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Feature Story:

True Business Success Requires Liquidity »

By Champ Rawls

Everyone feels the liquidity pinch some time or another. Growth, acquisitions, internal investments, taxes, and bonuses take capital and drain liquidity. Business liquidity is the measure of the extent to which the organization has cash or assets to meet the short-term obligations. When you are looking to grow or need cash for improvements, short-term obligations are not that important.
However, as a multi-unit franchisee business owner, you know the internal struggle associated with wanting to grow or improve, while being cognizant of cash flow and capital requirements on a day-to-day basis. Success is defined differently depending on the reasons you started your franchisee business. For some it is about the "lifestyle" and wanting the flexibility to do what you want when you want, and for others it is the monetary and material gains that are more important...

Feature Story:

New Overtime Rule Compels Problems For Franchisees »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

The U.S. Department of Labor's new overtime law will force thousands of employers to shift the pay status of their employees from salaried to hourly and diminish their quality of work life, says the International Franchise Association (IFA). The group has previously expressed its concerns in comments to Department of Labor and meetings with Office of Management and Budget.
"Far from 'giving America a raise,' the new overtime rule will compel many franchise businesses to reduce their managers' take-home pay simply to comply with the extreme new salary level," said IFA President & CEO Robert Cresanti, CFE. "The rule is unfair to employees who will need to be reclassified from exempt to non-exempt, and thus effectively demoted. The Administration irresponsibly failed to conduct any economic analysts of this rule's impact on myriad stakeholders and millions of employees will experience reduced take-home pay, opportunity and flexibility in the workplace as a consequence of the Administration's actions...

Feature Story:

Seattle Minimum Wage Fight Hits Roadblock »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Seattle's multi-unit franchisees aren't giving up the fight. Last week, the Supreme Court refused to hear the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Seattle's 2014 minimum wage law, which purposefully discriminates against small franchised businesses. But he IFA and many of the city's franchisees are not giving up hope.
The IFA and five Seattle franchisees sued Seattle in June 2014, seeking to block portions of the city's new law to increase the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour. The plaintiffs asked the court to enjoin the city from treating franchisees as large, national companies rather than the small, locally-owned businesses that they are.
"Today's decision from the Supreme Court is clearly a disappointment as our appeal has always focused solely on the discriminatory treatment of franchisees under Seattle's wage law and the motivation to discriminate against interstate commerce," said IFA President & CEO Robert Cresanti...

Feature Story:

Maintain Equanimity: Learning To Prosper From Market Volatility »

By Carol M. Schleif

As we saw in graphic detail this past August-October, interim market swings in both directions can be violent. Major markets around the globe experienced their first correction in more than half a decade, only to make it all back up and then some within a couple of weeks. Assets hit the hardest on the way down (e.g., emerging market equities and tech stocks) were among the largest gainers on the way back up. Such whipsaws once were commonplace, though markets in recent years had not seen that level of volatility and had become frustratingly complacent. For those with a sound plan in place, interim market volatility can represent potential versus overt risk, as it allows the nimble to initiate or add to high-quality assets that become unduly stressed amid near-term panic...

Feature Story:

Economic Census Data Highlights Franchising's Role »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 Economic Census reveals the significant impact franchise businesses have on the U.S. economy, illuminating for the first time since the 2007 census the number of establishments, jobs, and payroll in franchised businesses. The agency's report is based on a survey of U.S. businesses with paid employees as part of the Economic Census, which is updated every five years.
The Census Bureau reports franchise businesses accounted for 560,086 establishments and 10.8 million jobs in 2012. These businesses paid $193.3 billion in wages and salaries and benefits and had total sales of $1.5 trillion.
"Franchising plays a vital role in our nation's economy. The understanding we gain from these statistics about the impact franchise businesses have on the economy is important to further educate the public and lawmakers about the importance of the franchise business model, and the contributions to economic growth and jobs in thousands of communities across the U...

