June 2015 Archives

Setting Goals is important understanding the why behind your goals is critical. Learn 3 steps that will almost guarantee you the results you desire.

It is something of a cultural phenomenon for everyone to focus on future goals and new resolutions around the end of each year. Whether or not you participated in this process as 2015 started, it is worth stopping here at the end of the first quarter and complete a quick assessment. Are you, in fact, pursuing the goals you consider most important? Do your daily priorities and accomplishment move you along the path to achieving those goals in a timely manner?

As you pause to reflect on these important questions, it is worth evaluating every task you undertake each day and week by some simple, yet vital, criteria. As you already know, it is very easy to be quite busy every moment of the day and end that day feeling like you accomplished very little of importance. In fact, some of the most important tasks you set for yourself are easily put off if you don't tackle them based on properly assigned priorities.

Below we provide three basic questions that almost every time management experts concur are part of properly organizing your time and achieving your desired success targets. While these are not the important principles related to effective time management, they serve as an excellent starting point.

1) When is this specific due? The word specific is very important to this question. Most people understand the idea of eating an elephant a bite at a time, (that's the only way to do it!) and grasp the idea that all major projects must be broken down into digestible elements. If you don't have that significant and looming To-Do broken down, it is easy to tell yourself you'll tackle it later - and suddenly the due date is upon you. When you find yourself constantly against deadlines and rushing to get priority products done, that is a good indication you aren't taking the time to plan your work correctly. And, another popular trope says it all, Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.

2) What'll happen if I don't do it? It is vital to understand the second component of getting things done, and that is not doing the unimportant until the important is accomplished. Often called the Tyranny of the Urgent, many people who fail to get where they want to be lack the ability to say no, or on the other hand say yes to the wrong things.

Each morning, you will undoubtedly start off with a longer list of things to do than you can possibly accomplish. You're on the right track when you do the thing that must be done (to meet your goals) first. Of course, this assumes you've done a good job of aligning your priorities with those of your employer and supervisor. If you are your own boss, that makes this discipline all the more important.

3) To whom do I owe the responsibility of completing this task? The answer to this question usually has at least two, and maybe more, dimensions. Certainly, we must accomplish the tasks we assume that are directly related to helping our business grow and thereby earning money. That is the first dimension. Secondly, we should be designing our work flow where the accomplishment of each task is meeting our personal needs and expectations.

Beyond these, there are your stakeholders: Your team of employees, customers, family and other players. Here is where the answers to the first two questions come into play. Others will always task us with expectations, tasks, and responsibilities. However, eventual success again comes down to first meeting your own carefully determined priorities and expectations, freeing you and/or positioning you to help others. In other words, understanding the why behind your goals.

Here's a bonus tip. Successful and effective time management is never an accident. It should be your first goal and your first priority - this will make all other goals more feasible and attainable.

Franchisors want more ready-to-buy franchise leads.

It's the "prime directive" and goal of franchise sales departments across franchising to generate ready-to-buy leads.

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Problem is this goal too often misses the mark and the lead sources generate unqualified leads that are rejected because they are not ready-to-buy ever or the buyer needs time to get educated and become informed about franchising.

The way franchise sellers address this today is by sending these not ready-to-buy leads emails which are pretty much different versions of the same tired message:

Buy My Franchise, now.

Sign up to any franchisor's lead gen program on a web portal and see what I mean.

It is begging and looks desperate.

These potential buyers need more than the same pitch regurgitated over and over again.

Not to mention that it chews up a lot of sales team time even with automated email campaigns franchise sellers are still trying to get these people on the telephone.

Franchising is a complex sale.

It's recruitment selling. Savvy franchise sellers know they are competing for the best talent and capital. And the not ready-to-buyer's qualifications are a mystery since they are not interested enough to talk with you and reveal their confidential information.

So what does a franchise seller do about these not ready-to-buy leads?

You nurture them by sending them information about franchising in general that you know they need & ask them to do something. Content marketing.

