December 2014 Archives

These days it's extra challenging to satisfy and keep customers. It's even more important than ever because customer loyalty is generally considered the primary engine today to retain sales levels and gain an advantage over the competition.

It's been this way for a long time; it's just getting more attention now. We just need to do things better.

There are hundreds of ways to do better.

Here are 9 we like:

1. Know your product and services . . . inside and out.

Not being knowledgeable frustrates customers. An uneducated employee is semi-useless to a customer. Job knowledge is key in any position. If for any reason your company doesn't offer job knowledge training, make it your own priority to find out as much as you can. Job knowledge is a key ingredient to serving customers.

2. Believe in your product and services 150%.

We know of a salesperson who has never had any formal sales training. However, based on the belief in the product, services and contagious enthusiasm, this person is a top seller. People LOVE to buy from people who get excited about their product. Customer service reps are salespeople!!!

3. Walk the walk, talk the talk. Practice what you preach.

A Ford dealer would not drive a GM car. Employees need to support their company's product or services before they can expect their customers to have confidence in them.

4. Keep your word.

Companies spend thousands, sometimes millions of dollars advertising their services and products. They tell the customer they are THE BEST, THE ONLY, they are NUMBER ONE. "WE GUARANTEE OUR WORK" isn't enough. Customers need to know that you'll do what you and your advertising says you will. If you claim to provide the 'best of anything,' make sure you keep your word. And be sure all employees keep their word. Telling a customer something will be to them in 7 working days, and then having it NOT show up is a credibility buster.

5. Return all calls and emails.

It boggles my mind when a call or an email is not returned. There's not an excuse in the world I could buy when that happens. Sure, some of us get way too many calls and aren't able to return them in a timely manner. Well, then have the call returned on your behalf! Not returning an email? How much work does that take? DUH?

6. Don't ever forget "who brought you to the dance."

In other words, there are always customers who were with you from the start. They helped make your business a success. They believed in you. A nice simple note once in a while is an ego booster to them and you'll feel good about it too.

7. Make NO ULTERIOR MOTIVE CALLS or NOTES.

Every once in a while, drop a note or make a phone call to customers (and prospective customers) without trying to 'sell' them something. Telephone Doctor labels those "no ulterior motive" calls. They're "just because" calls. . . and very welcomed. When was the last time you heard from a salesperson or a company just to say HI? (See what I mean?)

8. Be in a good mood.

All the time! Be the person that when the customer leaves or hangs up the phone, they think to themselves, "That was a great call/visit." Not in a good mood? Learn how to be. Remember one of our Telephone Doctor mottos: "A phony smile is better than a real frown." Do you really think the first runner up of the Ms. America contest is as "thrilled for the winner" as she says or shows she is? Talk about a great big phony smile!

9. Participate in customer service training programs at your company.

Sure you know how to be a good CSR. But everyone could use a refresher. And if there are no programs in place on customer service, ask for them. At best, you'll be ahead of the competition, and at worst, you'll at least be even with them. Customer service is not a department. It is a philosophy. And it's for the entire company. Everyone needs to embrace it - or it doesn't work.

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Nancy Friedman, president and founder of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, St. Louis MO, is a speaker at association, franchise and corporate meetings. She can be reached in St. Louis at 314 291 1012. Or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

It's no secret that small and medium sized business have been hit hardest by the predatory practices of merchant service providers.

We have all heard horror stories about the "bait and switch" tactics from "great rates to free equipment", but now, merchants are fighting back.

Here are five tips to help you protect your business from being a victim:

1. START DISCUSSIONS NOW with your existing merchant service provider about how they plan to pass along the new debit card savings to your business. In reality, nothing in the new regulations say the merchant service provider must pass along their savings from the new debit card cap went into effect on October 1, 2011. Get in on the front side of this. If the answer is unacceptable, then start discussions with other providers; there are plenty out there!

2. RENEGOTIATE your rates with your provider. Although in reality, this has very little effect on the true savings, typically 3-5 percent of fees can be saved with a minimal amount of effort. Do recognize that most savings occur with reworking the operational and programmatic efforts.

