September 2014 Archives

There are many, many words and phrases that can and will sabotage your business.

And, chances are, your staff is saying some of these now without your even knowing it - on the phone and in person.

And worse yet, you've probably even said some of these yourself (ouch)! That's the bad news.

The good news is we're able to bring to you the top five sabotaging phrases and then show you how to neutralize the effects. So get ready. You and your staff are about to be in a much better position to handle the Five Phrases to Sabotage Your Business today:

1. I Have No Idea

This is normally used as an excuse than anything else. It's a sure thing that the employee has not been shown how to explain something to the customer (i.e. no product training). This phrase is used as something to say when the employee doesn't know what to say.

When the customer hears "I have no idea" they immediately respond (usually silently) with, "You gotta be kidding me?" Interestingly enough, there normally is a certain blank stare accompanying this statement. Sad.

Instead, try "That's a great question, let me check and find out."

2. It's Not My Department

Well, then whose is it? Let's remember one of our Telephone Doctor mottos: Tell the customer what you CAN do, not what you CAN'T do. If you get a call and someone asks for something that you don't handle, it's far more effective to say, "Let me get you to someone in the area you need. I work in the paint department. You want electronics."

This is far more effective than telling someone it's not your department. And please don't say, "You have the wrong department."

3. I Wasn't Here That Day (or I was on vacation when that happened)

This one really makes me laugh. I don't remember asking them if they were there that day. Do you really think the customer cares if you weren't there when their problem happened? Honestly, they don't, so that's not even on the radar screen. Just tackle the problem head on. Apologize without telling them where you were...or weren't. Remember, you ARE the company whether you were at work or on vacation when the issue occurred.

4. I'm New

OHHHHHH! You're new? Now what? Does being 'new' allow you to be anything but super to the customer? When the customer hears this sabotaging statement, do you really think they say, "Oh, so you're new? That's why I'm getting bad service. Well, then that's okay...you're new. Now I understand."

Yes, even if you are new, the customer honestly believes you should know everything about your job.

Here's the answer on this one. Tell the customer, "Please bear with me, I've only been here a few weeks." That will buy you time and a bit of sympathy. For whatever reason, hearing the short length of time you are with the company means more to the customer than, "I'm new." Again, I'm new is more of an "excuse." Remember to state the length of time. It's a creditability enhancement. "I'm new" is a creditability buster.

5. Silence on the Phone or a Blank Stare in Person

I called the doctor's office the other day and asked to change my appointment. It went down like this:

"Hi, this is Nancy Friedman. I have a 9 a.m. appointment with Dr. Ring and I need to move it to later in the day."

Then NOTHING for about 10 - 15 seconds. Zip/nada/zilch.

So I said, "Hello? Are you there?"

A very irritated, annoyed voice came back with, "I'm checking."

Wouldn't it have been nice for her to tell me that? Ah, if the doctors only knew.

There are many more; these rose to the top!

Good luck!

# # #

To download our eBook, Hidden Gems, click here.

Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is a keynote speaker at association conferences and franchise and corporate meetings. She is the author of eight bestselling books. Call Nancy at 314‑291‑1012 for more information or visit her online at www.nancyfriedman.com. Follow or connect on LinkedIn.

Her specialty? Customer service and engaging the customer.

Email her at [email protected]. She replies to all emails (and quickly).

In my last post, we talked about Will Your Children Succeed Running Your Franchises?

Not surprisingly, affluent families are concerned with the effectiveness of both their estate plans and the steps that they've taken to prepare their heirs for the challenges of wealth.

A recent nationwide survey by U.S. Trust Company indicated that the greatest concern of 83 percent of affluent Americans is that their children will have a tougher time financially.

Additionally, 55 percent of those surveyed felt that their children were naïve about the value of money and placed too much emphasis on material things and 34 percent were concerned that their children would find a spouse who was only interested in their affluence.

Affluent parents' concern about the preparation of their children is justified because the evidence is strong that wealth is often built by an entrepreneurial first generation and then dissipated by the second and third generations.

