Taking the Jump into Entrepreneurship

18 06 2018

826-02353716Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with a former Army Ranger who had served time in Afghanistan and certainly had put in his time serving our country.  He had been planning his new business to provide professional body-guard/security services for the past year and a half.  It was hard not to feel for him, he had clearly done so much for our country and now was sort of wallowing in his own thoughts on what to do next.  In working with franchise investors and potential business owners who are researching and trying to understand whether to get into business, this scenario seems to play out quite often.  The fear, anxiety and thought of getting into business tends to plant people’s feet in concrete and they can’t bring themselves to take the leap.  This is a problem not only for people individually as it is my belief that small business ownership is the best, most effective way for people to take control of their future and truly realize their potential as a working professional.  The second issue for the overall picture is that less and less people are starting businesses as the rate of entrepreneurship across the country has been declining for some time which does not bode well for our overall economic health.

So where are we going wrong and what can we do about it?  Well, if we start with the former Ranger example, a lot of the issue starts with education and support for people considering starting a business.  The SBA offers some great programs through SCORE and there is a lot of great information on the web available to anyone willing to spend the time to read them.  The key to getting people confident enough to start a business is helping people develop a solid plan.  Knowing the risks, planning for how to overcome them and understanding the roadmap to get to profitability helps people make the decision to become a business owner.  Second, one of the bigger issues has been funding, although lending has become easier since the crash, it still can be difficult to get a loan to start a business.  By having a great plan and understanding what money is available up front, a potential entrepreneur can save themselves heart-ache and wasted energy looking into businesses they can’t afford.  From my perspective with Franchise Marketing Systems, franchising can always be a viable option for a new entrepreneur who hasn’t started a business.  The roadmap, business plan and entire system should be provided to the franchisee immediately upon signing the franchise agreement.  The good franchises help take a lot of the legwork and uncertainty out of the new business launch.

The reality is that starting a business should make someone nervous.  The statistics for success vs. failure are not very enduring showing success rates for new businesses as low as 4% after the first five years in business.  From my work in franchising and working in small business, most of these failures come down to lack of funding, poor planning or poor execution.  All of these could be addressed if the potential business owner spent the time and even money planning for how they would execute their small business venture.  Whether it is a franchise or a pure small business, check the funding requirements, understand the consumer market, make sure there is a plan for how the business will get to profitability and that there is enough cash in the bank to get to that breakeven.  The great thing about business is that when you break it all down, it’s pretty simple, you need to bring in more dollars than you spend to make a business work.  Almost 70% of small businesses in the U.S. are operated from home, so the initial investment to start a new business is a lot more attainable for most and the lifestyle aspect of business ownership is extremely compelling.  I for one can attest to the excitement and value of starting a new business, I started Franchise Marketing Systems in 2009 and looking back, it was one of the best decisions personally I’ve ever made.  There is a business for everyone, you just need to find the right fit and then build a great plan you can execute.

Chris Conner


Franchise Marketing Systems



Chris Conner – Franchise Sales Vs. Support

8 11 2017

service-and-supportThe franchise development process requires effective marketing and selling to get the franchise network up and running. Franchise systems that do well in the early stages typically have a strong sales and marketing focus and the leadership many times excel in sales to a large degree. As the franchise system expands and the business matures, the need for operational management and support becomes a bigger issue and of greater importance to the success of the franchise brand. This transition from sales to support can be cumbersome for some organizations and business leaders making the franchise development process difficult. As an entrepreneur considering whether to franchise your business model, this dynamic should be understood and evaluated prior to launching a new franchise system. Start with a self-evaluation and understand what you are good at and what you are not good at, it’s ok to have weaknesses, it’s not ok to pretend you don’t have them. Great Franchisors have weaknesses, but they understand what they are and know when to hire people to manage the aspects of the business they can’t handle on their own in order to achieve long term success.

The sales component of franchising requires several key elements to be effective and should be defined up front in order to successfully sell your franchise model. First, have a great brand and image in place so that you look, present and show your best to prospective franchise investors. Your website, logo, store design, consumer marketing materials and anything that presents who you are needs to be done right and done well. Second, understand where franchise investors look to buy franchises and what it takes to get your brand in front of them. Yes, it cost money to advertise your franchise and yes you will need to intentionally drive traffic to your franchise offering. Plan on a marketing and advertising your brand as a franchise to put the offering in front of the right people. Finally, franchise sales takes focus, time and effort to make it work. If you aren’t interested and capable of selling larger investment opportunities, find someone who is and can focus on the sales effort to get results from your franchise sales campaign.

