June 2014 Archives

Laurie Kulikowski the Retail & Small Business Reporter for Jim Cramer's TheStreet.com wrote this article entitled - "Looking for an Investment? Here Are 9 of the Best Franchises in America"

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Laurie is an actual financial reporter with financial news writing experience. She was with American Banker 2004-2006 and has been at the TheStreet.com for the past 8 years.

And everyone interested in investing knows Jim Cramer the CNBC Mad Money host and founder of TheStreet.

Laurie wrote a nice article on the best franchises to consider investing in. She did her job.

The PR people and franchise sellers working for the some of the 9 franchises not so much.

Below is the list of 9 Best according to the article with what each franchise says about Average sales per unit and ROI.

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5 of the franchise concepts listed have something they can use to sell franchises the 4 that made Financial Performance Representations don't. 

Here's what the 4 franchises who made reckless claims should do -

  • Stop getting compliance & legal advice on franchise marketing from PR people.

  • Show your franchise attorney TheStreet.com article and if they say "don't worry it's fine that you made an earnings claim" you should find a new franchise attorney.

  • If you have an Item 19 Financial Performance Representation - FPR use it with the FTC required disclaimer message.

  • Get an Item 19 FPR if you don't have one.

9. Visiting Angels

Average annual sales per unit: On average, in 2013, Visiting Angels' franchise owners did $1 million in gross revenue.

ROI: N/A

Why should a franchisee invest? The senior care industry is booming and it's a service that families will continue to increasingly need as the population gets older and rapidly expands. Every 13 seconds, another American will turn 65 years old, and that will go on for the next two decades. As this happens, the U.S. is bracing for an extraordinary population shift.

8. Wild Birds Unlimited

Average annual sales per unit: More than $500,000 in 2013

ROI: Wild Birds Unlimited's FDD includes this information in item 19. 

Why should a franchisee invest? The franchise system has grown on a culture where all employees are on the same team and can work together to enhance the entire system by training franchise owners in the best practices that were established when the company was founded in 1981. Customer retention is one of the most important aspects of running a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise and the company has developed some best practices to keep people coming back to a store, including providing franchise owners with a customer loyalty program as a way of giving back to their customers, supplying them with useful knowledge about backyard bird feeding and the outdoors.

7. Cruise Planners

Average annual sales per unit: N/A

ROI: We can't predict income as people join our franchise for various reasons. We have the "hobbyist" who joins because as a travel planner, you get to travel at travel agent rates which can be significantly discounted and those people only sell to family and friends to take advantage of those perks. We have the "part-timer" who maybe transitioning into retirement or a new career and yet they want a "plan B" as sometimes the work and life balance can be unpredictable and then we have the people who join us full-time as they have invested in their passion for travel. Also since our owners become full-service travel planners, they make commissions on ALL travel components of a vacation including travel insurance, passport services, hotel stays, all-inclusive resorts, rental cars, shore excursions and day trips, special needs at sea, destination weddings, and much more.

Why should a franchisee invest? Cruise Planners is a low-cost franchise opportunity, which yields high returns and requires no travel experience. Cruise Planners is the largest, privately owned, nationally recognized and continually awarded travel franchise in the country and the Home Office affiliation with the American Express brand really does lead to credibility and respect for our franchisees. Realizing that people want to travel, the worldwide industry grossed almost $70 billion in 2013 and more than 34 million Americans plan to cruise over the next three years. If you are looking for a new career or to reinvent yourself in retirement, the travel industry can be a safe investment as Cruise Planners isn't really affected by fluctuations in the economy and it's a fun industry to be in; who doesn't love to talk about travel?

6. Fitness Revolution

Average annual sales per unit: N/A

ROI: N/A

Why should a franchisee invest? The need for fitness programs is greater than ever, and the evolution of the fitness industry away from access and toward results-based services is taking hold. The most recent trends in the fitness industry have laid the groundwork for quality service providers to step in and meet market demand.

5. Weed Man

Average annual sales per unit:

Average Gross Sales per Location in the U.S. were $579,831 (based on 2012).