Here's why this will work -

  1. Content marketing is a perfect fit for complex franchise selling. It helps not ready-to-buy leads to establish a franchising frame of reference.

  2. Qualified not ready-to-buy leads are still trying to figure out how a franchise solution solves their problem & your content helps them see themselves as an owner.

  3. By providing important & educational franchise content to the leads in your nurturing program you educate them and get to influence the franchise narrative.

  4. As you educate these leads over time they begin see how your franchise fits in their life and business portfolio. They qualify themselves.

  5. Nurturing builds the trust the prospect needs in order for you to get the all important exclusive conversation at the top of your franchise sales funnel.

Remember the people you can't get on the phone with, won't fill out your application, ignore all your messaging are not bad leads there just not ready.

You can and should nurture them.

If you liked this, you will really like: Using LinkedIn to Sell Franchises -a Course from Franchise-Info (A no cost course with 13 lectures delivered to you directly by email)

Auto repair dealers are held to a higher standard than doctors. And it effects customer service.

Make an appointment with your doctor for 10am. Show up, wait until 10:30 to be seen by a nurse. 10 minutes with her, wait another 10 minutes for the doctor. He tells you your knee pain is nothing serious, take some Tylenol. Two weeks later, no improvement. Make another appointment, go through same delays, doctor says let's run test, finds torn ligament, refers you to orthopedist.

How different from our automotive world!

In our world, the customer will complain if we are one minute past their appointment and their car is not in the bay. On the second visit, they would demand to be seen without an appointment, demand a refund for the first visit, and also insist the second visit be free!

Next, they would tell the doctor that they have a bump on their head that wasn't there before, so it must have been caused by the knee examination.

I wish I had a dime for every time a client withheld pertinent information about the symptoms of their vehicle--any problems with your brakes? No. Get in the car, pedal to the floor brake and abs lights on.

The disregard for the repair facility is startling. I have people double park in front of my center walk in, sneer and say "oil change". Would you do that in a restaurant? "Steak!"

Or they show up at 3:00pm on a Saturday with a serious engine performance issue needing to leave town on vacation Sunday morning first thing.

How long have you had this problem? Oh, a couple of months.

Then they are mad at you because you can't perform a miracle.

There really should be a manual for car repair customers--here are my four suggestions, feel free to add on.

1. Leave your car--be forthright and polite in describing your problem or need--have patience--don't expect miracles--understand that it is an "estimate" and is subject to change if other issues are discovered--

2. Don't show up right before closing expecting service--don't assume that just because a facility serviced your vehicle today, they are responsible for any and all issues you may develop until your next visit.

3. Don't bring your own parts--don't diagnose your own car--don't tell me after I diagnose your car that you have decided to take it to "your mechanic" or worse yet, your brother who knows about cars.

4. Don't presume I am dishonest or incompetent because you previously dealt with a dishonest or incompetent shop.

I could go on, buy you get the point. I am blessed because in 27 years at my location, I have developed relationships and gently "trained" many clients in the art of being a good customer.

In return, they get every benefit of the doubt I can provide when servicing their automobiles.

Franchisees who invest in publicly held companies should have a line of communications with the investors in their system that is uninterrupted by corporate management.

After forty years of successful growth the McDonald's restaurant system hit some potholes in the 1990s. Coincidentally we had just launched Franchise Equity Group and were in a position to monitor the trauma that the second generation of McDonald's managers were inflicting on the system.

After our efforts in the interests of McDonald's franchisees were mentioned in the major media we were contacted by Wall Street analysts and institutional investors. Working with these people was an extraordinary learning experience.

At that time McDonald's had been an NYSE listed company for over thirty years, had a market cap of over $30 Billion, and yet there was an stunning lack of knowledge among investors. Our discussions covered franchisee profitability, the results of an unrealistic growth program intended to impress investors, management's history, franchisee morale, and other basic topics.

Over these past fifteen years I've had the pleasure of assisting many investors in learning about not only McDonald's but the franchised industry in general.

