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'This job has been the best of both worlds'

Scott Brooks has been in situations that most of us will never experience as a former fireman, and though he's no longer in that career, he found a new one that still gives him the ultimate satisfaction of helping others when they need it most.

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The 54-year-old Winchester, Va., resident is the Emergency Recovery Coordinator with Paul Davis Restoration of Northern Virginia, one of the most trusted brands in the insurance restoration industry. Brooks is the first person a homeowner meets when they contact Paul Davis after suffering catastrophic damage to their home from fire, water, storms or other events.

"This job has been the best of both worlds," said Brooks, who has been with Paul Davis for four years. "I am able to help families in their times of need and I am able to continue fellowship and support of my brother and sister firefighters."

Brooks spent seven years with the Chancellor Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department in Spotsylvania County and was a fireman with the Fredericksburg Fire Department for 13 years.

He recalled being a part of teams that were able to revive three people by CPR over the course of three consecutive 24-hour shifts.

"We were simply doing the job we had been trained to do," Brooks said. "I was never a hero, but I was able to work with a lot of people, that are to this day, heroes in my eyes."

Brooks left firefighting after suffering an injury on the job and he and his wife, Erika, moved to Texas for three years. But after missing family they decided to return to northern Virginia and that's when Erika sent Scott's resume to Paul Davis, where his qualifications seemed like a perfect fit.

"I didn't even know that the Emergency Recovery Coordinator role existed and I did not know what the job entailed," Brooks said. "I was thrilled to interview and was offered the position."

Since 1966, Paul Davis has been at the forefront of innovation in the property damage emergency services and restoration industry by pioneering such things as three-day drying and new water damage assessment and monitoring technology. Customer calls are returned within 30 minutes of first contact, teams are onsite within hours and all work is thoroughly documented.

"Since I am the first person the homeowner meets from Paul Davis, my role is critical and takes a person who is understanding and sympathetic to the situation the homeowner is going through," said Brooks.

"I pride myself in helping people by going above and beyond what they may or may not expect. I want to be the person they trust and can count on to be the right person to help them in a very stressful time."

With more than 300 locations in the US and Canada, Paul Davis is continually growing, and it seems like a perfect fit for individuals who have a background similar to Brooks and are looking to either own or work for a local franchise.

"When I arrive on a fire scene, I understand what is happening. I have lived it and experienced it. I can relate to the situation and guide homeowners throughout the process," Brooks said. "A fire scene can be described as organized chaos and staying back and letting the firefighters do their job is critical. Once the smoke is gone and the fire department has left, that is when my work begins."

While at Paul Davis, Brooks has taken the initiative on several projects that give back to the fire service, including a charity golf tournament that will benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation on an annual basis.

Seeing the commitment Brooks has to Paul Davis, as well as the firefighting community, it's no surprise when he relates the story of a woman who had lost her husband in a house fire. Paul Davis was contacted to secure the property where the woman had inadvertently left her wedding rings after applying some lotion on the day of the fire, which had consumed the entire second floor of the couple's home.

When Brooks asked the woman if she needed anything from the home, she said she would love to have her rings but thought their recovery was not possible. "With her permission, I spent three days digging in the hot July heat searching for her rings," Brooks said. "Just as I was about to give up, I noticed that a pile of debris I had just put in the sifter contained her rings. I was also able to find her grandmother's jewelry. I felt at peace knowing I was able to give her back a precious gift - her rings.

"Paul Davis is more than a company. Paul Davis is family caring for families. We truly care about the people we work for and the community we are in. I am truly happy I landed in this organization and that they allow me to do the things I do and to grow in the company.

There are a lot of restoration companies out there, but nothing like Paul Davis and the people that work at each and every office."

About Paul Davis Restoration

For more than 50 years, Paul Davis Restoration has restored residential and commercial properties damaged by fire, water, mold, storms and disasters.

The experts at Paul Davis understand the complex process of recovering from property damage and provide complete services; there is no need for the expense and confusion of hiring multiple contractors. Paul Davis is a one-stop shop for disaster damage and restoration.

Paul Davis Restoration has more than 300 independently owned franchises in the USA and Canada. The professionals at Paul Davis are certified in emergency restoration, reconstruction and remodeling. http://pauldavis.com/.

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According to the IFA, veterans account for about 7% of our population but 14% of franchisees are veterans! In addition, veterans are far more likely to hire other veterans for jobs within their companies. It shouldn't be hard to understand why.

Among other disciplined attributes, veterans aren't likely to sweat small problems. Many of them have seen the worst of humanity, have been shot at and more. It's pretty tough to rattle their cages over an unreturned phone call.

Here's what three veterans have to say about their lives as franchisees:

Ron Finch is a franchise owner with Enviro-Master Services, North America's leading health and safety-focused commercial cleaning service that has doubled in size since 2012. A favorite among veterans, Enviro-Master offers a 25 percent discount to former military members. "Veterans are equipped with the most important qualities for running a business," said the 46-year-old Finch.

"I would tell any veteran to keep their nose to the grindstone, because it's going to be a lot of work. However, the reward is great; the ability to make a difference in others' lives, to make a difference in the community where you live and financial independence and autonomy for yourself."

Finch, a Mobile, Alabama resident who purchased an existing Enviro-Master franchise in July 2018, serves commercial businesses throughout the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast regions of Alabama and Mississippi.

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Paul Holt served in the U.S. Army for 21 years and after retiring from Fort Bragg, he decided it would be a perfect match to take his attention to detail and combine it with his interest in the residential home market by joining the No. 1 home inspection company in North America, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Said Holt,

"As a soldier I was trained to look at projects in finite detail, as well as from a macro vantage point. Dedication to the accomplishment of my mission was paramount. I work until the job is done, not when the clock says it's time to go home.

These are the characteristics that I counted on when I made the move into my own business and so far they have served me well on this new career path."

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is a member of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association that helps vets purchase franchises and the company has achieved 5-star status in that program, the top ranking possible.

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Keith Young was already a successful franchise owner with FirstService Brands, the leading North American brand in the property services industry. So when he sold his CertaPro Painters of Central Houston franchise after 10 years, he didn't have to look far for his next opportunity.

The 48-year-old Young stayed within the FirstService Brands family and became a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers' homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. His Floor Coverings International serves customers throughout Houston and the surrounding areas.

Young is also a U.S. Navy veteran, who has put an emphasis on hiring veterans in the past and plans to continue that practice with Floor Coverings International.

"I will be hiring a sales associate before the end of 2019," Young said. "Military veterans make very successful franchise owners and employees since they know how to follow a proven system and take responsibility for achieving their objectives", Young shared.

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We Salute all Who Serve and Have Served on this Veterans Day!


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Having worked alongside entrepreneurs and small-business owners for the last decade, Resa Kierstein, a former corporate fundraiser and mover and shaker in her world, finally decided it was time to join the ranks of those she's been raising funds for- and she did it in style.

The 45-year-old Kierstein recently launched her Floor Coverings International franchise, visiting customers' homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

Floor Coverings International of Great Falls marks the franchisor's first location in Virginia, not unnoticed is the fact that a talented female breaks the state open for future franchisees who are looking for one of the top franchise opportunities in North America.

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Kierstein was formerly vice president of fundraising and development for a national non-profit whose focus was assisting small-business owners in starting, running and growing their businesses.

"I'm thrilled to be utilizing my past business skills and offering this great mobile service to homeowners here," Kierstein said.

"I've completely divested myself from my comfort zone of a corporate career and am beyond excited to bring Floor Coverings International's passion for a 'customer first' experience to our area." Floor Coverings International, Great Falls serves customers in Sterling, Reston, Herndon, Great Falls, McLean, Ashburn, Fairfax and Prince William in the state of Virginia.

Kierstein's mother also owns and operates a small business.

"My mom instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in me at a young age," Kierstein said. "I watched her and thousands of business owners in my previous job become highly successful contributors to their communities, while employing others and supporting their families. Their enthusiasm and passion finally rubbed off and I made the decision to join them and live the American dream."

In Floor Coverings International, Kierstein found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers' expectations. They arrive at the customer's door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019, including the rest of Virginia. Kierstein added that Floor Coverings International, Great Falls holds a Class A Virginia contractor's license.

"It is the highest standard in the state and will set Floor Coverings International apart, potentially, from others in the home services industry," she said.

Lastly, Floor Coverings International also has a very strong commitment to community involvement, led by CEO Tom Wood. That struck a chord with Kierstein.

"A key component of our business is our support for charitable organizations in our community and fulfilling a personal passion for giving back," Kierstein said.

For information on a franchise visit www.flooring-franchise.com

For more information or to reach Resa Kierstein click on Floor Coverings International of Great Fallsor call 703-466-0853.

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"Great service and attitude will help you grow"

(Fayetteville, Arkansas) As the birthplace and home of Walmart, Arkansas is a great place for an entrepreneur to shine. The region has proven to be perfect for Aaron Lewis.

He opened CertaPro Painters of Fayetteville in 2006 with his wife and business partner Michelle. Soon they added two employees.

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Today the couple boasts a thriving business that employs 60 people. Securing contracts with huge brands like Target and Bass Pro Shops helped the couple's business grow revenue exponentially, reaching more than $3 million during the last consecutive three years.

Lewis claims his success is owed in part to watching his grandfather run a profitable insurance company in the river valley of Arkansas which began in 1947. The business eventually went to Lewis's father, then to his brother and 70 years later is still a success. Lewis inherited his grandfather's business acumen and philanthropic heart and adopted his strategies which were to run and create a family business.

"I've always been keenly aware that the struggle is real for small businesses," Lewis said. "I don't think I would own a business outside of a franchise, and CertaPro was the perfect fit for my family because it offered support, a solid reputation and the freedom to work remotely so I could spend time with my family."

As the largest residential painting contractor in North America, CertaPro's success is owed to its corporate leadership, solid training and support programs and to its franchisees.

The company's locally owned and operated businesses consistently bring personalized service to customers in every region.

Lewis's franchise location embodies CertaPro's core values, which are centered on delivering integrity, practicing continuous improvement and taking pride in even the smallest details of the work they perform.

Drawing pride and inspiration from the strong values set by the CertaPro Painters system and his grandfather, Lewis said,

"My lifelong goal is to build a business like my grandfather did that serves as a conduit for generosity and social problem solving."

The path to success is hardly ever an easy one. After growing up without parents and raising his siblings from a young age, Lewis's grandfather started a bank to help others in the community. The success of the bank quickly fueled a local construction boom, with the first subdivisions and modern homes being built in the community.

At only 39, Lewis has a long way to go before reaching the legacy of generosity that his grandfather left, but it's in his DNA and in his business plan!

He and Michelle are already giving back to his state. The couple has set a goal of protecting 1,000 miles of wild streams in rural Arkansas. They are also building a citizenship program that focuses on work visas to help workers migrate successfully into US employment. The company employs several legal immigrant workers and enjoys watching them learn, grow and flourish into great workers who in turn, take care of their families.