In their best-selling classic The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley, PhD and William Danko, PhD offer the following insights on building and preserving affluence based on numerous studies of affluent families between 1973 and 1996,while both were serving as professors at The State University of New York (SUNY, Albany):

      1. 67 percent of U.S. millionaires were self employed entrepreneurs who saved over 20 percent of their annual income

      2. 80 percent of millionaires were first generation [i.e. not inheritors]

      3. While millionaires lived well below their means, inheritors exhibited the exact opposite behavior by not saving any money and spending more than they earned

      4. 80 percent of millionaires have college degrees and 40 percent have graduate degrees

Stanley and Danko found that there was an inverse relationship between cash gifts to children and both the net worth and wealth that those children were able to accumulate.

They termed these cash gifts "Economic Outpatient Care" (EOC) because the gifts created a dependency on handouts from Mom and Dad.

For example, CPAs and attorneys who received cash gifts from their affluent parents had 57 percent and 62 percent of the net worth and 78 percent and 77 percent of the income respectively of their peers who do not receive cash gifts.

This inverse relationship between cash gifts and financial success applies over all occupational groups except for professors and teachers who save and invest the cash gifts given to them.

Predictably, the ultra successful kids of the affluent who become corporate executives and physicians became even more financially successful because they were not given cash gifts; whereas, their less successful siblings became increasingly dependent on their parents and never developed sound financial habits. 

Training isn't the only thing a franchisor does, but it is one of the most important things!

A franchisor that fails to transfer knowledge to franchisees is a franchisor to avoid.

Unfortunately, there are more of these franchisors than the public knows.

Rarely will you discover a franchisor that doesn't have a huge ego. I never fault them for that -- I like big egos -- but sometimes, as they say in Texas, these franchisors are "all hat and no cattle."

Beware of the franchisor with no (or too few) cattle.

Clever Isn't Enough

Just because a franchisor is clever enough to develop a new or competing concept, doesn't mean he or she is a trainer! And that's where the cattle hit the road.

Why would a franchisee pay a franchisor $15,000 to $75,000 upfront?

There are numerous reasons, but one of the most important is this: To learn how to operate the business successfully. And by successfully I mean in a manner that the franchisee finds to be both personally satisfying and profitable.

Franchisors Rarely Admit Weaknesses

And not all franchisors can fulfill that expectation . . . but the bigger the ego, the more difficult it is to admit that they're not as good as they need to be at training.

It doesn't help that trainers aren't considered to be all that special. Many people assume that training doesn't require extra special skills.

Anyone who can read the Operations Manual can lead a training program!

That's the same as saying that anyone who can read a textbook and the publisher's slides can be a college professor. In that case, we should turn the classrooms over to the students.

But franchisees aren't going to buy that. (Students shouldn't either, but they often have no choice).

Before you buy a franchise, test the franchisor's ability to train effectively. How do you do that? Easy! Ask 10 existing franchisees to rate the franchisor's training skills.

The post Ask This: How Good Are The Franchisor's Training Skills? appeared first on How To Buy a Franchise.

Most franchisors want to sell to multi-unit qualified area developers.

Companies write about it in their press releases and in their 10Ks that they plan to grow their brand with these supremely qualified multi-unit operators.

Multi-unit operators who have proven experience in multi-unit development and operations know they are attractive to franchisors.

So, they play hardball. 

One trick they use is to by-pass the franchise sales team altogether and only talk with your CEO.

So how do you prevent these sought after potential multi-unit franchise candidates from keeping you out of the loop?

  • Make a deal with your CEO to get those inquiring potential multi-unit franchisees into your process.
  • Have your CEO take the incoming calls from potential multi-unit franchisees.
  • Give your CEO a roadmap and scripts for these calls so they know the process you'll use to make this type of sale.
  • The CEO's single objective is to get the potential multi-unit franchisee back to you.
  • Once you have the potential multi-unit franchise candidate talking with you, take control of the sale. You take control by giving it up.

Let the the candidate tell you their - 

  • Franchising story.
  • Vision for their future. 
  • Process for adding franchise brands to their portfolio.

Convince them you're the person that can get their deal done for them.

Describe the business development path in a way that fits how they make a buying decision. 

 

Yes Qualify them -

  • Ask them who else you'll be working with on their team.
  • Make sure early on that the territories they want are available.
  • Find out how much capital they intend to dedicate to your franchise brand.
  • Move them through your franchise sales process.