Franchisees in publicly held brands should develop the philosophy that the corporate people (who are temporary employees) don't own the company.

The only significant investors in the brand are franchisees and shareholders - two entities that should be in constant communication.

FAQs About Franchisees Communicating With Investors.

1. Should franchisees attempt to influence the value of the corporate stock?

Absolutely not - If your brand is to be a good opportunity for franchisees it must be healthy at all levels. However, problems develop when management uses short term strategies that might help the share price but damage franchisees. Think about this activity as the education of investors for the long term health of the entire system

2. know my business intimately but don't know much about high finance and Wall Street?

Hey, join the club. I've rarely been asked about a stock price or P/E, ratios. The analysts want to know about commodity costs, minimum wage issues, management changes, remodeling programs, franchisee debt, etc.

3. How will corporate management feel about franchisees chatting with investors?

They won't like it but won't say much. This activity is most effective in those franchise systems where management controls 100% of the information about the franchised side of the business. In those cases they've told investors franchisees are supportive of management's initiatives and there is complete "alignment"between management and franchisees. Of course they want franchisees voiceless.

4. Will I be divulging proprietary information?

If you think you are walking around with a lot of proprietary information you should consider canceling that speech to the local Kiwanis Club. Discerning franchisees would never divulge information that would benefit their competitors.

5. Do Wall Street analysts care about my personal success as a franchisee?

Not so much - But they want to know if the corporate initiatives will be successful and if resistance to management's direction might retard corporate growth. As analysts they understand the franchise model must be a good investment but they
won't fuss over every franchisee's survival. Especially if all they hear is corporate's side of the story.

In summary, most publicly held franchised systems operate with a few corporate people strutting around like they own the brand while the real investors are franchisees and shareholders. In most cases management has been successful in building a towering wall between the true owners of the brand.

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How To Create Buyer Confidence

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How would your conversion rate and profitability change if you could implement a method to develop a prospect's confidence about the value of your offering earlier in the sales process?

Wouldn't it also be valuable at the same time to learn what would change your prospect's mind about deciding to buy from you?

Questions are a great way for you to become the problem solver your buyer will want to do business with.

Questions are strong tools for helping your potential buyers see the value of doing business with you, and to get them to tell you what factors must be mitigated before they write a check.

"What do you need us to accomplish for you to consider our work with you a true success?" is a good question for uncovering real reasons they are exploring the value of your service.

"Is there anything else that would need to be in place for you to decide to move ahead?" is an appropriate question if you want to understand the risks the buyer sees in going forward with you.

Under the traditional sales model, you don't get to your prospects' objections until after you try to close the sale. At that point, it's often too late, and you may have labeled yourself as a product pusher.

By asking questions up front you create trust, engage respectfully, and deal with objections early on. You've now established yourself as a problem solver, making closing easier.

What powerful questions do you ask to educate your buyers about the value you provide, or to help them overcome their resistance to buying from you?

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Here are 5 tips for selling a business, a handy business valuation tool.

The impetus to sell your franchise business can come from any number of directions and at any time.

The market could change, someone could pass away, an unsolicited franchise might offer to buy you, or the founders might simply get bored and want to do something different than remain in the franchise business.

Whatever the reason, selling a business is a big step that should not be taken lightly. Nevertheless, when it is time to sell your franchise, you want to be clear on your motivations, and have a business valuation which supports the price you want for the franchise business.

It's Valuable to Be On Top

Selling a business in a hot market is always better than the other way around. People want to associate with winners. If your franchise business is on a winning streak, people will be more likely to pay more for it.

Should financial markets determine whether you should be selling a business? Probably not.

However, if you are going to be selling a business, you are better served by selling while both the market and your franchise business are in their best shape.

Determining when your franchise business is performing at its peak is often a job for a fortuneteller, but you can do some simple trend analysis to see where you stand, part of more detailed business valuation.

