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

President

Franchise Marketing Systems

www.FMSFranchise.com 

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How to Grow Your Small Business

30 06 2016

Hiring-for-Small-BusinessI am a small business owner, Conner and Associates, LLC, DBA Franchise Marketing Systems, based in Atlanta, GA.   I fight the same fight you do every day of every week of every month.  Sometimes it seems like all odds are against you being successful and you just can’t do anything right.  Government regulations don’t seem to help the small business owner much, more so they favor the big corporations with money for lobbyists.  Money is tough to come by as lenders look at small businesses as being higher risk in most cases.  All that being said, I wouldn’t change a thing and love every minute of being a small business owner.  My business, Franchise Marketing Systems has been fortunate to experience growth every year we’ve been in business.  We have definitely had our set backs and trip ups along the way, but in the end, it has been exciting and is exciting to see your hard work come to fruition.

So how do you grow your small business and what can you do to experience the thrill of building something for yourself?  First, you need to have a marketing plan.  In most businesses it’s pretty simple math to start the process, figure out how much money it costs you to generate new business, what increases in customers do you see when you spend more money on marketing?  If you are a service business you can probably come up with a number using math such as, “last year I spent $10,000 on marketing and obtained 10 new clients.  Therefore, my cost of new client acquisition is $1000.”  Once you’ve determined this number you can come up with a budget depending on how much you would like to grow your business revenues by.  As might seem obvious, this is a critical peice of your small business growth strategy.

Now that you have a budget, you need to determine where you are getting your return.  Say you spent $10,000, $5,000 on Internet, $3,000 on tradeshows and $2,000 on direct mail, and your clients all came through Internet marketing, your growth strategy should probably focus on web marketing moving forward. By defining your marketing mix, you should be able to generate more business per dollar spent on marketing and see an increase in overall marketing spend efficiency. The marketing mix should always be reviewed on a regular basis to continually analyze where the dollars should be spent and how best to drive customer traffic into your business. If you are wondering, yes, this might require a new job position for someone who could manage the marketing spend and oversee this constantly evolving advertising strategy. One way you can continually track results on this is to assign unique numbers and emails to each campaign in order to find out where the calls/leads are coming from in any given marketing campaign.

When you have the marketing mix somewhat defined, then it’s time to understand how well you are converting these leads and whether your sales people, sales process and overall value proposition are doing the trick. Sales closing rates can vary greatly depending on the industry segment, the price point you sell at and other variables, but you should be able to define what these numbers should look like with a small amount of research. The person who answers the phone, the greeter who meets new customers at the door, the opening introduction given to each customer all will have an impact on how successful the rate of conversion from lead to customer might be. At my company, Franchise Marketing Systems, we have several people who answer the phones, a franchise specialist, a franchise associate, The closer you review these processes and analyze how these portions of your sales process are working, the better you will understand how to effectively grow your small business.

When it “clicks”, you will realize that the ability to grow your business in most cases is directly in your hands and in your control. Only you as the business owner have the ability to make these decisions as to what your budget should be and where you want to allocate your marketing dollars. When you are able to grasp how much in control of this aspect of your business you really are, the opportunities for upward expansion will seem endless and business ownership can be fun again!

Christopher Conner

Franchise Marketing Systems

www.FranchiseMarketingSystems.com





Leveraging Technology to Franchise Your Business

19 05 2016

banner-technologyBusinesses that turn to franchising as a way to expand their brand into new markets generally have a significant learning curve they must overcome as they learn how to manage the responsibilities of franchising and franchise expansion.  A new franchisor is like a new business owner who is learning the ways, processes and steps they must take to deal with customers, overcome obstacles and effectively grow the business.  What’s new about franchising to most business owners is the responsibility that comes with scaled growth and opening new locations in new markets with the addition of Franchisees in the fold.  With the never-ending expansion of technology in all aspects of business and life, franchising certainly has seen it’s reliance on technology and systems increase exponentially as well.  Perhaps in franchising more than most businesses, technology has taken on a new meaning as to how critical good tech is to the successful growth of a franchise.

Technology is a broad term, it could mean mobile technology, web marketing, operating systems, sales management systems or financial management systems, so where does it fit into franchising?  The truth is everywhere, but there are some key categories that every franchise system should be acutely aware of in order to best take advantage and scale more efficiently.