"That's what it means to build a legacy and help others build new lives using the opportunities afforded them here in America," said Lewis. "I want to leave a legacy of helping people that have fewer opportunities than I do", says Lewis.

"I see business as a way to help solve many social problems including immigration".

CertaPro Painters of Fayetteville serves a wide area encompassing Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Commercial and residential painting is an estimated $60 billion industry in the U.S. and Canada.

CertaPro Painters has been consistently ranked No. 1 in its category by Entrepreneur magazine and boasts a customer referral rate that exceeds 95 percent. Best-in-class operational systems and procedures make CertaPro the most professional business model in the industry, and its satisfied customers are the direct benefactors.

What's more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of actively employed painting and wall-covering contractors will increase by 38.5 percent during the 10-year period from 2010 to 2020. The bureau further concluded that sales of residential painting services are likely to increase by an annual rate of three to four percent during the same period.

For more information click on CertaPro Painters of Fayetteville or call 479-587-1250.

For more information click on a buying a CertaPro Painter Franchise

About CertaPro Painters

Founded in 1992, Audubon, Pennsylvania-based CertaPro Painters is the largest painting company in North America. With more than 350 independently owned and operated franchises worldwide, CertaPro provides a customer-driven painting experience for both residential and commercial properties that is unparalleled in the industry (both residential and commercial). The company's stellar service and proven business system have made CertaPro North America's most referred painting company. For more information, visit www.certapro.com

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How You Can Partner With Your Best Friend in the Top Painting Franchise, CertaPro Painters...

Chris Mehring and Steve Leeland began their journey with CertaPro Painters® in 2002 and 2003, respectively. They didn't know each other at the time, though their territories all but overlapped.

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So, it made perfect business sense when the two joined forces in 2012, forming one of the biggest and most successful CertaPro Painters franchises to date.

CertaPro Painters is North America's largest and most-referred painting company with more than 350 locations and growing. "CertaPro Painters of Waukesha County proudly services every zip code in Waukesha County except one, four zip codes in Washington County and one zip code in Walworth County. We also service areas of SE Wisconsin for some commercial projects," said Leeland.

For Mehring, who started his career as a painter, the transition to CertaPro Painters was a natural one. "I'm not sure I ever really 'left'. I simply transitioned from painter to franchise manager (for a different company) to franchisee. I was 25 years old at the time, and had already delivered great results for my employer, so CertaPro Painters was the next logical step for me."

Steve Leeland says he knew since the 8th grade that he wanted to own his own business. He began his career at Auto Trader Magazines of Wisconsin where he sold advertising and managed circulation. "I knew the corporate world wasn't for me," explained Leeland.

"The experience of servicing customers and wearing many hats with Auto Traders proved to be an asset in my early years as a CertaPro Painters owner, though, so I do value those years that I spent 'in the trenches'".

Leeland says the driving force that led him to CertaPro Painters was the company's culture and clear business plan.

"The culture of friendly support, success and business-execution-clarity are what drove me to sign the franchise agreement. The company was also up and coming and fit well into my budget," he recalled.

Commercial and residential painting is an estimated $40 billion industry in the U.S. and Canada. CertaPro Painters has been consistently ranked No. 1 by Entrepreneur magazine in its category and boasts a customer referral rate that exceeds 95 percent.

Best-in-class operational systems and procedures make CertaPro Painters the most professional business model in the industry, and its satisfied customers are the direct benefactors.

The pair agree that there is no 'secret to their success', but the right attitude and perseverance certainly play a key role - a fact they both wholeheartedly agree on.

"I get more enjoyment from the impact we have on people and their community than anything else," says Mehring. "Everyone wants a good value, but that means something different to each person, so it is important that we listen.

We create painting opportunities that fit each individual customer's needs." Leeland adds, "Our customers are not only looking for quality work at a great price; they are looking for a partner in their contractor. We work together to solve problems and find the best products to suit their needs."

When asked about advice they might offer to prospective business owners, their philosophies were, again, right in line. "My path hasn't been easy," said Mehring, "but it has been when I needed to get me to where I am today. I wake up every day excited and ready to face new challenges.

If that scenario appeals to you, then I recommend business ownership."

"Starting a business requires a lot of hard work," agrees Leeland. "You have to remain committed to succeed, but the long-term rewards - such as profits, flexibility and a sense of accomplishment - make it all well worth it."

CertaPro Painters® of Waukesha County, WI is pleased to provide the best house painting to your specific neighborhood in and around Waukesha. For more information, visit CertaPro Painters® of Waukesha County, WI or call 262-676-2138.

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About the Franchisor: CertaPro Painters

Founded in 1992, Audubon, Pennsylvania-based CertaPro Painters is the largest painting company in North America. With more than 350 independently owned and operated franchises worldwide, CertaPro provides a customer-driven painting experience for both residential and commercial properties that is unparalleled in the industry (both residential and commercial).

The company's stellar service and proven business system have made CertaPro North America's most referred painting company. For more information, visit www.certapro.com

Rhonda Sanderson -SandersonPR -847-612-9829

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AFTER CAREERS WITH US ARMED FORCES AND FEMA COUPLE OPENS FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL IN GREATER KC AREA


After Rodney and Sharron McDuffie retired from long and successful careers that included both the U.S. Armed Forces and the U.S. Government, the Raymore couple was looking for an attractive business opportunity to bolster their pension income.

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So on April 15, Rodney, "61 years young," and Sharron, "59 years younger," as they note, officially opened for business as franchise owners with Floor Coverings International, whose representatives visit customers' homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

Floor Coverings International Lee's Summit serves customers throughout greater Kansas City, including Lee's Summit, Raymore, Belton, Blue Springs, Freeman, Peculiar, Raytown, Harrisonville and Grandview.

Sharron retired after 30 years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where she was a Technological Hazards Specialist assigned to several nuclear power plants throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Rodney retired from the U.S. Navy with 25 years as a Yeoman Administrator before joining the Department of Immigration, where he spent more than a decade before retiring as an Immigration Supervisor this past February.

"We had started talking about what we would be doing in life with retirement approaching and looking forward to living the lifestyle we were comfortable in after more than 30 years working for the government," Sharron said.

"And we were not sure that once we retired on a government pension, if it would be enough. We are still pretty young and in good health, so we started looking for a business we could purchase that also offered plenty of flexibility, such as being able to work from home when we wanted to."

In Floor Coverings International, the McDuffies found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers' expectations.

The McDuffies are also very excited about having the opportunity for their children to play a role in the business. Their oldest son, who just earned his master's degree in Public Affairs, is "more excited than my husband and myself," said Sharron, while their youngest son, who just graduated from high school, is looking forward to joining one of their flooring installation teams where he will gain the necessary experience to later become a Project Manager or Design Associate. A daughter, currently a middle school biology teacher, might join the business as an office manager or Design Associate while her husband is assisting with local marketing.

"Since we have been up and running, the whole family is seeing what a great opportunity it is by joining or just participating in this family business," Sharron said.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer's door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit www.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, www.floorcoveringsinternational.com.

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In Latin, it's called consensus ad idem, meaning "meeting of the minds." In layman's terms, or in the case of Mitch Berliner and Peter Buttenwieser, it's simply two guys who turned a chance occurrence into an uber-successful business partnership that has exceeded their wildest dreams.

 

Although Their Paths Crossed By Chance,

Synergy Has Propelled Biz Partners To Top


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Berliner and Buttenwieser are managing partners of CertaPro Painters of Westchester, NY and Southern CT, which for the past five years has earned the status of being the No. 1 residential business within the 400-plus offices of CertaPro Painters, America's largest and most-referred painting company. 

What makes their story interesting is that neither ever thought he would be in the painting business, but by happenstance - and most importantly, a lot of hard work - they have turned what Buttenwieser calls a "very synergistic partnership" into a thriving business that has been one of the most successful in the CertaPro Painters' franchise system.

"We refer to ourselves as managing partners vs. owners," said Buttenwieser of the pair, who each hold a 50 percent stake in the franchise. "While we each have our own areas of expertise and specialty, we are always seeking the other's advice and consulting in each other's domains."

In 2004, Berliner was an IT sales executive when he hired CertaPro Painters to stain the cedar siding and paint the trim on his home in Somers. When Berliner's general contractor said the finished work was some of the best he had ever seen, Berliner was so impressed... he bought the company.

Flash forward to 2005 and Buttenwieser was an advertising and marketing executive who hired CertaPro Painters to restore and paint his circa 1908 house in Bedford. Buttenwieser was so impressed... he called Berliner and ended up buying into the company.

"When I got a message to contact Peter, my assumption was that he was calling to complain about something. It turned out he wanted to discuss how we were marketing the company and if I would be open to selling him equity in the business," Berliner said. "I was initially hesitant to take on a partner, but in hindsight, I made a pretty good decision."

Buttenwieser had done his due diligence on CertaPro Painters and the painting industry as a whole. Three things caught his attention: 1) it was a relatively low overhead business; 2) the competition was mostly mom-and-pop businesses with no definitive branding; 3) as people increasingly turned to the internet to make home-improvement decisions, a national brand such as CertaPro Painters was well-positioned to capture internet market share.

Despite their bullishness on the industry, in the early going neither Berliner nor Buttenwieser quit their day jobs: Berliner with Hewlett Packard and Buttenwieser with his marketing firm, I Before E Marketing. "We started out thinking it would be a fun side business and we might make some great vacation money every year. But things kept getting bigger and bigger," Buttenwieser said.

That is an understatement.

Today, CertaPro Painters of Westchester, NY and Southern CT has a management staff of 14 and more than 150 painters and tradespeople on its team. Two of those team members - Shawn Gallagher and Alex Ramos - who were the account manager and job site supervisor, respectively, when Berliner and Buttenwieser had their homes painted, are still with the company, Gallagher as Senior Residential Accounts Manager and Ramos as Senior Job Site Supervisor. In 2014, the entire team was honored with the Certa Cup, an award given to the top franchise throughout the CertaPro Painters' network.

"We are very proud of what we have built and for how many families we are putting food on the table," Buttenwieser said.

The majority of CertaPro Painters' franchises are single owner/operator businesses. While there are some husband/wife partnerships and a few where two businesses have merged operations, very few have grown organically as Berliner and Buttenwieser have done with their franchise.

Berliner is general manager, overseeing all sales and operations, while Buttenwieser manages all marketing and customer relationship management.

"It is a rare day when we do not speak at least two or three times," Berliner said. "One of our keys is that we can be really honest with each other because we trust each other, which really says something, given that 10 years ago we had never met. It's quite a remarkable relationship. During this whole time, I can't remember a single situation where we have had a major disagreement."

That being said, each business partner knows how to deliver a subtle message to the other when the circumstance warrants. You know... just the slightest little jab - with a nod and a wink - to get a point across.

"One thing we use with each other is the 'two strokes and a poke' method when we provide feedback to each other," Buttenwieser said. "The other day Mitch gave me some feedback on a piece of promotional literature that went something like this... 'Great job, looks really sharp; though I believe we discussed adding in a minimum job size, but I don't see that in the fine print.'"