Your Relative Market Standing

Here are the 5 business valuation tips you can perform to see where you stand with respect to the rest of your market, in particular, and the overall market, in general:

  1. Has your franchise shown a profit for the last five fiscal quarters? If so, you are immediately a viable financial investment.
  2. Are your historical net-income-before-tax results increasing over the prior five quarters, or are they erratic in nature? Financial markets like consistency, and the more consistent the income figures the better your franchise looks.
  3. Has your franchise been gaining market share with respect to other franchisees in your industry? If so, you look even better. If not but your income continues to grow, it means the management is doing something right with respect to operations.
  4. Has your franchisor recently added new products, services or other features with hot market potential? If so, selling now while the iron is hot may not be a bad idea.
  5. Is your franchise located in a growing market that is showing above-average increase in potential customers? If so, then you might want to sell your franchise even if some other financial parameters are not in optimal condition. Remember that when selling your franchise, you are competing with other investment opportunities. If other investments are not performing as well as your franchise, your franchise could represent a solid investment.

Any one of these reasons, along with numerous others, might be reason to assume that your franchise is on a solid upswing. A combination of several reasons makes the business valuation case even stronger.

The point is that you must do some market research for yourself to determine the performance of your franchise with respect to the others in the industry to get your price.

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Any manager or employee involved in outside sales knows the incredible joy of getting their territory right.

It is simply tremendous to walk in the door of a prospective customer and know that your referrals are good, there are 30 more customers waiting for you down the street, and you have all the territory information you need to make a good pitch, from approach to close.

The right territory mapping software puts your sales team in the right spot at the right time, so that these golden opportunities are maximized.

Headache Inducers

On the other hand, every outdoor salesperson has the experience under their belt of that one time they accidentally followed on the back of another team member from their company: territory gone wrong.

Customers hate it, and sales people leave the approach at best feeling like grinning idiots, at worse, they are chased off the premises by irate customers who feel cheated.

The problem is not your employees, your management or your customers!

The problem is your territory mapping system.

In many sales territories, you have to divide up territories in high-traffic, highly populated areas where little more than a street will divide one high-performing sales rep from another.

Headache Reduction in 4 Steps

  1. Real Time Updates - Whether you are trying to close out a sales territory for a deadline, make room for incoming sales reps, or just adjust your system for market changes, you have to change assigned territories. It is part of the job. The right territory mapping software will do this automatically, preventing the data loss from sleepy eyed sales reps having to scan a list of prospects for the day and make their own maps.
  2. Integrate Data - Your sales team needs information to contact your customers, your customers need information to see the value in what you are offering. With so much information available online via governmental and social media websites, good territory mapping software will automatically include relevant and current demographic data.
  3. Manage Long Term Territories - For businesses setting up franchises, or seeking to establish long-term sales reps, the ability to virtually experiment with your territories is absolutely a prerequisite for establishing a territory. You can start with protected territories, knowing that the area you chose was large enough for growth.
  4. Reduce Stress Through Sharing - Any outdoor sales rep knows the experience of snipping images from their sales software into a presentation or document and then trying to show that to a reticent prospect. Modern software systems reduce the need for cutting, copying and pasting. Simply share a link to the relevant data and your prospect can pull it up on their own phone/tablet/computer.

Although the business of communicating to prospects will always have interpersonal issues involved, ensure that your sales team has the least amount of headaches possible with the right territory mapping software.

The post 4 Ways a Good Territory Mapping Software Prevents Headaches appeared first on Predict and Prevent Business Failure.

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Now before you answer . . .

· It didn't happen over night.

· It didn't happen without a lot of work and effort.

· And it didn't happen by accident.

Their plan was to sell the business

In fact, when Rich and Sonja Heaton of South Carolina decided to invest $150,000 into a small-town sign-making franchise in 2001, they did it with the idea of eventually selling the business for big bucks.

"People don't seem to set up their businesses to re-sell them," explains Sonja, "but that was our purpose for going into business, and for buying a franchise."