Average Gross Sales for the top 25% of U.S. locations - $1.43 million.

Average Gross Margin in 2012 was 57.2%

Why should a franchisee invest? "We are kind of the hidden gem of franchising," Weed Man USA COO Jennifer Lemcke told TheStreet in 2011. "A lot of people overlook the lawn care industry. Once you get a customer [there is an 80% to 85% chance] of renewal year after year."

4. Sotheby's International Realty

Average annual sales per unit: N/A

ROI: N/A

Why should a franchisee invest? Affiliates connect with the most prestigious clientele in the world. The brand supports its affiliates with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources; affiliates benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby's Auction House.

3. Precision Concrete Cutting

Average annual sales per unit: $550,000 per year

ROI: Varies depending on the length of ownership and other factors, however the company boasts "great margins, re-occurring revenue and contracts with major municipalities."

"Our franchise owners tell us that they are four to 10 times what they earned in previous jobs," says Matt Haney, vice president of Precision Concrete Cutting. "Our franchise owners [have] previous backgrounds that vary from [former] Pro Hockey Players to vice presidents at major public companies."

Why should a franchisee invest?

The company has several distinct advantages:

1. Federally mandated demand through the ADA;

2. Proprietary techniques, technology and patents;

3. A sustainable competitive advantage over other competitors;

4. Re-occurring revenue model;

5. #1 franchise owner satisfaction rankings.

2. Kona Ice

Average annual sales: N/A

ROI: More than 80% of franchisees are buying a second unit within their first two years of operation. This figure serves as proof that owners are reaping the rewards of their investment.

Why should a franchisee invest? One of the key reasons Kona Ice owners have been able to grow their business so quickly is because the concept is mobile. Being mobile, as opposed to having a fixed location, creates many advantages. Not having to own their own building or property eliminates high overhead costs that can cripple profitability. Mobility also allows Kona Ice businesses to adapt to changes in the community. Traffic patterns and growth patterns are impossible to predict, but with a mobile business, it is easy to adjust compared to having a long-term lease in a dying location.

1. Home Instead Senior Care

Average annual sales: N/A

ROI: Varies by market

Why should a franchisee invest? With the over-65 population projected to double by 2030 in the U.S. alone, more and more families around the world are in need of in-home senior care. Home Instead Senior Care is fulfilling that crucial need community by community, with the leading senior care franchise in the world. This is an opportunity to own your own franchise business that offers not only growth potential, but also the personal satisfaction of knowing your services make a difference for seniors who want to stay in their homes as they age.

A recent story about small business marketing had an interesting twist.

"Phones start ringing at the Farmington Hills, Michigan, salon each time co-owner Miranda Jade Plater posts pictures on photo-sharing app Instagram.

Would-be customers call to book appointments or ask questions about hair extensions she posts."

PAYING FOR ATTENTION

To boost Limelight Extensions' followers, Plater pays local models and reality show stars to promote the company on their accounts.

Payment is either a percentage of sales, a flat rate or free hair.

In return, they post photos of themselves wearing the extensions with a link back to Limelight Extensions' Instagram account.

The company has more than 27,000 followers."

Does your spouse tell you "You don't listen" or " You don't pay attention"?  I know my wife does.

"Pay attention" is something I continually say to my young son.  

Our daughter, on the other hand, wants me to pay attention to her.

 

Pay Attention.  Pay for Attention

It got me thinking.  Why do some professionals write interesting articles & upload  them to their website, if nobody is paying attention?

Do they think that by uploading an article with an file transfer protocol program, FTP, they are now "publishers"?  Maybe they do.  I don't know.

Neither you or I would go to a trade show to give a talk, if we knew that there was no one in the audience.  Nobody would be paying attention.  So, we wouldn't bother.

 

Pay Attention. Pay for Attendees.

So if you are writing to get your name out there, why do you bother if you aren't getting the attention you deserve?

Let's face it - the people on Facebook and Twitter don't actually want to read.  They aren't paying attention to articles you write, they are too busy doing something else.  