Feature Story:

IFA Battles Seattle's Minimum Wage Law »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

The International Franchise Association is appealing Seattle's minimum wage law all the way to the Supreme Court. Last week, the organization filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, asking the United States Supreme Court to review the decision of the Ninth Circuit in the Seattle Case.
The association says the law's discriminatory provisions harm franchisees.
IFA and five Seattle franchisees sued the City of Seattle in June 2014, seeking to block portions of the city's law to increase the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour. The plaintiffs asked the court to enjoin the city from treating franchisees as large, national companies rather than the small, locally-owned businesses that they are.
"The controlling Supreme Court precedent and the conflict among the decisions of the federal circuit courts have proven that a Supreme Court review of the Ninth Circuit's decision is the appropriate next step," said IFA President & CEO Robert Cresanti...

Feature Story:

Are You Seasonally Adjusted?: Keeping On Top Of Annual Cash Flow Fluctuations »

By Steve LeFever and Rod Bristol

As we enter summer each year, businesses with a seasonal sales cycle can change significantly. If you are lucky, this is your busy season with expanded revenue and, hopefully, expanded profits and cash flow. If you run a business that has diminished summer sales, you are in for the belt-tightening process of reduced revenues and cash flow.
Either way, it's critically important to understand patterns of cash flow--and how to best prepare for the seasonality of sales that most businesses experience during the course of a year. Our goal as owners is to determine the pattern of cash flow in our businesses and plan for adequate cash to cover expenses and repay debt. It is also important to clearly understand the difference between "seasonal" cash requirements and your long-term growth capital needs...

Feature Story:

What's It Worth?: Business Valuation - Tips For A Faster Sale »

By Rod Bristol

There are many misconceptions about how to go about valuing your business. In general, most business owners have a value in their mind that is usually several times more than the actual value a sophisticated, competent buyer ultimately pays. The process of getting from perceived value to sale price can be very, very challenging. Here is some helpful information to get you to a successful valuation and faster sale of your business.

Business valuation

Feature Story:

Minimum Wage Protesters Miss The Point »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Protests coordinated earlier this month by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) were merely "political theater that does not help close the income inequality gap," according to a statement released by the International Franchise Association (IFA).
IFA President & CEO Robert Cresanti said, "The franchise industry is an American success story and an economic growth engine creating jobs and spawning vibrant new small businesses in local communities across the country." He went on to point out that the franchise business model is a "valuable playbook that provides a pathway to personal and professional success and business ownership for aspiring entrepreneurs. The protests put the future of these jobs and businesses in jeopardy...

Feature Story:

Franchising Future Looks Good »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Franchising should continue to outpace the rest of the economy, according to the Franchise Business Outlook third quarter update report released by the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation and IHS Economics.
"Franchising is a growth engine for small businesses. Not only are franchises creating new businesses faster than other businesses, the outlook report signals steady growth in all franchise sectors over the last three months despite the struggles of the broader economy," said IFA's Educational Foundation President John Reynolds, CFE.
Key findings from the Economic Outlook Report include:

Feature Story:

Failed Units: Not Just A Franchisee Issue »

By Darrell Johnson

Throughout my career I have observed that a strong alignment of interests between two business parties usually leads to good outcomes for both. All franchisors with any marketing savvy will say they are strongly aligned with their franchisees. What is the evidence that a brand walks the talk?
There are many ways a franchisor can help its franchisees, starting with a full and high-quality support program, and including a disciplined prospect screening program, training that measures results, site selection and opening assistance based on proven criteria, and field operations and compliance that are effective.
Then there's transparency. Brands that have a meaningful Item 19, that have system dashboards that compare unit performance in real time, that support capital access through SBA eligibility and Bank Credit Reports (BCRs), and that seek system feedback through independent third parties are further examples...

Feature Story:

Boosting Unit Profitability »

By Steve LeFever and Rod Bristol

We're often asked, "I've been in this system four years. When should I start making a profit?" This is a disturbing question at best--as if profits were somehow time-sensitive: just wait long enough and, Presto!, profits. If only it were that easy. Here are some thoughts on improving your bottom line.