The lesson of the franchise resale

Many people don't think about the resale value of franchises. And many would-be franchisees don't think about buying an existing franchise instead of building one from scratch. But today, the Heatons can teach you about these lessons, as well as others related to buying, building and selling a franchise.

After operating (but not owning) a jewelry store and a convenience store, the Heatons decided to look at franchises. And even though they had no experience in the sign-making business, that's what they decided to buy.

What would attract a buyer?

"It didn't matter what we bought," explains Rich. "It could have been a waffle house, or whatever. We wanted to be the best we could be, and we knew that if we maintained our profitability, owned our own facility, and we developed the brand, we knew that combination would eventually attract a buyer."

Oddly, it wasn't easy to find a sign making franchisor that was interested in a small town location (population <9,000). Eventually, the Heatons discovered Signarama, based in West Palm Beach, FL. "Their franchise system, and their support, is unbelievable," says Sonja. "I tell people all the time that I would go back and open another Signarama versus doing it on our own because they nurtured and supported us all these years."

Aligning with a strong brand

All these years amounted to 14 before the Heatons decided to sell their business and . . . well, look for another one! ? "It's smart to align with a strong brand," says Rich, and that's why the Heatons believe they will eventually buy another franchise.

Will they start one from scratch, or buy an existing franchise? That remains to be seen, but they are sold on the wisdom of a resale.

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Recently a Telephone Doctor client said to me, "Nancy, congratulations. Some people take a simple idea and complicate it; you have taken a simple idea and kept it simple."

We don't believe you should scratch your head and wonder when you're being shown an idea or technique. That old KISS method (Keep it simple Simon) is the best. So we have purposely kept all of the material in our programs simple - yet very effective.

I've heard: "Hey what you do is just plain old common sense." You bet it is. You won't get an argument out of us. But you and I all know that common sense just isn't that common. If it were, everyone would be doing it and we know everyone isn't.

So, this article is for those that simply want basic, common sense, healthy, usable techniques. Below are 5 of our 10 basic skills that are ESSENTIAL for better communications and handling of customers and, believe it or not, each other.

1. Answering a Business Call

Well, what's so difficult about that? HUH? Right! It's not difficult. But if I called 100 people within your own organization, I'm betting I'd get a number of various ways that people answer the phone.

At Telephone Doctor we believe there should be one, uniformed method of greeting to answer the call by everyone, every time. Simple. To start, use buffer words that welcome the caller, such as, "Thanks for calling," then your company name and then your name. As in, "This is Sue." Then stop!

Anything after your name erases you name. "How can I help you" is simply NOT necessary on that initial greeting. You are there to help. That's why you answered the phone. It looks like this: "Thanks for calling Telephone Doctor's office. This is Nancy." Nice and simple, isn't it?

2. Thanking a Caller for Holding

Being put on hold remains one of the top 3 frustrations of the American public. That being said, it's something that often needs to be done during a phone call. Knowing how to put someone on hold is certainly important, but then so is thanking them for holding after you've come back to the phone.

Again, simple. But how often is it done.

I'm amazed at the number of times I'm put on hold and when the person comes back to the phone, they just start back in on the conversation like they weren't even gone. (Sort of like stepping on someone's toes and not says 'excuse me.')

And normally they're gone longer than they should be. So that "thank you for holding" sure would sound nice and would sure be appreciated. I always wonder why they don't thank me for taking the time to stay with them. Do you wonder that as well?

3. Monogramming the Call

For whatever reason, we all seem to like our name. Maybe not when we're children, but as we grow, we become used to our name and like it. I have many items on my desk and at home that have my name engraved on them. Some just initials. But it makes them 'mine' and I'd probably never pitch them in a cleaning out process.

Why? Because they have my name on it. Most people save things with their name or initials on them. Same thing should happen on a phone call. When you know the caller's name, use it. Don't abuse it, but do include it throughout the conversation. Most people like to hear their name. And they want to hear it pronounced properly and spelled right.

Don't be afraid to ask the caller the correct pronunciation of their name if you're not sure. They'll appreciate it! It's a heck of a lot better than you butchering their name. Don't assume on the spelling of a name.

