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Buying or selling a house is an exercise that can be fraught with anxiety. Sometimes you need a calming influence, or more importantly, a voice of reason when it comes to making what is one of life's big decisions.

In that situation, you want to turn to someone like Jack Zaczek, 48, who is a newer franchisee of Tampa, Florida based Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®, the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for more than 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home.

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Zaczek is a just-retired veteran who spent more than 20 years in the Navy. And we all know that attention to detail and a sense of calm in times of stress are hallmarks of any veteran and Zaczek certainly has the credentials: He retired as a Navy Chief and was an Airframe and Flight Control Technician, certifying H60 Sea Hawk Helicopters safe for flight during eight - yes, eight - deployments to the Persian Gulf in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom campaigns.

"The attention to detail the Navy taught me inspecting aircraft will directly contribute to the high level of attention I give each home inspection I perform,"

said Zaczek, an Orange Park, Florida resident. Zaczek's Pillar To Post serves homebuyers and sellers throughout Duval, Flagler, St. Johns, Putnam and Nassau counties in Florida.

While Zaczek has the requisite mindset to be a successful home inspector, he also has the knowledge. Before joining the Navy in 1997, he worked in construction building custom homes in Oregon.

"Pillar To Post was a perfect fit for me. I love the profession and take great pride in my own home," Zaczek said. "Now being a home inspector gives me the opportunity to help and be involved with my community."

Pillar to Post Home Inspectors is a popular franchise brand among veterans such as Zaczek. The franchisor is a member of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association that helps vets purchase franchises and it has achieved 5-star status in that program, the top ranking possible.

In 2018, one-third of new Pillar To Post franchisees were military vets. "Pillar To Post has been ranked as the No. 1 home inspection franchise for the last seven years and I wanted to be part of that winning team," Zaczek said.

As the largest home inspection company in North America, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors has experienced impressive growth; not only among veterans, but with people in, or leaving the mortgage, contracting and construction industries. Realtors, both existing and former, are attracted to the concept which extends and adds to their prior work experience.

Recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise 500 for 18 consecutive years, the home inspection giant is also proud of its continued inclusion in the following Entrepreneur Magazine rankings.

  • Top Home-Based Franchises
  • Best of the Best
  • Top Low-Cost Franchises
  • Top Franchises for Veterans
  • Fastest Growing Franchises

In addition, Military Times Magazine named them one of the Top Franchises for Veterans.

As the housing market continues to grow, homeowners clearly recognize the importance of hiring a certified home inspector. A recent survey released by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) found that 88 percent of all U.S. homeowners believe home inspections are a necessity, not a luxury.

Additionally, the home inspection industry is largely comprised of aging owner-operators. As they leave the industry, homeowners will desire a strong reliable brand that utilizes the latest technology and education, resulting in significant growth opportunities for Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post's service. Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report that is printed and presented on site. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

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About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. Nearly 600 franchises are located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit our Franchise Recruiting Website.

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How do you grow a business from startup in 2016 to $4MM in 2017, $9.8MM in 2018 and on target for $12MM in 2019? To understand the how, you must first learn about the who.

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From Ernst & Young to Enron to UBS to JP Morgan - and maybe a few stops in between - life for Bob Hillier and his family was never boring.

After spending seven years with Ernst & Young, one of Hillier's clients, a little company called Enron, "stole me away", said Hillier.

With that, he moved the family to Texas. It was 1998. "I was 27 years old when Enron went bust," Hillier recalled. There was no rest for the weary, though. He quickly rebounded and accepted a tech position at UBS. Almost zig-zagging the country, the Hillier's now found themselves in Connecticut.

The New England charm was lovely. The weather? Not so much. But mostly it just didn't feel like home to the long time Texans. Two years in, Hillier was looking for his next opportunity. And challenge. It didn't take long for JP Morgan's tech group to scoop him up. The Hillier's headed back to the Lone Star State, landing in Houston this time.

Though each new position and each new town took a toll on his family, Hillier never regretted the learning experience. He always knew that he was working towards something bigger and better. He was perfecting his craft. He was gaining invaluable experience while building a professional reputation for himself. He was maintaining financial security for his family. Hillier eventually made another career move; this time to Bank of America - no relocation required.

In Houston, the Hillier's had finally found a place they could call home.

In 2008 Bank of America announced plans to buy Merrill Lynch in a reported $50 BILLION deal. "The Bank of America - Merrill Lynch merger proved to be a huge 'corporate America' learning experience for me," reflects Hillier. "It changed everything."

Like so many, Hillier grew tired of the corporate life and the travel. He began to research opportunities that would afford him more time with his family. "I wanted to try something completely different, so I looked into several different franchise systems. I learned that restoration was a lucrative (and growing) market, so I visited ALL the restoration franchise models.

I read a lot about Paul Davis the man, and I felt like he was a bit like me - a risk taker, an innovator, and he was able to see the positives in bad situations and learn from them. This is where my researched ended and my choice was made."

Since 1966, Paul Davis Restoration has been providing restoration and cleanup services to the residential and commercial market. They are the experts when it comes to cleaning up after disasters such as water, fire or mold. With more than 300 locations in the US and Canada, Paul Davis is continually growing.

One of the many innovative aspects of Paul Davis Restoration is how they collaborate with insurance and other industries to improve efficiency in restoration of property damage.

About nine months after Bob Hillier invested in his own Paul Davis Restoration franchise, he struck what he thought would be a sweet deal with FEMA. It seemed like the perfect fit for his business, and it was FEMA after all. What could go wrong? Sadly, devastation struck the Gulf Coast when hurricane Harvey paid an unwelcome visit.

The too-good-to-be-true deal to build 2000 houses with FEMA fell through. True to Hillier's nature, and exemplifying what he himself admired in Mr. Paul Davis, he didn't wallow. Hillier found the positives in what, for many others, would be considered a disastrous experience. "I learned from this and lost some dollars," he said; "but the silver lining was that we found lot of talented people through that experience who work for us today."

And that is the attitude that gets you from a 5,000 square foot facility in 2016 to a 37,000 square foot facility in 2019! Hillier's business has grown from 3 vehicles to 17 to 28. "We have grown so much in just three years! We have outgrown our warehouse space twice. We continually add new staff and new vehicles. This business went from nothing to $9.8 million in TWO years!" beams Hillier.

"I knew all my life that I was working toward something bigger. I knew the travel and the long hours would amount to something. Today I have a thriving business that I can be proud of, four great kids and an equally wonderful wife. They are all also proud of my accomplishments and the fact that all four of them will be, at some point, in college at the same time, keeps me financially motivated, Hillier said with a laugh. "And we get to do it all in a city that we love."

Hillier cites consolidation of the three most important parts of his business as one of the main keys to the success of his team.

"80% of our business is organic growth; meaning maintenance of commercial and residential properties," Hillier concludes. "Things like bursting appliances, heaters, we maintain businesses and sustain homes with mundane repairs. But that's necessary upkeep. Then we have our storm based/disaster work. The secret is the bigger we are in organic business, the upkeep etc, the more storm-based jobs with risk we can take and manage. That's the part where we can really help people and it's rewarding.

"If I were to offer any advice to someone starting out or looking to purchase a franchise, I would tell them not to be afraid to take a risk - don't be reckless, but get out there and try new things, and always look for something good, even in the bad times."

For more information visit Paul Davis Restoration - North Houston, or call 281-886-7755.

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About Paul Davis Restoration

Since 1966 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 United States and Canada. The professionals at Paul Davis are certified in emergency restoration, reconstruction and remodeling. For more information, visit the company website at www.pauldavis.com.

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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"Our offices are a bit somber this morning," said Rich Wilson, President and CEO of Jacksonville-based Paul Davis Restoration Inc. last Friday, June 14th.

"We learned today of the passing of our founder Paul Woodall Davis at the age of 92. I am so pleased that I got to visit him recently and tell him how much his guidance and great spirit have helped me personally and helped the entire company to thrive."

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Paul Woodall Davis founded Paul W. Davis Contracting in 1966. During the time that entity was growing, Insurance Restoration Contracting was a "niche market."

Paul Davis had very original insights about what the future would be for this industry. Property insurance adjusters were looking for ways to settle claims, sorted out these folks who soon realized the insurance adjusters were going to be their sole source of business. Paul Davis saw this fragmented niche for what it is today; a multi-billion-dollar stand-alone industry.

The company began franchising in 1969. That's when Davis began his teaching role and is credited with doing an excellent job of it by the Paul Davis staff and early franchisees. He authored the original Operations Manual and personally taught the Owners' School. As the franchise network grew and he had less personal time to spend teaching, instructors were brought in.