More than a decade has gone by since their paths crossed, but the relevance of that meeting has never been lost on the pair. It's something Berliner certainly didn't forget to mention when talking recently about his two keys for running a top-tier CertaPro Painters franchise.

"Follow the system; that is why you bought into a franchise business. You can tinker here and there for your local market conditions, but don't try to outsmart everyone else who is doing this all over the country," Berliner said. "There are a lot of opportunities to take advantage of and landmines to avoid. And the best way to succeed is to get yourself a partner."


CertaPro Painters' best-in-class operational systems and procedures make it the most professional business model in the industry and its satisfied residential and commercial customers are the direct benefactors within the estimated $40 billion industry in the U.S. and Canada. CertaPro has been consistently ranked No. 1 by Entrepreneur magazine in its category and boasts a customer referral rate that exceeds 95 percent.

         Founded in 1992, Audubon, Pennsylvania-based CertaPro Painters is the largest painting company in North America. With more than 350 independently owned and operated franchises worldwide, CertaPro provides a customer-driven painting experience for both residential and commercial properties that is unparalleled in the industry. The company's stellar service and proven business system have made CertaPro North America's most referred painting company. 


For more information, visit CertaPro Painters 


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A few years ago, Brad Cowan made the switch from dealing with sets of wheels to wet basements. 

However, it was a natural transition for the 52-year-old Cowan, who in 2015 retired from his position as a Corporate Vice President in the Insurance Replacement Division of Enterprise Rent-A-Car to become Senior Vice President of Business Development with Paul Davis, the one-stop disaster and reconstruction franchisor based in Jacksonville, Florida.

 


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While one business deals with moving vehicles and the other with stationary buildings, Cowan found many similarities that dovetailed with the business experience he earned during a 24-year career at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where Cowan started as a manager trainee in a rental branch fresh out of college in 1991. 

In his role as a Corporate Vice President at Enterprise, Cowan worked closely with insurance companies and body shops to support customers during the auto claims process.

Likewise, Cowan now oversees Paul Davis' national business partnerships, as well as the national business development team, while also developing new programs for the Paul Davis Network.

With more than 375 locations in the US and Canada, Paul Davis is continually growing with a business model that Cowan said is very similar in scope to what he experienced at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. "The rapid growth here feels like Enterprise did 25 years ago when I first started there," Cowan said.

While always looking for qualified franchise candidates, Paul Davis is also expanding its geographic footprint of company-owned territories, recently completing two acquisitions, one in Kentucky and the other in Seattle. The first provides additional service coverage and capabilities between the Eastern and Midwest regions of Paul Davis company-owned operations, while the acquisition of the Seattle franchise adds a presence in another major metropolitan market which will serve as the foundation for a new regional platform on the West Coast.

"Paul Davis and the property industry are in a growth mode and we are in a great position to support our customers and provide opportunities for great people," Cowan said. 

"Our decision to build a network of company-owned locations illustrates our dedication to providing additional support to our clients and expanding our brand. As we continue to grow, we are always looking for A-grade players who will provide great service to our customers and who want to be part of a dynamic and growing industry. It will be real win for everyone working along with our network of experienced franchisees out there."

More About Paul Davis Restoration

 For more than 50 years, Paul Davis Restoration has restored residential and commercial properties damaged by fire, water, mold, storms and disasters. 

The experts at Paul Davis understand the complex process of recovering from property damage and provide complete services; there is no need for the expense and confusion of hiring multiple contractors. Paul Davis is a one-stop shop for disaster damage and restoration.

 Paul Davis Restoration has more than 375 independently owned franchises in the USA and Canada. The professionals at Paul Davis are certified in emergency restoration, reconstruction and remodeling. 

For further info go to Paul Davis Restoration


 

When you are a big well respected company like Jacksonville, Florida based Paul Davis, lots of people come to you for your knowledge and expertise. The area of restoration and repairs, particulary after this awful spate of hurricanes, floods and now fires, is a busy one.

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Unfortunately, most of the calls that the EMS division of Paul Davis (Emergency Services--damage evaluation) receive brings them to an unhappy scene.

A house severely damaged or even lost, a teary-eyed family searching through what belongings may be saved. One can't help but sympathize with the emotions and difficulties these victims experience.

A full Paul Davis Restoration team then moves in to clean up and repair the scenes after evaluation. Not a happy time but often it does end up with a happy ending.

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Even without Mother Nature's huge events, common hazards of life can cause chaos. One is extreme cold; but surprisingly, there are easy and inexpensive things to do so you never have to deal with this particular problem.

On December 7th Paul Davis' "flood house", a demo home at their state-of-the-art training facility in Jacksonville, was used by consumer journalist Jeff Rossen to demonstrate all the ways in which one can avoid bursting pipes and other cold weather hazards.

We have shared here: https://www.today.com/home/how-avoid-bursting-pipes-costly-repairs-winter-t119612

Full segment: http://on.today.com/2zX7kTK


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Clients ask me all the time how important rankings are.

Franchise Times, Entrepreneur, Franchise Business Review among others, all publish several franchise ranking lists per year. Here's my response.

Everything positive you can show about your system is a plus, clearly. The important thing is to participate-answer emails from publications or entities that tell you you are being considered for this list or that.

You can forward to your PR people, but much of the information will likely have to come from your CFO.

As a PR firm for franchises, we keep a list "alarmed" for the most popular and (and this is important) the most credible rankings.

Four months before the list is published we remind clients to look for an email, form or link that they need to go to in order to be considered for inclusion on the said list.

We will also happily vet a request for legitimacy which you can ask your firm or PR person to do as well.

You can Google the list and publication in question yourself.

Then I recommend you do this below: not with every one but certainly when you have amassed as many as this Number One in Home Inspection franchise has.

Go ahead. Toot your horn, but putting out a press release for every list you are mentioned on minimizes the weight of the honor. Announce two-three awards or rankings at a time and soon you will become the SuperStar in your category like Pillar To Post!

PILLAR TO POST HOME INSPECTORS® RECEIVES TOP

RANKINGS FROM ENTREPRENEUR MAGAZINE IN SIX CATEGORIES IN 2016

They Will Raise Veterans Discount from 10% to 20% on Franchise Fees

(TAMPA, FLA.) -- Pillar To Post Home Inspectors has achieved the highest position in the Top Franchise for Veterans ranking in Entrepreneur Magazine for 2016. This prestigious honor is the sixth such ranking from the famed business publication for Pillar To Post Home Inspectors. The company ranked as follows in the magazine's January edition of the Franchise 500: #1 in their category of Home Inspection, Best of the Best, Fastest Growing Franchise, Top Home Based Franchises and Top Low Cost Franchises. In addition, the booming chain has already awarded 70 additional franchises since January of this year.

"We couldn't be more thrilled with this honor," said Dan Steward, President & CEO of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors. "It says so much not only about how hard we've worked but how hard our franchisees have worked and maintained absolute integrity in their home inspections."

In addition, Pillar To Post ranks high in Franchise Business Review rankings. Franchise Business Review is a national franchise market research firm that performs independent surveys of franchisee satisfaction and franchise buyer experiences, examines the critical areas of a franchise system including training & support, operations, franchisor/franchisee relations, financial opportunity, and more. Its survey results deliver the unbiased facts about the overall health of a franchise system directly from today's franchise owners.

Pillar To Post has been named by Franchise Business Review's rankings of Top 50 in Franchisee Satisfaction, Top 30 among Home Service Franchises and Top Low Cost Franchise for 2016.

"We have been doing so well and are so honored to be named among Entrepreneur's Top Franchises for Veterans," said Eric Steward, Marketing Manager for Pillar To Post. "The veterans who join our system end up as top performers. Our business model and structure and culture seem to be a perfect fit for those leaving the military. As a result, we have recently added an additional 10% discount on our franchise fees for veterans, going from a 10% discount to a 20% discount for them.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with over 550 franchisees, located in 48 states and nine Canadian provinces. Long-term plans include adding 500-600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopostfranchise.com/

I personally could not be more excited. And I don't want to brag but I nudged Ms. Moss or ([email protected]) to do this the day some very misguided International Franchise Association board members allowed an even more misguided then president Stephen Caldeira to relieve Debbie Moss from her amazingly successful run as Convention Director.

After 18 years of being widely credited with the turnaround of the association's educational programs, convention and ultimately, their bottom-line financial performance, that was her goodbye. Well, now meet Debbie Moss, The Meeting Boss.

I always say everything happens for a reason and this situation is no different. It's what one makes of his/her bumps and lumps in life that determines one's future.

Now this world-class event expert has launched a meeting consulting business for franchise systems. MeetingBoss.com services will include in-office training for meeting staff, development of an exhibit hall or creating a sponsorship program, maximizing sales efforts or program development for any event.

The signature service will be the MBoss Assessment, which takes a comprehensive look into 13 key components of any meeting to evaluate how to improve KPI's without sacrificing the registrants' experience.

"Events can be executed so much more efficiently and profitably with an experienced professional. Even a small board meeting can realize $10-$15k in savings with savvy contract negotiations and experienced on-site management of food & beverage costs," Moss said.

As most of the readers here know, Debbie has more than 30 years of expansive experience from upscale board meetings for 50 to city-wide conventions of 7,000+. At IFA from 1995-2014, in her last 10 years, overall revenue at the Annual Convention soared from $1.7MM to $4.4MM and bottom-line surplus grew from $900,000 to $2.4MM.

I have some personal knowledge having served a year on the Board of the IFA and as Supplier Forum Chairman that Debbie brought the association from the red to the black.

Her efficiency in holding fantastic, organized and flawlessly orchestrated events accounts also for the savings realized during each convention; and further the rise in registrations because people want to attend a good, educational and well planned function.

Debbie Moss' career didn't start with the IFA. She was Convention Director and then Vice President of Industry Affairs for the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association for nearly 10 years before she was recruited by Don DeBolt, the then president at the International Franchise Association, to build the non-dues revenue at IFA in 1995.

Said Don Debolt, ""Debbie Moss is a meeting and event planning professional creating exceptional results, which I have personally experienced over the past 20 plus years. As Past Chairman of the International Franchise Association I saw first-hand how Debbie's meeting and events were produced on budget, on time and achieved impact for both large & small programs. Her approach combined vision, creativity, writing and staging general sessions to lead our association's revenue growth. High attention to detail, personal commitment, accountability, and communications are the hallmarks of her organization."

Another fan is the terrific Mike Isakson who we all remember as building giant ServiceMaster and who now is Managing Partner at Insight To Execution, "My opportunity to work with Debbie began a few years before I became IFA Chairman. In those volunteer roles, which included Convention Committee Chair, I had a front row seat to observe her ability to multi-task at an extremely high level -- always striving for flawless execution, better than better performance and rock solid efficiency & effectiveness. She demonstrated an affinity to look around corners for both challenges and opportunities and often took the lead to address those issues. Her commitment to build conferences revenue, while maintaining high standards, allowed the organization's finances to grow exponentially over her tenure."