3. DON'T ASSUME that just because you have negotiated rates up front during your last processor change that they will stay that way. What makes this industry seem so predatory is that the interchange companies change their fee structure twice a year and therefore your processor changes their rates to you. The fine print should disclose the terms, but who has the time to stay on top of that?

4. Hire an INDEPENDENT WATCHDOG service or consultant to rework and watch every aspect of the card processing industry on your behalf. Pay them for their services based on what they save you, in order to insure that your financial goals are aligned. The beauty of this is that you are hiring experts in the field to watch your back, requiring no work or extra expense on your part. It's just money right back in your pocket.

5. Contact your industry's TRADE ASSOCIATION to see what they have to offer, in terms of group purchasing power and agreements with merchant service providers. Many times, the cost to join the group can be recouped in buying power savings alone!

This has been a guest post by Ashley Berg, CEO of Bottom Line Plus.

You decided to become a newly minted franchisor.

And when that day finally arrived how exciting was that?

You were going to conquer the world with your franchise brand.

Here's what you did right.

Started with a tested business model with a verifiable proof of concept.

Hired a competent and experienced franchise attorney to develop your franchise agreement and franchise disclosure document - FDD.

Your franchise attorney strongly suggested (or insisted) since you have a strong proof of concept for your franchise model that you include an Item 19 Financial Performance Representation - FPR and you did it.

Developed an operations manual, training system and support system that is scalable as you grow your franchise system.

You had a reasonable budget to market for franchise recruitment.

But, after a while, you will hate being a franchisor. Here are your 7 biggest beefs.

  1. Early franchisees you selected seemed very passionate about being franchise owner/operators but they are not living up to what they promised and you're more than disappointed.
  2. Multi-unit franchisees are not current with their development objectives and they expect you to not hold them to what everyone agreed to. They want some or all of the following extensions, refunds or credits against franchise fees and in return you get nothing. Not even what you originally bargained for.
  3. You have a great training program and franchisees are shortcutting what your program offers and requires.
  4. Franchisee local market success depends on local store marketing, your franchisees don't make the investment in it. And they complain to you that sales are too low and your brand is not well known enough in their area.
  5. Franchise owners expect you to fix their unit level problems with employees, landlords, suppliers, insurance, local municipality, their business & operating partners. You had no idea that you'd be expected to do so much hand holding and babysitting when you set out selling & opening franchises.
  6. Franchise recruitment for a new franchisor is tough. However you couldn't have imagined how difficult generating and managing leads would be. And the cost per new franchise recruited is far more than you anticipated.
  7. You discovered that your management team had a much greater learning curve for transitioning your business to a franchise development and operations company. And now you're faced with some tough staffing decisions as you move forward.

This is not an exhaustive list of awful franchise things and readers can feel free to add to the list.

Good news is that you had a good underlying business at the outset. And all these franchising challenges can be remedied.

If this sounds llike your franchising story & you want some help solving your problems call me at 443.502.2636 [email protected] Lease the talents of 20+ year proven franchise executive, who has seen and solved these problems before.

The biggest feature I hear from franchise owners about mapping is: something they can use quickly, get decisions fast and have it be on the cloud for collaboration with team members and ultimately to the franchisee.

The main benefit of all that is to allow the franchisee a means to make decisions faster to buy into what the franchisor is selling.

The main "pain point" from franchisor's, depends on what your using mapping for.

Many franchisor's have told me, "Franchise territories are the most important thing to our company". The feature for territory mapping has to handle decades of old territories mixed with new ones and edits. It can be incredibly time consuming for a retailer to manage all this.

Franchisee's also have a need related to this topic. They want a starter package from mapping suppliers. Not an expensive one and one they definitely don't want to buy a full subscription too. They need minor demographics, simple site management and one or two territories. Low friction to usage is again a highly desired feature...meaning "non-technical users".

Uploading a list is still important. Usually locations of existing sites or proposed.

Routing for frachisor's is also desired but more for sales gen leads. Again, all for ultimately selling to a potential franchisee.

Lastly 'sex' appeal. It helps to make it shiny and new.

Summary of top desired mapping options from Franchisor's:

Features:

* Quick to use, they don't need to spend all day on it.