Never treat them like first time franchise buyer.

More tips and tactics on successfully recruiting these prized qualified multi-unit operators - give me a call.  Or sign up for the Franchise Sales Tips newsletter.

It's plain old theatre folks. Some like it; some don't. While we cannot defuse false anger (Nancy circa 1990), there are those who like to role play and feel it's one of the more successful techniques in customer service training.

I'm not a big fan of role playing. (More coming on that with a Regis Philben story when I appeared on his show.) However, there are those who are and I do want to give you some ideas for those that do enjoy role playing in their training.

The process involves the trainer presenting the role play scenario and asking for volunteers to play the roles. (Volunteers meaning YOU.) The trainer provides the ground rules. Then selected trainees act out the scenario and the entire class analyzes the role playing.

Consider two approaches:

In the first, the players can attempt to think, speak, and behave like someone else. Being an irate customer is a natural role play for customer service training. This can teach the trainees to identify with other people and their problems, and to appreciate different perspectives. But again, it's very difficult to defuse false anger.

In the second approach, the players are themselves and report a particularly frustrating experience they have had as customers. This makes is more 'real.'

While role playing can be conducted in pairs or small subgroups, the procedures are quite effective when staged in front of the entire class. (Yes, scary if they're not use to, but get a life.) All trainees can normally, therefore, find ways to handle the roles. Alternative solutions can be tried which reflect company policies and various methods of dealing with customers.

To enhance role playing, use probing questions during the analysis of the scenario to guide trainees to arrive at workable solutions:

How well can you predict the reactions of the irate customers?

How else might the situation be managed?

What are effective approaches you have used?

In summary, what have we learned from this?

A ready list of subjects about customer problems from which the players can choose for role playing and discussion is helpful. Here are a few both in-person and on the phone.

  • The store employee has just told you the item you want is out of stock. That's all they said. Play the scene out.
  • In calling a company, you're trying to reach a human being and all you get is the automated attendant. Finally, someone answers. You want to know why you were not able to reach a human more quickly.
  • You're trying to purchase an item and the person assisting you only gives one-word answers.
  • You need someone to help you. After waiting in line for several minutes, you see that the clerk is fiddling with some paperwork, ignoring you. When asked if you could be helped, you're told to "hang on a sec. I'll be right with you."

If these role playing scenarios seem close to home, it's because most of us have experienced them. It brings everyday occurrences to the customer service training class. It's a way of making the training realistic.

Role playing demands some skill and practice on the part of the trainer. Deft handling of participants is needed. But you'll feel an enormous sense of accomplishment when you get an attendee, who may not have wanted to role play, up in front and being excited about pretending to be a customer!

There are those who might refuse or feel uncomfortable about role playing. If that's so, they may feel odd about handling a service 'experience' as well. Just saying.

# # #

Nancy Friedman , president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is a featured keynote speaker and subject matter expert on customer service and communications skills at franchise, association and corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and hundreds of other radio and TV shows. She has been published in the Wall Street Journal with her column, "Don't Strike Out with Your Customers." Nancy is the author of eight books on sales, communications skills and customer service. She is the spokesperson in the popular Telephone Doctor customer service training programs.

So you've taken the plunge into the franchise industry, be it a restaurant, fast food outlet, or retail store. It could be the first shop of its kind, the beginning of a franchise venture, or a new addition to an established franchise.

One thing for sure: you will need experienced professional architects and engineers working with you from day one to ensure that your new business is a great success.

If this is your first space, there's a lot more than the interior décor to be considered. If it is an established venture that you are franchising, you now have to consider the logistics of each new location. If you are a franchisee setting up your first franchise location, you will need to take an established concept and fit it to your selected space.

When selecting a design professional, look for the complete package: you want a firm that has both architectural and engineering in-house, and that can go where you go.... Be it your first space, or your 20th franchise space in a state on the other side of the country.

Here are some considerations:

1. Getting It Built:

Most importantly, commercial spaces can not be built or renovated without the proper approvals from your local municipality, including a building permit and possibly environmental and health department approvals.