Since I have known her I have always said that any meeting I ever attended would have been so much better had Debbie Moss in charge. Now she can be!!

Visit meetingboss.com for a complete look at the services offered by this long-time industry expert.

Wellington, Florida based LED Source is considered one of the top innovators in franchising. (See Entrepreneur Magazine October 2015 issue) Not only is the company a franchisor itself, but many of its customers are also franchise chains looking for awesome lighting designs and for a vendor that will outfit all new stores with the lighting of the future; LED lighting. In less than a decade it will be a "must have".

Many systems and large box store chains are already hiring LED Source to retrofit all of their old locations and to install all the lighting in their new locations.

ledsource-logo-211.pngFASTSIGNS and Massage Envy are just a couple of examples.

But CEO Marcel Fairbairn realized he needed to streamline the process between his franchisees and his vendors.

He generously shares his knowledge with you here in a Q&A.

  • Describe how your franchisees originally got all their materials when you first began the franchise program.

Our system was one where our zees were "forced" to buy ALL products through the "head office". In fact, we had a two-stage royalty where it would cost them twice as much if they were buying product from an approved vendor other than our office.

Our internal team would help the zee determine what to buy, process the order, place an order with our vendor, bring the shipment into our office, re-package the shipment to complete for the zee, send to the zee, carry the A/R, then process any returns that might happen as well. It was a crazy amount of administration and we eventually realized we were losing money on our franchise business due to this.

  • When did it occur to you that this was not the way to go?

Very early on we could see it was problematic but we felt there was no other way to do it. Our vendors are very big old lighting brands who are also finding themselves in this new, disruptive business called LED. They had enough on their plates with that to then delve into a whole other world.

The world of franchisees or small business owners as it was. It took my team more than a year to convince all of our suppliers to do business directly with our franchisees and to help design an expedient method for doing so.

  • What was your first real issue that opened your eyes?

The short answer is the impact it had on our financial performance. Since we were not making a margin sufficient to cover all of the support needs of our franchises, we were mounting losses each month.

Additionally, we were carrying inventory for our suppliers who never seemed to have what we needed when we needed it.

So we'd cover their deficiencies as best we could which never really seemed to be enough.

In the end, we were hurting our zees, ourselves AND our suppliers and I really took a hard look within to come up with a very obvious answer.

  • What was the very obvious answer?

If it's broke, fix it. First we pushed very hard on our vendors to create a model they had never used before. Again, we are talking multi-billion dollar businesses with 50 or 100 years history.

Change does not come easily and there is a tremendous amount of time and work involved so this was an enormous task. The fact is we never really had to admit anything because it was going to be such a positive change for our vendors and our zees. There was very little, if any pushback.

  • What exactly IS Vendor Direct and does it have steps that you put in your manual now so franchisees can follow easily leaving you all out of the fray?

Vendor Direct is quite simple. When a franchisee signs on, we provide them with a list of vendors, contacts, links to training videos and materials, etc. We basically introduce the franchisee to their suppliers.

The franchisee goes through the process of signing up as a dealer, applying for credit, etc. It has been a huge update in our manuals and processes, but well worth it in the end!

  • What was the reaction from the franchisees as you transitioned to this plan?

Initially there was some hesitation. Having us supply them gave them a certain comfort factor. They didn't have to deal with many other individuals.

The real issue was one we helped with to make sure that the franchisees receive credit from these large suppliers who often had very strict standards.

The truth is we were acting like a bank even to some who were not very solid credit risks.

But we worked through that and the affected few did very well in the end and now have solid credit and a solid business to go with it. Since then we've received nothing but praise.

We've got a stack of testimonials from happy zees who are discussing everything from the choices now available to the speed of shipping, wider availability, etc. Some of our zees have created very good relationships with their new suppliers and many of these relationships have already been quite productive.

  • How's it working for you and them now?

Even on my side, my finance team was at first skeptical towards the idea. Because we were, in reality, lowering our revenue, how could this possibly be a good thing?

The facts are the facts.

While yes, our gross sales have been impacted; our bottom line has already increased and will continue to. In addition, we've been able to re-purpose people who had been glorified order placers or trackers to now support franchisees in other, more productive ways.

We've allowed the manufacturers to discuss process and support THEIR products, and we support our zees on application, training, marketing and general business management.

As our business continues to scale, we do not have to borrow money or tie up resources toward massive inventories or administrative costs. Plus, our franchises have proven very quickly that the program works by rewarding themselves and us with growing revenues!!

  • You are clearly happy with the decision. In one sentence sum up what you learned from it.

It's hard to put such a laundry list of lessons and bumps on the head into one sentence, but for sure the one thing that comes to mind is that you should always play to your strengths. In this case, we were a challenged, even deficient supplier to our zees, and it showed in their numbers and our own.

So I looked at what we were doing and said to myself, "we are very good at what we do but this is not it. So let's get out of this role!" And that's precisely what we did.

About LED Source

Founded in 2005, LED Source® is North America's first franchisor of LED lighting. The company supplies high quality LED lighting products to a variety of spaces, and specializes in design, support, development, project management and financing through its Retrofit, Architectural, Entertainment and National Accounts divisions. In 2012, LED Source launched LouMan Money®, a private-labeled finance program that affords companies an LED lighting upgrade without tying up capital or using existing lines of credit. For more information and/or about franchising opportunities, please visit www.LEDsource.com/franchising.

Beyond excellent franchisee growth in 2015, Cincinnati-based Window Genie was also lauded by a number of business journals throughout the year.

Inc. Magazine recognized Window Genie as one of the fastest-growing businesses in the Cincinnati metropolitan area, in addition to placing it on the upper half of its annual Inc. 5000 listing of fastest-growing companies in the United States for the second year in a row.

Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Window Genie 170th on its annual Franchise 500 list for 2015, moving up 15 spots from 2014, cementing its place as one of the fastest-growing and top home-based franchises. Window Genie also placed 51st on Entrepreneur's top home based/ mobile franchises.

Franchise Business Review, a national franchisee satisfaction market research firm also placed Window Genie on its annual Top Franchises for Veteran's list. It is the only list of top franchises for veterans based on data from those who know best - the veterans who own them.

Window Genie's Founder and CEO Rik Nonelle said,

"This ranking is very important to us personally as we have a unique ability to give back to those who serve. We offer veterans additional territory at no cost when purchasing a franchise."

Nonelle continues, "These rankings are great but I most like achieving them for our franchisees, who are the most important part of our whole business structure."

Nonelle has made it HIS business to market to his franchisees, or, in other words, build internal programs that help them achieve great results. An example of one such program is an agreement made in April 2015 with 3M Company to provide a residential window film solution as part of the company's lauded Envision™ line of films.

window genie.jpgThe partnership provides Window Genie franchisees with the opportunity to service over 125,000 residential customers with window film that reduces fading, heat and glare, lowering utility bills. Window Genie's partnership with 3M is the result of two years of discussions between the companies.

In 2016, says Window Genie founder and CEO Richard Nonelle, the company has big plans for more programs that benefit franchisees and customers alike. "We will continue to focus on improving the experience between franchisee and customer," says Nonelle.

"This year we expanded our Your Holiday Lights program from three franchisees to 15 (this program is optional for those franchisees who wish to fill their winter months with an outdoor holiday lighting business) and continue to offer an incentive program for current owners who refer a new franchisee."

Window Genie's mobile search strategy, adds Nonelle, will be in full effect in 2016, which will entail an improved online presence and SEO enhancements to benefit owners.

"We have also been using the Franchise Navigator," said Nonelle. "I've learned the best thing I can give my existing franchisees are additional excellent franchisees coming aboard. We look for the same profile as my top performing franchisees. They deserve to have the brand continued to be bolstered by hard workers like themselves."

"The strength of your franchise system comes from the people who deliver your products or services. You could have the best business model and the best product or service, but if you sell your franchise or business opportunity to the wrong type of person you, they and the consumer will not receive what they expect from your brand," ​says Craig Slavin, Founder and President of Navigator System Solutions, owner of the Franchise Navigator.

Franchisors must focus on the human component part of growing their business. That means talent, skills, values and behavior! Create and "model" your high performing franchise owners. All inbound candidates should then be compared to this profile to determine if they are a good "fit" and can execute the franchise company's business model.

"A franchise sold to the wrong person is worse than not selling one at all," Nonelle agreed.

Window Genie aims to continue its growth in 2016, and Nonelle points to years of consistent annual expansion as proof that his plan is a sustainable one. This past year 15 new franchisees have joined the Window Genie system.

Window Genie franchisees can be found all throughout the United States, with target markets for growth for 2016 in Florida, Arizona, New York and California.

For 22 years Matthew Byrne worked in the building automation controls industry, where he last managed a $20 million branch contracting business. There he worked with energy efficiency products, gaining a keen insight into an industry that has a demonstrated impact on energy use and utilities. That, he said, is what drew him to LED Source. According to LEDinside retrofitting and other LED lighting projects will be a $25 billion industry by the end of this year.

"When I learned about the energy-efficiency capabilities of LED lighting, the excellent quality of the light produced and the longevity of the products, I became truly enthused," said Byrne. "Because LED lighting is an emerging technical industry, it reminds me of the early days of the direct digital controls revolution that occurred back when I first started. It was very exciting; with LED Source, I found I could recapture that magic."

The magic that Byrne seeks was further inspired by work with current partner Nate Byelick, Byrne's brother-in-law. Together the two worked with an LED startup company where they installed LED fixtures. Inspired by this experience, they decided to reach out and find an LED business they could own and and control.

"After 22 years in my previous industry I realized it was time for a change," said Byrne. "I became determined to never again let my financial stability be determined by someone else and I wanted to be involved in an industry that was rapidly growing before my eyes. I also felt that because of this new technology we could actually have a real affect on the environment while enjoying making a living. At a certain point in your career, you say to yourself, "'what can I do to give back' "? For Byrne and Byelick, the answer was LED Source.

Founded in 2005 by Marcel Fairbairn and Gavin Cooper, LED Source® is North America's first franchisor of LED lighting. The company supplies high quality LED lighting products to a variety of spaces, and specializes in design, support, development, project management and financing through its Retrofit, Architectural, Entertainment and National Accounts divisions. In 2012, LED Source launched LouMan Money®, a private-labeled finance program that affords companies an LED lighting upgrade without tying up capital or using existing lines of credit.

With decades of experience in building automation, Byrne is keenly aware of the difference smart technology can have on a company's bottom line. "Businesses stand to save a lot of money when they employ LED lighting and quicker than they may think," said Byrne. "That's one of my favorite parts of being with LED Source: dispelling preconceived notions and helping businesses save money, while doing it in such a way that they're helping the environment, too."

Now operating LED Source of Raleigh Matt Byrne says every day is Earth Day. That's because as the area franchisee of LED Source Byrne provides the kind of state-of-the-art lighting solutions that are becoming the standard for environmentally conscious businesses to the Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham areas.