* Easy to use, so anyone in the company can use it.

* Collaborative with decisions makers, perhaps franchisee's themselves.

* Allow multiple users on the same plan

* Demographics of course, how detailed is dependent on its use, but usually not much

* Sexy product that looks cutting edge

Benefits:

* Sell franchisee's

* Allow franchisee's to have faith in the franchisor.

* Strong communication between franchisor and franchisee

* Build trust between franchisor and franchisee

* Allow franchisee's to expand and grow

* Sexy product helps sell franchisee's, shows one's being in touch with the times

* Sell franchisee's (so important I had to list it twice)

So Sell, Sell, Sell is the main benefit.

Save Time, Time, Time is the second benefit.

The map is just the means to the ends

You need $50,000 for your business. You have several choices: merchant cash advance, lease or loan.

How much does each option cost you?

What would you want to pay for the use of $50,000? Here are the numbers: daily Advance payment of $445 daily, a lease payment of $1,062 monthly or a loan payment of $580 monthly? There's not much of a decision here.

Cash Flow is king.

A new SBA guaranteed bank loan program available to franchisees at 6-7% interest over 10 years and is less expensive with longer terms than equipment leasing for acquiring new equipment or fixtures or a MCA for either equipment or working capital.

The result is cheaper money.

In addition to this fresh money many franchisees will also qualify for re-writing older more expensive debt such as equipment leases, credit cards and merchant advances into lower cost and greater terms.

The loan is available to any franchisee that has been in business for over 2 years and meets reasonable credit criteria that most will meet.

By utilizing new online technology a franchisee may get pre-qualified in 5 minutes, pre-approved in 30-60 minutes and funded in as short as ten days.

Call me, Bob Shaw, at 734-929-3800 to discuss your options.

It's pretty clear that franchise brand blogging is an effective way to communicate to probable franchise buyers.

How do you begin?

Start with a clear vision of why you are writing articles and for whom.

You want your probable franchise buyers to see how your franchise investment does these things -

  • Fits into their life
  • Helps them solve their problem
  • Gives them something to achieve and be proud of
  • Gets them to see themselves as your franchise brand owners

Your brand writing is all about what resonates with your probable franchise buyer.

Here are your 3 essential franchise writing topics and one thing you should stop doing -

  1. Why your franchise brand came into existence. Every brand has an origin and stories to tell.Think of these as chapters in your franchise brand's book.
  2. Tell stories about your franchise owners. How they see the franchise brand. How they got started.
  3. Talk about your industry. How your brand competes. Does things in interesting and novel ways. Solves your customers' problems
  4. Stop putting out boring run of the mill press releases that don't get you anywhere

Have reasonable and achievable franchise article writing objectives.

This is important and easier than you think.

Choose to write 2 articles a month as a realistic goal.

Here's the easy and good part.

As you add new articles most of them are evergreen and they become part of your brand archive and you can use them again and again.

These articles no matter how often you distribute them they will always be 'new' to new probable franchise buyers and that's the 'for whom' you are writing to.

The best to way to begin this is to start.

And when you do and you want Franchise-Info to look your article over email it to me at [email protected] 443.502.2636 and I'll tell you what we think.

Get your franchise stories placed and read - 90 Day LinkedIn Content Marketing & PR Program

Do you have all 7 Traits to do what it takes to be a great franchise leader?

An expert in customer service and engaging the customer, Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor is back at IFA this year with a unique session for both the franchisor and the Franchisee. A bare bones bottom line lady with a flair for humor and fun, this session will give you the common sense tools to get you thinking.

How do you handle growth and change? What about bad news? Or other obstacles that come your way? Does "Apathy" sound familiar?

In this program, Nancy shares how to handle these things, with grace, style and humor. She uncovers the strategies behind these 7 leadership traits:

• Choose Your Attitude In Advance

• Visualize Success

• Demonstrate Humor, Energy and Enthusiasm

• Resist Negative Tendencies

• Be a "Whatever It Takes Person"

• Embrace Change; Expect It and Accept It

• Be Grateful For What You Have

You probably have many of these traits - few folks have all of them. Nancy helps you find how we can recognize these traits in others as well as ourselves. Don't leave early prizes and surprises run throughout the program!