Feature Story:

Don't "Grow Broke": Overcoming The Dangers Of Poorly Managed Growth  »

By Rod Bristol


Good news! The economy is growing again. However, expanding businesses are often in greater peril than those that have suffered through a challenging economy and declining revenues. The often misunderstood truth is that it costs money to grow.
Business owners who don't understand this end up fulfilling their higher sales dreams, but often at the cost of bankrupting their company. How can you prevent this? A great place to start is understanding the concept of "Financial Gap," the difference between the money you have and the money you need to grow.

Why does growth cost money?
As your sales grow, your company needs new assets to support those increased sales. By using the Financial Gap tool and calculating the present efficiency of your operation, you can predict with great accuracy what you will need in new assets to support increased sales...

Feature Story:

Congress Authorizes Additional Funds For SBA »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

The House of Representatives approved a bi-partisan measure last week that would lift the cap on the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 7(a) loan program to $23.5 billion, which would enable SBA to continue approving much needed loans to business owners - like franchisees. The House vote follows the Senate's approval of the same increase just two weeks ago.
The IFA and other pro-franchising groups are praising the move. "We are extremely pleased policymakers on both sides of the political aisle recognized the importance of the 7(a) loan program, which provides critical funding to small businesses, including franchise small businesses," said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira, CFE. "For every $1 million in lending to a franchise, 40 new direct and indirect jobs are created - a sizable return on investment...

Feature Story:

IFA Claims SEIU "Manufacturing A Crisis" In Franchising »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

The IFA's President & CEO Steve Caldeira is calling foul over a 33-page petition just filed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) with the Federal Trade Commission. The union is asking the government to investigate alleged abuses by franchisors against franchisees and develop reforms for the franchise industry.
"Once again, the Service Employees International Union is manufacturing a crisis as part of its increasingly expensive public relations campaign, now estimated to be more than $33 million, to destroy the time-tested franchise model in order to fill its own depleted membership," said Caldeira. "America's 780,000 franchises make significant contributions to the U.S. economy, growing faster than the U.S. economy for five consecutive years and employ nearly 8...

Feature Story:

Executives Caution New York About Discriminatory Wage Increase »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Three pro-business group representatives have spoken out about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's push to raise minimum wage in the state. The governor has said that he will ask the state labor commissioner to convene a panel to decide whether fast-food workers' wages should be raised.
But Melissa Fleischut, president and chief executive of the New York State Restaurant Association, and Ken Pokalsky, vice president of the Business Council of New York State, told The New York Times the move was ill advised.
"Singling out a sector of one industry to have a higher minimum wage than all other occupations is unfair and arbitrary. The minimum wage is rightfully set by the Legislature and should affect all businesses equally," said Fleischut...

Feature Story:

Survey Finds Government Proposal Would Impact Middle Management »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

The Obama administration is proposing to expand overtime and redefine what it means to be a retail or restaurant manager. The move could affect the career paths of many employees and undermine the quality of customer service they are able to provide, according to a new survey conducted for the National Retail Federation.
"The administration is singling out the service economy, specifically restaurants and retailers, with these new overtime regulations," says NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French. "The proposed Labor Department regulations will hinder the career paths of millions of American workers, restrict the duties a manager can perform while working, impact the customer experience, and add lots of paperwork and bureaucracy to the job description...

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:

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:

Funding Growth: Deciding Whether To Use Debt Or Equity To Fund Your Growing Enterprise »

By Jenny Q. Ta

Loan financing and equity investment are two common methods of funding a new business start-up, assuming you do not have the capital on your own. Each strategy has advantages. The right choice depends on your short-term and long-term financial goals and personal preferences.
Debt financing is the better choice when you prefer to retain control of your operation, and you do not mind the tradeoff of greater risk for higher earning potential. However, if you would rather share the risk, mitigate debt obligations and bring in top-level experts, invite equity investors.
Ultimately, it will be up to you depending on your own situation.  As a seasoned entrepreneur, author, and CEO of Sqeeqee.com, the first-of-its-kind social "networthing" site, I have identified the following things to consider when making your decision...


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