Currently, Byrne and LED Source of Raleigh are working with GRACE Christian School in the Raleigh area transitioning all of their standard lighting into LED lighting. "We are outfitting three main components of the school's campus, the elementary school, high school and sports field. The high school campus used to be an auto dealership so excessive lighting throughout the parking lots had to be changed. We started the initial reach out via a cold call. The rebates the school received from switching from standard lighting to LED more than covered the switch over for the parking lot so they decided to refit the entire campus as a whole which is a big and exciting project for both the school and us," said Byrne.

"Businesses stand to save a lot of money when they employ LED lighting and quicker than they may think," shared Byrne. "That's one of my favorite parts of being with LED Source: dispelling preconceived notions and helping businesses save money, while doing it in such a way that they're helping the environment, too. It's also great to go to work and know you are not only decreasing your carbon footprint but are helping others do the same."

For more information about retrofitting your business or franchising opportunities, please visit www.LEDsource.com

As a franchisor working to expand your brand, you want to take advantage of every tool available to generate qualified leads, but have you incorporated blogging into your franchise development strategy?

I joined the roundtable discussion on "How to Use Blogging to Better Impact Your Franchise Development Strategy" by Jordy Patano of No Limit Agency at the International Franchise Association's annual conference in Las Vegas.

Patano works with franchise brands to market themselves to prospective franchisees, including incorporating blogging into their franchise development strategy, and I wasn't surprised to hear her endorse blogging as a key element in a successful franchise development strategy.

A vocal naysayer at the table expressed strong skepticism that blogging could do anything to help his company attract mature, financially secure prospective franchisees with well over $100,000 to invest -- because only young people with no money read blogs.

That's a common misconception, but Patano and other roundtable participants explained three important reasons why blogging can help any franchisor and in fact is a vital element of a successful franchise development strategy.

  • Blogging boosts your brand's SEO. In Patano's work with dozens of franchise brands, she said she has found the first step prospective franchisees take in their research process is a Google search. So if you want them to find your brand, you need to make sure you have strong SEO -- and you won't get that without good content. Google rewards brands that post quality, original content by moving their websites up in search results.
  • Blogging demonstrates your expertise. The information a brand provides in its blog posts shows prospective franchisees that the brand is an expert in its field. It also shows them that the brand is an expert in employing the franchising model. These are both vital because a prospective franchisee only wants to seriously consider a brand that's obviously serious about its industry and franchising.
  • Blogging keeps your website up to date. You can constantly update information on your brand through your blog. This is much quicker, easier and less expensive than having to get technical help every time you need to post new information.

After covering the reasons why blogging is an important part of a successful franchise development strategy, the discussion moved to how best to blog to generate qualified leads.

  • Be consistent. Consistency is more important than frequency for SEO purposes. It's better to do one or two good posts each week and to make sure they go online at about the same time than it is to flood your blog with mediocre posts every day.
  • Push the person over the brand. Your brand may be your focus, but its your people -- both franchisees and corporate staffers -- who are going to help you forge a connection with prospective franchisees that will lead them to buy into your brand. You can't forget that "people make brands," said Patano. Create written blog posts and videos that contain testimonials from people who love being a part of your brand. Have franchisees explain why they bought into your brand over all of the others available these days.
  • Create connections with your content. "Nothing stands alone today," said Patano. It's about creating cross connections between everything that happens with your brand. That's something you can do by incorporating blogging into your larger strategy, including social media, white papers and traditional marketing tactics.
  • Be careful about your tone. Patano said her agency uses a fun, active voice in their clients' blogs and stays away from more stiff, formal writing. She also warned against being overly promotional in your blog posts, saying it's better to provide relevant information and communicate your expertise than to push your brand on people. Following this advice helps to engage prospective franchisees and earn their trust in you as a company they're considering investing a significant amount of their money in.

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LED Source- the Franchisor's Vendor

My client LED Source is an awesome company that has now been valued very highly by the "right people".

They are a franchisor & also a vendor to franchisors, retrofitting lighting for great chains like Massage Envy and Starbucks.

We will ALL eventually need LED lighting so they are out there promoting themselves on both levels. They are a terrific futuristic franchise opportunity and at the same time franchisors and chains, such as Starbucks, need to be retrofitted with all new lighting.

But how to go after a Starbucks type entity when you think "hey I'm just a small company?"

Be a small company that ROARS!

If you can make an intelligent presentation as to the whys, wheres, how tos and in LED Source's case, the tax credits the customer will receive, you can pitch anyone. It just takes tenacity and an intelligent, succinct "pitch".

Window Genie- 3M Partnership

Another great example is another terrific client of Sanderson & Associates: Cincinnati based Window Genie.

Window Genie has reached an agreement with 3M Company to provide a residential window film solution as part of the company's lauded Envision™ line of films. The partnership will provide Window Genie, a franchise chain with over 200 units that provides window cleaning and window tinting to homes in more than 24 states, an opportunity to service over 125,000 residential customers with window film that reduces fading, heat and glare and can help lower utility bills.

Beginning April 1, Window Genie franchisees will offer the residential Envision™ film options that include clear view, glare control, sun block and shade offerings. The film options range from 70%-40% for total solar energy rejection (TSER), a quality which stands to save homeowners significantly on their utility bills.

Window Genie's partnership with 3M is the result of two years of discussions between the companies, initiated by Window Genie.

"We approached 3M two years ago actively seeking the partnership," said Ken Fisk, vice president of operations for Window Genie.

"We believed Window Genie's reputation as an established residential home service business put us in a great position to illustrate to 3M the value of forming a partnership with us.

Through two years of conversations pertaining to the opportunity 3M had to penetrate the residential market through a partnership with Window Genie, a company with over 125,000 residential customers in our database, both parties agreed it was mutually beneficial to move forward."

"The partnership is mutually beneficial," said Fisk.

"While Window Genie is able to further customer satisfaction by providing a highly recognizable brand of top quality window film, 3M is able to successfully penetrate the residential market and build brand awareness for their line of residential film among Window Genie's customers that span over 200 markets in 24 states."

For years 3M's line of Envision™ Wrap Films has been an industry favorite, earning commendations for its high performance, sustainable materials and comprehensive warranty.

Founded in 1994 by Rik Nonelle, Window Genie recently appeared on Inc. Magazine's 2014 Inc. 5000 list and on Entrepreneur Magazine's list of top 100 home-based franchises. The partnership stands to benefit Window Genie franchisees every bit as it will benefit customers," said Fisk.

"We look forward to improved training and support by providing one brand of film to our franchise partners," said Fisk. "We believe it will help streamline systems and enable growth with a more successful method of coaching throughout the entire Window Genie system."

ABOUT WINDOW GENIE

Window Genie is a mobile cleaning services company focused primarily on its "big three" services: window cleaning, window tinting and pressure washing. The company also offers, among many other services, dryer vent cleaning, chandelier cleaning and gutter cleaning and re-securing.

Window Genie services primarily residential customers, as well as small offices and commercial spaces. The company currently has 72 franchise owners operating more than 200 units in 24 states, and expects to grow to 100 franchisees by the end of 2015 and over 300 within five years. Target markets include California, New York and Florida. For more information, visit www.windowgenie.com.

ABOUT LED SOURCE

Founded in 2005, LED Source® is North America's first franchisor of LED lighting. The company supplies high quality LED lighting products to a variety of spaces, and specializes in design, support, development, project management and financing through its Retrofit, Architectural, Entertainment and National Accounts divisions.

In 2012, LED Source launched LouMan Money®, a private-labeled finance program that affords companies an LED lighting upgrade without tying up capital or using existing lines of credit. For more information and/or about franchising opportunities, please visit www.LEDsource.com/franchising.

So you are an avid LinkedIn member who markets products and services.

And you are posting in LinkedIn Groups articles you have authored and content curated from other sources to get target group member attention.

Since you are marketing you want people to notice you & the products, services and solutions you offer.

This Attract Attention strategy is central to content marketing and especially fits Linkedin.

However it is not foolproof and there are essential things you should do and tragic pitfalls you should avoid.

Here is how you can make your group posting work best.

linkedin-post-group.png

Ten Quick Marketing Tactics for Linkedin Groups

  1. Connect with the LinkedIn Group Owner, Managers and Moderators since you may need their help in their LinkedIn Group.
  2. Read the group rules, description and statistics to see how your marketing will fit and be received.
  3. Ensure your post's Auto-Title & Description & Photo are right and the way you want them to look.
  4. Write and Include an Optional Title & Description - be authentic and interesting.
  5. Never use Auto-Posting services like Hoostuite since the Ow.ly short link says you're not really there and don't care to engage.
  6. Carpet Bombing LinkedIn Groups with your posts is a quick way to ensure that you annoy people, get put in Moderation or the nuclear option Blocked & Deleted (SWAMed) - Don't do it.
  7. Audit your LinkedIn Group posts - go back and see if your posts are making it through Moderation, going to Promotions or just getting Deleted. You're connected to the Group Owner ask for help and instructions on what they want from you.
  8. Appending your Discussion posts - you can always add a comment to your own post to attract positive attention to the article.
  9. When you join a new group always begin by commenting on existing Discussions to gain LinkedIn Group credibility
  10. Again Be Interesting. Have a real point of view.. Be generous in your LinkedIn Groups by Commenting, Liking and Following other people's Discussion posts.

For more information on the Franchise-Info Paid Social Programs, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

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


1. Getting People to Buy Your Stuff

I want to inspire you. So, I tell you about a great thing:

"Here's a great thing for you."

What I left unsaid but was heard, by you, is:

"Yeah, it would be a great thing for me, if you bought my stuff."

And, then I go on to say to you:

"I have excellent instructions about how you can achieve this great thing."

You respond with:

"Yeah, it is a great thing."

But don't do anything. Because you have also said to yourself something like:

"Looks like a lot of work."

So, I need to hear what you didn't say. I need to have a reply. Something like:

"Because doing this great thing will produce these wonderful benefits that you have always wanted. And it's easy."

And, I want you to say in return:

"Ok, let me see at your instructions."

Anything else is a failure. I did not inspire you.


2. Getting People to Click on Your Headlines

How can we inspire our readers to click on our headlines?

Let's look at an real example.

Last week when I was researching for my article, "And, What Do You Do?", I searched using this keyword phrase "how to improve about us pages".

The top article listed for this keyword phrase is Jeff Hayden's article which is called "8 Ways to Improve Your 'About Us' Page". (By the way, you should read Jeff's articles carefully. He is excellent at making the complex clear.)

But, Hayden's article also appeared in the 8th spot.

Here is picture of the two entries which were returned from search, the search engine results page or SERP, when I searched for "how to about us pages."

Which one would you click on? Headline 1 or Headline 2?

Headline 1.

About Us LinkedIn.png

Headline 2.

Inc About Us.png

Ok, both have the same headline in bold. But, the description of the benefits to the reader are very different.

Headline 1 gives a plausible reason to why I should care. Because "chances are, [your about us page] is one of the most visited pages on your website. It's also probably the weakest."

Most visited and the weakest? Got it. Ok, I want to know why & I am going to click.