The operations and support side of the business is a different set of responsibilities and focus. After the franchise system gains traction, the support, training and operating responsibility to the franchisor becomes enormously important. Good franchisors have excellent training systems and operational support structures in place. Franchisees expect to see value from the relationship following the purchase transaction which can be a difficult dynamic for the franchisor to continue showing franchisee’s reasons to pay a royalty. Franchisor’s who excel in operational and management support are comfortable doing regular site visits, have excellent franchise marketing systems in place to help franchisee’s market and build their business and look at their franchisees as partners in the business with them. They believe that the franchisee’s success in the network is their success and everything they do relates back to helping franchisees improve their bottom line and see more value in being part of the network.

Christopher Conner
Franchise Marketing Systems

How to Generate Franchise PR

30 08 2017

Chris Conner, Franchise PR, Franchise Marketing SystemsFranchising is a marketing and selling business which many times is driven by publicity and exposure for the brand.  Some great franchise systems were successful in their franchise recruiting efforts almost entirely by being effective at developing great PR for the brand.  What is Franchise PR?  Public Relations is exposure for a brand by using credible sources to publish information and stories on the brand, what makes franchise PR unique is a focus on exposure through resources that are relevant to franchise investors.

One of the primary means for franchise recruitment that Franchise Marketing Systems has found for new franchise brands is to leverage Franchise PR to generate organic leads and develop credibility for the brand.  In cases where new franchise brands are able to generate stories placed with news sources such as Entrepreneur, Inc., Money Magazine or others like these, the franchise model is given an immediate boost and sometimes this makes the difference for a successful franchise launch.

What can a new franchise brand do to generate PR and how can you put your franchise in a position to get franchise exposure like this?

First, invest in your brand, look, feel and overall messaging.  The cleaner, more professional and consistent your presentation is to the consumer, the more likely that you franchise presentation will be appealing and news worthy.  Embrace and announce your unique value proposition.  Whatever makes you different and worthy to the consumer will also be important to the franchise investor and everyone needs to be reminded of this differentiator as often as possible and in as professional of a communication as you can.  Good differentiators will drive PR and news placement opportunities.  Work with a Franchise PR professional.  Franchise Marketing Systems has had significant success with several franchise PR groups including Fishman PR, All Points PR, No Limit and The Art Department.  Whomever you choose to support your Franchise PR efforts, work with someone who knows and understands the process and has the resources to dedicate to selling the pitch.

One of the things I’ve learned in working with these PR groups is that the Public Relations model is like a sales presentation.  The PR Agencies role is to know who to call and then to execute the sales process to get the message in front of the right people who might place the story.  Franchise PR is not an accident, it is an intentional exercise that pushes a brand and creates awareness amongst the right people who have decision making power with media agencies.  The results of well managed Franchise PR are impossible to argue, leads that are derived through PR close at an enormously higher rate than other lead sources, so it’s work the effort and investment.

Chris Conner


Franchise Marketing Systems


Chris Conner: Franchise Marketing

16 06 2017

Franchise Marketing Systems, Chris Conner PresidentAt the forefront of any good business model is a great marketing system.  Franchising is the art of duplication, so it makes sense that a solid franchise investment offers an excellent franchise marketing system.  The best franchises in the world are often closely correlated with the best marketing minds.  What effective franchise leaders have been able to do in their execution of a franchise development program is to define a target customer base, build strong messaging to that customer and build a plan to put the brand in front of that customer as frequently and efficiently as possible.  In the end it’s really pretty simple, the good franchises have marketing figured out.

When a business franchises, the effect of marketing, good or bad, has enormous consequences.  The Franchisor now must be concerned with not only the company’s overall success, but also the success of each franchisee who has invested into the system.  The results of a marketing campaign will create a positive or negative ROI for franchisees in the system and ultimately increase or decrease the valuation for the entire franchise business.  Marketing as a franchise therefore has exponential importance and requires innovative thinking, strategy and a clear plan of action.

  1. Good franchise brands have a great plan for marketing.  Think of the strongest brands in franchising on the market today, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, 7-11, Sport Clips or Anytime Fitness.  These brands all stand for something and say something in everything they do.  It is clear, concise and always ahead of the consumer curve.  They understand what drives their customer and know how to speak to them in a way that they will respond.  Dunkin Donuts dropped the reference to donuts in their logo years ago and transitioned to a coffee cup, Sport Clips understood that men wanted a hair care service that was tailored specifically for them and Anytime Fitness gets today’s fast-paced consumer lifestyle and the need for a quick workout solution.  All of these brands have great marketing plans where customers and franchisees alike invest in their systems due to the consistency of what they market to their customer base.
  2. Effective franchise marketing starts at the top, but finish at the local level.  You can’t have a great marketing plan and at the store level have different messaging going out to the customer.  Franchise marketing must be consistent at all levels.  The Marketing Fund and Franchisor decision making as it relates to the brand must be in the best interest of the entire system and ultimately be driving bottom line results for franchisees and operating units.  The regional cooperative marketing funds should be managed to best leverage regional presence and economies of scale between units in a given area.  Local franchise marketing needs to be well-planned, structured and targeted so that the customer’s perception of the marketing message is consistent from top to bottom.
  3. The Marketing strategy needs to be numbers driven.  Media placement should be facilitated by the franchisor and the management who should understand the perspective of the franchisee.  Ultimately, bottom line ROI is what the franchisee is most concerned with, but the Franchisor should also understand where the franchisee is in their life-cycle of the business.  Investing in long-term SEO doesn’t make sense for a franchisee in their first month of business when they need to see cash flow and instant results for their new business.  The franchisor should understand how to not only get solid results, but to help the franchisee through all stages of their business’ development.  Good franchisors are communicating regularly with franchisees and sharing insight to how best to move the needle on customer acquisition.