ASK! Are you aware there are 19 different ways to spell the last name of NICHOLS in the New York phone directory? Not everyone spells their name the same way. Tom, Thom, Christy, Kristy, Charlie, Charley, John, Jon, Lynn, Lynne. Well, you get the idea. GET IT RIGHT!

4. Avoiding Mouth Noises

The telephone is a microphone. When you talk with something in your mouth, it sounds as though you have a mouthful of MUSH. Be it gum, candy or just finishing lunch. The only thing that should be in our mouth when you're on the phone is your tongue. Empty your mouth before you pick up the phone.

5. Leaving a Positive LAST Impression

Most of us have been taught about making that great first impression. And yes, that's so very important. That old saying, 'you don't get a second chance to make a great first impression' is so true. Well, consider making a great last impression as well.

Don't screw it up at the end of the call. Let the caller know, "It was nice to meet you by phone" or "thank you for calling" or "we appreciate your call." Something that will make that lasting positive impression, because when they hang up, they think to themselves either: Wow that was a great call. Or man, I'll never call there again.

How do you want your callers to remember you?

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Emotional Leakage - Getting at Mad at Peter and Taking it Out on Paul. Not right, not fair, not fun.

We've all seen it happen.

A co-worker comes into work storming angry; mouth turned down in a frown; walks through the office without saying hello to anyone; sits down at his desk and starts barking orders to his coworkers; doesn't come out of his office; and when his phone rings he picks it up and bellows out: "Yea?"

Sad isn't it? Something must have happened before he got to work and he carried it right inside the building. Telephone Doctor calls this "Emotional Leakage" and we cure it all the time.

Hey, it's no fun to get up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning. And it's sure not fun to get a flat tire on the way to work or to argue with someone before breakfast. It's unfortunate that some people aren't able to shake it off and move on about their business.

Emotional leakage is getting mad at Peter and taking it out on Paul. Not right, not fair, not fun. Taking a negative emotion out on someone who wasn't involved? How RUDE can you get?

If emotionally leaking on co-workers certainly isn't fair, then emotionally leaking on customers is even worse than not fair.

The customer or co-worker, in most cases, wasn't involved with whatever put you in a bad mood, so why take it out on them? Few things are more unfair and damaging to a relationship than emotional leaking a negative experience on someone who wasn't involved. And yet, unfortunately it happens every day. At home, in the office, on the streets, in the stores.

While shopping the other day, the person helping me was obviously not in a good mood at all. In fact, I think if she smiled her face would have cracked. She gave me one-word answers and usually none, she kept turning her head to see who was coming or going. (I wasn't sure.) She was throwing my vegetables and fruits into the bag - not caring how they landed.

Normally, I walk out on that type of service. It's just not worth my time to be treated like that. But this time, I was in a hurry and needed the product. So I did something I don't normally do...I asked her if everything was all right? Was she OK? I tried to make it sound as though I was interested (even though I wasn't.) But I sure didn't want her negative emotions leaking on me any longer.

With a big sigh, and a sad face, she told me she and her boyfriend had a big fight the night before and she was hoping he'd come by and apologize.

"Excuse me," I said, "was I with you?" Believe it or not she smiled and said, "Of course not." Then I nicely told her, "If I wasn't there, I don't want to be part of that argument."

She started to apologize, as well she should. Then I thought about a vase I had once. I dropped it. It broke into several pieces. My husband, Dick, and I talked about whether we should take it somewhere and have a professional put it back together. Dick said, "We can do that if you'd like, but it will never be the same. You'll always feel the cracks."

And so it is with our co-workers and customers. You can be in a bad mood...be it an argument, a flat tire or breaking your favorite item. And you can apologize, but people still remember how you treated them. How you made them feel. And they will - for a long time, too.

So how do we cure emotional leakage? It's a quick 4-step Telephone Doctor process.

