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Small Business Week – A Great Time To Think About Buying A Franchise

May 12-16, 2014, is Small Business Week, an annual recognition of aspiring entrepreneurs, small business owners and others by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Small Business Owners“Every year since 1963, the U.S. Small Business Administration has highlighted the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from across the nation through National Small Business Week,” says an SBA announcement. This year, events will take place across the country to engage the small business community and highlight their importance as innovators and job creators who strengthen the nation’s economy.

“Activities will include forums and panels discussing trends in small business, business innovation, financing, growth, matchmaking events, as well as networking opportunities and award ceremonies. National Small Business Week will culminate in Washington, D.C., where the 2014 National Small Business Person of the Year will be named.  Candidates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico will be competing for the award.  Small business owners and their employees who attend will interact with federal government officials, local elected leaders, representatives from national businesses and other small business experts.”

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Surprise, Surprise! The right business for you might not be the one you’d guess!

In all our lives, there are defining moments. There is the moment when we decide where we are going to attend college, the moment when we decide to get married, the moment that we accept our first real job, and the moment we decide that we want to work for ourselves and own a business.

Dry Cleaning BusinessWithout a doubt, the decisions that we make at these critical junctures in our lives can, to a large degree, determine the quality of the life we have in the future. These decisions are ones that will not only shape our lifestyle, but also much of the fabric of our life. One of the greatest challenges each of us faces is to make sure that when we have the opportunity to make a decision during a “defining moment,” we make a decision that we will be happy with for the rest of our lives.

In plain English, we need to be sure that we do it right! Of course, we should do it right, you think. But, this is often easier said than done. We are sometimes afraid of hindsight being 20/20, and we don’t want to be second-guessing our decisions. I see this in my clients all the time. They avoid the risk of making the critical decisions they need to make regarding business ownership simply because they don’t wish to deal with second-guessing or 20/20 hindsight.

Well, here’s some good news! If you are thinking about getting into business for yourself and you have made the decision to investigate franchise ownership, you have the opportunity to turn hindsight into foresight. If you do your investigation carefully and properly, you can give yourself a better chance of making a good decision regarding the business that is right for you and that will give you the best chance of success.

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Join Us In Celebrating Women Owned Business Day

We at FranNet Carolina are happy to join in the national celebration of Women Owned Business Day”on May 1, 2014. As Kerwin Hodge writes in an excellent blog post on this topic in the Back Office Bulletin:

woman-owned- business-6385014_s“You may wonder, ‘What exactly is a ‘Women Owned Business Day?’” Hodge says. “Simply put, it’s time set aside to support women owned businesses and, in the process, raise our personal and the public’s awareness of these entrepreneurial women and the businesses they’ve started. To me, it’s a natural and necessary thing. It’s a way to help the women in our lives who reflect an entrepreneurial spirit and help close a disparity between them and their male counterparts.”

One woman we helped put in business is Vivien Joklik, owner of a Big Frog franchise in Durham, NC. Big Frog is a custom fabrics printing shop, printing logos on shirts and other designs on fabric, including digital garment printing, screen printing and embroidery.

“How is your business different with you as a woman owner?” we asked Vivien.

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9.5 Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Franchise!

Questions To AskHaving been a franchise sales consultant for the last 20 years, I think I have seen almost every mistake a would-be business owner can make when deciding which franchise to buy. In fact, the most common mistakes are almost always predictable. Having owned three franchises myself, I’ve made my share. Now to be fair, most people purchasing a business today are doing so for the first time and probably don’t know what they don’t know about how to buy one, and that is understandable. Sometimes mistakes are valuable, and experience and wisdom are acquired. However if the mistake is a large one, you may not get a second chance to correct it.

All of that said, owning a franchise can be a wonderful and profitable experience. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from looking at and researching an opportunity. Just make sure that your search for the right franchise is done carefully and with a process and be aware of and avoid the common mistakes so many people make.   Here are 9.5 of the most common mistakes I see people make when buying a franchise. Actually, much of this applies to the purchase of any business, franchise or not.

1. Financial Overextension

Yes, there are some great stories out there of entrepreneurs who mortgage everything and max their credit cards to start up a business and are wildly successful. Now, quit dreaming and think about buying a business you CAN afford. The number one reason businesses fail is that they simply run out of cash before they have enough customers and cash flow to support the business. Running out of money in your business is like being in first place at the Indianapolis 500 and running out of gas after 499 miles. No matter how well you were doing up until that point, if you can’t cross the finish line, you lose! A competent financial professional can help analyze your financial picture, determine your net worth and advise you on how much money you can and perhaps should spend on buying a business. Of course, your comfort level regarding capital expenditure is most important and needs to be considered along with your financial wherewithal.

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Start your own business or buy a franchise?

Start your own business or buy a franchise?

start-business-6696199_sThat is a question a lot of my customers ask themselves before coming to me.  And truthfully, the answer depends on a number of things.  I think it helps to first look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Having a great idea and using it to start your own business is a romantic and appealing notion.  Even more so if you think you can make a living from doing something you are passionate about.

Think of the advantages:

– You have total control over all aspects of the business.

-You can play by your rules and use your creativity to build the business.

-You can do something every day you are passionate about.

-The start-up costs can be relatively small, with a large upside potential.

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Charlotte Man Credits C.P.R. For Reviving Business Outlook

Brent Belch - FranNet Video - Click to view on YouTube

Brent Belch – FranNet Video – Click to view on YouTube

Brent Belch wasn’t feeling well. He knew he had to change his lifestyle if he was going to get where he planned.  No, Belch’s physical health was in excellent condition.  But his job health was a different story – and a different kind of C.P.R. changed his outlook.