Chris Conner and Franchise Marketing Systems work with franchise businesses to design, develop and implement franchise marketing programs.  For more information on how to support and grow your franchise marketing mechanisms, contact us:  info@FranchiseMarketingSystems.com

How to Franchise: Good to Great

15 12 2016

how to franchise your business with Chris ConnerWhat makes the difference between a good business and a great business?  There are so many good businesses out there, why do most of them level off at “good” and never transition to “great”.  In our experience working with businesses and helping determine whether a brand should expand through franchising, this discussion and the dynamics of this scenario are reviewed many times over.  Really, any business that is even considering franchising tends to be a “good” business.  They have proven their model has some merit, their value proposition has some unique differentiation from the rest of the market and the leadership behind the brand has vision for growth and scale.  Most of these businesses don’t have what it takes to franchise, but certainly would be considered good businesses by most.  These factors are some of the key indicators from our perspective which delineate good from great:

  1. Great businesses have great systems.  Generally good “systems” means overall processes, technology and duplicatable processes.  A business with good systems operates using numbers and ratios and although the brand may instill emotion, the business operates with very little feeling or thought, it just functions.  Evidence of great systems can be found in a business by how technology is used to manage the day to day business.  Is there an online ordering system?  How does the customer interact with the brand via digital mediums?  What sorts of accounting and bookkeeping systems are in place and how accurate are the financial records?  What about transaction and customer management technology, is there a system in place that the leadership stands behind and the employees embrace?  I once met a successful investor who told me he made a mistake investing in a business one time because he found that they had great technology and state of the art systems, his mistake was not realizing that no one was using the technology.  Great businesses leverage systems and use technology to make their processes consistent, customer experiences great and be able to duplicate the business model in it’s entirety.
  2. Great Businesses Have a Brand.  “Brand” is so overused that it gets tiring to talk about and hear the word so often, but it does mean something and it does carry weight when considering what makes a business Great.  Good businesses have a logo, a website, a brochure and a tagline.  Great businesses have an energy that instills emotion and creates a feeling.  It is a complete strategy that combines all marketing tools and strategies which unite to send a message to the customer without speaking.  A great brand is often confused with something that more people know of or have heard about.  In reality, a great brand could be known in a very small market and a no-so-great brand could have more exposure.  To build a great brand, there needs to be time, energy and focus put into what the company stands for and understanding what is the true mission of the business.  Once the brand is developed, then there needs to be execution to bring the brand to reality and build the tools that appropriately convey this brand to the consumer.  What’s the power of a strong Brand?  Look at Shinola – a brand developed by extremely brand-conscious and intelligent businessman Tom Kartsotis, who also is the founder of the Fossil brand.  Fossil makes a watch that sells for $100 – $150, Shinola makes a watch that sells for $750-$1,000, both are technically manufactured in the same factories using many of the same parts.  Shinola has created a brand that instills a feeling and passion in people which in turn gets people to pay 8-10 times more for the same product.
  3. Great Businesses have Great People.  Having great people in an organization is positive for the obvious reasons such as more able-bodied leaders and hands on deck pushing the business forward.  But what having great people also indicates is that the business and leadership are developing people and supporting the empowerment of the staff.  There is a great book by John C. Maxwell called “How Successful People Lead” that references solid leaders as people who develop others and support their success as one of the stages of leadership development.  This is not only a skill, but also a willingness to share intellectual property and help others which is ultimately one of the most important characteristics in determining whether a business is Great.  Certainly, this plays an enormous role when considering whether to franchise a business as franchisees are the epitome of people looking for support in being developed.

Christopher Conner
Franchise Marketing Systems

Franchise Marketing Systems Toronto

8 09 2016

Chris Conner, Rick Slater, Canada Franchise Consultants

When Chris Conner originally founded Franchise Marketing Systems, the franchise development work was focused largely in the United States with franchise systems working on domestic growth.  The business was new and the overall economy was difficult to say the least in 2009, so Franchise Marketing Systems didn’t have the means to expand outside of the U.S. and through organic growth.  As the economy improved, so too did the opportunities for International growth and global franchise expansion work.  Mr. Conner was soon on planes to Dubai, Qatar, Canada, Mexico and other International markets supporting brands either coming into the United States or franchising into these international markets.