Landscaping and parking lot requirements may even be involved, so do yourself a favor and hire a firm that can get you from concept to construction anywhere you decide to set up shop. Selecting an architectural/engineering firm licensed nationwide is going to save you time and money, as they will have the knowledge and experience working with many different municipalities throughout the country. And by all means, consult with the architect and engineer before signing a lease. It could mean spending more money for electrical service, heating/cooling, water and many other services that could have been negotiated in the lease terms.


2. Access Issues:

You have a great location, but is it ADA compliant? The Americans with Disabilities Act is being enforced throughout the US, and will come into play even if it's only an interior renovation that you are planning.

Meeting ADA requirements may entail renovating existing bathrooms or even installing new bathrooms. You may be required to install a ramp outside your entrance, provide a handicap parking space, and may even affect your flooring choices (exterior as well as interior). Hiring a design professional will help you identify and comply with these requirements, and avoid the costly do-over.

3. Space Planning:

Whether it's a restaurant, a frozen yogurt shop or a retail store each space needs to be planned out to maximize traffic, minimize obstructions that limit a customer's access/view of goods for sale and most important meet existing requirements mandated by the building code.

The empty space you looked at last week will fill up quickly. You need someone with experience and familiarity with code issues to help you plan the space layout. From a retail clothing store to a fast-food bar, you want to facilitate the flow through your space so that the customers can easily enter, review the merchandise, and check out with ease.

Using an architect at the beginning stages of planning can help you get the most out of your space.

4. Finishes and Interior Design:

From the flooring to the wall coverings to the ceilings, these are more than just style....there is also the issue of functionality and cost-effective designing. You love the laminate flooring you saw last week, but is it the best choice for a shop that serves beverages, and has sinks in the serving counter out front?

Will your flooring choice stand up to heavy foot traffic? Is it easy to maintain, will it retain its shine?

Will high hat lighting work in your space? Can you switch out the existing light fixtures in the mall space you selected? Do you have stand alone shelving or do you want to use built-in cabinetry?

The franchise requires specific seating; do you have the space for it?

5. Utility Considerations for Plumbing, HVAC and Electrical Services:

You saw a great walk -in cooler that you just have to use in your restaurant.... But do you have the electrical service requirements or room for expansion? Can the proper plumbing be installed? What are the landlord requirements with regards to built-in equipment in your space? What are the code requirements? Can you install a waterless water heater? What kind of grease trap does your building department require?

Working with an architectural firm with in-house engineering will get answers to your questions, and ensure that all drawings will pass building department scrutiny when you submit for your permit.

6. Why In-House Engineering:

The vast majority of architectural firms employ engineers as consultants and as such these consultants work for numerous architectural firms producing the engineering construction documents.

This creates delays in producing your construction documents for your project. Having an in-house engineer allows the architect to control the schedule for your project including the engineering directly. The engineer sits feet away from the architectural staff and can immediately communicate project information and needn't wait for return phone calls or emails. This coordination internally produces a better quality product in a shorter amount of time and at a less cost than hiring an outside consultant.

Additionally, it provides the benefit of a call only to the architect's office to resolves questions when they come up.

7. Branding:

You want to be seen, and remembered. And you want both to be for good reasons. An important first step is having an image that customers remember. Designing your logo and even your interior space can define your brand, even before the first item is purchased. Apple's apple doesn't need any text to be recognized ... consumers immediately associate the image with the merchandise, and they identify it with high quality technology.

Even established franchises update or renovate their image... some with new logo's, some change color scheme, and some even update/renovate furnishings. Check out your local Chili's next time you drive by... their updated exterior façade and new signs give them the look of a new restaurant.

Presenting a name, logo, and style for your commercial endeavor that customers remember is referred to as successful "branding." From a start-up business that needs a look that pops with the public, to an established franchise that could use a makeover, branding is where it begins. Selecting an architectural firm with experience in both franchises and interior design gets you on the right path from the start.

Shorten the learning curve:

In summary, there's a lot that goes into building a business, be it a new endeavor or opening an established franchise in a new location. It takes more than the snap of your fingers to get it done. Even with an established franchise, there are always site-specific requirements that must be met.

