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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:

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:

Social Media Tweaking: 3 Ways To Benefit From Paid Ads And Boosted Posts On Facebook »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Social Media Tweaking: 3 ways to Benefit From Paid Ads and Boosted Posts on Facebook

It seems nothing changes faster than the big social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. No sooner do marketers figure out how to best promote a product or business than they change the rules!
That's been especially true for Facebook, which had to find new ways to make money after going public two years ago. Twitter has also been making changes since its IPO in November, but most of them - including a visual redesign, tagging people, and uploading multiple photos - are geared toward user friendliness. Even Google+, owned by Google, which went public way back in 2004, is constantly tweaking.
But the tweaks bringing the most squeals of protest are those being made by Facebook...

Feature Story:

What's Going Online?: Multiple Studies Outline How Millennials Use Social Media And The Web »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

More and more Millennials are leveraging their social media platforms and the Internet for nearly everything. From news to updates on their friends' whereabouts, Millennials are more active with their social networks and communities than any other generation. Their activity on social media shows their true digital native capabilities.
A study by eMarketer shows the time Millennials and Millennial mothers spend with applications on their smartphones and mobile sites. With an average of 1,850 minutes spent using smartphone applications per month, Millennials ages 18 to 32 are the most active users. Specifically, mothers with young children, in 2013, the highest percentage of smartphone users are actively using their weather, social, and maps/GPS applications...

Feature Story:

Lights, Camera, Action: First-ever Multi-Unit Franchising Conference Video Collection »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

This 2014 first-ever Multi-Unit Franchising Conference Video collection includes 11 key featured sessions and over 12 hours of video. You can bring the conference home with you and enjoy these educational programs anytime, anywhere as it is cloud-based.

Cameras were on the scene at this year's Multi-Unit Franchising Conference April 23-25 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. That's because Franchise Update's Franchise Learning Academy was documenting the educational sessions throughout the event.
The Franchise Learning Academy, which was launched last fall, is developing a series of instructional and informational video programs about all aspects of building and operating a franchise business.
Therese Thilgen, Franchise Update's CEO says, "With the development of the Franchise Learning Academy, attendees and non-attendees of our events can take the conferences back to their office and share the information and presentations with their staff, while possessing access to the speakers and materials from the conference...

Feature Story:

Prevent Hacking Horror Stories: 3 Online Security Failures To Learn From »

By David Ellis

We hear hacking horror stories every day. Businesses around the world call us in a panic, needing to decipher what went wrong with their security. Unfortunately, for many franchisees and franchisors, these miscues are common. My hope in sharing some details from three actual security failures is that you will discover actions you can take to enhance your own IT security practices.
1) Pass the pepperoni and passwords, please. Several small pizza chains used the same restaurant management software and POS system. Sadly, hundreds of those restaurants were hacked.
Once each restaurant's POS system was configured, the local restaurant owners did not change the default password set by the payment application vendor. A hacker easily deduced the password, infiltrated each POS system, and installed a memory scraper (malware designed to "scrape" sensitive information from system memory)...

Feature Story:

Protecting Customer Data: Identify And Remediate Online Vulnerabilities Now! »

By Luke Engelhardt

Do you know there's an easy way to identify and predict how cybercriminals might get into your organization? Fortunately for already-busy franchisees, the process isn't as complicated as you may think. Vulnerability management is the simplest way for franchisees to locate and patch security holes before would-be data thieves find and exploit them.
Vulnerability management is the process, implementation, and controls that identify the location of weaknesses in an infrastructure that could act as secret tunnels into your network. Ultimately, it's a critical foundation on which to build your business's network security.
While there is no such thing as being hack-proof, data thieves and cybercriminals are notoriously lazy. They would much rather go after low-hanging fruit than invest the time and trouble to break into a secured network or website...

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:

Social Marketing Continues To Rise »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Nearly 20 percent of small businesses expected to make greater use of email blasts
While many small and medium-sized businesses have been quick to embrace free postings on social media networks, one-fourth of those active on social networks expect to spend more money to advertise on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter in 2014, according to the recently released Small Business Marketing Forecast by Ad-ology Research.
Nearly 80 percent of social small and medium-sized businesses plan to spend the same or more advertising on social media networks. While nearly 41 percent do not currently use promoted posts or sponsored tweets, 13.8 percent of small business owners plan to spend more on these platforms in 2014.
"The larger the business, the greater the use of advertising and targeted marketing tactics like email blasts," says C...