Employees were also empowered to participate in the Owners' School. Davis took a personal interest in all the employees at what was then called Paul W. Davis Systems. His management style was the same as his project development; he empowered the employee and helped them make corrections along the way. He had an open-door policy; he made himself available to all employees.

In 2016 Paul Davis wrote and published his autobiography called "If I Could, So Can You!" an effort that delighted the entire PDRI system. Among the values shared in the book by Davis: "For any organization to enjoy the greatest potential for success, its culture must always reflect its basic values."

Stephanie Rosenstone, Senior Executive Assistant to Rich Wilson, spoke at Davis' funeral Saturday.

"Paul felt strongly that Rich Wilson embodies the values and integrity which the company was founded on. Paul often commented that Rich is the perfect CEO to lead our network to the growth that he could not have dreamed. He was passionate about his support for the direction/leadership occurring at what is now Paul Davis Restoration Inc."

Paul also credited his devoted wife Brenda for coining an oft used phrase among us at Corporate; "Remember who you are and who you Represent".


Obituary from Florida Times Union Saturday June 15th, 2019

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/timesunion/obituary.aspx?n=paul-woodall-davis&pid=193148091


About Paul Davis Restoration Inc.

Paul Davis has been providing restoration and cleanup services to the residential and commercial market since its founding in 1966. The Company was acquired in 1997 by The Franchise Company, known today as FirstService Brands, a network of home service franchisors.

Paul Davis has over 300 North American offices, is a leader in the recovery, reconstruction and restoration industries. In 2018, the company had over $850 million in revenue from work on over 125,000 commercial and residential projects.

Paul Davis franchise owners employ over 126,000 restoration professionals. www.pauldavis.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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This Medal Winner Served his Country and Now Recently Opened a Pillar To Post Home Inspectors Franchise 

     Spencer Velez knows how to use his expertise and skills. 

    He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 14 years in a direct combat service support role. The 35-year-old also served In Afghanistan, in Operation Enduring Freedom and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for superior performance of duties. 


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     As if those achievements weren't enough, Velez then completed graduate school at the University of Southern California (USC) earning a Master of Business for Veterans (MBV) degree in a program designed to leverage the management and leadership experience gained during military service. 

      After graduating, he applied these skills to become a Corporate Compliance Manager with The Walt Disney Company. In that role, he ensured wherever Disney products were manufactured, the workers were provided a safe and inclusive environment. 

     In May he opened a Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® franchise to continue using his acquired business skills. Velez serves home buyers and sellers throughout South Pasadena, San Marino, Alhambra, Altadena, La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale, Burbank, Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Rosemead, Monterey Park, Los Angeles and surrounding areas. 


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     Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. 

     Consistently ranked as the top-rated home inspection company on Entrepreneur Magazine's annual Franchise500®, they are enjoying their 19th year in a row on that list. A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors' service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report that is printed and presented on site. 

     All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions. The brand is a favorite among veterans such as Velez. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is a member of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association that helps vets purchase franchises and it has achieved 5-star status in that program, the top ranking possible. 

     In 2018, one-third of new Pillar To Post Home Inspectors franchisees were military vets.  

     "Pillar to Post provides a service that brings people happiness and positively impacts the community by educating the client about the home - purchasing a home is and big and exciting step and we are a part of that journey," said Velez. "I have great plans to grow the business to its maximum potential with multiple professional home inspectors and valuable services. I will be a leader built on a reputation of respect and hard work which I learned through my military service." 

     For more information visit: call 626-205-0739 or, go to velezteam.pillartopost

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          No one would have blamed Sarah Gabbard if she had curled up in her house with her two young girls and done nothing for a very long time. In fact, most people would have expected it. Come to think of it, if they found themselves in the same situation as the now 39-year-old found herself in almost four years ago, most would have done the exact same thing. But they don't know Sarah Gabbard.

          Gabbard was leading a "very normal life" in her words on May 28, 2015. She was married to her high school sweetheart, Chad, who owned a thriving industrial cleaning company with two locations that he had started while in college with nothing more than a weed eater and a pressure washer. The couple had two girls, Olivia and Ava, and Sarah worked as a speech-language pathologist in the local school district. "It was crazy how successful Chad's business became," Gabbard said. "I always admired what he had done but I was too scared to do something like that for myself, so I chose the comfortable, safe 9-to-5 approach."

Chad had been traveling for business that May day and had stayed at a condo the couple owned in Lexington the previous night. Sarah was having trouble reaching Chad by phone and immediately felt a sense of foreboding. "I knew something was wrong. I could just feel it," she said. "I can't explain it, but I just felt like someone had punched me in the gut." Sarah jumped in her car and drove to the condo, where she found Chad had passed away from a congenital AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation), which is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins, usually in the brain or spine. If they rupture, they cause bleeding in the brain. Brain AVMs occur in less than one percent of the population. Chad was 36 years old in perfect health and had never experienced any symptoms.

          Looking back, Sarah has little memory of the weeks and events that followed Chad's death. "I feel like it was God protecting me from what had just taken place," Gabbard said. "The next few weeks were a whirlwind. I had to deal with not only the personal side of just losing my husband, but I also had to figure out what to do with a business that had 30 employees and two locations."

          Though she now faced the daunting task of having to make so many critical decisions on her own, Gabbard was steadfast on one matter. She was holding onto Chad's business no matter what, even though she had several offers to sell. "I can't explain why, but I just couldn't imagine not having this business in our lives anymore, and for my daughters, even though I had ZERO experience with industrial cleaning," Gabbard said. "Again, I can't explain it. It was just my gut feeling."

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Olivia, Sarah and Ava Gabbard

          However, Gabbard quickly discovered there was no such thing as hitting the "pause button" when faced with the daily challenges of running a small business in eastern Kentucky. For seasonal businesses such as Chad's, winters are notoriously slow. "Work just seemed to come to a screeching halt. I couldn't stand it and felt like we were losing so much money by just being idle," Gabbard said. "I knew we had to find something to occupy the guys over the winter."

          One of Gabbard's employees, Josh, was diligent in researching business opportunities, though she said with a grin, "many of his suggestions were terrible and we still laugh about it to this day." But Josh more than made up for all his misses when he came upon an online advertisement for Paul Davis Restoration, one of the most trusted brands in the insurance restoration industry and a company that has been at the forefront of innovation in the property damage, emergency services and restoration industry since 1966. "It looked like the perfect fit and work that we could easily handle," Gabbard said.

          While slow and steady might work for some, that's never been Gabbard's mindset. After contacting the corporate office, Gabbard and Josh were on a plane to Jacksonville, Fla., a week later to attend Discovery Day at Paul Davis. While there, Gabbard met other prospective franchisees, many of whom got a good chuckle when learning how much time she had spent doing her "homework" on the company. "They had researched this company for months, and here I was a week after hearing the Paul Davis name for the first time. It was hysterical to see their faces when they would ask me how long I had been looking at this franchise opportunity and I would reply, 'seven days.' I have no doubt they thought I was crazy," Gabbard said.

          But while some individuals might need the reassurance of reams of research to make an important decision, Gabbard once again relied on an instinct that has never failed her. "I loved what I saw when I was in Jacksonville. It felt like the perfect fit," Gabbard said. "I wanted to buy in that very day. I just knew."

          Gabbard knew and she was right. Again. Almost 3 years have passed since Paul Davis River Cities launched operations in September 2016, covering large portions of eastern Kentucky, southern Ohio and southern West Virginia from its home base in Worthington, Ky.

With more than 375 locations in the US and Canada, Paul Davis is continually growing. Though it remains a largely male-dominated industry, husband-and-wife teams and women are finding that a Paul Davis franchise can be a perfect fit for their particular needs. But that didn't mean Gabbard didn't run into outside naysayers who questioned whether she would be a good fit for the restoration industry, even though Paul Davis welcomed her with open arms and made her feel like family.  "I was told an insane amount of times that 'I couldn't do this' or 'this wasn't a job for a woman,'" Gabbard said. "I had so many people try and talk me into going back into speech therapy because it was the safe choice. That only made me want to become a Paul Davis franchisee even more. It was like pouring gasoline on a fire!"

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Ava, Sarah and Olivia Gabbard

Since its launch, Paul Davis River Cities has gone from initially providing only mitigation services to becoming a full-service restoration company. Obviously not one who relishes idle time, Gabbard also bought a pest control franchise while making sure the company Chad had founded - Pressure Tech Inc. - continued to prosper. Finally having the chance to reflect on the path she has taken over these last few years, Gabbard feels she has lived up to the expectations she set for herself when it came to raising Olivia and Ava - even if it was a whirlwind at times.

