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



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.

Charleston Franchise Specialist Helps Launch New Entrepreneurs’ Resource Center

Catalyst Center Ground Breaking

Cathey Petkash, Franchise Specialist in Charleston, SC, (at center in photo above) “breaks ground” with members of the Entrepreneur Council for the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s new Catalyst Center – actual Ground Opening will be held on March 20.

The Catalyst Center, located on the second floor of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, is a space where aspiring and existing entrepreneurs can connect, receive information, identify resources, meet with mentors and take advantage of programs designed for their business start-up and growth.  Please Visit the Chamber’s Website for more information.

Cathey is a Franchise Specialist for FranNet Carolina in the Charleston, SC, area – learn more at her website.



US Army Veteran Is Now A Franchise Owner

Greg-VibberGreg Vibber (right in photo with Gen. Petraeus) retired from the US Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2011 after 26 years of service. After taking a few years of personal time with his family, and enjoying his passion for golf – he decided last fall that now was the time to “get busy” again! He was looking for a challenge – one where he could provide value to his community.

Greg had begun exploring business opportunities, and while researching franchises online, found FranNet. Cathey Petkash, FranNet Franchise Specialist in Charleston, SC, began the discovery process with Greg to understand his goals of business ownership. Of key importance to him was “Customer Satisfaction through Quality Service!” Greg’s Operational and Process Improvement leadership in the Service were skill areas that he could utilize in successfully running his own business.

Greg was very detailed and diligent in his research, reviewing different franchise options suggested by Cathey that would meet his professional, financial and personal goals. His final decision was PostNet, a business-to-business franchise that directly serves the rapidly growing small-business community.

Greg based his decision on key factors of the business and his personal goals:

  • Proven, 20-year business model
  • Strong back office support from franchise
  • Community focus
  • Opportunity to mentor his employees, and
  • Being very involved in the daily business to ensure customer satisfaction!

But the one attribute of the business that most impressed Greg, was the passion and enthusiasm for PostNet that he felt from the Director of Franchise Development, Rick Greenbaum.

Congratulations Greg – and “Thank You” for your years of service to our country!


Why Do You Want To Start A Business? The Real Motivators

Start A Business

Why do you want to start a business?  It is a question I ask at each seminar that I give and to each client that I interview.  I am always intrigued by the many and varied answers I get.  Interestingly, two of the most common answers are “Control” and “Work/life balance. ”  Sure there are plenty of other answers, but these two are most often mentioned.

Control:  It just makes sense, doesn’t it?  Many of my clients are  transitioning out of  corporate employment and often speak about being tired of never having the control in their last  job to make decisions, get things done, travel less, make more money, work less hours, whatever… They see business ownership as a way to gain control over their career and financial destiny.

Work/life balance, however, is an almost counter-intuitive notion when associated with starting and running a business.  But it isn’t really.  After you have found the right business to start, will you work hard to get it up and running and operational?  Of course!  But many of our clients see this as an opportunity to grow a business to flexibility; i.e., to hire the right employees and put in the right operational systems that allow them to back away from the day to day operations.  They want to end up working on the business, not in the business.  An owner able to build such a business can enjoy a great work/life balance.

I recently came across this article from Shelly Prevost, writing for Inc Magazine, and was intrigued by her take on other motivators that drive people to business ownership. She points out that would-be business owners are probably driven, to an extent, by money. But, digging deeper, under the surface of running a business, she also points out it may be more accurate to say they are driven by what money can give them….Relevance, Security, Adventure, Impact and Freedom.  Read her article here and share your comments below.

–Mike Hall 


Forecasting Franchise Trends for 2014

OfficingOfficing solutions, wellness and electronics are forecast as top growth areas in franchising in 2014 by Mike Hall of Charlotte, one of America’s most experienced franchise consultants.

Hall has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs select and purchase franchises through FranNet Carolina, for which he is President and has been since 1994.

“The franchise industry provides an ideal route to business ownership for many people,” Hall said. “There are so many choices to fit each individual’s personal and professional goals.  In 2013 the top franchises purchased by our clients included senior home care, new and refurbished personal electronics, fast casual food, hair care, temporary staffing services, personal wellness, and hearing testing and devices. Clients also purchased businesses that offered children’s fitness, provided medical staffing and ran private learning academies.”

Here are some of the top market sectors that Hall thinks will continue to show or begin to show rapid growth in the 2014 and beyond:

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