And, the people who you could do business with are on LinkedIn.  

LinkedIn users like to read.

 

Pay Attention.  Paying for Attention?

If you think about it, attention is a type of currency.  You can pay someone with attention, or you can pay for attention.  

And most of us want more attention, especially for the ideas we have written about.

 

Who is Paying You Attention?

Here is a typical picture of the traffic or readers to a professional's website -(Law Firm's name removed to protect the innocent).

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Now, this isn't so good - not even being the top 1 million of popular websites.  

Nobody is paying attention to this law firm.

Which is really too bad because the firm has some very good articles on franchising.  Thoughtful and topical.

 

So Why Not Pay for Attention, Instead?

If you have spent two or three hours researching, writing & revising your article, that article is worth $750 - $1,000 of your time.  Why not pay an extra $80.00 and get the attention you deserve?

When you want more clients, get Franchise-Info Key Partner Marketing Program before your competitors do!

(Or are you doing so well you don't need more clients? I know I need more clients!)

 

You write content & Franchise-Info distributes your content to our many LinkedIn Readers.

How does that help you?

Well, remember that nobody was paying attention to you on your website?

Now, look at who is looking at our Franchise Info updates last month ending June 22nd, 2014.

Ok, we are seeing between 20,000 to 30,000 impressions daily, between Monday and Friday!

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So, when you want more clients, get Franchise-Info Key Partner Marketing Program before your competitors do!

Nearly half of the world's population will be watching as the soccer playing field narrows over the next four weeks, until there is only one world champion left. Whether you're watching or not, the 2014 World Cup definitely offers some interesting perspectives for people working in B2B public relations, marketing, and advertising.

We found this Inc. article interesting. It takes a look at how Puma, a relatively small athletic apparel company competing on the world stage with giants like Nike and Adidas, has used some stealthy marketing moves to draw soccer fans' attention.

Puma has done two things: taken advantage of the opportunity for players to wear whatever brand of cleats they want rather than sticking with Adidas, the official sponsor; and planning to launch an ad campaign after the tournament is over.

FIFA_World_cup_2014-219x300.jpgThe same stealth marketing technique has worked for lots of other former underdog brands. Inc. explains what these companies do that makes the strategy work:

  1. They don't try to be everything to everyone. Puma has a strong connection to the soccer world - its CEO is a former player, and legendary player Pelé wore Puma cleats - so the company narrowed its focus on the industry in an effort to become a leader in that arena.

  2. They stay out of the spotlight. Brands like Puma focus on making their products the go-to choice of the "experts" - that means they build credibility and don't have to rely on flashy advertising for sales.

  3. They stand out from the crowd. Want to get noticed? Do something different from the competition. That's exactly the approach Puma took for the World Cup - instead of offering high-tech performance innovations, they kept the design simple, but made the shoes stand out by making each shoe - not each pair - a different color.

So what's the lesson for B2B companies? In any industry, the principles are essentially the same: focus in on how you can offer the best service or product for your target audience, put an emphasis on quality and credibility, and find something you can do that will stand out from your competition - and your marketing efforts will pay off.

At Ripley PR, we're experts in helping B2B companies focus and define their public relations and marketing efforts, whether they are in healthcare IT, commercial construction, manufacturing, or franchising. Contact us today to see what we can do for your company.

Here's how it starts.

Trade publication reaches out to a franchise brand or its PR firm offering to do a great article to promote your franchise to its readers.

The article will talk about these things -

  • Brand beginnings

  • Founders vision

  • Unique products

  • Market penetration

  • Growth plans

  • Perfect franchisee profile

And those article points are essential to a branding story.

However when the trade publication says our readers won't have any interest in your brand unless you give us some numbers to include in the article.

Now this seems innocent enough, right? This is a legitimate trade news publication and they are just reporting.

Maybe or maybe not.

We all know in most trade publications there is not much separation between the sales and journalism side of the business. And it's pretty clear that you are paying in some way for this "positive franchise PR".

And what does the intrepid CEO or franchise sales executive do about the numbers question?