One market that always seemed to have continuous growth prospects was Toronto.  Toronto certainly has always been considered the business hub of Canada and the Canadian economy didn’t take the hit that the U.S. markets had during the recession due to more conservative lending practices during the real estate downturn.  Franchise Marketing Systems started with a select group of brands that were based in the greater Toronto market and supported the franchise growth for these brands to initially get some inroads into the market.  Defining the legal framework, understanding the marketing and sales channels and just getting to know the Canadian business practices and ways to communicate were all part of the learning process.  By 2014, Franchise Marketing Systems was exhibiting at franchise shows in Canada and marketing for over a dozen Canadian brands.  Clearly the market for Canadian franchising had opportunity.

In 2015, Chris Conner met a successful entrepreneur who was based in the Toronto market, Mr. Rick Slater who was interested in the franchise business and had developed a successful franchise brand in the past.  The two decided to develop a strategic partnership and open an office in Toronto using Mr. Slater’s current staff and facilities.  Mr. Conner was quickly aware that the majority of Canadian franchise brands wished to have local Canada-based franchise consultants support their growth.  The Franchise Marketing Systems Toronto Office was “opened” and as of December 2015, was located at:

Toronto, ON

Franchise Marketing Systems

118 Eglinton Ave West, Suite 208

Toronto Ontario M4R 2G4

Mr. Conner and the Franchise Marketing Systems development team (www.FranchiseMarketingSystems.com/About)  are located in many key markets around the U.S. and now Canada supporting franchise growth and developing new franchise brands.  The Franchise Marketing Systems model is a performance based franchise development approach which has supported the growth of many new and existing franchise brands.  Franchise Marketing Systems client list (www.FranchiseMarketingSystems.com/Clients)

For more information on how to franchise your business in Canada or to market franchises into Canada, contact Mr. Chris Conner or Mr. Rick Slater:


Buying a Franchise – Knowing What You Are Buying

2 08 2016

Christopher Conner Buying a FranchiseMy consulting firm, Franchise Marketing Systems helps businesses become franchise models. Over the past several years, I have purchased franchises as part of my work in the industry. It has been interesting to say the least to see the other side of the relationship as a franchisee. Buying a franchise can be a confusing, scary and enormously time consuming process. All of this many times leads to bad decision making as people skip steps and tend to jump into something that maybe wasn’t the best business decision to begin with. The irony of it all is that franchising is by nature a business model that helps entrepreneurs and investors avoid unnecessary risk and skip the learning curve through a proven and validated business model. The buying process provides many of the same benefits just by the simple fact that the franchise legal process requires certain disclosures and information to be presented to a franchisee prior to their making a buying decision. So what can you do in researching your franchise investment to help avoid the pitfalls of a bad investment and find the shining star of an investment you’ve been looking for?

First, do your research. Good business people take their time. Haven’t you heard the saying that Warren Buffett had about his investing strategies, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” It’s always nice to read things that rich people have said and sound so obvious when you hear them, but the idea here is to look at your franchise investment process as a long term decision. This needs to be planned out, thought through and really understood before you should take action. Do market research, search the industry detail and information to know who is out there and what the consumer market looks like for your potential product or service. If you are going into Tax Preparation as a potential franchise, understand the major players and who is good at what so you know where your brand will fit and what your value proposition would be to the market.

Second, know your rights as a franchisee. The beauty of the franchise investment is that the information is all there for you. Franchise investment law is overseen by the Federal Trade Commission and other state governing bodies, California is the Department of Business Oversight, New York is the New York Department of Law and etc. These governing bodies require that certain information is available to you as a buyer through a Franchise Disclosure Document and that the FDD is reviewed by that particular state’s administrators before the franchise may be offered to people in that market. This means in some cases that the franchise documentation is available through several of the state regulator’s websites and also that the FDD should have been reviewed by the state agency where the franchise is being considered for purchase.

Third, take the FDD to a qualified franchise consultant or franchise attorney to review the document with you and actually provide feedback as to what the franchise offering means to you. Knowing the business and how to read the franchise literature will help you do your analysis. The FDD contains information that relates to other franchisees who are both in the system and who have failed as franchisees. It also will contain information related to the fee structure, initial investment and background on the organizations behind the franchise model.

Fourth, make calls to people who are both in the franchise system and who have failed in the franchise system. There is no excuse! Having conversations….or even meetings with people who have already walked in your footsteps will provide you with the most accurate picture of this franchise investment possible. With the information you have now, you should be able to map out a business model and create a picture of what this franchise is capable of.

For more information on how to buy a franchise, contact Christopher Conner with Franchise Marketing Systems