  1. Sales and marketing technology – every good franchise system needs to have a solid franchise sales CRM in order to manage the large influx of leads and effectively oversee the development of these leads into franchise sales. Typical franchise sales take in excess of 150 leads to convert, a good technology platform is critical to the success of this model. We like Leadmaster, which Franchise Marketing Systems worked together to create a franchise specific CRM (http://www.franchisemarketingsystems.com/services/franchise-crm/).
  2. Loyalty marketing and franchisee lead management systems – every good franchisor has a lead development and loyalty marketing platform that is inherent to the franchise brand. This should be leveraged and provided to franchisees in order to help them grow and develop their customer base. We like Scorpion’s franchise platform (https://www.scorpion.co/franchise-marketing/)
  3. Operations and logistics management software – a good system needs a management tool to operate the day to day business efficiently.   A technology platform that allows franchisees to manage the day to day schedule, oversee territory management and facilitate the logistics of inventory and supply management. Different systems work for different industry segments, but Franchise Marketing Systems likes ServiceCEO for service platforms (www.ServiceCEO.com) and for retail operations, Revel (www.RevelSystems.com)

For more information on how to incorporate technology into your franchise model and more effectively franchise your business, contact us:

Christopher Conner

Chris.Conner@FMSFranchise.com





Motivating Franchisees to Succeed without Driving them into Failure.

7 04 2016

NervousIf you have started a business before that has failed, you certainly know what the feeling is like. Your rent payment seems like it comes every week and your customer’s payments get smaller in amounts and longer to collect every month. When a business is at that teetering point and will either fall into oblivion or rise through it to success, it’s easy to lose your nerve as a business owner and maybe throw in the towel on your business venture entirely. Franchisees go through this learning curve when they are working in their franchise business during the first several months of operation. Many franchisees purchased a franchise due to the fact they had never operated a business before and they wanted coaching, support and guidance that can come through a franchise model, so this sense of anxiety may be at all time highs for many new franchisees during these initial months of business.

As a franchisor, sometimes this is easy to forget and hard to relate to when coaching and mentoring new franchises to success. In fact, many franchisors make very poor coaches simply for the fact that they are wired differently than a franchisee and don’t understand the idea of being unnerved by risk. Herein lies one of the most significant issues related to new franchise growth is the franchisor’s ability to coach new franchisees through this initial ramp up phase and get them to maturity. So as a new franchisor, where the initial franchises are critical to the long term success of the franchise system, what can you do to support franchisees being more successful while maintaining that relationship?

  1. Put yourself in their shoes. They have probably not started a business before and this early venture for them can become overwhelming quickly. If you were a new entrepreneur, you’d want someone to work with you, respect your position and speak with you out of respect and concern for your success. I have found that good franchisors look to their franchisees as they would customers and they make sure they are happy and have a good experience in as many ways as possible within the franchise network.
  2. Focus on what is important to the Franchisee. Don’t spend time talking through operational, strategic or high level topics with an early franchisee who is consumed with generating revenue to cover their expenses and survive in their new business. It would be like speaking with a drowning person and explaining to them that after several years of swimming lessons, they will be able to deal with this scenario without any difficulty. The swimmer doesn’t care, they feel like they need to be saved from going under. Work with early stage franchisees with a keen eye for prioritizing elements of your discussion to focus on their concerns first. If a franchisee is having trouble generating leads, focus your support on lead generation, ask whether your recommendations worked, assess and continue.
  3. Relationships matter. So much of the early stage franchisee’s reason for investing in your franchise model was because they believed in YOU as the founder or leader of the company. If it weren’t for you, they most likely would have invested in a larger brand. They saw qualities in you that they were attracted to and pushed them to invest in your franchise. I have seen times where a franchisor who is great in pursuing the franchisee and then not so great at maintaining the relationship after the sale which really puts off the franchisee with a sense of “now you don’t care about me?” Take the extra step, put in the extra effort and spend the time on the phone, in dinners, getting to know people’s families and lives so that you can show franchisees that you care about them and their success.
  4. Know the numbers. Understand when the business should begin to cash flow and how to reference your corporate numbers and experience. Know what the benchmarks should be for ROI for the business and be able to reference your experience accurately and with specifics. A Franchisee wants facts, details and analysis of where they are as a business and what can be done to help move the business forward. Using generalities or statements like, “You need to spend about a thousand dollars a month on marketing, that should be good for your market” doesn’t help the franchisee’s confidence in themselves or the system. Come to franchisees with a detailed plan that is validated based on your experience. A good way to instill confidence in your franchisees is to use accurate numbers and detailed recommendations.