Belch decided to buy and open a C.P.R. (Cell Phone Repair) franchise in Charlotte.  Initially, he only wanted a “passive investment” in the franchise – typically a single unit and easier to manage.  But he saw a bigger opportunity for the company.

“This is one of the fastest growing industries out there,” said Belch.  “As a matter of fact, a recent study found that there are now more cell phone devices in the U.S. than toothbrushes – that’s astonishing potential.”

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How To Make Your Business Customer Centric

customer-centric-10957221_sWhat are some best practices to help you serve your customers and grow your  business while keeping up with changing technology and changing customer demographics?  It’s an important question and one that was asked and answered in a recent article by Deborah Shane on the Small Business Trends website.

“If you figure out who your customer is, what they like and need and how they prefer being communicated to, you can build a ‘customer centric’ relationship that can be mutually beneficial long term,” Shane writes.

She notes that Brian Solis, author of “What’s The Future of Business”, based his entire book around the idea of the need to create “experiences” that people remember and not just focus on transactions.

“The opportunity we all have right now with digital and social tools to build customer centric relationships is greater than ever before,” Shane observes. She cites a survey commissioned by RightNow Technologies and conducted by Harris Interactive:

  • 89% of customers will pay 25% more for a better customer experience.
  • 73% of consumers fall in love with a brand because of friendly employees or customer service reps.
  • 89% of consumers do business with a competitor after a poor customer experience.

Here are some informative tips which franchisees and other small businesses can follow to make their companies more customer-centric and reap the sales rewards:

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Franchising as a Second Career Suits Many Boomers and Younger Generations

Boomer-Franchisee-5633614_sAs many Baby Boomers retire from or exit their long-time career jobs, they are turning to franchise ownership for the opportunity to be their own boss and apply what they’ve learned over the years for their own benefit.

Thom Crimans, a franchise consultant with FranNet LLC, in Louisville, and a long time colleague of mine, made this point in a recent Louisville Business First news article, and I wanted to summarize a few of his key thoughts  and add a couple of my own.

Our average franchise client is 40 to 60 years old and often nearing the end of a first career. Some buyers are looking at purchasing a franchise as an additional investment to complement a stock portfolio which has anemic returns.   They believe they’ll get a better return by investing in their own business.  Even the investor, however, needs to plan for a somewhat active role in overseeing the business.  Other buyers are jumping in to their own franchise with both feet and working to build it full time. They consider business ownership to be their second career.

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One Secret to Business Longevity: Constant Adaption to Change

One of the most important secrets to keeping a franchise or other business surviving and thriving through the years is constant adaptation to change.

Mike Hall (left) tries ergonomic keyboard, guided by Steve Kaplan at Relax The Back

Mike Hall (left) tries ergonomic keyboard, guided by Steve Kaplan at Relax The Back

Steve Kaplan is the owner of Relax The Back, a successful franchise in Charlotte for almost 20 years, and my first franchise placement after opening FranNet Carolina.  In a recent conversation about his store’s long record of success, Kaplan was quick to point out that his No. 1 key to his success is this:

“Once you’ve opened your business, you’ve got to constantly change and be open to change. What worked 20 years ago won’t work today.  Advertising, for example, has changed dramatically. The Internet did not exist 20 year ago in terms of public use. Today it is the main source of new customers for us since we rely on a great website and search engine optimization to driveclients to our store.”

As futurist Ray Kurzweil put it, “The whole 20th century, because we’ve been speeding up to this point, is equivalent to 20 years of progress at today’s rate of progress, and we’ll make another 20 years of progress at today’s rate of progress equal to the whole 20th century in the next 14 years, and then we’ll do it again in seven years. And because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress, which is a thousand times greater than the 20th century, which was no slouch to change.”

Experts agree that one key to adapting to this ever-faster rate of change is simply accepting it, being open to it, and constantly embracing new technology and new ideas. For many people it is their nature to cling to the known and the comfortable. The most successful entrepreneurs, however, find constant change exciting and learn the pleasure of staying on the leading edge of change rather than falling behind.

Adapting to constant change is a little like using a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger you get. A good franchisor will help their franchise owners adapt to needed change, whether in the operation or marketing of the business.  So embrace change for your business, and reap the words of continuing success.

–Mike Hall

 

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How To Build Customer Trust In Your Franchise

Customer trustCan customers trust you and your business? Building and nurturing customer trust is one of the keys to success for any franchise or business. Here are 7 quick tips about how to build customer trust in your business by Denise O’Berry via her video series, “The Little Big Show” which you can see on YouTube here.

  1. Go the extra mile” – under-promise and over-deliver, show customers how reliable you are. Actions speak louder than words when it comes to trust.
  2. Provide spectacular customer service every time.” One way to make sure your franchise or business team is performing as you want them to, is to ask a friend or colleague to “mystery shop” your business and report back to you what he or she observed.
  3. Make sure your front office and back office match,” with employees in both parts of the business telling customers the same thing.
  4. Building Trust In Your Franchise

    Denise O’Berry

  5. Manage customer relationships.” “Return customers cost you the least amount of effort – use that to your advantage.”
  6. Communicate – communicate – communicate” with your customers and your employees. Nurture those relationships with frequent communications using multiple media and contacts, and ask for feedback.
  7. Take responsibility.” Don’t pass the buck. If you personally can’t handle a customer issue, make sure you pass it off gracefully to someone who can.
  8. Meet commitments.” Commitments guarantee that something is going to get done. Manage customer expectations, and make commitments you can keep.