They talk about -

  • System-wide sales

  • COGS

  • Labor

  • Average Unit Volume - AUV

  • EBITDA

For example FSR Magazine has a great story on Quaker Steak & Lube that would be very enticing to franchise-buyers. However they talk about AUVs being $3.4 Million and "System-wide sales were $156 million in 2013, and are projected to be around $180 million this year".

Quaker Steak & Lube's franchise sales team is going to want to use trade publication email blasts to potential franchise buyers and they are certainly distributing to franchise prospects and put the article prominently on their website. Any ambitious franchise seller would do this.

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Problem is that there's that pesky FTC Franchise Rule about making legal FPRs or what we used to call Earnings Claims.

And the Quaker Steak & Lube FSR Magazine article isn't compliant to use by the franchisor for franchise sales.

And it's too bad since Quaker Steak & Lube has an Item 19 that could have been the basis for a compliant FPR in the article with the correct disclaimer. But, their PR agency put them at risk, $10,000 or more per incident of a misleading advertising copy.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories about Franchising a weekly report, click here & sign up.

Of course we get a ton of resumes for interns starting around March of every year.  We could use this as a cheap way to get help, but since you get what you pay for, I have never hired free interns in 32 years of business.  

Here's the Do's and Don'ts of hiring and using interns for PR.

DO:

  • Look at every resume. If one has typos - delete. Just because they are likely temporary workers does not mean you can be careless giving someone access to proprietary or internal files.

  • Typically hire a journalism student. You do not want an intern making grammatical or spelling errors in emails or in any press materials. Today's young people are NOT learning proper grammar at school-they are learning improper grammar from the Kardashians. 

  • If you are looking to hire someone full time, start with a senior as an intern.  If the person works out well for the summer, you can always offer them a full time position in the fall.

  • Get references. They will usually have a professor at the very least as a reference. Ask the reference (s) real questions about character along with skills.

  • Teach them what they need to know for the amount of time they will be there. It's very easy to "overteach" and then you become the PR Academy and waste time that can hurt your business.

  • Tell them to keep their cell phones in the drawer for the day. This is another generational thing. They HAVE to check their phones all the time.

  • Give them one project at a time so there is a beginning and an end. This is good for them and for you.

  • Absolutely check and edit all of their writing.  While they may be hired for this exact purpose, we use 3 sets of eyes on all press materials here at SandersonPR.  Even though everyone here has a journalism degree, writing is a labor intensive activity and it is easy to overlook your own errors.

     

DON'T 

  • Bother showing them things they won't be working on. Not only does it waste your time as stated above, it redirects the intern's focus. Too much info to assimilate can be a problem. 

  • Let them answer your phones. By the time you teach them and they learn how to do it properly they will likely be leaving. The average internship is 60 days.  Since the person answering your phones is often the first one to make an impression on people you will want a real pro doing that.

  • Overwhelm them with learning everyone's name and job the first day they start.

  • Give them too much responsibility because you are overloaded.  It will come back to bite you in the butt.

  • Give them a key. Easy to forget to retrieve when they go.

  • Seat them near the office gossip.  

  • Forget to give them an evaluation at the end of their internship along with a personal talk indicating their strengths.  It's just a nice thing to do.

     

There is a sea of social media for local businesses to navigate these days, and while Google joined the choppy waters some time ago, only recently did it become a force to be reckoned with in the social media world. Though it may be tempting to brush off Google's foray into social media as just another outlet, don't; the impact of Google Plus on local businesses can be huge.

Google Plus Gets Your Business on the Map

If you want your business to show up in the map results on Google, then Google Plus is a must. Because such a high percentage of local business (more than 85%) comes from online search, this map ranking is a huge benefit. (If you already have a Google Places page, great. Go ahead and setup a Google Plus page also. At some point in the near future they will be merged, and you'll be prepared for that to happen.)

Hint: If your business or franchise has multiple locations, setup a Google Plus page for each location.

When you setup your Google Plus page, it's crucial to select "Local Business" as your type of page. Complete all the necessary information, including location, website and contact information. Then, make sure you verify your page. This must be happened in order for your page to rank in Google listings.