"The crazier it got, the more I enjoyed it. I loved the chaos and not knowing what each day would bring. I was still trying to be a regular mom at the same time and I still say that my girls were the driving force behind me wanting to take on so much at once," Gabbard said. "It was very important to me that they had the same security they felt when Chad was still here. I wanted them to know that their mom could handle it and we were going to be just fine. 

I wholeheartedly think Pressure Tech and Paul Davis saved my life. As dramatic as that sounds, I found a love for being an entrepreneur that I never knew I had. These businesses made me get out of bed in the morning when I could have easily made the decision not to and no one would have blamed me."

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Franchise StarsRonnie HobbsPillar To Post Home Inspectors®.

Ronnie Hobbs provides professional home inspection services for: Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Paulding, Rockdale, and Henry counties in the state of Georgia.


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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Talked with a startup franchisor recently about his franchise sales.

A really nice guy Bob, who has no franchises sold so far.

And he is going into his 3rd year of trying.

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At the outset, Bob spent a boatload of money with a famous and notorious Franchise Development Company to get his FDD & franchise agreement done.

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Sadly, Bob had to hire another law firm to redo the FDD & franchise agreement.

Which entailed starting from scratch.

Since it would have cost more to try to fix the first set of documents.

Bob invested in all the things that certain experts had told him to get in order to build a successful franchising company.

Here's some of what Bob spent big bucks on -

  • State of the Art Franchise Recruitment Website
  • Website Content & SEO
  • Franchise Operations Intranet/Extranet
  • Franchise Management System (FMS) with CRM
  • Outsourced Franchise Sales Team

His website gets no traffic.

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Bob isn't reaching qualified franchise candidates with the requisite talent and capital.

Bob's story is not surprising or uncommon.

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And these are statistics on the 4033 franchises available in North America that show this.

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But, if you would like to know more about Prospecting for Franchise Recruits by accessing the LinkedIn database, then just sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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

So, What do You Do?

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"Elevator speeches" are a vital part of the marketing mix for all business owners. There are three components to a solid elevator speech -- the explanation, the value and the call to action.

The elevator speech in the following example is focused on a trade show and persuading people to visit our exhibit booth.

Start by stating your message in one sentence.

If you come to our booth, we will shoot an interview of you talking about what is unique about your brand, edit the interview and then deliver it to you so you can promote your message online.

Next, create value for what you do, which gives you credibility.

Our videographer is an Emmy-winner, so your video will be professional with a long shelf life.

Close with a call to action.

Come by our booth -- 654 on aisle 6 -- and we'll prep you, interview you, and then give you a video to use on your website, social media ...no strings attached and most definitely more useful than the tchotchkes other exhibitors are giving away.

Ding, first floor.

If you have more time than in an elevator, keep the same basic outline of an elevator speech while expanding on each section -- the explanation, the value and the call to action.

And not one elevator speech fits all occasions, so depending where you are and what you are trying to accomplish, prepare and practice.

Below is a quick fill-in-the-blank to craft your Elevator Speech:

For (audience) who want to (problem) , (company name) _ is the only company that (solution) because (Supporting Points)

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What to Do - Extend Your PR Coverage to More than one Day.

Social networking and social news websites have done for media coverage what fitness and nutrition have done for the human race - dramatically extended their longevity.

When the media devotes positive coverage to a company or individual, traditionally the value would exist the day of the coverage, but not much beyond.

When something good happens, you have to make it last. With all the opportunities to maximize media placements online, businesses should take advantage of all it and milk every last bit of mileage from their well-deserved PR attention.

How to Extend Your PR Coverage.

We make it a habit at our agency to remind clients every time they receive a placement or mention any media to do the following six simple things:

    • Blog about it (and install blogging software if you don't have it.)

    • Post it on the "News" section of their website (We go under the assumption all of our clients have one of these!)

    • Send an email with links to the coverage to customers, co-workers, friends, pretty much anyone you know. (Some of our clients create an "In the News" newsletter where they gather our placements and send it monthly as one-page newsletter to prospects.)

    • Share it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and on social news websites like Digg or Reddit (when posting it to these sites, send a link to your submission to colleagues and ask them to "Digg" or vote for your placement so it raises in popularity on the page. Also track your placement's progress. Check back in a few days to see how many people have viewed or voted.)

    • Hang it. Create an 8 x 11 PDF for hanging it in visible areas of their business.

  • Include a link to the media mention in their email signature (only for the first three to five days post-coverage)

Why You Need to Extend Your PR Coverage.

Once read, watched or heard - an article, TV or radio segment was once quickly gone and forgotten, as fast as the next day's news came out. The only way to extend its short life was to perhaps frame it in glass and hang it a waiting area, where it might be occasionally skimmed by customers or passersby. Let's face it, given all the hard work it takes to score positive media attention, letting the end result slip away so quickly is nothing short of a darn shame.

But, now, with social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, and social news websites such as Reddit or Digg, what used to be a one-day or otherwise short-lived "PR win" has now become something that businesses and individuals can benefit from for weeks, months and even years. By sharing media coverage on these networks and sites, businesses and others can not only extend the life of their coverage, but they can quadruple or more the number of eyes that eventual see it.

Sharing an article, TV segment, radio broadcast or blog mention online can be as simple as shortening the link with a url shrinker (i.e., TinyURL) and posting the link to your company's social media sites. Just be mindful of overkill. I've seen companies retweet or post the same media mention as much every five minutes. That's called overly promotional ... a major turnoff to the very group you are trying to impress.

Another overly simple way to extend viewers and life of media mentions is to email a link to employees, friends, colleagues and even customers, who then may very well pass along the coverage to their stream of followers.

Sharing media articles on social news web sites can be the most effective way to increase the power and audience of your positive media coverage. In fact, Quantcasst estimates Digg's monthly U.S. unique visits at 4.3 million.

Social news websites feature user-posted stories, typically ranked based on popularity. Examples include Slashdot (focusing on science and technology news), Fark, Digg, Reddit, Delicious and Newsvine. Not only do can users on the site comment on the posts, but their comments may also be ranked. What's more, many of these sites are also used to link many types of information, such as news and discussion, humor and support.

One of the most important and strategic elements that can help maximize media relationships and the impact of news announcements is having a corporate online newsroom. Having a page on a company's website that's dedicated to press releases and news gives media a kind of one-stop-shop to observe what's been going on within a company, recent updates and ongoing traction in the industry.

Posting media coverage on your website is like a "duh," but worth noting and also recommending that every company have a news page on their website that should always stay current. Nothing irks a PR person more than to go on their clients' sites and see the last story posted was over six months ago. Obviously, linking back to an article is a great way to build SEO.

Remember, when something good happens, you have to make it last. With all the opportunities to maximize media placements online, businesses should take advantage of all it and milk every last bit of mileage from their well-deserved PR attention. And cultivate these 6 habits. Ask your current PR provider to assist you, if you need help with these basic steps.

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This has been a guest post by Debra Vilchis.

She is an experienced, results-driven PR and media relations professional. Her previous experience as a newspaper and national wire service journalist gives her unique insight into what makes reporters and editors tick, as well as what doesn't. Her focus is driving the right kind of message to the right audience - at the right time - for each of Fishman's franchise clients, and optimizing those results through social media channels.

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.

It's no secret that a great sales team has a significant impact on the number of franchisee leads your company produces, but a strategic franchise public relations plan can also play a vital role in lead generation.

When done correctly, content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, according to a recent study by Demand Metric.

At Ripley PR, we know just how important it is to develop relevant content and optimize it for the most impact with your target audience.

We've highlighted three key PR tools that will help to increase leads:

  • Press Releases: Building brand equity is important, and using non-paid avenues helps add to the credibility of your company. From new hires to new locations, a PR agency can help you determine news worthy stories that will keep your franchise's name in relevant news outlets and at the top of mind of potential leads.
  • Blogs: According to WebDAM, B2B companies that blog generate 67 percent more leads than companies that don't. A PR firm will not only develop the blogs for you, but we also understand the importance of SEO and keywords that improve your overall ranking in search results.
  • Discovery Days: Face time is valuable, especially with potential franchisees that are on the fence. Hosting a discovery day allows them to see the type of franchise that you own, and a PR firm can not only help in the planning of the event but also get the word out to key media contacts that will reach your target audience.

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]

Ripley PR understands the importance of lead generation to the overall success of your franchise, and we specialize in helping franchisors improve sales through a comprehensive B2B public relations strategy. Contact us today to get started on a plan that will compliment your current sales strategy.

What is the New PR?

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New Business. We just love it. It's the cause for much excitement in any marketing or PR firm, ad agency, law office. Pretty much everyone likes to win new business.

But after 30 years as a franchise PR specialist, I have learned to ask myself "Is all new business worth the 'high' you get from winning it?" And moreover, are all clients worth keeping because you can't part with that fee?