Headline 2 offers the reader no such incentive. It is true, interesting, but why should I care? Feh, big deal. Move on, nothing to read here.


3. Geeky Stuff About Open Graph Mark-Up & Meta Tags

Figuring out how to get the description of your article to show up is an interesting exercise.

Let's take a look at the underlying html for Jeff's article.

(You will have to blow this image up to its full view by clicking on it to read it.)

View Source Inc.png

Ok, when Jeff's article was shared into a LinkedIn group, LinkedIn looked at these two lines of meta description.

1. <meta property="og:title" content="8 Ways to Improve Your 'About Us' Page" />


2. <meta property="og:description" content="Chances are, it's one of the most-visited pages on your site. It's probably also the weakest. Here's how to fix it." />

This tells the LinkedIn bot to describe the article with themeta property "og:description". And that is good, because the description makes the headline more clickable. Good LinkedIn bot. But not great, because the title is repeated again before the description of what benefits reading the article have.

On the other hand, the Google bot ignored these mark-up instructions and returned the first line from Jeff's article as a description. Bad Google bot. And that is bad, because the first line offers no incentive to read the article.

This is not what Jeff had in mind. Naughty, Google bot.

How do we know what Jeff had in mind? Look at his article:

2nd Headline.png

Jeff clearly understand the function of the second headline -- in this case, to inspire us to move down the page and read his instructions. About a great thing.


4. Franchise-Info's Implementation of this Great Thing - An Extra Headline

We don't expect you to hand code your Franchise Directory page or entry. Or become SEO experts, or anything difficult like that.

You just want your headline that people saw on LinkedIn to be clicked more, so your article is read more often. (If they aren't reading you, they won't do business with you.)

Do you want us do to that for you?

More about Rich Snippets, and much more. Take a look ... click here ...

If you liked this idea, 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]

Are you making lasting connections with potential customers? For B2B companies, connecting with C-level executives at different businesses is vital to generate leads.

But are those executives actually reading the content you produce?

A recent study by The Economist of brand marketers and their B2B audiences highlights the growing divide between company executives and the marketers handling their brands. The survey cites that 93% of marketers will maintain or increase their current content marketing efforts in the New Year, but they may be missing the mark on your brand's overall goals.

With the primary purpose of producing content for most marketers being to increase sales, many unsatisfied execs feel that their efforts come across as self-serving.

The main citied reason for content not making a lasting impression on business leaders is that it seemed like more of a sales pitch rather than compelling information. With 75% of executives researching content to find new business ideas, developing informational pieces that shed light on a particular subject matter would prove more valuable.

This disconnect may be a sure sign that some of your marketing dollars need to be allocated to other areas, such as public relations.

In B2B public relations, there are many different ways a comprehensive PR strategy can assist your business. The study shows that 86% of businesses prefer classic text content over emerging forms, and, even while using solely text, the possibilities to showcase your company's expertise are endless.

A PR team can develop a plan that includes creating white papers, developing blog posts, distributing informative press releases, introducing you as a speaker or attendee to an industry event, or writing bylined articles for a well-established publication.

If you aren't seeing a solid return on your investment from current marketing initiatives, now is the time to try new methods. At Ripley PR, we stay up-to-date with industry news to ensure your brand's content is timely and relevant. Our job is to establish you and your business as reputable experts in your field, and create a desire for the valuable information you publish.

(Oaks, Pennsylvania) - When one typically hears of military-to-civilian career stories, the focus is predominately on the challenges they face when obtaining employment. According to the United States Department of Labor, of the 722,000 unemployed veterans in 2013, 60 percent of them were over the age of 45. Rather than starting from the bottom, many veterans are finding small business ownership as a more efficient route to meet their employment and financial needs. CertaPro Painters, based in Oaks, Pennsylvania, is North America's largest residential and commercial painting company and they have taken the stress out of the process of opening one's own business for former military personnel.

"We are proud to support our veterans however we possibly can," says Peter Barkman, VP of franchise development, "their honest and disciplined work ethic falls directly in line with the goals and overall mission of our company."

CertaPro is one of the many companies that provide all honorably discharged veterans with a 10 percent discount off its franchise fee through VetFran, a program which provides training, financial assistance, and support for service members returning home from duty. For New Orleans residents John and Kathy Durbin, and Tom Thoma in Fairfax, Virginia, the transition from the military to business ownership has been challenging, yet rewarding.

John Durbin served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 25 years. His wife, Kathy, worked with a Department of Defense contractor for 13. Feeling as though they had both reached the pinnacle of their military careers the couple decided to move onto their next venture and in August of 2014, opened a CertaPro franchise in New Orleans.

Over the course of 11 years, Tom Thoma built an impressive resume serving in the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer. However, everything changed in 2007 was Thoma was diagnosed with melanoma. Now, he has a clean bill of health, but the battle with cancer gave Thoma a different perspective on life. "There were just too many other things I wanted to pursue," Thoma said. "Even though I really enjoyed the opportunities I was given in the Navy, I realized it was time to settle down."

Both the Durbin's and Thoma have found that CertaPro Painters offers a unique model that fits the wants, needs, and desires of military personnel seeking new careers and opportunities. Through proven business methodologies, industry best practices, low overhead and inventory costs, and a support network of likeminded franchise owners committed to helping one another succeed through sharing their experiences and advice, both the Durbin's and  Tom Thoma feel as though they will be able to thrive in their new endeavors.

Another example is Kevin Messer and his wife Laurie of Madison, Alabama.

After over 20 years as a Lt. Colonel in the Army and program and project manager on an aviation platform, Kevin Messer leveraged his experience in team building and customer service to open CertaPro Painters of Madison, Alabama with wife Laurie in May of this year.  The couple, the parents of eight children, decided it was time to settle down with an alternative retirement plan and start a business of their own.

"My experiences in the military have taught me how to use my strengths well, delegate tasks, and perform to the best of my ability," said Messer. "After much research, I realized that CertaPro had a business model that would support and coach me on being a first-time business owner, so I decided this would be a great next step for me and my family."

"Our family has moved around all over the country due to my position in the military, and I decided that as my children got older I wanted to create a more stable home environment for them," said Messer. "I'm excited to open a business where I can continue to serve my community and feel fulfilled about the work that I am doing."

Currently, CertaPro has over 20 franchises owned and operated by veterans, allowing the Durbin's and Thoma access to a network of business owners who share their backgrounds. CertaPro is also a national partner with Homes For Our Troops - a non-profit organization that builds specifically adapted homes for veterans who have been severely injured in combat operations. 

###

About CertaPro Painters

Founded in 1991, CertaPro is the largest residential and commercial painting company in North America with over 350 locations. By consistently providing customers with an extraordinary experience, CertaPro has become the most referred painting company in the US and Canada. CertaPro franchisees establish large-scale, regional painting companies backed by CertaPro's proven business system making it a great fit for seasoned business professionals looking for a franchise opportunity. In addition, CertaPro is proud to participate in the VetFran program by offering Veteran Franchise Opportunities to military veterans (US Only). CertaPro also offers financing at a preferred rate for qualified veterans. For more information, visit www.certapro.com. Or for franchising information, visit http://certapro-franchise.com/

 

 

 

What to write, what to write, what to write. Think, think, think. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

We've all been there. Complete brain freeze.

The only problem? You need, need, need to get this blog article out. You've already pushed it to the last minute, and you're down to the wire. It simply can't wait.

So you're in a predicament. What do you do?

Truth be told, we often find ourselves in this predicament, and when we're in it, these are some of the things we do...hopefully they can be a starting place for you, too.

Tell a success story - Think of moments big or small that have happened in your business recently that can be a celebration. Did a client give you a pat on the back? Can you give an employee a pat on the back? Did you achieve a new benchmark? Successes come in big and small packages, and your audience always wants to share in them. So let them.

Turn a frustration into a teachable moment - Has something frustrated you recently in your business? Why? How can you use that frustration to educate your audience about your business?

Repurpose a presentation - Look through old presentations you've given. Choose one and put the highlights together in a blog post. It can be bullet points and very high-level. You don't need to give it all away. Just an overview will do.

Make it personal - Share your story. Talk about you. After all, people do business with people, not businesses. Whether you write about yourself or your boss or your employee, give an inside glimpse into who you, the people behind the business, really are.

Spread the love - A.K.A. Delegate - Not every blog has to come from you. Ask employees to contribute their stories. This gives your audience even more insights into who you are as a company. Plus, it keeps content and writing styles fresh and new.

Invite a guest - Ask someone you respect from another business that somehow compliments yours to contribute a blog. This will benefit them because it will give their business added exposure and boost their credibility. It will benefit you because you're showing your audience a larger spectrum of content that is beneficial to them. It's a win-win, and you didn't have to write anything. The only downside? You typically have to plan this one a bit in advance.

Ask your audience - Seriously, ask them a question. What's something you want to know. Start a conversation. Create a poll or a survey. Make it fun or make it market research or both.

Make a Top 10 list - Top 10 menu items, top 10 dress styles, top 10 favorite performers, top 10 learning tips, top 10 blogging tips J.... Think of 10 things your audience should know about and put them in a list.

Write a How-To - You know you're the expert at what you do. You have knowledge that your audience needs, so share it. Tell them how to do one thing they need to know how to do. Just one thing. Save the next thing for another blog.

If you still need help with your content marketing and blogging, connect with me on LinkedIn using the business card below and let's talk.

Connecting potential customers with your brand is key to driving the success of your business. Humanizing a brand can establish trust and create commonality between a business entity and its customers. So how can you be relatable as a company? How can you genuinely convey to your customers that you understand?

Start by telling your story.

With the emerging concept of brand journalism, storytelling is more relevant now than ever before in marketing and B2B public relations efforts.  The tradition of storytelling is often rooted in history, and telling your brand's story is no different. Revealing history can establish a brand personality and invite your audience to share in the business journey of your company.

How yesterday became today matters, and telling that story shows your drive for success and growth as a company. When you share where your company came from, the challenges along the way, as well as the successes, you create a spirit of authenticity for your brand. Your story becomes honest and engaging, which cultivates trust and leaves customers coming back for more.

How can you share pieces of your company's history with your audience? Here are three ways to easily connect customers to your history:

1. Share on social media. We've all seen an Instagram or Twitter Throwback Thursday post from a friend. Reminiscing is not just for baby pictures and high school prom photos. Your company can join in on the trend. Posting a #tbt, as it is known on social media, can give customers relatable insight into your business. You can post a picture of a former office building, your first logo draft, or group shots from previous years' holiday parties. Don't forget to add #tbt and tag anyone included in the post to boost engagement.
2. Write a blog. A throwback picture can easily be turned into a blog post. The great thing about posting a story of company history is that it is not in your face or promotional. Your audience can read the blog as they would any story without realizing the author is a business entity. Make it a genuine narrative providing understanding into your brand's past.
3. Involve your audience. When you tell a story about the past, ask your audience to do the same. If you post about your CEO's first job, leave your audience with the question, "What was your first job?" Do they have a memory of your business from years past? Ask them to share with a comment or picture. Engaging your audience by asking questions evokes emotion and, again, humanizes your brand.