So get off on the right foot - Lasky Architect PA is licensed throughout the US, has in-house engineering, interior designers, and personnel with expertise designing any type of commercial enterprise, and experience growing franchises in multiple state locales.

Buying a franchise may be your most expensive investment ever, after buying a house. And like buying a house, you've got to spend a lot of time looking, comparing, evaluating and thinking about which franchise to buy, and most of us aren't comfortable doing all that work on our own.

When it comes to buying a house, we call a real estate broker or agent to guide us through the journey and to help us ultimately make the right purchase. In franchising, many buyers rely on franchise brokers, and here are reasons why a broker might be right for you.

  1. Franchise brokers are educators. Well, truly, they are sales people, but good sales people know to be educators first. Brokers can teach you about franchising, including legal considerations, trends, financing, and the realities of franchise ownership. Good franchise brokers can answer your questions about franchising and guide you through the selection process, ultimately helping you to discover an opportunity that makes sense for you.
  2. Franchise brokers are good listeners. By listening to their clients' needs and expectations, brokers can keep their clients' interests in mind at all times. Listening allows the broker to do a thorough job of educating clients about the pros and cons of franchising, and about the potential of a particular franchise opportunity. If you say you don't like working in an office, or you want to work from home, or you'd rather not work with other people, the broker should lead you to opportunities that satisfy your desires.
  3. Franchise brokers can reduce your risks. There are always risks in any business, but brokers can help you avoid many of the risks. Brokers, for example, will shy away from representing bad franchisors, thus saving you from that experience. Brokers can help you assess franchise opportunities to find those that meet your needs and expectations.
  4. Franchise brokers prepare you for a meeting with the franchisor. Almost every franchise company sponsors a Discovery Day, which is actually a sales event disguised as an information event. Remember, franchisors are sales people, too! A broker will help you prepare for the Discovery Day by thinking about the questions you need to ask and knowing whom to meet when you visit the franchisor.
  5. Franchise brokers help you prepare to meet and question franchisees. As a franchise prospect, you'll want to meet people who are already operating the business you're thinking about buying. The broker may know existing franchisees whose backgrounds are similar to yours, so you'll feel comfortable talking to them. Just be sure the broker doesn't keep you from talking to any franchisee of your choice. There are likely some "bad" franchisees and franchisors and brokers would prefer you avoid them, but they may have information that you need to hear. Good brokers aren't going to get in your way of investigating the franchise opportunity.
  6. Franchise brokers understand the franchise documents. Do you know how to read a Franchise Disclosure Document or a Franchise Agreement? Probably not. Good brokers do. Before representing a franchise brand, brokers study the franchisor's documents and can explain them to prospects. This will save you considerable time and confusion.
  7. Franchise brokers "sell" you to the franchisor. This is especially helpful when the franchise you want to buy is "hot" or in demand. Why would a franchisor consider you when there are so many other applicants for the same franchise? Similarly, let's say your application doesn't look so great on paper, but the broker knows you're a good fit for the franchise. Franchisors listen to their brokers because they trust them. Brokers can quickly identify appropriate prospects for the franchisor's business.
  8. Franchise broker fees are (usually) free. The franchisor pays the broker a generous (and well deserved) commission upon the sale of a franchise, so brokers do not take fees from buyers. However, some brokers may charge an education fee, or an assessment fee for a personality tool. However, most good brokers will not charge a fee.

Working with a franchise broker, like working with a Realtor®, can save you time and money, and will usually lead you to buy a franchise that meets your expectations. You should check out the broker in advance - work only with experienced brokers who can provide you with a variety of client testimonials - and you may do so through the International Franchise Association.

Some parents spend more time preparing estate documents than preparing their children for the wealth.  This is not wise.

There is a Yiddish proverb that "with money in your pocket you are wise, you are handsome and you sing well too."

Similarly, data and research studies illustrate that children who inherit significant wealth often fail to develop the necessary skills, drive and tenacity to succeed in their own right but rather develop a false sense of entitlement based on the wealth that they inherit.

They only have the illusion that their pockets are full; the wealth actually hinders their ability to be successful.