The answer, I promise you is NO.

Here are some reasons to turn down a possible new client and/or fire an old one.

  • At the first meeting they already know more about your business than you do. Or they think they do.
  • As happened to me recently, they are horribly rude to one of your references.
  • You see them treating other vendors, employees or franchisees badly. They will do the same to you.
  • They try to get your price down once you have set a reasonable fee for what they need.
  • An existing client is always going around you to one of your staffers for "extras".
  • They are extremely demanding and their expectations are out of control, yet they have no idea how you do what you do.
  • They are never available and blame you for not delivering.
  • They are consistently rude and nasty to you or your staff.
  • They are consistently late with payment.
  • You have a gut feeling they are just "sketchy".

I feel I have touched on all major reasons but if you have other bullet points or perhaps a different point of view please do share.

We all have to deal with difficulty in life.

But I have found that sometimes the drain on your energy and emotions can be much more damaging than having to cut out a couple of expenses here and there.

Then again, 30 years in one demanding business like PR can be akin to being repeatedly pelted with hail!

When you need someone for your Franchising PR who has been through the hail storms, connect with me on LinkedIn and let's chat.

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]

As a franchise business, you are tied to numerous employees and owners who directly impact your overall brand message. Whether a crisis strikes your company as a whole or an individual franchisee, your entire brand can see negative effects.

However, with the proper franchise public relations strategies set in place, your franchise system can safeguard itself from potential crises that may arise.

We've outlined four ways to avoid a crisis through different PR strategies:

1. Reputation management - With a comprehensive public relations strategy put into place, your business can benefit from multiple forms of reputation management. This includes monitoring your franchise online presence, regularly earning positive media coverage, and establishing your system as credible to potential leads.

2. Crisis plan - When your company has a professionally-prepared plan on hand, it can help prepare your business for a potential crisis before it arises. A well-thought out crisis plan will define possible scenarios that could impact your franchise, establish a crisis spokesperson, and outline the best courses of action to take during media scrutiny.

3. Media policy - Having a public relations professional develop a media policy for your company can help maintain positive media relations, and relay accurate information to your brand's audience. These policies are designed to designate a company spokesperson, and outline procedures for speaking to press regarding your franchise business.

4. Social media policy - In the franchise realm, most companies will have localized social media pages for each franchisee. With so many voices managing your brand's social networking presence, it's vital to develop a franchise social media policy to outline rules and regulations for representing your company online. Having a policy set in place will help to avoid brand confusion and varying messages to consumers.

Your reputation as a franchise is an invaluable source for generating sales leads. Don't let a crisis cause a chain reaction that negatively impacts your company, your brand, and your franchisees. At Ripley PR, we have extensive experience developing B2B public relations and franchise communications strategies for our clients. Contact us today for more information.

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]

In 1991 a client of mine appeared in both Entrepreneur and INC. magazine in the same month and with a fabulous photo. The photo was also the same and both editors hit me pretty hard.

I knew the rules but one editor ran it a month ahead of the planned date.

So in that October issue both magazines featured this great young company, Juice Club with the young management team lying in a pile of oranges.

That company became Jamba Juice within six months, but it took me that same amount of time to mend my relationships with those editors. As a PR pro I needed those editors more than that client!

Relationships were what it was all about between us and the media. That editor, reporter, producer had to trust you and know you. I had the industry by the tail because I had great relationships and my clients knew my policy.

I would never lie or exaggerate for them because I couldn't ever lose my media contact.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Many think it's all about the hashtag.

But PR is so much more than that.

Everyone thinks all you need to do is tweet a reporter and the job is done. I have clients who say "just call the reporter and ask them to do a bigger story". What?

I had one young and brand new marketing person tell me a week ago "there are tons of papers looking for news". Really? Not only are there no longer tons of papers, but the ones still around and even those from the past do not consider a franchise convention in the area as news.

I don't expect my clients or those who do not work with the media to know exactly what is going on out there. But here are some frightening facts.

  • In August, the Cleveland Plain Dealer lay off put one-third of its staff out of work and Gannett also began laying off hundreds of reporters/staff members at paper's such as Indianapolis Star, Arizona Republic, Cincinnati Enquirer, Kentucky, Enquirer, Green Bay Press Gazette, Des Moines Register, Tennessean.

  • Major metro dailies that have cut frequency or adopted online-only models: Ann Arbor News, Capital Times, Catskill Daily Mail & Hudson Register-Star, Christian Science Monitor, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, East Valley Tribune, Flint Journal, Bay City Times, Saginaw News, Harrisburg Patriot-News, Syracuse Post-Standard, New Orleans Times-Picayune, Birmingham News, Huntsville Times, Mobile Press-Register, Portland Oregonian, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Daily Press, Mesabi Daily News, Red Wing Republican Eagle, Journal Register, Tonawanda News, Portsmouth Daily Times, Nevada Appeal, Clarksdale Press Register, Rushville Republican, Eden Daily News, Reidsville Review, Frederick News-Post, Kane County Chronicle, Sidney Daily News, Piqua Daily Call, Troy Daily News, Pittsburg Morning Sun, Marion Daily Republican, Kewanee Star Courier, Daily Review Atlas, McPherson Sentinel, Standard Journal, Daily Californian, Daily Orange, Las Vegas Optic, Burlington County Times, Bucks County Courier Times, California Aggie, Mt. Airy Messenger, Hernando Today, Superior Telegram, Capital Times, Minnesota Daily, Kansas City Kansan, Elgin Courier News, Klamath Falls Herald and News, Columbia Missourian, and the Washington Times.

  • U.S. metro dailies that have closed since the start of the recession: Tucson Citizen, Rocky Mountain News, Baltimore Examiner, Kentucky Post, Cincinnati Post, King County Journal, Union City Register-Tribune, Halifax Daily News, Albuquerque Tribune, South Idaho Press, San Juan Star, Honolulu Advertiser

  • Since 2008, more than 166 newspapers in the United States have closed down or stopped publishing a print edition, according to Paper Cuts, a website dedicated to tracking the US press industry downturn. More than 39 print titles shut down in 2008, and 109 did so in 2009. So far in 2010, more than 18 papers have vanished. Since March 2007, there have been nearly 35,000 job losses or redundancies.

  • The following newspapers and newspaper chains have filed for bankruptcy reorganization: Tribune Company, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Philadelphia Newspapers company, the Chicago Sun Times, who last year fired their entire photo department, the Journal Register Co., American Community Newspapers, Freedom Communications, Heartland Publications, Creative Loafing and the Columbian newspaper in Vancouver. Others, such as Morris Publishing and Affiliated Media (the parent company of MediaNews Group), did bankruptcy reorganization filings prearranged with creditors.

  • It's not just newspapers! Major newsweeklies such as U.S. News & World Report, Time, The Economist, and Newsweek have majorly cut back on spending and space. Time, the only major print newsweekly left standing, cut 5% of its staff in early 2013.

  • A growing list of media outlets, including Forbes magazine, use technology to produce content by way of algorithm, no human reporter necessary.

  • Local TV affiliates across the country are operating with skeleton staffs. Anchors are not only doing their own reporting, but their own videotaping as well. Sports, weather and traffic now account on average for 40% of the content produced on the newscasts and story lengths have shrunk.

  • Estimates for newspaper newsroom cutbacks in 2012 put the industry down 30% since its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1987.

Fortunately it was my job to see this coming a long time ago and we evolved over this time to perfect what works today.

But even as I did see "the cheese moving" I don't think any of us in the business expected to have a literal wipeout of the hundreds of respected titles and major dailies that occurred and in a very short period of time.

The battle for print space is a big one.

Now, more than ever you need an expert to position your company and control the messaging.

It is a mistake to think that just because you are good on social media you have a real public relations program. The new buzz term is "content marketing". But that constitutes a whole other article.

Rhonda Sanderson is president/founder of Sanderson & Associates PR, a public relations firm that has been specializing in franchising since 1986. www.sandersonpr.com

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]

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]

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A great business idea combined with an outstanding franchise model carries no weight if potential owners never buy in. For franchisors, attracting potential franchisees is at the core of business success.

When you've invested excess funds into paid advertising without generating solid leads, it may be time to change things up.