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:

Card Catastrophe: Why Mobile Processing Should Scare You »

By Jon Clark

Have your begun processing payments with a smartphone or tablet yet? Maybe they're seriously considering implementing a mobile processing strategy like many other businesses and micro-merchants. That's wonderful. But here's the bad news. Though mobile payments are growing exponentially, the security portion of processing credit cards via mobile devices has seriously been neglected.

Get up to speed with the issues
Mobile processing (e.g., Square, GoPayment) is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows more processing flexibility, but it also has the potential to dramatically increase fraud and business liability. The problem with mobile devices is that they weren't made for security or payment processing. Hackers know that, and they are after customers' profitable payment data...

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:

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:

Digital Ordering: Consumers Want Technology To Order And Pay For Fast Food »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Online shopping has changed how consumers purchase airline tickets, shoes, music, and more. Now, according to a survey from EMN8, consumers want more of the same technology choices when it comes to ordering fast food.
Consumers are ready and willing to use technology to order from their favorite QSRs. The survey conducted online nationwide by Harris Interactive on behalf of EMN8 in February among 2,230 (among whom 1,904 consumed fast food in the past 12 months) U.S. adults aged 18 and older, shows that 43 percent of Americans who consumed fast food in the past 12 months would be interested in ordering from a QSR in the next 12 months via computer and three in ten would like to order from their mobile device.
"Consumers are extremely comfortable ordering goods online and, as generations grow up with mobile technology, they will increasingly want to engage with their favorite brands through this channel...

Feature Story:

The Sales Drive: 3 Effective Social Media Strategies That Can Help Build Sales »

By Scott Klososky

Social technologies provide a powerful collection of marketing tools, and they are inexpensive compared to other forms of marketing. Companies including Starbucks, Nike, Pepsi, Dell, Dirt Devil, IBM, and JetBlue have already seen tremendous results from social marketing methods, and they are gaining traction with tools like customer intelligence, email, word-of-mouth campaigns, and viral video--all tailor-made to provide huge benefits for businesses.
Let's take a closer look at three techniques that can make an immediate positive impact on your marketing efforts.

Customer Intelligence - Most organizations simply maintain a database with a name, contact information, and company. A customer intelligence strategy would increase the data to 20 or 30 fields of information and would include a mix of business and personal data...

Feature Story:

Making Connections: The Technology Chaos Will Come To An End »

By Scott Klososky

At every level, technology is now a game changing tool - and a great weapon of destruction. I suspect there has been little in the history of humanity that has more ability to change our lives, careers, and fortunes save war and pestilence. It should be no surprise that when billions of us can now be connected through an inventory of devices and social connections, we can also be disconnected. Hard drives can fail, viruses can disrupt, phones can drop in toilets (twice so far for my daughter), and batteries can die. In many of these cases we not only lose the connection we are becoming so addicted to, we also can lose data we never realized could disappear in an instant. Yes, technology giveth, and can taketh away.
On a larger scale, technology is reconstructing whole industries in just a few years...

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:

Get Your Social On: New Survey Suggests A 'Digital Gap' In Companies Is Growing  »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

A new international survey of companies identifies some unique and surprising social media trends. InSites Consulting recently queried 1,222 managers and business owners from companies (with more than 20 employees) in the U.S., Great Britain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and France.

Among the survey's key findings:

Feature Story:

Made For Online TV: Empire Builders Tell Their Stories In New Video Series »

By Kerry Pipes

Burton W. Folsom uncovered something revolutionary about capitalism in 19th century America. And in his books, he debunks commonly held views about the role of capitalism in the social developments of the Industrial Revolution and the Gilded Age.
Nowhere does Folsom make his case more clearly than in his 1998 book, Empire Builders: How Michigan Entrepreneurs Helped Make America Great. In this book, he wrote about a number of great business leaders who made their state and nation into a great economic power by the end of the 1800s.
What does any of this have to do with franchising? Plenty. Folsom's understanding of the critical importance of entrepreneurs and how they affect their cultures helped frame the development of EmpireBuilders...

Feature Story:

Smart Patrol: Mobile Payments Fraught With Security Problems »

By Gary Glover

The rapidly expanding mobile payments market is attractive to merchants because of the low entry barrier to obtain a smartphone or tablet device. Dozens of companies, acquirers, and payment entities offer mobile payment solutions, and hundreds of thousands of merchants use them. Despite its convenient and futuristic qualities, the mobile platform was not designed as a secure application environment and seriously lags behind in payment security.
If I were a hacker, I would invest my time in devising ways to attack mobile smartphones. Think of the sensitive data stored or entered in your smartphone, such as bank login information, credit card numbers, and your personal information. Because it is connected to the Internet at all times, a smartphone is at great risk for malware designed to grab sensitive information...

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