CPAs and financial advisors can work cooperatively as part of a team (often with a client's estate attorney) to help clients better prepare their children for inherited wealth. The principles summarized in this article apply just as well to ordinary parents and grandparents who want to help their children become responsible citizens with prudent money skills as they do for parents of true "heirs" who stand to inherit several hundred thousand or more.

Research evidence outlined below suggests that inherited wealth is often more a curse than a blessing. In this context, "preparing heirs" involves teaching them skills which will help them to lead an independent and fulfilled life immune from the dependence and resulting ills and loss-of- initiative which inherited wealth often creates.

Based on conservative estimates, $40.4 trillion will pass to heirs by the year 2052, or about $800 billion per year plus an additional $11.6 trillion will be donated to charities. So preparation to help heirs and families improve their effectiveness is essential.

Research data indicates that approximately 70 percent of estate transitions "fail" where failure is defined as the second generation involuntarily losing control of the family business or a significant part of the family's wealth. More importantly, several of these research studies illustrated that the primary cause of failure in wealth transitions is a high degree of splintering, divisiveness and lack of communication within the family.

One of the most comprehensive studies on wealth transitions and preparing heirs was completed in 1994 by family coach and author Roy Williams and professor Michael Morris, PhD, of Syracuse University's Whitman School of Business.

The study was summarized in William's book For Love & Money: A Comprehensive Guide to the Generational Transfer of Wealth. They studied 3,250 affluent families between 1973 and 1994 and confirmed the 65-75 percent estate transition failure rate and isolated the following causes:

  • 60 percent of the failures were due to breakdowns in trust and communication within the family unit

  • 25 percent of the failures were caused by inadequately prepared heirs 6

  • Less than 3 percent of the estate transition failures were caused by incompetent advisors, lawyers and accountants

  • Approximately 12 percent of the failures were due to lack of a family mission or purpose that clearly defines the use of the family's wealth 

     

The evidence is strong that even a sound estate plan will fail if steps are not taken to prepare heirs.

Even if communication within a family is less than ideal, the family's family office advisor, investment manager, attorney and CPA working as a team can help lead a family meeting that encourages mutually productive dialogue. If necessary, experienced family coaches with training in psychology can be brought in to break down barriers and facilitate discussion.

One of my favorite boss's of all time Mike Jenkins taught me a great deal about business and life.

Mike was big guy towering over 6'3" and the size of a linebacker with a deep booming voice. If Mike was in the room you knew it. He was very intimidating when you first met him.He was brought in to turn around Diedrich Coffee and Gloria Jeans where I was VP of Development. 

Now Mike was not new to fixing what was broken with a company since he had just finished taking Boston Market through bankruptcy and selling it to McDonald's.  Before Diedrich and Boston Market Mike had been at Steak & Ale, Bob's Big Boy, T.G.I. Friday's, Metromedia Steakhouses, El Chico Restaurants and Vicorp Restaurants. 

He started as a waiter at Steak & Ale. And he probably got great tips given his physical stature and presence. I would have tipped a guy like that generously. 

Mike told me his story about fixing Boston Market before selling it to McDonald's.

As Mike described it Boston Market was out of control with food costs and labor too high and sales too low. 

Now his solution seemed very simple. Boston Market was addicted to discounting and thought their competition was McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino's, etc...Mike told his team they were wrong and proclaimed that the deep discounting would end. And not only that the big advertising spending was over too.

He got Boston Market back to 3 basics:

1. A focus on customer service;

2. Selling food at a full and fair price, and;

3. Simplifying the menu so the restaurant team could serve great food hot and fast.

The average unit volumes decreased but the units became profitable.

Mike said to me that there's way too much silly talk about strategy when what really matters are the tactics.

What Mike believed was that you take the business one piece at time and look at what's working well and fix or get rid of what isn't.

He told me the biggest challenge weren't the actual fixes. It was getting people to buy into them. He believed if you didn't get the buy in you were inviting failure before you started and doomed.

I remember what got Mike started in telling me his Boston Market stories. You see we had the Orange County Register delivered to the office and every time he saw deep discounted Boston Market free standing inserts it would get him going that the handpicked McDonald's team was going down the wrong path.

Was he right at the time? Well, McDonald's did eventually sell it.