Nostalgia is warm and inviting. If your business has thrived throughout the years, let your customers know. A business with history means a business with success. If you know you need to connect with your customers more effectively, but don't know where to start, Ripley PR can help. We have experts on hand who can develop social media strategies and create blog content so that your story can be heard.

Content management system? Check. Blog design and title? A bunch of words written on a page? Check?

Here at LocalVox we know how daunting running a quality blog for your business can be. But just because it seems overwhelming, that doesn't mean you should give up. The truth is that having and maintaining (don't forget that second part!) a blog is one of the most important things you can do for your business.

Our mission is to help you be successful in all your marketing endeavors, which is why we started our blogging tips series in the first place. But with so much literature on the subject, it can be easy to get lost in all the things you need to do.

So you've taken all the steps to make a good blog, yet your content seems like it's only being read by your grandma and spambots. Well, you're probably making these seven mistakes.

1. You're a Follower, Not a Leader

There are times when it's a good thing to be a follower, like when you're playing a team sport or becoming a synchronized swimmer. But when it comes to your company's blog, copying a popular blog's writing style and topics is a guaranteed way to usher your blog to a quick death. Why should your readers go for the copy when they have an all access pass to the original?

It's easier to be a leader if, from the get go, you occupy a niche space that no one has covered yet. If that's not possible, try using the blue ocean strategy to help differentiate your blog from the others. It's a handy guide for being unique.

2. You're Too Complex

And we don't mean in a misunderstood artist way. Want to hear a secret? Having a complicated and detailed content strategy will not ensure success. Not even the most convoluted plan can predict the twists, turns and drop offs that are all a part of the content roller coaster ride.

Let's call all this planning what it is-fear. And it's eating away at the time that you could be spending by actually creating the content. In the wise words of Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try."

3. Content Is an Afterthought

Behind every amazing local blog is a dedicated person or group of people who care about its performance. In the same manner, behind every crappy blog is a person or group of people who treat it as an afterthought.

There are the telltale signs of an afterthought blog: inconsistent posts, rife with grammar mistakes and topics that are as stale as day old bread. Just making your blog a priority will improve your posts. It will also help if you have difficulty coming up with post ideas. Because you're making the blog a priority, you mind will constantly be churning about possible blog posts. And trust us, the best ideas can come in the weirdest places and the most unexpected times.

4. You're Afraid to Be Dennis Rodman

Now we're not saying that you should dye your hair and start playing basketball in drag. But too many business blogs are so consumed with playing it safe that their blogs are boring to read. The problem? They don't have a unique point of view.

Embrace your and your company's quirks and eccentricities and use them to liven your content. Show your readers what life is like behind the scenes through funny videos (It's also a great way to boost morale at the office). Let them know about your worst failures. It won't tarnish your reputation, instead it will make you look more human and relatable.  At the very least, insert some personal anecdotes into your posts. Not only are they more fun to read, but they help readers remember your content more.

5. You're in It for the Sale

Excuse our French, but people's BS meter go up when they know your blog post is a product or service sales pitch cloaked in a blog post. And when you consider that 571 new websites are created every minute, you really can't waste any time. Create your posts with the goal of providing value for the reader, instead of a sales pitch. There's a reason why content marketing is a long term strategy.

6. You Publish the Same Thing Every Week

Vary the types of content you publish. Mix it up (and save yourself time) by curating posts. For example, if you run a childcare business, you can share lists of weekend events that are tailored to kids. And if you are a plumber, share an article about copper vs pac pipes. Curating posts not only invigorates your blog, but it's an easy non-spammy way to promote someone's article or event. You get new content and their site gets traffic. And in the future they can return the favor.

Another way you can vary your posts is by changing their lengths. If most of your posts are under 500 words, start publishing 1000-2000 word posts once in a while and vice versa. Use bullet points, numbers, and images to break up blocks of text. Include puff posts and researched longform post. Variety is the spice of life and it's also what makes a blog interesting. A simple way to break up the monotony is by hiring a guest writer. Because they're not apart of your content team, they'll bring a fresh perspective.

7. You Don't Build on Existing Content

Don't be afraid to show off your knowledge about a specific topic. When you write about all angles of a subject, you build trust with your reader by positioning yourself as a thought leader. For example, the most popular post on real-estate.com was "3 Trees Never to Plant in Your Backyard". From there they could publish a post titled "Remodeling That Hurts the Value of Your Home" and another post titled "How to Select a Real Estate Broker". Building on existing content is also a very helpful tactic for when you run out of content ideas.

What are other ways to make a local blog better? Let us know in the comments. 

The post 7 Mistakes Preventing Your Local Blog Content from Being Great appeared first on LocalVox.

Joe and I were talking with one of our favorite people - who will go nameless. This person is a recognized expert.

There are other "experts" out there -some who even have books.

But this expert delivers on promises made.

"If you plan to sing your own praise, be prepared to get kicked off the stage". Susan Gale.

All experts face the same strategic problem.

How do you effectively tout or promote their skills without appearing boastful?

It's more of a pressing problem, if I hope to sell or persuade you that I am the type of expert you need to pay big money for.

You might only see an annoying showboat who deserves to get "kicked off" the stage.

"Neither blame of praise yourself" Plutarch

You could simply remain quiet and hope that referrals send you all the clients you deserve.

Quiet is nice.

Especially if you hate to hear the cash register ring.

But, the accepted tactic or response to Plutarch is to use a third party endorsement.

This works even when your client knows that you have paid for the endorsement.

How can you do this?

Hint: Use Introductions in a Strategic Manner

If you are a professional in a firm fortunate enough to have a skilled receptionist, you have an advantage over the rest of us.

Your firm has people calling the firm looking for help.

Now, with a little bit of work, you can take advantage of these inbound calls.

Give your firm's receptionist some training in reciting your bio, when he or she directs a telephone call to you.

Compare:

Oh, you want to speak with a franchise law lawyer? Well, you need to speak with Larry.

With:

"Oh, you want to speak with a franchise law lawyer. You need to speak with Larry. Larry has been practicing franchise law exclusively for over 15 years.

Or compare:

"I am going to put you through to Shelley, who is a trial lawyer.

With:

"I am going to put you through to Shelley. Shelley just won the 2014 Legal Eagle award.

You have all those impressive credentials hanging on your office wall

Hanging up where the potential client cannot see them because you are on the phone with them.

You worked hard for them, get them to work for you.

Oh, and thank Jane Austen for the tip.

"What praise is more valuable than the praise of an intelligent servant?" Jane Austen

(Source idea: Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive. Goldstein, Martin & Cialdini. Chapter 22 - How We Can Show Off what We Know without being labelled a Show Off.)

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]

Small businesses that blog generate 126% more leads than SMB's that don't blog. I'm hoping that alone will convince you to start a blog for your small business.

Companies that blog also have 97% more websites linking to them as well. More links = more traffic, social shares, leads and as a result: more revenue.

how-blogging-for-lead-generation-works.jpgSMB Blogging: Did You Know?

  • Over 60% of consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post that they read

  • Approximately 70% of consumers learn about a company through their blog rather than through paid advertising

  • 60% of consumers have a positive feeling about a company after reading their blog

Those are some serious stats! It's fairly well documented that if you're a small business and participate in content marketing, you're going to do well.

Just take a look at how many people are searching on Google for content marketing:

content-marketing-search-trend.png

As you can clearly see, content marketing is growing every day. More and more people want to learn how content marketing will improve their business and replace part of their more traditional advertising spend.

One of the best ways for a small business to improve content marketing is to start a blog. You've got a few options when it comes to picking a platform to blog:

Still asking yourself if you should create a blog for your small business?

  • 82% of consumers enjoy reading content from company blogs

  • Over 30% of consumers consider a blog to be the second most influential factor when it comes to making a purchase

  • Businesses that commit to blogging and publish over 51 posts receive a 77% lift in monthly leads.

Content Syndication & Multichannel Marketing

If you want to push your local content marketing to the next level, it comes down to content syndication and marketing through additional channels.

Syndication
You need other people talking about your content. Bloggers republishing your posts, guest blogging in other networks, being found on a top local content publisher like NearSay. These are things that will significantly improve your content marketing plan.

Multichannel Marketing
Content is what powers the value of your channels. Your email list, Facebook updates, tweets, LinkedIn updates and Instagram photos have much more value if they're supported by great content. You need to be telling your stories through multiple channels to reach your customer. Without great content marketing and syndication, this is a difficult task.

What Does It All Mean?

By publishing content online frequently (1-2x per week), you will see significant and measurable results. Without a blog, your small business is not firing on all cylinders.

Have you recently started a small business blog? What kind of results are you seeing?

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]

The post Why Every Small Business Needs To Blog in 2014 appeared first on LocalVox.

If you're reading this blog post, I can already tell you that you're a step (or ten) ahead of your competition. We're living in a world where only half of small businesses have websites. Yes, you read that right!

The other half? They have websites, but they're struggling to make them great. You want to take your SMB website to the next level.

How do you get there? Every great small business website needs the following:

1.) A phone number on every page

You'd be surprised if I told you how many small business websites don't display their phone number on the home page of their website. Hint: It's over 60%!

You've worked hard to bring potential customers to your website, and now you need to make sure it's simple for them to turn into paying customers. Find some free real estate at the top of every page on your website and insert your phone number. Make it easy to read, bold it if you have to.

If you want customers to call you, you'll need to make it simple. Go ahead and add that phone number!

2.) Basic search engine optimization

It's not possible to ignore SEO these days. Nearly half of all website traffic comes from search engines. If you're not optimizing for search, you might as well not have a website.

SEO can be complicated. So we created a blog post that simplifies SEO for small businesses. Read the blog post to find out exactly what you need:

  • Optimized headers and title tags

  • Great content

  • Internal links to content

  • A simple way to measure your results

  • And of course, lots of call to actions

3.) Customer testimonials

Approximately 90% of consumers say that online reviews influence their buying decisions. Now there's another statistic you can't ignore!

If you have a great business with happy customers, why not prominently display those on your website? You'll want to create a testimonials page that has the following:

  • Names of those who have left their review

  • Dates of testimonials received

  • Description of product or services that were performed

  • Proper schema.org review markup

4.) A clear map with accompanying directions

If you're a local business, you'll want to make sure it's easy for customers to find your address and get clear directions. Google makes it easy to embed maps on websites, just follow their simple instructions.

Underneath your map embed, you should include simple instructions for getting to your business. You can include driving directions from multiple locations, or if you're in a city with public transportation, include bus/train directions as well.

If you're in a complicated complex or office building, put together some clear instructions for finding your specific location.

5.) A blog with content that helps your customers

Last, but certainly not least is a blog with great content. Your small businesses website has to stand out somehow. If you want to step your game up, past the generic "home, about us, services, contact us" sections, you'll need to add a blog.

Content marketing is rapidly growing because traditional advertising, or "shouting" at your customers is slowly dying.

