLRB would significantly undermine their ability to operate and sustain their businesses - potentially forcing them to close down. 
At issue is the recent NLRB recommendation to upend the decades-long, well-established joint employer definition. Should the NLRB expand the definition of joint employer to include a franchisee's national brand, it would destroy the franchise model - leading to industry consolidation and, ultimately, to store closures and a loss of jobs, economic activity and entrepreneurial investment...

Feature Story:

The 5 C's For Building A Business »

By Marsha Friedman

Small businesses have made a huge recovery since the economic crash in 2008 and that's good news for all of us. Since we account for 63 percent of new jobs, our success puts people back to work. That, in turn, helps us even more - people with paychecks buy stuff!
And here's more good news: Women are launching more businesses than ever - 1,288 a day, according to a recent analysis by American Express. That's up from 602 in 2011-12. Since 1997, women-owned businesses rose by 68 percent.
As a female entrepreneur who will soon celebrate my company's 25th anniversary, I'm well aware of the challenges these brave new CEOs face. I'm not exaggerating when I use the word "brave." My experiences have taught me that courage is essential to launching and growing a successful business - particularly if you're a woman...

Feature Story:

Top 10 Franchise Lead Generation Trends For 2015 »

By Thomas Scott and Joe Mathews

A blog from the Franchise Performance Group examines 10 trends in franchise lead generation for 2015. What follows are edited highlights. For the complete version, which explains each trend in further detail, click here.

Smart franchisors have seen these "game-changing" new trends in how franchise buyers research opportunity, how search engines affect website traffic and results, leading a reinvention of how they recruit franchisees. Here are our Top 10 trends for franchise lead generation in 2015 and beyond:

Trend No. 12015 spells the end of VPs of Marketing controlling the franchise development advertising budget. Marketing to franchise candidates is totally different than marketing to just about anyone else. For decades, franchise salespeople have been held captive by the marketing department, forced to use pretty but otherwise ineffective marketing materials...

Feature Story:

It's A New World!: Technological Convergence Brings Sweeping Changes »

By Carol M. Schleif

Throughout modern history, periods of heightened innovation and technological advance were followed by a relatively radical step up in the human condition as new industries, processes, routines, and services became commonplace. In the mid- to late-1800s, the United States became truly united with the completion of the transcontinental railroad and interconnected waterways, while subsequent advances in electricity, plumbing, engineering, and medicine accelerated the efficiencies of life and business dramatically.
Recent advances in such things as robotics, computer processing and storage, sensors, materials science, and synthetic biotechnology have brought us to the verge of another new era, one with significant long-term implications for investors...

Feature Story:

Franchising Expected To Have Another Growth Year »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Franchise businesses are expected to grow and create more jobs at a faster pace than the rest of the economy in 2015 for the fifth consecutive year, according to "The Franchise Business Economic Outlook: 2015" released today by the International Franchise Association (IFA) Educational Foundation and IHS Economics.
"Franchising is an American success story. Independently-owned and operated local franchise businesses are growing faster, creating more jobs at a quicker pace and producing higher sales growth than other businesses. Franchising is a vital engine of economic expansion in the United States and 2015 looks to be another strong year for franchise businesses," said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira.
But Caldeira added a word of caution about the franchise outlook...

Feature Story:

Overcoming Three Top Challenges In 2015 »

By Chuck Pistor

Multi-unit franchise operators are fostering the growth of franchise profit across the United States. In 2014 alone, franchise organizations drove about 3.5 percent of the total U.S. GDP and franchise operators employed over 8.5 million Americans. Multi-unit operators played an instrumental role in advancing franchise operations across the country this year, and will continue to move the needle on franchise success in the new year.
In an always-evolving retail, restaurant, and service economy, being part of a franchise corporation gives new and seasoned entrepreneurs the means to hit the ground running. Starting an independent business is tough, but existing as part of a larger franchise network provides the support and direction it takes to see success early on...

Feature Story:

Coalition Of Franchisee Associations To Meet In March »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

This year's annual CFA Day Forum will be in Washington, D.C. from March 24-25 at the Omni Shoreham. The forum will include informational sessions, an attorney's round table, congressional visits, a Cherry Blossom Dinner Cruise, and a closing luncheon on Capitol Hill.
  Traditionally, the CFA Day Forum has provided an opportunity for franchisees and their vendor business partners to hear from well-known political speakers including Sens. John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Rand Paul, as well as Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, Reps. Howard Coble, and Jared Huffman, and political pundits like Bill Kristol, George Will, and Sam Donaldson.
This year's agenda will feature subject matter experts on legislative hot topic issues and will boast a variety of informative and educational topics relevant to the franchisee community...

Feature Story:

The Secret To Getting Things Done »

By Rowdy McLean

What's the difference between those that do and those that don't?
After decades of asking myself and thousands of others that same question, I have come to the conclusion that your success comes down to just one thing.
Whether you're trying to lose weight, save money, climb mountains, win a grand final, run a marathon, get a promotion, pretty much anything! One thing sets the winners apart from the losers, the achievers from the underachievers, the successful from the unsuccessful.
I have watched thousands of documentaries, read thousands of stories, and interviewed thousands of people and in every single case it's the same.
It's not having a positive mindset (although that helps), it's not having a secret formula (although having a plan helps), it's not where you were born or where you went to school, and it's not who your friends are or how much money you have...

Feature Story:

Building (or Acquiring) Success: Key Growth Factors Franchisees Should Know »

By Kerry Pipes

No one ever said franchise growth was easy. Operating one or two locations is hard enough, but growing to 10, 20, or more is challenging for even the most seasoned operators--especially if any of their new builds or acquisitions turns out to be a poor performer. We tracked down five successful multi-unit franchisees who have been there and done it--and who bear the scars and trophies to prove it. Among the key factors in multi-unit success, they say, are timing, funding, cash flow, people, infrastructure, and identifying the right opportunities. Their insights into what to look for and how to proceed once you decide it's time to grow may contain just the missing ingredient you need.