(Mike did great things at Diedrich Coffee too. About 6 weeks into the job there we were faced with being put in the recovery group with Fleet Bank, threatened NASDAQ de-listing and a huge accounting nightmare with an unrealized material loss of close to $17 Million. 

Mike got us together and we got through that too. However that's another story.)

Mike's story ended May 2, 2002 after less than a year's battle with gastric cancer. I miss Mike and I will be forever grateful to have learned from him. He was one of the kindest and best people I've known in my career.

How Franchisors Hurt their Franchise Operators

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There are many reasons why some franchisees struggle while others succeed.

Unknowingly and, in most cases with the best of intentions, franchisor too often fail to help franchisees get back on track.

Frequently franchisors actually contribute to their franchisees' struggles by:

  1. Blaming franchisees. Franchisors add to their franchisees' ramp-up problems by assuming franchisees are refusing to follow the system rather than asking, "What is it about our system that results in so many franchisees not following it?"
  2. Targeting symptoms. Franchisors often spend a lot of energy and resources trying to eliminate symptoms instead of identifying and targeting the real issues. Franchisors tend to focus on the outer factors that contribute to success or failure like, telling the franchisee to spend more money on advertising or to make more calls, rather than looking at the problem such as the poor quality of the calls due to the mindset of the franchisees, their lack of confidence, or the poor skills and habits they have.
  3. Lack of understanding. Many field staff and support professionals have never been trained in adult learning principles and performance coaching techniques as they specifically apply to franchising. Because of the emotional turmoil franchisees go through when they invest in a business, training principles that work well in a normal environment fail to do the job in franchising.
  4. Forgetting what it's like to be a novice. Many franchisors expect franchisees to be proficient after a week or 10 days of training; they make their training programs all about process and forget to teach the essence of their business. They continuously add more tools to their system and are surprised when franchisees don't use them or when they don't seem to produce the results they should.
  5. Separating operations, training, and support functions into silos. When duties and responsibilities are split among different departments, continuity accountability, and effectiveness are lost.
  6. Delegating training and support functions to non-qualified personnel. Many franchisors utilize non-qualified personnel to fulfill training and support functions. Regional and area developers most often lack the skills to train franchisees, especially during the first year.
  7. Over utilizing e-learning. Franchising is all about relationships and these relationships are being formed during the first six months of the life of a franchisee. Franchisors relying on on-line training as their primary vehicle for training and supporting franchisees forego forming the deep connections that are  critical to the franchise relationship.

What are you doing that may be contributing to the struggles of your franchisees?

The post 7 Ways Franchisors Add to Franchisees' Ramp-up Problems appeared first on InFraSu.

A short, but ongoing course.

Are you really engaged?

Do you and your staff really know how to engage and interact with the customers? Do they even know what it means.

Seems as though every year there's a "new" word in Customer Service. And this year it's been "engagement."

Engage the customer.

What's it mean? Or better yet: What's does it not mean?

The answer to what it's NOT, is - - it's NOT the customer service experience. Don't confuse the two. They are quite different.

It is: Just as you might imagine....when you might have popped "the question," (or said "yes" if you were the one being asked), you normally went into what is called an 'engagement' period.

That's the time before the marriage. Time to better know and understand someone you're supposed to spend a lifetime with. Sometimes it's short and sometimes it's a longer period of time. But usually there's an 'engagement' period.

And so it is with our customers. Before they can "BUY," before they can become our customer (before we 'marry' them), we need to get 'engaged.' Make sense? Or starting to?

Right, you don't just walk up to someone and say, "Hello" and then head for the altar. It's the same idea in the sales and customer service world. There's an old sales saying: "The customer has to buy YOU first, before they buy the product." And it's true.

You need to spend a bit of time 'engaging the customer' before they buy or use your services. The Engagement is the time to wine and dine the customer; not physically - but mentally, and emotionally. Yes, to be on your best behavior. And you usually are. But as in marriage, it need not, and should not, must not, stop there.

I've never considered divorce (murder yes, not divorce.) However, those who have been through divorce coincidentally all shared a similar story to me. "They changed" I've been told. "They were so nice during the engagement period, but afterwards, it all changed."

I have always wondered why. Why be one way to get the customer and then another way after you get them? No wonder customers get upset. And when you think of it, in an engagement, you are each others 'customers.'