Here are just a few ways that a franchise public relations strategy can work for you:

  • Add credibility: Having a third party endorse your brand generates credibility for your franchise and its business model. A franchise that is regularly represented in media outlets, such as in national trade or local publications, conveys the message that it is well-established. This is particularly helpful when entrepreneurs look for opportunities to own their own business. Seeing consistent news coverage will make a potential buyer feel more confident.
  • Increase awareness: You cannot generate sales leads without getting the word out there. A well-thought-out public relations plan can ensure your franchise gains the attention it deserves from customers and potential franchisees. PR pros know how to target specific audiences and "sell" your franchise model without having to use billboards and magazine advertisements. We leverage your unique selling points to gain media attention, organize discovery days and road shows, and increase audience engagement.
  • Maintain reputation: Every aspect of your franchise public relations strategy, from press releases to social media, should work together to build a positive reputation for your business in the industry. A PR team is well-versed in reputation management, including knowing how to develop a crisis plan for when things take an unexpected turn. With a strategy put into place, your brand's reputation can remain consistent.

For companies that want to take their franchise to new heights, there are agency professionals like us at Ripley PR. We know how to leverage your unique business model to get your name out there and generate sales leads. We've been in franchise sales meetings. We understand franchise marketing. And we truly "get" your business. Contact us today to start working on a plan to take your company to the next level.

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 good news in PR during the '90s? Clients on magazine covers, Wall Street Journal columns, 900 word stories in their major dailies. The bad news? Lots of mistakes, lots of jockying for space, bad photos appearing, misquotes.

2015-Content Management. I'm liking this better. Here's what we can do now and make sure it's seen by thousands of people. With photos, graphics and artwork.

WINDOW GENIE CLEANS HOUSE IN 2014

National Brand Partnerships, Technology Enhancements, Franchisee Growth Planned for 2015

(Cincinnati, Ohio)---If 2014 was any indication, Americans are appreciating home cleaning services the likes of which Window Genie provides more than ever. The 21 franchise locations opened throughout the year--with three additional locations pending an early 2015 opening--are proof enough of the growing demand for the mobile cleaning service famous for window cleaning, window tinting and pressure washing. Now, heading into 2015, the company that celebrated its 20th year in business in 2014 is gearing up for even greater growth, spurred in large part by the multiple programs and partnerships set to take off in the year.

Beyond franchisee growth in 2014, Window Genie was also lauded by a number of business journals throughout the year. Inc. Magazine recognized Window Genie as the 13th fastest-growing business 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. In addition, Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Window Genie 195th on its annual Franchise 500 list, cementing its place as one of the fastest-growing and top home-based franchises.

In 2015, says Window Genie founder and CEO Richard Nonelle, the company has big plans to benefit franchisees and customers alike. "We will continue to focus on improving the experience between franchisee and customer," says Nonelle. "We'll do this both through new partnerships we've founded with a number of national brands, including Yelp and Home Advisor, as well as by enhancing our technology." Window Genie's mobile search strategy, adds Nonelle, will be in full effect in 2015, which will entail an improved online presence and SEO enhancements to benefit owners.

Window Genie aims to continue its growth in 2015, and Nonelle points to years of consistent annual expansion as proof that his plan is a sustainable one. In the last three years, 60 franchisees have joined the Window Genie system. Window Genie franchisees can be found all throughout the United States, with target markets for growth for 2015 in the East and West coasts and throughout Florida.

###

About Window Genie

Founded in 1994 by Richard Nonelle, Cincinnati-based 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 140 units in 28 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.

Achieving strong brand equity takes time, maintenance, and a targeted strategy. When looking to enhance your brand's value, developing a B2B public relations strategy can prove beneficial. A PR campaign can increase visibility for your brand, and help to establish a consistent presence for your products and services.

Although the return on investment may not be immediate, your company will see benefits that will positively impact your brand for the long haul.

So what exactly can PR do for your brand?

  • Build brand trust: Open and transparent communication with your audience builds a foundation of trust for your brand. Your audience will garner confidence in your business and its employees when you engage them on multiple platforms, including through press releases, published articles, and social media. A business that is true to itself while connecting with its audience on an emotional level is likely to cultivate greater loyalty among consumers.
  • Establish brand resiliency: Managing the risks associated with your brand is crucial to maintaining a solid reputation with consumers. A public relations professional has the know-how to defend your brand when it is attacked on social media or experiences an unexpected crisis. With a comprehensive PR strategy, your business can build its credibility, mitigate risk, and ultimately establish brand resilience.
  • Create brand recognition: You want your brand, whether big or small, to be known. Public relations targets demographics, engages potential customers, and establishes your business and its executives as industry experts. A PR campaign can make you stand out from competitors by ensuring that your comapny is consistently receiving earned media coverage in outlets that make sense for your brand.

At Ripley PR, we know how to create a PR strategy that is customized to your specific business needs. Whether you're looking to rebrand or simply increase awareness, we can develop a comprehensive plan to get your business the recognition it deserves while generating solid leads.

If you're entering 2015 with the decision to develop a public relations strategy, you may be stuck wondering who exactly you want in charge of execution.

When it's time to outsource your public relations efforts, be sure to choose a PR agency that is right for your business. If you are devoting company resources to hiring an agency, you want to ensure they understand your business goals and make a solid contribution to overall profitability.

Here are a few questions to ask before committing:

1. What experience is under the agency's belt?

You will want to pay attention to media coverage the agency has earned for its clients. Don't be afraid to ask for national media samples and client references before you take the leap. When looking at a PR agency's experience, also be sure to note the industries it has worked with. Do they have contacts within your industry? Do they understand the technical aspects of what you do? This is especially important in B2B public relations, as the supply chains and manufacturing processes are often technical in nature.

2. Does the agency promote itself?

An agency should be devoting time to promoting its own services in the same manner you expect it to promote your business. If you are interested in bylined articles, look to see if an agency team member is regularly published in media outlets. Does the agency blog look like a ghost town, or is it consistently distributing content for readers?

3. Do they have ideas?

When you talk to a representative from the agency, is he or she making suggestions for innovative PR solutions? You want to choose an agency that will come to you with solid ideas when you feel stuck. You shouldn't hire an agency to simply complete small tasks as you assign them, but rather, to be a strategic partner who offers consistent expertise. After all, that is why you are hiring a professional.

4. Do you like the agency?

References, experience, technology, expertise - all of these things are vital when choosing a PR agency to promote your business. However, you can't downplay the importance of picking an agency that you actually like. Choose an agency that aligns with your company culture and hires people who you enjoy working with. To make the most of your public relations strategies, you will want to maintain a constant and consistent flow of communication. This is easier when you find that you can build a strong working relationship with the professionals handling your brand.

Hire an agency that is persistent and determined to garner coverage for your business and its executives. A PR agency should work as a strategic partner, committed to the success of your brand. If it is time to start talking to PR agencies, contact Ripley PR to find out how we can assist you in reaching company goals for 2015.

Dec. 3, 2014 - HALIFAX, Canada -- Progress magazine ranked Wired Flare Inc. No. 3 on its list of 2014 Fast Growing Companies in Atlantic Canada. The list is now in its 15th year, and every year it is a highly anticipated ranking of Atlantic Canadian companies that have seen the most significant revenue increases over the past three years. According to Progress, these companies are setting the pace for the new economy, not only in Atlantic Canada but across the country.

"We're so proud to be included as one of the 2014 Fastest Growing Companies in Atlantic Canada," says Frances Leary, President and CEO of Wired Flare Inc. "This ranking is a celebration of our growth and the growth of so many other Atlantic Canadian businesses. We've worked hard to get here over the past three years, and I can say without a doubt that this is just the beginning. We plan to keep growing for years to come."

Wired Flare Inc. is a Halifax-based online communications company that specializes in "telling stories that ignite inspiring and meaningful conversations online." The team of online marketing specialists, social media experts, storytellers, and filmmakers works with franchises and organizations throughout Canada and the United States to leverage the power of the Internet and help their clients grow.

The 2014 Fastest Growing companies were announced at a reception in Moncton on November 25 and featured in the November issue of Progress magazine. Total revenue growth for this year's 40 Fastest Growing Companies ranges between 25% and %4,848%, with a median growth rate of 201%. Fourteen of the companies boast annual sales of more than $25 million while 26 report less than $25 million in sales. Almost all of the companies anticipate increased employment, revenues and profitability in 2015.

"These Fastest Growing Companies come from a wide array of sectors, and the ones reporting the most rapid growth are in innovation, IT, aerospace and defense, ocean technology, and hospitality," says Progress Publisher Neville Gilfoy. "Even companies that are experiencing 40% growth are showing us that a spike in sales is possible, even in challenging markets. A combination of innovation, talented people, marketing, and new product and export development are key factors, of course."

According to sponsor Phil Clarke of PricewaterhouseCoopers, "These are the Atlantic companies who know what it means to experience tremendous growth, and it's not just growth, but growth in challenging economic times that set these companies apart."

You can read more about these exciting and innovative companies in the November issue of Progress magazine: http://www.progressmedia.ca.