For more information on how to franchise your business, contact Franchise Marketing Systems:

info@FranchiseMarketingSystems.com





Why do some franchise brands take off?

21 02 2016

how to franchise

It is always incredible to see a new brand hit the market and in a short time period take over an area or industry segment.  It almost seems effortless for some franchise systems that get a foot hold in a market and establish themselves over night.  Why is it that some franchises catch hold so quickly and others just don’t get momentum?

First it seems to be driven by a competitive differentiator that others in an industry space just don’t have.  Creamistry, an ice cream brand, delivers ice cream products to customers with a proprietary liquid nitrogen system and creates an experience for the customer, Jimmy Johns used aggressive marketing and a hard push to millennials and younger generations to compete with the sub sandwich market and systems like Hampton Inn offered value and professionalism at a price point not seen in the hotel franchise segment while Restoration 1 utilized a unique marketing and sales model to generate business in the restoration franchise field.  All of these brands set a new norm for their market segment and created a competitive advantage for their franchise. 

These high growth franchise brands committed to marketing and branding.  They look, feel, smell and exude professionalism in all of their marketing and branding.  The website looks great, brochures are high quality and signage is sharp.  When you see a brand that is on fire, you recognize it immediately and with only a glance they create an impact on you.  Investment in branding and then in the franchise marketing plan take these businesses forward quickly in the franchise market.  

Great operating models are inherent in any systems ability to scale and grow into new markets.  Quick moving franchises have solid unit level economics and deliver a consistent customer experience in their locations.  The product looks, feels and tastes the same whether you are in San Antonio or Los Angeles.  Operators and employees are running the business to a solid set of operating protocols and are enthusiastic to be part of the brand.   Company culture is apparent in not only corporate stores but also throughout the franchises locations.  

All together, great franchise brands come from all industry segments and areas of the world.  It seems to take a leader with vision, the aptitude for growth and a willingness to sacrifice short term profit for long term gain.

Contact us if you’ve ever thought about franchising your business; Chris.conner@fmsfranchise.com





Chris Conner: Franchise Development

26 01 2016

The art of franchise development is one that takes time and effort to define.  Good franchises are composed of strong systems, dedicated marketing models, great training platforms and good brands.  Most importantly they always include solid leadership who understand the value of scaling a business.

Christopher Conner has spent almost over 12 years in the franchise consulting field working with small businesses to expand and grow their concepts through franchising and has truly seen the good, bad and ugly in the franchise process.  What is it about franchising that brings out the worst in some business owners?  We read about the lawsuits, angry franchise owners, online rants about some conflict between franchisors and franchisees along with a myriad of other issues that seem to stem from the franchise expansion process.  The fact is that some business owners just aren’t made for franchising.

http://www.franchisemarketingsystems.com/our-team/christopher-james-conner-president-franchise-development/

In Mr. Conner’s experience and time with several hundred different business owners transitioning into the franchise model, there have been some evident truths to the process which have become apparent.

  1. Franchisors need to be patient….and some business owners just don’t have the time or ability to wait.
  2. Business owners who wish to franchise a business need to be long-term, value-oriented professionals.  The franchise business is all about seeing where the voyage is headed, not focused on the mile markers along the way.
  3. Franchising requires strong relationship skills, a good franchisor knows how to get people to like them and then keep that relationship past the sale.
  4. Great franchisors are always looking for ways to add value to the franchise relationship and will continue to invest in the long term vision for the overall business.
  5. Business owners who “Get It” understand that the profitability you make from one or two businesses doesn’t add up to much when compared with the potential for true scale through franchising.




Franchise Marketing Systems Facebook

31 03 2013

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Franchise Marketing Systems is a full service franchise development and franchise expansion firm.