Identify 10 problems that keep your potential customers up at night. It could be rodents getting into the house, wondering if a fallen tree will be covered by insurance, or wanting to know if their small business website is good enough.

After you've written out your 10 problems, commit to "solving" one problem per week through a blog post. Promote your content on your social networks and to your email list. If you aren't collecting emails, find out how to easily start here for only $5.97.

Any business can create great content. If you're struggling to come up with epic content ideas, tweet at us for some free tips and ideas. We think small business content marketing is so important, we've put together a great presentation on it. Download it today for free!

Do you think we missed anything that a great small business website needs? Let us know in the comments!

The post The 5 Things Every (Great) Small Business Website Needs appeared first on LocalVox.

I just had a terrific question posed to me.  Had to dash off this quick reply.

You have to know the background.

A professional colleague had asked for some advice on her website.  Made some suggestions. She made the changes.  (The main suggestion was to incorporate the website with the blog in a more seamless manner.)  She was super excited.

But, she also lamented:

I got one new (largish) client soon after it [new website/blog] went up - seemed like a good omen.

I'm also learning how to use Google Analytics.

One thing I've noticed - by the time someone contacts me through the site, they have already decided to work with me. 

Meeting is almost a formality. 

So that makes me think that the site is doing a good job, but it is also frustrating that I can't reach more people I could help." 

So, for you, and many professionals, the website is attracting only visitors who have already qualified themselves as serious about being your clients.

Holy Cow!  This is a major revelation to Joe and I.

We are always preaching that most websites for professionals have no or little traffic & that they have to do something to increase their pageviews.

But, we are wrong.  We have got it backwards.

 

Here is the second point.

Do you know the favorite landing page for most mediation, legal, accounting and other professional websites is?

It is the "About Us" page.

Naturally, people want to know about you - if they are going to do business with you.

If you have only a few but highly qualified visitors looking at your website, then you need to use that strategic fact.

And, you want to solve this problem: "but it is also frustrating that I can't reach more people I could help."

You just need to find similar people to the qualified visitors - who just became your clients.

Well, and just how do you do that?

 

You actually have the answer.

You take the intake form -you just filled out- when you met your new clients.

You have just described their problem & your solution.

So now, take 20 or 30 minutes, and re-write it as a more general story.

--(Like I took this piece of information from my colleague and wrote it up as a general piece of advice.)

A story you can share on LinkedIn with people that could do business with you.

A story that will get you more of the attention that you deserve.

And, then share that story, circulate it through LinkedIn, and reach more people you could help.

At $30/month, what can you lose?

Whether you're searching the Internet for fitness advice, the best restaurants in your area, marketing tips for your business, or historical facts about the city you live in, you are more likely to click on a list that neatly provides you information than a long article.

List articles have become increasingly popular over the last several years. Entire websites are dedicated to content of this nature, and although often associated with entertainment, these pieces are also incredibly valuable marketing tools.  Publishing 'Top 5′ articles is a great way to spice up your content marketing calendar.

Here are five reasons why:

1.) Variety:

These pieces can be about anything; ranging from specific tips and advice about your business, to interesting facts and knowledge from your industry. This allows room for creativity and makes you a leader in your field.

2.) Concise:

Lists deliver information with clarity and are easy to scan. If you are a business that specializes in a particular area of service, provides unique products, or has a distinctive knowledge of a subject, these articles are the perfect way to deliver your message with precision.

3.) Accessible:

These articles appeal to everyone. Men and women of all ages and demographics can read the summarizing lists and gain value from your content. That accessibility means that it can be applied to a number of audiences and reach customers who may have normally been outside of your scope.

4.) Creativity:

These articles present the opportunity to enrich your content marketing with multimedia, allowing you to craft engaging and unique pieces. Your lists are not limited to text; they can be pictures, video, '.gifs', and more. Multimedia rich content will drastically improve your SEO, as well as appeal to a wider audience.

5.) Effectiveness:

These articles attract readers. The fact that you are reading this article now proves this point. They are engaging and provide digestible facts about virtually anything pertaining to your business. List articles can be applied both directly and indirectly to your business, making them extremely effective for building your online presence.

Keep these top five tips in mind next time you're planning your content marketing calendar and trying to brainstorm effective content ideas for your next blog post or whitepaper.

The post 5 Reasons Why 'Top 5′ Articles Provide Effective Content Marketing appeared first on LocalVox.

Yes, content is king, but it's a demanding monarch that takes up your franchise/partners' resources (time, money) and that requires a certain level of expertise.

Granted, it can be very generous in the long run but, it can become frustrating to those seeking for immediate results.

Patience, consistency and quality are musts to get the most out of content marketing.

And let's face it, it's more than probable that your franchisee's don't have the time or interest to steer away from other tasks to sit down and write twice a month. They're trying to run a business! They need to focus on getting everything their in local units right!

Furthermore, in an effort to get the content task over with, they may rush the writing process and produce mediocre blog posts! On the other hand, I'm sure you've heard that locally relevant content is a great way to engage audiences and to climb the SEO ladder, which improves visibility, lead generation and ROI.

So, if you're in it to win it, it's probable that you don't want to miss the opportunity to have targeted content on your partner sites! If your channel partners are stretched thin but you would like them to improve their lead generation online with content that will fit their specific audiences, here are a few tips that can help you help them:

1. Training Your Partners

First and foremost: there's no way a franchise marketing strategy will work if they don't even know what that is. That's why it's important to train them (even though they won't be producing content regularly). Make sure your franchise's know about content marketing, the goal you're trying to achieve with it and what role should they play in it.

2. Inspiring

Again, this is something that won't happen often but, if you'd like a targeted strategy, your partners may need to chime in from time to time. And, you can make their job a lot easier if you share topic inspiration through newsletters, as well as examples, best practices and quotes. Believe me, finding what to write about can be stressing and frustrating, so give them a hand in this aspect. You can even encourage them to read related blogs so that the post ideas are constantly flowing.

3. Offering a Helping Hand

Obviously, you'll need to help your partners with content marketing so it can be done right. First of all, aim for a more punctual approach (handing out tasks more than inspiration). You can even allow them to customize their site with easy content like: video, photos, audio, testimonials, and making little updates here and there. Furthermore, you could provide customizable templates so they can tweak certain aspects of it and target the content!

4. Taking Over

Most of the time, and since content can be very demanding, you will want to hire a team of experts to take care of content marketing for your partners. Delegating this task onto them will not only make your partners' jobs easier, but it will also guarantee better results at the end. These are people that are dedicated to content, know the business, and will do what's needed to get you, your partner sites and your company, to the top visibility spots in the search pages, while remaining compliant and locally relevant!

How Empowerkit Can Help

Empowerkit is an intuitive website builder that allows partner site management. Still, as stated in this post, partners don't have time to get away from their local units, so we're here to provide online marketing services for you and your partners! We can take over your partners content marketing and create compliant posts on a regular basis that will engage local audiences. At the same time, we can manage your channel partners' social media accounts and take care of other online marketing tactics! Give us a call (510.859.8452) and try Empowerkit out!

Are you blogging for your business? You should be. The internet represents an unlimited opportunity for your brand, and blogs are just one of many platforms that can benefit you. Blogs can not only get your brand name some exposure, but they can provide value to your consumers.

Ripley PR is strong believer in the creative use of blogs to increase business-to-business communications. Keeping them updated with relevant information is key to keeping customers coming back.

A quiet blog won't do anything for your company or its followers. There's still a lot you need to know about how to run your blog and optimize it for everyone's benefit.

Here are eight ways that you can use your blog to improve your business:

1. Get people talking about your brand

Every small business could use some exposure, and blogs are a great way to do it. But it's not as easy as it sounds. The key to getting people to come to your blog is to provide timely, quality content. Keep it relevant, well-written and insightful. Provide your readers with content that they desire, and they will show up.

2. Do market research

Blogs present a quick, easy way to learn about your customers and find out who they are. Put up some polls to see what people think about certain products, or figure out their demographics. But don't ignore the opportunity to get open-ended feedback too, so ask questions about your customers on the blog and invite comments.

3. Keep customers up-to-date about your company

Your customers aren't going to sift through boring press releases or painstakingly search through tons of media outlets to find out what's going on with your company. Your blog can be a quick stop for anyone to check up on the latest happenings, but make sure you're posting items that are newsworthy. If it's worth a press release, it's worth a blog post, but make sure you add some value--in the form of additional analysis or new information--for your readers.

4. Reward your readers

Contests and giveaways are the most common ways to give back to your readers, but make sure you're creative with them. Do the unexpected every once in a while.

5. Interconnect the parts of your online presence

Your company is probably using a lot of different services on the web, and a blog can be used to help connect them. Link out to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, and be sure to prominently feature a way to get to your main business website.

6. Share product reviews

Don't make your consumers go all across the web to find out what people think about your product. Not only can you share positive product reviews to help your reputation, but a blog gives you that rare chance to defend yourself against negative reviews. So don't be afraid to call out bad reviews that you find--either acknowledge them as useful criticism, or fight back.

7. Answer questions

Blogs are another platform that can be used to directly communicate with your customers. A blog can be used to answer common questions and concerns. If there's a particular issue that seems to be standing out for your customers, write about it.

8. Interact with your customers

Develop brand loyalty by showing that your company has a human side. Speak with customers personally, invite a few guest posts from your more eloquent readers and give them a wall or message board to voice their opinions, talk to each other and interact with you. Build a community, and be a prominent part of it.

If you're still not using a blog as a part of your B2B public relations strategy, get in touch with Ripley PR today. We'll show you more ways it can help you grow your business - and we can help you get started.

Many franchises have built their websites by creating local pages, which are part of the main franchise website, for each franchise location.

For example: www.franchisbrand.com/locationname.html.

In some cases these local pages reflect content that is unique to that location: specific store hours, location-specific specials, meet the staff of that location, etc.

In many cases, however, much of the content on each of those local pages is the same as the content on other local pages. Perhaps it is a welcome message, an introduction to products or services or some other general greeting for everyone who lands on that location's page.

With recent Google changes, this has become a very problematic issue.

Duplicate content (content that is written in exactly the same way) can have a very negative impact on search engine rankings. This means that if a franchise website is already at the top of local search engine rankings and it continues to have duplicate content on the local pages, rankings will likely drop.

If a franchise is not ranking at the top but is trying hard to get there, it will be a much more difficult process if there is duplicate content.

Considering other content alternatives might be the best option for franchises. Ideally, each location page would be written with unique content. Even if the subject matter were the same, the wording would need to be different.

Taking advantage of this to really craft location pages in a unique way could actually be a great benefit.

Franchises could consider using this opportunity really to highlight what sets each location apart from its competitors in that area.

Consider these thoughts: What makes the local team special? What makes the structure or setup unique and different? What could you show visually with photos or through action videos that would help capture the unique aspects of each location?

Having the franchisees provide input for their own content would help differentiate it as well.

Every franchise location is slightly different from all the others. Highlighting those truly unique aspects is a great place to start differentiating content. Then a simple rewording should do the trick for the rest.

Happy writing.

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