Learn more about Wired Flare Inc. by visiting their website: http://www.wiredflare.com.

Media Contact

Wired Flare Inc.

902-407-2699

***@wiredflare.com

In B2B public relations and marketing efforts, creating valuable and compelling content is a key driver of success. You may know how to produce relevant content for your business, but are you producing it with an overall strategy in mind?  A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs found that most B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy, but only 35% have it documented.

Following a well-defined strategy allows everyone contributing content to be on the same page. When you don't have a documented content marketing strategy for your company, the room for errors grows exponentially.

An article published by PR Daily discussed common mistakes that businesses make when developing content marketing strategies, and we've outlined a few here. Are these mistakes haunting your strategy and halting effective results?

  1. Undefined goals. The content you produced needs to have purpose. Writing out specific goals you wish to achieve by developing content will boost results and drive strategy advancement. Know why you are creating content and exactly how you want it to impact your business.
  1. Not revealing enough. Don't be afraid to share more than just on-the-surface, corporate information with your readers. Humanizing your brand will establish a brand personality, and your audience will appreciate the transparency.
  1. Creating content in silos. Creating content that is supported across departments within your organization increases engagement. Not only does it bring together professionals from all areas of your company, it also allows readers to view your brand as an expert in multiple business functions within your industry.
  1. Inconsistency. We can't stress enough how important consistency is in content creation. To establish yourself as an industry expert, posting and publishing content needs to be a priority and clearly defined within your strategy. Your audience should know when to expect content and where they can access it on a regular basis.

A well-defined and documented strategy will ensure your content marketing efforts are producing solid results for your business. If your strategy is documented, don't allow these mistakes to hold it back. At Ripley PR, we understand what it takes to develop a content marketing strategy that will establish your brand as an industry expert and, in turn, generate leads. If you need help revamping your strategy and creating consistent content for your audience, contact our team today.

"We can write our own press releases. Why would we pay someone to do it?"

At Ripley PR, we understand why this question is asked, especially with many C-level executives and business owners trying to watch their bottom line.

Here's why you should rethink your strategy and have a public relations professional not only write your press releases, but to speak with the media on your company's behalf.

  • Best Practice: The same spelling and grammar rules that you learned from your English teacher in grade school do not usually apply in the media spectrum. A PR pro knows to use best practices for journalistic writing, which means writing within The Associated Press Stylebook guidelines and producing original content. Reusing (or recycling) existing releases can hurt your credibility, rather than help, and not using "journalism grammar" rules can be the sole reason your release doesn't get coverage.
  • Consistency: Public Relations should be viewed as an investment. It's not an effort that will give you results overnight, but with dedication it can be extremely beneficial for developing leads and credibility in your industry. That dedication to garnering "earned media coverage", requires consistency. A public relations agency has the ability to continuously produce content for your company and the expertise on the best ways to pitch it to the media.
  • Relationships: A significant part of a public relations professional's job is to build relationships with key influencers in your market and industry, in order to leverage better coverage for your company. We take the time to nurture those relationships and build authority through content that is relevant and follows best practice.
  • Tools: Most importantly we have the tools to do everything that is needed for great and relevant coverage, plus we are experts in it. We know what it takes to get the best possible coverage for your company in the media.

You can take your public relations efforts a step further by finding an agency that specializes in your industry. This increases your chances of valuable media coverage because the agency professionals know your industry, understand your business challenges and have already developed relationships with key trade media players in your industry.

Are you ready to make the investment in public relations? Ripley PR specializes in B2B public relations and has the experience and knowledge to help secure media coverage that will result in increased lead generation for your growing business.

I was raised by a very tough man.  He never praised us for doing things well. That was expected of us.  However, if we did something wrong, oh we heard about that ASAP!

So I grew up and became an employer and wondered why I was so sensitive to criticism; and while I hand out lots of praise (I am sure I wanted to give what I didn't get), I let people know when something was wrong.  I started out approaching things from what's wrong instead of what's right.  I learned to try very hard to do the opposite when I saw reactions from younger people.  I also noticed that I felt the same way about clients.  Many clients never let you know what you have done that's been great and what you've done that has really worked for them.  Too much leverage? Worried we'll raise our fees?   

Cut to being in the PR business for 32 years.  I have had lots of employees and lots of clients.  Firstly, an employee's favorite word is "respect".  I never really understood the exact meaning of that. I always was taught that you respect your elders, those who have been through life's hard knocks already.  I give respect to those who give it to me. If a 24 year old speaks to me in a certain manner, they are gone, baby gone.

Having said all this I can't tell you what it means to get an email from a client who says, "Thanks Samantha and everyone at SandersonPR for what you do for us every day".  What??  

No, thank YOU Chuck Schwalbe, Marketing Maven from Erbert & Gerbert's Sandwich Shops for being a prince to work with.  Other clients who only show us what your competitors just got in the news? Umm, focus on your own companies, franchisees, employees and vendors and you'll end up successful enough to be in the news too!   

On another note, when is praise too necessary?  I saw a Facebook post today about being patient with kids on Halloween. "Don't be upset if a child takes too long to choose, maybe he has a focus issue, don't tell a child they took two pieces and that it's wrong, maybe he has a need to be special."

WHAT?  How about, "Don't rescue your kids from every possible obstacle that gets in their way because there are a lot more where that Halloween one came from!"

Constant coddling, praise and "motivation" is what I am always seeing in "how to motivate your employees" type articles. Guess what? I was motivated because Mom and Dad were not paying any of my bills. Try that for motivation.  Also, teach your kids that they need to respect and listen to what their employers say, or go get a paycheck somewhere else.  Life IS hard work and unless you are an heiress, get used to it and go into a job giving all you can and proving yourself, not acting like you need to be motivated to do anything.

Just a little advice. 

Any great business idea is just that without proper execution. If word fails to spread, idle progression, slow growth, and reversion can plague any business model, including franchises. Implementing a company's vision requires a certain flare that tends to ignore bashfulness and goes straight for glory in order to get the message out in the open. One surefire way to extinguish any slow growth is to carry out a well-established franchise public relations plan.

While the franchise model as a whole is an excellent business idea for growth, it isn't without its failures. Just two years ago, the Small Business Administration reported it repurchased 3.4 percent of franchise loans that could no longer maintain their loan payments. This could be a result of numerous factors but the simple truth is, these businesses failed to gain new franchise leads. Ensuring your franchise model actually captivates potential owners should be conducted in a different manner than say appealing to consumers because at the end of the day, even though consumers maintain revenue, it's entrepreneurs that build growth.

What PR does for a franchise is take the company's model and markets it to business people the way they want to take in information.  Prospective franchisees are savvy beyond belief and not just any advertisement will capture their attention enough to buy in. They yearn for third party endorsements from seasoned advisors and experts such as dedicated business analysts and journalists - people who specialist agencies such as Ripley PR know how to reach. By securing these endorsements, entrepreneurs who engage with specialized publications become aware and intrigued by a franchise model and begin to research on their own.

This is where PR can benefit a franchise even more. Public relations professionals are expertly trained in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and will create a strategy to make sure your company comes up first and foremost in any search engine. The modern world is driven by the internet and social media and having a presence is paramount for business success. This is something PR can do for your franchise and it does it with specialized language that specifically appeals to the people that matter most - leads.

For many franchisors, juggling a million things at once is not uncommon and conducting a well-planned PR plan is often times simply too much to handle. For these companies, there are agency professionals like us at Ripley PR. What separates us from the rest is how we mix our varied experiences into one concentrated focus to benefit your unique business. If your franchise development is struggling, contact us to find how our specialized PR plans can get your name out there to the right people.

Often times, many companies consider public relations as a service used only during times of crisis.

Working with the media and managing a company's reputation during an emergency is all part of public relations; however, there is much more to PR than just crisis communications.

In its entirety, public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relations between organizations and their publics. Public relations can not only manage a company's reputation during a crisis, it can also help brand and establish a company within an industry and/or geographic location.

At Ripley PR, we work with businesses to not only manage crises, but to develop a strong B2B public relations and marketing strategy that will impact a brand's profitability.

Here are four (4) ways we can use public relations to impact your business:

1. Content Is King
Creating strong content can help a business communicate their services and products more effectively. Content is a vital element of public relations, and it can be used in a variety of platforms, including social media, blogs, press releases, white papers, newsletters, case studies, website, bylined articles, and much more.

Companies that sell a product or service to other companies (B2B) especially need quality content. Buyers of B2B products are looking for a solution to a problem. Unlike business-to-consumer, you're usually marketing to more than one individual, and the sales cycle is much longer. Sometimes the person needing the solution isn't the actual decision maker, but they can sway the purchasing decision. It's important to turn technical, sophisticated jargon into clear messaging that resonates with multiple audiences.