Save the Date Monday February 16, Las Vegas, IFA/ Mini Session 10:30-12noon. Engaging Within Your BRAND

Presented by Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Author & President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

I love to read short blogs sometimes and I love to write them too. Blogs don't always need to be long. This is one of those short ones. It's about strangers and customers.

We know we have paid customers.

We know we have internal customers.

We know we have potential future customers.

We even know we have lost customers.

But what about strangers as customers?

What do you mean, Nancy?

I mean, are strangers your customers?

Let me explain. We sit next to strangers on an airplane, in movie theaters, buses, trains, restaurants, all sorts of places. We interact with them. Often in depth. Some tell us their life story before we even get a name and sometimes we never do get a name. We often tell strangers our darkest secrets. Therapeutic that it is; strange isn't it?

We shop next to strangers, we talk to all sorts of strangers. Even though we were warned as a child NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS. Ever!

We say "excuse me" to strangers when we bump into them at the mall. We say "thank you" to a stranger who might help us carry a package or pick up something we dropped or hold a door for us. When a stranger says "thank you" to us, we invariably tell them "you're welcome."

There is even a great old movie called Strangers on a Train. Remember it? It is about two strangers who meet up on a train and decide they should kill each other's spouses. (I'm not saying it's a good idea; simply revealing the plot.)

Often times at Christmas there are folks running around giving money to strangers; people they don't know and will probably never see or talk with again. We donate money to strangers all the time. We tip strangers at restaurants. Sure, they do a job for us. But nevertheless they are still strangers.

So I ask you, are you nicer to strangers than you are your customers? Or are you strangers your customers?

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To download our Ebook, Hidden Gems, click here

For a demo of Nancy in action, and full keynote speaking packet, call 314.291.1012 or visitwww.nancyfriedman.com.

Or email [email protected] See how quickly she replies

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

Nancy 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."

The author of eight books on sales, communications skills and customer service, Nancy is a subject matter expert on these topics. She is the spokesperson in the popular Telephone Doctor customer service training programs.

Franchise selling is competitive.

People have a lot more franchises to choose from than ever before and there are only so many franchise buyers.

If you have any of these 5 franchise selling problems you need to do something about them.

  1. Not enough of your franchise leads answer your calls and emails.
  2. When you do get leads to talk with you it feels like a "Cold Call" and many times they don't know you or your brand.
  3. You discuss your financial standards with leads and they are shocked at the cost.
  4. After having great conversations with leads they say they will send you their franchise application. And they don't do it.
  5. Once you send your Franchise Disclosure Document - FDD to a lead you think is interested and qualified. They stop talking with you.

And you can take steps to solve all of these problems.

The first thing you should avoid concluding is that your leads are no good.

If I only had a dollar for everytime a Director of Franchise Sales said that to me. It's just too easy to say.

And you don't know if it's true. You do know your franchise selling isn't working out as well as you would like.

You need to take all those inactive leads of yours and do something new with them. You need to nurture them.

Put them on nurturing newsletter program.

It is not a 'buy my franchise" email.

It is not a drip campaign that will bore people to tears or annoy them.

Your newsletter program must be informational. And it has to offer assistance that helps your probable franchise buyer solve their problem.

You can try this yourself.

Or use Franchise-Info's Newsletter Nurturing Program for as little as $350 per month.

Now that you have taken an important step to get your leads active in your franchising process let's talk about that process.

Here's what you need to look at -

  1. Do you have the right sequence of steps?
  2. Are each of your steps structured properly?
  3. Where in your franchising process are people dropping out?

What to do about your leads -

  1. Fix your franchise sales process before you attempt this.
  2. Add your nurturing newsletter.
  3. Measure each lead source for -
    • Inquiries
    • Qualified leads
    • Applications
    • Sales
  4. Reallocate your franchise recruitment advertising and marketing spending.
  5. Keep measuring lead sources every 6 months.

If you have limited internal resources or you just want a set of experienced eyes on this with you just give me a call 443.502.2636 [email protected]

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2014 is the previous archive.

January 2015 is the next archive.

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