Another important strategy you can use to boost your page rankings is to use keywords that your audience will be searching.

For example, if you are a real estate agency, do not simply put your agency name (ex: Coldwell Banker). Instead use also a keyword phrase such as Real Estate in your name. It is also important to use these keywords in your categories, if possible, as well as in your page description. All of these things will help Google identify your business and rank it for the proper keywords.

Google Plus Helps You Show Up on Local Searches

In addition to showing up in map listings, active Google Plus activity can help increase your general website's ranking for keyword searches on Google. In order to help expedite this process, in addition to using keywords as specified above, it is important to post consistently on Google Plus. What does that consist of? Largely, it means posting content to your Google Plus page that links back to your site and making posts that use keywords.

Receiving reviews from Google users can also help increase your rankings because it increases your credibility as a respected resource. Consider asking your clients or customers to leave a review on your page. You may be surprised how happy they are to do just that.

Engaging with other users on Google Plus is also beneficial. However, most audiences aren't active on Google Plus, so this will not really increase your interaction with your potential clients and customers (as it would potentially on other platforms like Facebook or Twitter). This engagement will, however, help increase your Google rankings over time.

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

If You Would Like Frances Leary's Help in Setting Up Google Plus for Your Franchise, please Contact Wired Flare & click here.

Look at any cookbook.

Find your favorite cake recipe.  Look at the ingredient list.  

Now, If you just bought the best ingredients on the list, could you bake your favorite cake?

No, you would have to follow  a recipe -measuring carefully since you are baking.

 

Writing an effective sales letter is a lot like baking.  You need to follow a recipe.  

Yet, most advice in this area consists of: concentrate on grammar, sentence length and punctuation.  Buy fine ingredients.  

Doesn't work for recipes & won't work for marketing communications.

 

Tom Sant is marvelously different in focusing our attention on selecting 'recipes before ingredients' in his The Language of Success.

"Over the years, I've come to believe that the worst mistakes in business communication have nothing to do with grammar or spelling or sentence complexity."

You can have masterful control over sentence construction and yet fail to communicate.  

"Instead, [mistakes] stem from using the wrong structural pattern, one that is not capable of achieving our purpose."

If we don't follow the correct recipe or format, we will obtain a poor result. This is critical to avoid if we are writing to persuade, convince or educate our clients.

For example, if we deliver flat, accurate, factual content, thinking that the facts alone will persuade our customer to buy, we have profoundly misunderstood the way [human] communication works."

 

Like using any recipe, you have to practice.  

Here is what I have found useful.  Re-write good sales pitches, using your own words. 

 

For example, I have used Sants' recipe for writing Nurture messages to create interest in the Franchise Info Nurture Marketing program, Stay in Touch with Qualified Clients until they are Ready To Buy from You.

It is really the oldest trick in the book.

First, I hand copied Tom's language, and then I rewrote each paragraph until it sounded more like me and less like Tom.  

Copying is critical because you are using those parts of your brain which control writing and speaking.  You are more likely to embed this into your own neural network doing this instead of just skimming  the "good bits".

 

This is Tom's language for selling an attorney on using client lead nurturing program.

The paragraph structure and emphasis is mine. (I expect people to skim more when reading text on a monitor, like you are doing right now.)

"For example, suppose you're an attorney specializing in probate issues with a practice aimed at helping families establish self-directed trusts to preserve their assets.

Why would a client come to you instead of a different attorney? Maybe because you were recommended? Maybe because she met you through some kind of community service work or social activity? Or maybe because you have regularly provided useful information that people appreciate?

Jim Cecil, the guru of nurture marketing, has found that sending out two or three messages doesn't have much impact on business. But by the time you have sent out eight or nine, good things start to happen.

Customers and prospects will have a "top-of-mind" awareness of you and your business after getting that many messages from you, so if they need the kinds of products or services you provide, they think of you first.

Sales will start to soar."

This is terrific language.  And it works.  For any attorney or professional that needs to keep in touch before they sell.