By taking time to develop strong content, it can help customers make informed decisions about a company's services and products.

2. Recognition
The more well known a company's name is, the more influential they are in shaping opinions of their customers. Developing a B2B public relations strategy can help increase a company's presence with mentions in trade magazines, local newspapers, and other industry publications. Also, nominating a company for local and industry awards can also help promote a company's name.

This third-party credibility can help with lead generation and even shorten the sales cycle.

3. Social Media
Social media makes communicating with the public much easier, and taking time to incorporate social media into a public relations strategy is crucial. Utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram can help a business not only engage with their target audience, but can also improve a business' image and overall brand.

4. Improve SEO
When a business incorporates quality writing, secures ongoing editorial coverage and industry recognition, and establishes a strong social media presence with well-written blogs and social updates, it will positively impact a company's SEO. Improving SEO can help with brand recognition, as well as, help increase awareness of products and services too.

Incorporating a public relations strategy into a business will not only improve a company's brand, but it can also impact the bottom line. Taking time to build a positive brand before any negative news or crisis becomes a possibility, will help a company maintain their reputation in the event of a mistake or accident. To learn more about how to incorporate public relations into your businesses or company, contact the experts at Ripley PR.

Tom Capuano was asking himself one question over and over in the late '90s. "How am I going to stay afloat?"  At the time, Tom owned his own small heating and air conditioning business.

"My wife Tracey and I were struggling. It was apparent to me that I needed to find an alternate way to use my experience and skills in heating and air conditioning.  The way we were going at the time, I knew I would have to file for bankruptcy," says Capuano.  After doing so they got a fresh new start in life by purchasing a Pillar To Post Home Inspection franchise on their last credit cards. 

Allowing Capuano to tell his own story, "It was an awful time but we also were excited to start fresh and do what we needed to do to get back on our feet.  We chose Pillar To Post because of so many things, but mainly because they were the number one home inspection franchise in North America and after meeting with the people and learning the program, we were sold.

The first year in business I performed 442 home inspections, answered and booked all inspections, did all the real estate office marketing and worked seven days per week. We kept our house which was near going into foreclosure. Our two young daughters never knew what was going on, other than Daddy changed jobs! They were involved with stuffing envelopes for marketing mailers, assembling the inspection binders, and being quiet when I was on a business call. I never missed a mortgage payment or an IRS payment.

The second year started out strong and mid-year I hired my first employee inspector, and doubled the number of inspections. I always knew that I wanted to own a home inspection business rather than work a job as a home inspector. So I began to hire good people who my good agents would like and trust just like me. As the years rolled by, I hired good people and continued to grow the business, always stressing the importance of helping our clients buy homes and to help real estate agents get inspections done with little to no hassle.

In 2007 Pillar To Post started a group called The Navigator Group, which is made up of franchisees who want to grow a larger business. We meet monthly by phone and face to face a couple of times per year. This has been a tremendous accelerant to my growth, and has impacted me as a leader in my business.

In 2005 I was recognized as the PTP franchisee of the year and in November 2013 we performed our 25,000th home inspection. Today my team is made of six full time inspectors, a marketing rep, a customer service rep and an accounting clerk. I have not performed a home inspection since November of 2011. My responsibilities are to assist my team, develop relationships with busy real estate agents and perform presentations.

We are the dominant home inspection company in our market because we are easy to do business with, have a caring, helpful inspection attitude with our clients, and help our agents get the transaction to close as efficiently as possible."

###

            Capuanos
 

Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with 450 franchisees, located in 48 states and eight Canadian provinces. Long-term plans include adding 500-600 new franchisees over the next five years.

Pillar To Post has been ranked the No. 1 home inspection franchise in North America by Entrepreneur Magazine. For further information, please visit www.pillartopostfranchise.com.

You've heard that content is king. In B2B public relations, producing consistent and compelling content is necessary to create a strong online presence.

How produce of an endless supply of blog topics or always have an attention-grabbing press release?

Sometimes finding content can seem like searching for a needle in, well, a stack of needles.

There's always something to write about, but what topics are right for your business? And what subjects are relevant now?

After you ask those questions, the content problem is easy.

PR Daily shares ways to create new content among sources you already have available. Here are a few of those tips to find content when it seems scarce:

  1. Repurpose. If you have multiple publication outlets, you can use those to recreate content. White papers can be reviewed and announced on your social media. A great blog topic can be turned into a press release. A nostalgic company advertisement can be the inspiration behind a blog post. Compiling blog comments from your audience can influence a news article. Sometimes all you need to do is use the same content, but tell a new story with it.
  1. Network. Your colleagues and clients are key resources for content inspiration. Meetings may not be your idea of fun, but conversing with other leaders or customers may be just the thing you need to discover new content ideas. People in your same industry can offer new insight and discuss current issues that you may not have yet faced. Idea-exchange among like-minded individuals can spark conversation and inspire content to boost your online engagement.
  1. Ask. Your audience is a readily available resource for content influence. There is nothing wrong with asking readers a question to inspire a blog post or taking a poll to understand their interests. After all, you want to publish content people want to read. Ask a question about your industry as a whole or ask your audience to share an experience they have had with your company. Asking a question not only helps to create content, but it also boosts audience engagement. Get creative and develop a hashtag for social media to increase participation.

Sitting for hours at the computer searching for topics stumps productivity. When content seems scarce, look to your available resources for inspiration.

If you need help producing content or developing a content marketing strategy, the Ripley PR team can sit down with you and show you how it will benefit your business. Developing a strong online presence generates leads and can take your business to the next level.

If you've watched the news or followed social media during a company crisis, you know how critical and memorable the moments that follow are to a brand. Retweeted and replayed quotes from media interviews become the public's association with your brand, and the last thing you want in a time of crisis is a misconception of your company. The words spoken during a crisis can often lead to a make-or-break moment for your employees, company, and brand.

In B2B Public Relations, it is necessary to not only build a crisis communication plan, but to decide the company spokesperson during times of crisis. So who exactly should you choose to interact with the media? PR Daily highlights three common arguments about who to consider when choosing your brand's spokesperson.

Argument 1: The CEO. It is a common myth that the default spokesperson in a crisis should always be a CEO. If the CEO is automatically the spokesperson, the public can often be led to believe the crisis at hand is larger than it really is. We aren't saying that the CEO should stay behind closed doors and avoid the crisis, but if the CEO is busy being the spokesperson for the company, they do not have time to manage or focus on business operations.

Argument 2: The PR specialist. The public relations specialist for your company is a logical choice for a spokesperson. Although the PR specialist will be leading the crisis management team, they do not have to be the only voice to the public. They will have the expertise to communicate with media, but they may not have it in regards to the crisis subject matter.

Argument 3: A variety of people. It is a safe prediction that multiple people will be speaking with media during a time of crisis. A great plan for preparedness would be to ensure that numerous people are properly trained to speak to media during this delicate time. A knowledgeable subject matter expert should always be available to speak with media about the details of the crisis. For example, if the company is accused of discrimination during the hiring process, a human resources specialist should be trained to take the lead.

Your spokesperson, or persons, should be knowledgeable, empathetic, and able to handle themselves professionally in a time of crisis. Selecting a spokesperson in advance will help you be prepared to stand firm when a crisis hits. If your crisis communication plan needs work, or you need to know how to interact with media, the experts at Ripley PR can implement media training for employees so that your business can handle a company crisis effectively and professionally.

That is a question we should all be asking.

Then we should decide if the answer matters to us or our business. 

If you are Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shops and a Subway franchisee is going to several of your locations buying and tasting your sandwiches, there isn't much you can do about that.

But if you are Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shop and Subway's HR person calls your best development person, or contacts them through LinkedIn for an interview, you need to ponder that dilemma and decide if and how to combat it.

We are in an age of lots of connection!  Do you have employees sending out resumes from the office computer? You can track that. Are they posting their resume on LinkedIn with notes such as "Looking for Job Opportunities"?  That's another matter. 

There is always the standard non-compete agreement which you can ask an employee to sign upon hiring.  Make sure the agreement is legal and protects you from the things that matter.  No need to put a bunch of items in that you can't enforce and do not matter to you and your business. 

I've always found in my thirty years in franchise PR, that an employee that is gone should be gone.  In other words, even if they seemed ideal, if they can be stolen, they shouldn't be in your shop. If you've let them go and they end up at a competitor, well that's his/her new headache, and no longer yours.  You know why you terminated them. Let your competitor find out too!

Then there is the matter in our case of clients stealing employees. I use the word "steal" but can they really do that? It's a human being.  Is it ethical? No   Is it legal? Yes, unless you have a non-compete agreement worded properly that forbids that action.  Even then you can ask for no more than a year-long reprieve. The upside? You got rid of a client with questionable character and an easily bought, disloyal employee.