  1. Stop what you're doing.
  2. Take a deep breath.
  3. Put on a phony smile (yes, you can).
  4. Regain your professional composure. And then talk with the person - in-person or on the phone.

Emotionally leaking on someone is NEVER right, NEVER fair and NEVER fun.

There are times others emotionally leak on us. Think how you feel when that happens to you and then remember to never emotionally leak on others.

Keep saying it...it's not right, it's not fair and it's not fun.

Thanks for reading and share away.

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In Alabama, the Coca-Cola Company has just expanded the franchise territory of Coca-Cola Bottling Company United (CCBCU) to include seven new cities.

The new contract means the franchise area of CCBCU more than doubles in size.

It's almost certain, however, that the local CCBCU customers will probably see no change in their day-to-day operations, despite the exponential growth of the soft drink supplier.

Coca-Cola has long been known for their exceptional products and their even more outstanding customer service. It has built its reputation on ensuring the local beverage purveyors receive product on a timely basis, ready to sell, and easy to track. Their advertising over the years has indelibly connected their corporate face to "doing good" in local and global communities.

So how will CCBCU manage to maintain their relationships with existing customers while expanding into such an extensive territory? Presumably, technology will facilitate not just the transition, but provide the foundation for a smooth, painless shift to the (much) larger corporate footprint. Proprietary franchise management software will direct their next steps, based on analysis of their new territory data.

A franchise offers significant benefits as a small business. The products/services are already developed; the processes of start-up and launch have been streamlined, and the artwork, imagery and labeling development has already been proven effective. Managing the business effectively comes down to knowing the territory and the target customer base.

Smart franchise owners elect to leave the product maintenance to their franchisor, in order to focus on building a strong relationship with their territorial customer base. The success of those local customers is vital to the success of the franchise, so identifying, tracking and modifying the data within that franchise territory is integral to the business success.

This comprehension of the base market is almost certainly why Coca-Cola has remained at the top of the franchiser list for so long - they respect and maintain a strong connection and quick responsiveness to the business of their local customers.

Regardless of the size of a franchise territory, proprietary software can contribute to business strategy by collecting, analyzing and strategizing franchise territory data.

Gaining this information assures franchise owners that they are responding appropriately and productively to their local market, as well as building a strong future for themselves.

The post Tracking the Market Within Your Franchise Territory appeared first on Predict and Prevent Business Failure.

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Workplace investigations are tough enough without the office grapevine gossiping about who did what to whom.

As such, it's standard practice to ask anyone who participates in an investigation to keep their mouths closed about what is discussed behind the closed doors.

A new ruling from the National Labor Relations (NLRB), however, suggests that a blanket "keep your mouth shut" mandate may be improper.

The Case behind the Concern

Like many investigators, the HR director for Banner Heath Systems asked workers involved in an in-house investigation to not talk about the investigation with their co-workers. However, James, one of the employees involved objected that this request violated the rights of employees to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with their coworkers. The National Labor Relations Board sided with James, saying that blanket requests for confidentiality during an investigation are overly broad and might have a chilling effect on appropriate - and legally protected - communications.

So what's an Investigator to do?

This is a new ruling (July 30, 2012) and time will tell what this means from a practical standpoint. However, the NLRB's ruling does offer some guidance. First of all, investigators can still ask witnesses to keep quiet as long as they have a legitimate business interest in making the request.

This business interest must extend beyond the usual "we're trying to protect the integrity of the investigation" reasoning.

So what business interest is legitimate?

It is one that arises from that particular investigation.

Perhaps, for example, the facts you've uncovered so far suggest that the accused might try to intimidate witnesses if s/he learns they will be talking to an investigator.

Perhaps you haven't had a chance to retrieve some valuable evidence and are concerned that, if the investigation leaks out, it might be destroyed before you have a chance to do so.

Or perhaps you have reason to believe (again, based on what you've uncovered) that a group of witnesses might get together and "get their stories straight" before you have a chance to interview them individually.

In addition, when you do feel requests for privacy are warranted, limit the scope as much as possible. For instance, ask that the witnesses not discuss the investigation as long as it's active or during work hours or on company property.