For more on nuturing, you might be interested in Stay in Touch with Qualified Clients until they are Ready To Buy from You.

Twitter is often overlooked by local businesses because local businesses are already struggling to keep up with all the local marketing channels out there.  

At best it's a great social media channel with research that shows that Twitter is more effective than even Facebook in driving same day sales.  That's a great way to drive specials, react to slow days or promote new products.  

At worst, Twitter is yet another social media channel that when used ineffectively can be time consuming.  I think the social media infographic below highlights a lot of the positives of Twitter such as:

  • Customer service and communication

  • Leveraging followers to encourage positive Yelp and Google Places reviews

  • Influencer outreach

  • Cross-promotion of existing content and messaging

Platforms such as LocalCast, Hootsuite, Sprout Social can make publishing to Twitter part of the routine.  Just a checkbox that you click when you update your other social media services. You can manage Twitter in less than 5 minutes per day and that is worthwhile.

Now overall, the stats below strain credibility to me.  94% of Twitter users say it's their most valuable social media channel? I doubt that. 89% of those who have done Twitter advertising think it was a success?

Again, my anecdotal evidence suggests more conservative numbers.  

Of course these are Twitter's own stats, but the content is worth taking a look.

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Once your company is ready to start franchising, then selling franchises becomes one of your biggest goals. In order to do that, you've got to get the word out. There are a number of ways to do so - through traditional advertising, franchising events, and of course, word of mouth.

Have you considered using public relations to generate quality leads and sell franchises? If you pick the right franchise public relations agency to help you promote your company, you will absolutely see the investment pay off.

At Ripley PR, we're experienced at helping franchisors and franchisees tell their stories and get media coverage at both local and national levels, which helps not only each individual location do well in their market, but helps the parent company sell more franchises as well. If you're thinking of hiring a PR agency, it's vital to select one like Ripley PR, which has extensive success getting media coverage in local markets and in national consumer and trade publications.

So how can the right PR agency help your franchise?

For one thing, we'll help you create and tell your story.

It might surprise you to learn that PR is as much about the sale as franchising is - we just work to sell your story to the right media. Did you know that about 60 percent of what you read in the daily newspaper is there thanks to a PR professional?

While you're thinking about attractive franchising offers and following up on potential leads, we're thinking about telling your corporate story, or an individual franchisee's story, in a way that will be attractive to the appropriate reporters. We're also following up with the contacts we've built in the media, especially those who write for your industry.

When you start working with a PR agency, we'll put together a strategy for pitching your story and distributing press releases. We'll ask you questions about your business, people within it, and any interesting tidbits about franchisees. We'll announce new franchise openings, awards and honors individual owners, the whole company, or executives have received, and make it appealing to reporters.

Telling the story the right way goes a long way to helping you generate leads and sell franchises. If you'd like to know more about how Ripley PR can help you do just that, contact us today.

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

You can't throw a stick without hitting some social media expert who'll tell you to develop original content for your blog. 

And then self-distribute - Tweet, post on Facebook & LinkedIn, etc... 

They shout you can do it yourself and for free.

 

Well they are partly right. 

You do need editorial content for promotional & marketing purposes. 

This is not a new way to market your franchise offering or service. 

We used to call Native Advertising - Advertorials.  

 

Remember the Amish have been doing this kind of marketing successfully for years in newspapers.

 

Amish Guy Shaking Hands Advertorial.png

 

Those crafty Amish with their cool beards and sensational you gotta read headlines. 

 

Amish Guy Slashes Heat Bills.jpeg

I read their articles or I should say advertorials all the time.

And they wouldn't keep running them if they didn't sell!  Would they?

 

Here's what franchise sellers and franchise suppliers should do to sell new franchises and get new clients to buy services.

  • Write content and make sure it's interesting. (If you just write buy my stuff articles no one will care or buy.)

  • Run traditional ads to complement your Native Advertising.

  • Use the top Social Networks to target and distribute.

And on LinkedIn Franchise-Info has a paid placement and distribution program for your articles and ads, which just might work for you.

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