Right time
Deciding when to grow--and if you're ready--differs for each franchisee...

Feature Story:

Reminder...Customers Still Use The Phone »

By Lisa Ford

There is a lot of talk about customers and their use of social media. Data tells us customers are using it more and companies must be responsive and innovative with their use of it. However, I would like to remind organizations that customer still pick up a phone and call. In many cases, they've already tried social media or your website. A 2012 Sitel Study reveals when customers have a problem with a product, 57 percent of customers search for a solution online first. So when calling, their expectations are high and their frustration could be also.

Let's review a few fundamentals of a great phone experience.

Feature Story:

IFA's Franchise Action Network: Building Industry Strength »

By Erica Farage

The franchise business model is under unprecedented attack by anti-business activists launching a coordinated campaign in cities, states, and at the federal level. From discriminatory wage increases in Seattle and potentially Chicago, to federal regulations that would recast franchisors as employers of their franchisees' employees, these attacks are like nothing we have ever experienced. Franchise businesses must unite under a single, unswerving, strong, and collective voice to defend the franchise model against these increasing threats.
1) It's time to mobilize, now. This summer, the IFA board approved a new strategic initiative, the Franchise Action Network (FAN) to mobilize and unify the franchise community. Through FAN, franchisees, franchisors, and suppliers are working to educate lawmakers, regulators, key influencers, and the public about the crucial economic advantages provided by the franchise business model across the country...

Feature Story:

Keep It Simple: Customer Service And The Simple Stuff »

By Lisa Ford

Every organization has a chance to deliver a positive customer experience. That experience has many starting points and touch points along the customer interaction. Each touch point will affect the customer's perception of your business and even their loyalty.
To remain competitive, take a look at the simplest of interactions and decide how those interactions represent your company. The simple stuff came to my attention with some recent experiences. As I was checking out at a national retail chain, the employee at the register answered the phone. Here is what she said, "It's a great day at the Dunwoody Large Chain Store, this is Corrine, how can I help you?" Whew! Do you think the customer wanted to hear all of that? And do you think the employee wants to say it multiple times a day? The customer is poised and ready with their question but instead have to wait out this long greeting...

Feature Story:

Ten Years After: Reflection On A Decade Of Change »

By Jack Mackey

In 2004, the first words I ever wrote for Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine (then called Area Developer) were:
"Vast amounts of energy and treasure have been invested to understand why customers do--or don't--come back. Few questions are more important, since same-store sales growth is built on the backs of loyal customers." That connection between customer loyalty and sales growth remains true to this day.
What's different now is that franchisees better understand the value of customer loyalty and, for the best operators, how to improve the customer experience and gain market share by winning customers away from not-so-smart competitors. From my perspective as a 10-year columnist here, here is a brief history of how we far we've come...

Feature Story:

Avoiding 7 Common Negotiating Mistakes »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

While even the word "negotiation" can evoke fear, stress, and anxiety for many, the intent is quite simple: to discuss and ultimately agree on a deal. The negotiation process is a lot like a chess game where strategy reigns supreme--one thoughtfully considered move at a time.
"Even when faced with the most daunting of deals, regarding the act of negotiation as a 'game' may alleviate the apprehension and give you the confidence to make power plays that will ultimately facilitate your desired result," says veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of Think Like a Negotiator (www.ThinkLikeANegotiator.com). "Unlike strategy games like chess, however, the most effective deals are a win-win proposition for all parties rather than a winner-loser result...

Feature Story:

Making Headlines: How To Use The Media To Get The Word Out About Your Business »

By Ginny Grimsley

Reporters love sources who understand their needs. Getting a call from a reporter who wants to quote you as an expert for his story, review your products or services, or invite you to write an exclusive article for a publication, is a major coup. It means that your marketing efforts are paying off.  Who would blow such an opportunity?
Unfortunately, a lot of people do. Those who don't understand journalists' deadlines and needs are liable to be quickly passed over in favor of sources who do. That lack of knowledge can also rack up lots of wasted time and money for those who take a shotgun approach to blasting their message or products to any and all journalists. If you don't consider their individual needs, you're likely making a futile effort...

Feature Story:

Here Comes 2015!: What Do You Still Not Know About Your Business? »

By Steve Lefever

Now that we're nearing November, it's time to refocus on the business with an eye toward planning for 2015. I'd like to suggest that you look a little farther ahead and reflect on the issues I've outlined below.
Over the years, I've encountered far too many business owners who spend weeks planning their vacation (if they take one at all!) and virtually no time planning for the business that makes those vacations possible.
Watch cable news, scan a few TV commercials, or flip through any newspaper these days and it would seem there are no mysteries any more. Let's face it, we know far too much about far too many people's habits, problems, and proclivities. We have more factoids, tidbits, inklings, stats, blogs, and so-called expert opinions (legal and otherwise) than we can use in a lifetime...

Feature Story:

Word Of Mouth Power »

By John Tschohl

Just having a satisfied customer and giving them service that is simply good enough will not get anyone talking. You've got to go above and beyond the call of duty if you want your customers to talk about you.
Word of mouth is instrumental in driving your company's success. Verbal buzz about your business or product passed from one reliable person to the next is still the most cost-effective way to build a loyal following, expand your business, and reach new customers. How does it start? Give them an amazing customer experience and encourage your customers to think of themselves as partners in your business. Like I've said before, the organization chart at your business should show the customer at the top.
How your customers feel about you and what they are prepared to tell others about you can influence your revenues and profits...



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