The Bottom Line

In every investigation, investigators walk a tightrope, trying to balance a number of competing interests. This recent ruling extends those competing interests to include the need to maintain confidentiality and employees' rights to discuss the conditions of their employment.

For now, the best solution during an investigation is to avoid blanket requests for privacy, articulate valid reasons for privacy requests when they occur, and make sure your requests are as limited as possible.

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In the QSR industry, you know that a great menu sells the product.

Your digital menu board starts with that marketing tradition and then builds upon it.

Your most effective first impression is the menus, store signage and displays. Your customers notice and pay attention.

8 Reasons for Getting That New Digital Menu Board System

  1. You have central control for all locations in a franchise.
  2. You can offer scheduling menu content by day part.
  3. Lets you update items and prices from an online platform.
  4. Makes it easy for you to add regulatory required information.
  5. Increase sales by cross selling and up selling.
  6. Eliminate unnecessary printing costs and delays.
  7. Offer stronger visuals to engage your customers better.
  8. Allows you to create new advertising revenue.

1. Central Control

For many QSR corporations and multi-unit franchisees, the scalability across multiple venues/locations is where the biggest edge lies. IDS Menus, one of the digital menu board creators in the franchise field, states that their solution is "...easy-to-use, web-based, and so versatile...it gives you more flexibility and options than you could imagine...including additional features such as a caching engine, TV tuner display, RSS feeds and more."

2. Day Part Menus

Many QSRs are focusing on multiple day parts to get higher overall revenue and to drive customers to come back for two or more meals a day. The digital menus are the perfect vehicle, because they can change at specified times throughout the day to display breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night menus. The only initial downside might be that consumers who may want to order lunch for breakfast or breakfast for dinner might get frustrated at not seeing all of their options. This can be circumvented by displaying a "Served All Day" section that does not switch out.

3. Update Prices Easily

Prices are pushed out from a central database on a schedule, eliminating labor costs associated with older signs.

4. Regulatory Information - Nutritional Data

Another notable advantage is that QSRs may now easily update their menus with the required nutritional information that will be required by the FDA.

5. Cross and Upsell

The boards also allow for better branding on food and beverages because they make it easier than ever to change out promotional messaging as needed. And the dynamic displays add real estate to what used to be static space. Digital menu displays have the ability to rotate on a set schedule, therefore displaying multiple messages to a momentarily captive audience, who literally have their wallets in hand.

6. Eliminate Costs

The presence of digital menu boards has grown substantially, as companies realize the revenue and cost saving advantages of moving away from traditional static displays, lowering printing costs and saving on employee labor.

7. Stronger Visuals

Digital sign displays allow location managers and franchisees to show not just text messages about food, but also pictures along with engaging videos. This technology is being touted industry-wide as the answer to streamline service and influence hungry patrons. It also saves time and money increasing speed to market.

8. New advertisement revenue potential

QSR managers also have the opportunity to use their digital menu screen for advertising other products to generate additional income. Restaurant vendors like Coke, Pepsi, wineries, etc. are all vying for the chance to advertise front and center on restaurant menus.

Conclusion

There are three types of digital menus: digital menu boards, digital menu kiosks and individual digital menus. Within these categories, the cost of a digital menu system varies considerably, but the choices that affect the final cost are very different. With a digital menu board, for example, the size and type of the digital hardware display has a significant impact on total cost.

With the restaurant business being such a competitive marketplace, having an edge over the next competitor makes the difference - seen in the form of return customer business and clearly, increase in sales volume. And from all the buzz, digital menu boards are the next frontier to help restaurants realize the immediate benefits of building awareness to the menu items they want to move.

Bringing awareness to new menu items is now possible with the click of a button. New products can be marketed in a more visually exciting display that is sure to catch the eye of waiting customers.

With the introduction of the digital menu board, QSRs have the opportunity to drive revenue by displaying the right message, to the right people, at the right time.

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