October 2015 Archives

When you buy a franchise you are not necessarily thinking of an exit strategy or how you're going to sell the business in 10 or 15 years. But in the case of Sonja and Rich Heaton, it was exactly what was on their minds. And they can share some lessons about planning for just such an event.

After years of owning a Signarama in Orangeburg, SC, Rich and Sonja Heaton started actively positioning their business to sell. It took most of the next decade for the couple to build the business to where they wanted it to be to achieve a maximum return of investment and complete the sale.

"We went into the business knowing one day we would sell and started preparing and understanding the process about five years into the business," said Sonja Heaton. Even though they had it all planned, when they finally got to the selling point, the process still took nine months.

Before buying their Signarama franchise, the Heatons had spent five years running another franchise. They also worked for a jewelry firm for five years and Rich was a petroleum executive for seven years at a company that he played a pivotal role in selling. Sonja Heaton says these experiences taught them the importance of customer service. A lesson they took with them to their Signarama store.

"Sign companies in general have a reputation of slow turn around and customer service," said Rich. "We made sure we provided our services in a timely manner. We practiced the cliché, 'the customer is always right'" and put it into practice by refusing to say "no" to any project. We would take rush projects that many other companies would turn away. We provided solutions to problems no one else had the solution to."

That can-do attitude helped their business succeed by creating a loyal customer base.

"We specialized in small- to mid-sized chain accounts," said the Heatons. "These smaller businesses needed the service that the larger companies like McDonald's were getting, but they weren't able to get them because other signage companies didn't think they were big enough."

Now that they've finished the process of selling their successful franchise, the Heatons are looking forward to moving to Charleston, SC, but they're far from thinking about retirement.

"We have started a consulting business to help people build their businesses as we did," said the Heatons. "We are now helping people with their exit strategies and preparing them to get to a point where their business is ready to sell."

To reach out to the Heatons with help selling your franchise go to: [email protected]


Signarama, the world's largest sign franchise, offers branding and messaging solutions in addition to comprehensive sign and graphic services to consumers and commercial customers - from business signs, vehicle wraps, and digital signs, to advertising and marketing services. Signarama is part of a successful system of business-to-business franchise brands and development services under the United Franchise Group. As part of the $49-billion-plus worldwide sign market, Signarama has been at the forefront of the sign industry for more than two decades. Approaching 900 locations worldwide, the company expects to have more than 1,200 locations worldwide by the end of 2017. For more information visit http://www.signarama.com/

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LinkedIn will be changing the structure of groups in the next coming weeks.

(For the entire list of changes, please download the pdf: "New Group Features")

This article will help you understand some of the changes that we will have to make in order to accommodate LinkedIn.

These changes are substantial and your input would be useful.

Your experience in the the groups is going to change radically.

You can ask us questions by commenting on this article or in the group.

Here are the first (2) changes to discuss:

1. Content Moderation

Timeliness and high engagement go hand-in-hand and are key to a successful group.

To ensure groups are effective as timely conversation forums, conversations will now be posted instantly to a group without the need for manager approval.

Group owners, managers, and moderators can still remove off-topic conversations and place members in moderation.

Other group members can also flag inappropriate comments and conversations after they've been posted.

Learn more about best practices for contributing to Groups conversations.

2. Removal of Promotions Tab

General member feedback indicates that promotional content in LinkedIn Groups isn't a valuable experience, as it can quickly lead to spam.

In an effort to focus on quality conversations, we've removed the Promotions tab.

Any new promotional posts will go to the moderation queue for the owners, managers, and moderators to approve.

Learn more about the moderation process for groups.

This present us with a serious problem.

The Promotions tab allowed us to be extremely firm in our rule about not starting a Discussion by using naked link to someone else's blog or your own article even if it might be of interest to the group, while at the same time making such material available for members who are interested. Those articles could be found in promotions.

Now that option is not available to us.

Joe and I have several ideas on the matter, but we would also like to hear from you.


Remember the last time you sat for an hour, drinking a hot latte, in one of the few coveted armchairs at the local cafe, scanning your friends' updates on Facebook, liking pictures on Instagram, and debating with Twitter regulars about the upcoming election?

Yeah, me either...

Like you, I have work to do.

As business people we are constantly faced with an endless list of tasks ranging from urgent to if-I-have-time, and unfortunately social media marketing for our own business seems often to fall somewhere at the bottom of the list.

The truth is, engaging on social media is more than the picture painted above. While a few minutes of personal time is important, for a business person who's responsible for company social media activity, engaging a captive audience on any social media platform can make a big impact on the bottom line.

The question is, "How can I make time to squeeze this task in as a priority each week, when I can barely find a moment to order the latte?"

Here are some of the tricks we recommend:

  1. Determine which platforms are used most often by your target market, and focus on those initially. Facebook and Twitter are the obvious first choices. There are more than 1.49 billion users participating monthly on Facebook and 316 million on Twitter - chances are your audience can be found here.

So start here. Trying to use every single social platform is insane and will take up far too much of your precious time and energy. If you feel you have a large audience on a third platform, include it. For example, as an accountant you may want to make use of LinkedIn; as a food blogger, definitely get on Pinterest, and so on.

  1. I'm not reinventing the wheel with this one: pick a time and commit to it each week. The reason you continue to receive this advice is because it actually works. Schedule time for it in your calendar. Schedule a reminder that it must be done for the day before, if you have to. This is usually more difficult at the beginning, but you'll develop a routine. It would also be wise to schedule 5 minutes each day to simply check for notifications. If you are using your phone for this, check while you are standing in line for that latte... multitasking at its finest!
  2. Create a running document of links, articles and ideas that you think would benefit your audience, and refer to it as you post. You won't believe how much content you can come up with in just 20 minutes of focused searching. Once you get on a roll, you'll have more than enough to keep your feeds relevant and engaging. You'll soon learn what websites you find most useful and eventually knock your time searching down to 15 minutes, I promise. Be careful though, it is easy to be distracted... FOCUS!
  3. Learn how to use Hootsuite (or any other scheduling tool) and then actually use it. I have friends who often tell me that Hootsuite isn't for them as they are just "one little business." The truth is that Hootsuite can benefit any business, from the solopreneur to the large, international franchise. You can schedule your posts months in advance if necessary - affording you the ability to sit down, plan and follow-through all at once when you are not otherwise running your business. It's hard to post the lunch specials on 3 or more platforms when you are preparing said lunch special. Plan your weekly specials, create and schedule your posts, then welcome your hungry followers with a stress-free smile.
  4. Finally, share the responsibility. Not everyone can take over the world, latte in hand, and post about it on social media all at the same time. You may need minions (just kidding...). Allow your staff time to support your online efforts. Consider teaching select staff to use Hootsuite, and provide them with the content and time to do the scheduling. Ask for their input and any pictures and articles that they think could be useful. Offer incentives for their online involvement: liking, re-tweeting, sharing, etc.

When you feel like cancelling your scheduled social media time, remind yourself that involving your business in social media needs to be a priority. Your audience, customers and potential clients are already online, engaged in a conversation (perhaps with your competitors) that you need to be a part of.

Taking an hour or so each week will make a difference. Make the most of that hour...then reward yourself with that latte!

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2015 is the previous archive.

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