My favorite is when you have been working with a company for years; they see how well you are doing and decide to go into your industry, in our case PR, by shopping your business or your competitors' for people.  

This scenario teaches you so much about people, loyalty and business that any possible damage that can be done by the occurrence is totally exceeded by the brilliant lessons you learn from it.

In this scenario, they likely end up with all the industry misfits that couldn't make it at the competitors' shops and really, when you look at all the pieces together, what's missing is the burning passion and talent that drove you to start your own PR firm, franchise service business, restaurant chain, consulting business, whatever you have created that built a name for you to begin with.

In other words, don't sweat it. The joke's on your competitor!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DO:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

DON'T 

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

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

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

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

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

  • Seat them near the office gossip.  

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

     

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

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

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

So how can the right PR agency help your franchise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital advertising has really found its foothold: last year, online ad revenues surpassed television for the first time ever. Marketers are finding it more effective than just about any other form of advertising - but online advertising should come with a word of caution.

Neustar, a real-time provider of cloud-based information services and data analytics, found that companies waste 26 percent of their advertising dollars, by not picking the right outlets or technology for online ads.

What does that mean for you as a B2B marketer? It means identifying the best channels to allocate your advertising dollars and maximize your results.

Neustar says marketers and agencies waste digital dollars in five main ways:

  1. Not identifying which channel will reach the target market: It takes some careful planning and market research to identify the target demographic and the best ways to reach people in that demographic. That way you can plan advertising that actually reaches your customer, not that just gets lost in the ether.

  2. Overlapping ads: To make the most use of your online advertising, you need to identify unique segments of users on each channel to figure out where you'll get the most outreach. Remember, people use multiple websites, even ones that are very similar to one another, so it's important that you're not reaching the same small number of people with every ad.

  3. Too many ads: Like in many other applications, when it comes to advertising, less can be more. Bombarding your market with frequent ads isn't the way to get people to click on them - they're more likely to just get annoyed and ignore them. Monitor your market to determine the best frequency, and then control it for optimum clicks.

  4. Assuming first or last impressions are best: don't assume that the final ad a customer sees is the one that convinces him to make a sale - and only track analytics or that ad. Many marketers still use a last-touch attribution system, but that might not be the best way to go about it.

  5. Not connecting online and offline efforts: Monitoring your marketing efforts across all platforms, digital and non-digital, will help you determine which channels are working - and which ones aren't worth your time or money.

At Ripley PR, we can help you identify the best options for advertising as part of your B2B public relations and marketing strategy. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with lead generation, franchise sales, and more.

Like most other industries, public relations has a set of unwritten rules, mostly developed through tradition and experience. However, as the saying goes, there's an exception for every rule, and PR is no different in that way, either.

At Ripley PR, we work with clients in construction, franchising, home services, manufacturing, and more.

Each industry is different, but media training is fairly standard across the board. We teach clients how to conduct themselves in interviews and how to prepare for a crisis and handle it in the event that one arises, and we work to find them story opportunities in news, trade publications, blogs, and more.

We found this article from Ragan's PR Daily interesting, because it addresses the rules of PR or media relations that were just made to be broken.

Consider a few of these nuggets from the article.

  • It's okay to say "No comment." Especially in a crisis situation, it's important to communicate effectively - but there are times, maybe when you don't have all the facts about a situation, when it's simply best not to talk to the media. And that's okay.

  • Your own news isn't the only opportunity for a story. If you have an expert quote to offer to another story, or an interesting viewpoint on an issue, you can find lots of opportunities to be featured, even if your story isn't the main one.

  • Sometimes exclusive is best. Traditional PR maintains that it's wise to cast a wide net to media outlets - but sometimes you'll have better luck if you offer one publication an exclusive, before reaching out to others.

  • A press conference isn't necessarily your best bet. Many companies think that holding a big event to announce a launch or grand opening is the best way to guarantee coverage, but that's most often not the case. Strategically reaching out to media will generally serve your purposes better.

Ultimately, the best way for companies to get good coverage is to have a good PR strategy - and that's where a B2B public relations agency like Ripley PR comes in.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you achieve great results.

These days, companies are using social media like never before.

It's an incredible tool for offering coupons and promotions, letting your customers know about new products or services, and simply interacting with the public to get an idea of what they like and don't like about your business.

But with our mobile world making it easier to make posts on social media accounts at any time of the day or night, it can also come back to haunt you.

At Ripley PR, we encourage all of our clients, even business-to-business companies, to be active on social media.

Whatever your customer base is, they are very likely to be using Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn - and they may be on other social media sites as well, such as Instagram, Google+, or Pinterest.

We provide crisis training as part of a B2B public relations strategy for each of our clients, and in recent years, more companies have dealt with fallout from social media crises. So how can you avoid such a fate?

Consider these simple tips to communicate effectively on social media.

  • Be careful what you post. Anyone is susceptible to high emotions in the face of criticism or negative attention, but in the business world, you must be especially careful about what you say. Social media is not the best place to air grievances about customer complaints, or to call out or insult any detractors you might have. Just like you should before you speak - you should also think before you post. If you do feel the need arise to respond to a negative comment by a customer or follower, don't do so right away, especially if you're angry. Let your emotions settle, and then think it through carefully; perhaps even ask a second person to look at the post before you send it into the ether.

  • Have a social media policy in place. Whether you have one person posting to your company social media pages or a dozen, having a protocol for best practice will ensure that any posts will meet company standards. That policy can extend to employees' personal accounts as well - make sure they know what is and isn't acceptable social media behavior.

  • Watch your reputation. This requires being alert to news stories about your company, hashtags, and other references to your name. You can set up Google Alerts for certain keywords related to your business and industry, and follow tags that might have an impact on you. That way, if you do see a negative reputation starting to develop, either for your company specifically or your business in general, you can figure out the best way to resolve complaints and keep them from spreading further. And your customers will appreciate your efforts to keep them satisfied.

As you can see, social media can be an incredible marketing tool, but if handled improperly, it can have disastrous consequences. Keep these tips in mind as you reach out on social media, and your company can be a good example of social marketing, rather than a bad one.

Franchisors have to work hard to market & sell franchises.

We need to work to attract attention to our franchise concept.

And, once we get attention for our brand, unless we maintain that interest we don't get the sale. 

Smart franchisors and savvy franchise sellers are recruiting for the best talent and capital to grow their franchise systems. When it comes to talent some franchisors want a specific skill set or they want a type of person who has certain attributes. The franchisor also wants someone who has money available to develop the brand on a single or multi-unit basis.

You want both talent and capital. Short-cutting your own requirements usually leads to franchisor/franchisee relationship problems down the road.

How do you find these people?

You target them.

And, you go to where they are & talk with them.

We did this with all the brands I've been with.

But, one brand attracted attention in a thoughtful manner.

This QSR franchise wanted to be in new convenience store and truck stop developments.

So, we needed to attract attention and sell some new franchises.

Here's what we did -and why it worked.

We joined the C-store and Truck stop trade associations and found out what made our target audience tick. (We had already refined our concept to fit with c-stores, travel plazas and truck stops.)

But, we had to tell our story and that meant more than buying display advertising in the classified sections.  We needed an audience.

We wanted our story out there.  In front of that audience.

And, we needed our story to be told in a way that the audience could relate to.

The audience got to decide whether or not our franchise concept fit into what they wanted to do next and if it solved their problem.

Yes, we ran display advertising, exhibited at trade shows and used direct mail.  Did all the usual things.

But, what made all of this work better -and amplified our story- was  our use of PR Firm, who knew franchising.

Next, we:

  1. Educated the PR Firm exactly on what our concept was about.

  2. Demonstrated how we fit with our target audience.

  3. Developed our action plan.

  4. Scheduled weekly PR execution calls.

We didn't "set it and forget it".

We did what we were good at & let the PR firm do their job, giving them the best the information and support we could provide.

In 90 days, we got some press.

We'd already got attention through our ads, trade shows and direct mail. We were maintaining interest. Conversations grew and so did our franchise sales.

And 14 months into the campaign we made the cover of a credible and widely read C-store industry trade publication!  The same publication we had our ads in.  But, we had moved from the classifieds to being newsworthy.  On the front page, baby!

We instantly became more popular, our phone kept ringing and people called us to meet them at the next industry trade show.

Our franchise PR strategy worked because all the parts and complements were in alignment.  

We weren't seeking a lot of attention - we were trying to amplify the attention we were getting from our ads.

And so, we sold more franchises.  Because we got the right sort of attention from our audience.

 

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Public Relations category.

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