So to make it a bit easier for you to learn how to Engage a customer, below are a few (and only a few) ideas to 'get engaged' with your customer. There are many more. I will expound on them in another blog. And also I'll share more about the engagement. I wanted to keep this blog short, sweet and to the point.

To ENGAGE the customer one simply needs to follow these engagement guidelines:

* When a call comes in or a customer walks into your location, let them know they called or came into the right place! This is not brain surgery; just use those exact words.

* Names are critical, of course. To gain a customers name, you need to introduce yourself first; then ask theirs.

* Smiling is a condition of employment and grounds for termination. Can't make that strong enough! Not smiling is not an option.

* We need to remember, the customer is NOT always right; they always THINK they are right. Deal with the situation that way and it's much easier to handle.

* Don't argue with the customer. You'll lose every single time. You will never win.

* Watch out for Killer Words. These are words that will stop a conversation. Or even kill the conversation. A few killer words to beware of, from our surveys are: "No problem," "It's not our policy," "You don't seem to understand." We have plenty more of them to be sure. These happened to have gone right to the top.

* Be a double checker. No one likes to hear, "I don't know" or "We don't have that." Learn how to create the Telephone Doctor language of "positive statements at the top of the conversation." Once you do, the engagement period can start to move along.

* Please, thank you and you're welcome will never go out of style. EVER.

It's still not time to put the ring on the customers finger, but you'll be headed in the right direction with these steps or .... "Rules of Engagement".

I've been doing this a long time. It all works. More later.

 # # #

Nancy Friedman , President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is a featured keynote speaker and subject matter expert on customer service, sales and communications skills, at franchise, association and corporate meetings.

As an "ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST", she has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and hundreds of other radio and TV shows.

She has been published in Wall Street Journal with her column, "Don't Strike Out with Your Customers.

Nancy is the author of eight books on sales, communications skills and customer service. She is the spokesperson in the popular Telephone Doctor customer service training programs. For a demo and full keynote speaking packet of Nancy call 314.291.1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

Or see how fast she answers emails: [email protected]

If you haven't heard about The Franchise Registry it's important that you do, especially if you're thinking about applying for an SBA-approved loan to acquire a franchise opportunity. Approximately 1,000 franchise brands (which is maybe a third of the franchise companies in North America) appear on the registry. For brands that do not appear, you probably will not get your SBA loan approved.

Even if you don't plan on securing an SBA loan to buy a franchise, The Franchise Registry is a good way to check out a franchise opportunity.

Checking Out The Franchisor's Operations

Prior to guaranteeing a loan for a franchisee, the SBA wants to be familiar with the franchisor's operating procedures. With nearly 3,000 franchisors operating in the USA, and changes occurring randomly to their operating procedures, it's a chore for the SBA to review all of those companies.

Some years ago, the SBA contracted with FRANdata, a company that provides objective information about franchising, to maintain the registry, conduct the ongoing reviews, and negotiate, as needed, with franchisors to help them comply with SBA's regulations. To be considered for the registry, franchisors pay $2,500. Some companies may balk at that, or simply not have the funds. However, it's a small price to pay to gain access to prospective buyers who need SBA funding.

Benefits Of The Franchise Registry

According to Darrell Johnson, president of FRANdata, the registry provides several benefits:

  • It "comforts" lenders. The registry provides a risk-reducing factor to lenders and saves them time. If a franchisor appears on the list, the lender knows that the franchisor's documents have met the SBA's standards.
  • It's a marketing tool for franchisors. The franchisors that appear on the registry can tell their prospective franchisees that their documents comply with SBA's lending criteria.
  • It "comforts" prospective franchisees. When a franchisor appears on the list, it tells the prospective franchisee that the franchisor's franchise agreement isn't onerous. The SBA has reviewed the document and it's acceptable.

Is Your Franchisor Registered?

Take a moment to review the registry to find out which franchisors are listed. If you're considering a franchise that's not listed on the registry, and you know that you'll need an SBA loan to become a franchisee, your first step should be to tell the franchisor to get on the list. If you're not seeking an SBA loan, but your franchise opportunity of choice is not on the list, ask why!

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