Recently in Sales Category

How Effective are Your Email Campaigns?

Converting those prospects into franchise sales appointments? Or could you use some help?

New templates, perhaps?

"Our own sales teams at LinkedIn swear by these: five core templates to suit different prospects, different situations, and different stages of the buyer journey"

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Personally, although I love LinkedIn's platform, I have serious doubts that I would ever respond to this type email, favourably respond.

I am more likely to swear at it, and not by it.

"Lost for words? Here's your starting template for inspiration:

Subject line:

[Prospect Name], Jessie recommended I reach out

Blah, blah and who cares what the message is. Because, in my experience, these types of messages never end well -- for me.

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And sure enough, if morbid curiousity drove me on, I find the following "offer", which is to do someone's homework for free.

Message:

Hi [Prospect Name],

Our mutual connection, [connection name], and I were talking recently about [hot topic]. She said you were an expert on this issue.

I'm writing an article about [hot topic] because it's relevant, timely, yet confusing to many of my customers. Can I include your perspective, [Prospect Name]?

Regards, [Your Name]

Sure, here is my perspective: Read and quote any of the 18 articles I have written on the topic. And no, I don't want coffee.

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(Note to self: disconnect from "Jessie" as soon as possible.)

So, if not LinkedIn templates, what is the powerful sales too you might be missing out on? Conversational talk -- because you would never use any of these words, or the sentences, in this template when talking face to face. So, don't use them in an email. You are welcome, no coffee required.

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Here is a good dialogue between two experience franchise salespersons - about both the value of scripts and active listening.

The two concepts go hand in hand, when used correctly.

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Christina Chambers:

I have always found that good franchise sales reps have the ability to truly listen to candidates, ask enough probing questions to unveil true buyer motivation early on, and use the candidate's own motivations as tools for the close.

You can find out pretty quickly during on-boarding and call shadowing in the first 30-60 days whether you have a sales rep that has this ability or willingness to learn, practice, and master.

If they don't, then it's highly doubtful they will really sell vs just taking an order. ...

Joe Caruso:

Christina Chambers writes about on-boarding and call shadowing in the first 30-60 days"

How did you do this? Was it a formal or informal process?

Christina Chambers:

Formal process. Starting with rep shadowing me or another experienced rep so they can hear how it's done, then shadow them.

To help give direction, I provide a "script" / a la carte list of probing questions that the rep can use as the conversation flows.

Also suggest not being in the same room while shadowing calls or you create anxiety ... conference in from a separate line on mute. Meet immediately afterwards, talk about the good and the not-so-good as teaching opportunities. Rinse and repeat!

Joe Caruso:

Hey Christina Chambers brilliant of you to explain how you were able to do this with your franchise sales team members. Especially like the tips on observing and keeping the salesperson comfortable, that's a good idea.

Christina Chambers:

Thanks Joe Caruso! Happy to share best practices L

Joe Caruso:

Christina Chambers what did you discover after doing this. Did you see any common patterns?

Christina Chambers:

Yes! The ones who had mediocre or poor sales results were those who fought the process and feared that asking deep questions would "turn off" a candidate before building rapport by becoming their "friend" first.

On the flip side, those that embraced active listening but relied heavily on a questioning script in a robotic manner also did not perform well.

A sales rep who can sell has to have that mix of process and finesse, with a heavy dose of overall brand knowledge.

For more on the thread, go to LinkedIn

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A franchisor needs to have an exclusive conversation with a prospective franchisee.

You don't get a sale until you have that exclusive conversation, dialogue or discussion. The sooner you get to the exclusive conversation, the shorter your sales cycle.

Many Vice-Presidents of Franchising know that their lead generation marketing mix and budget is not producing, but they don't why. Their sales cycles are longer and cost per acquisition is higher.

Some Franchisors rely too heavily on franchise web portals for leads. It is a mistake for capital intensive franchises to use web portals for prospecting. These franchisors need to rebalance their marketing budgets by including a significant portion for outbound marketing.

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Why Web Portals Don't Work for Capital Intensive Franchises- The Web Portal is a Numbers Game

Franchise web portals are a popular way for franchisors to generate inquiries that hopefully turn into leads.

The VP of Franchising uses a web portal because he or she believes sales is just a numbers game. More inquiries turn into more leads and therefore more sales. This is simply not true.

Wasteful spending on franchise portals shows this.

The web portals do not create the necessary exclusivity.

A capital intensive franchisor will take time and effort to construct a compelling landing page which cuts through the clutter of other franchise concepts for sale on the web portal.

They take advantage of the web portal's filtering to ensure the most qualified candidates inquire.

They train their sales team to promptly follow up by telephone and email all the referred inquiries.

Suppose that the franchisor is successful in creating a compelling landing page and messaging. The most qualified candidate, talented with capital, takes the time to accurately complete the web portal inquiry form.

Now that's fantastic right? No.

Not so fast, something else happens. The inquiry from the prospect with talent and capital gets intercepted. Intercepted you ask, how and by whom? By the franchise web portal.

That valuable candidate who you attracted is also attractive to your competitors. The web portal operator knows that and will sell or deliver your candidate to your competitors.

One way this works is the following. The candidate finishes the portal's inquiry form qualifying process, and then gets a pop-up-box with suggestions for other franchise investments for them to consider and automatically submit their information to.

Now it's off to the races and the first franchisor to move the candidate from the digital world to the physical world where one-on-one over the telephone a franchisor can build a relationship and then the sale.

Seems a little unfair that you won the candidate's attention for your concept only to lose out to some other franchisor who got them on the telephone first.

Closed deals are a result of exclusive conversations with prospects.

Smart Franchisors don't send their best leads to their competitors.

(If you liked this, you will want to know more about prospecting: Using LinkedIn to Sell Franchises -a Course from Franchise-Info

A no cost course with 13 lectures delivered to you directly by email)

Print leads were different from internet leads.

It used to be that a print lead would phone you after seeing your print ad.

While on the phone with the prospective purchaser, you had to qualify them financially. You also had to separate pretenders from the contenders. In restaurant franchising, the pretenders would often want to know if we would come and "look at their site". "Well, not until we are in the site selection phase - which happens after you sign the franchise agreement."

Prospects were easier to qualify because they phoned you.

But over the last ten or eleven years, internet leads have replaced print leads.

Now, qualifying those leads is harder for two reasons:

1. There many more internet leads.

2. It is very hard to get the internet lead on the phone.

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I have spent many years reviewing a franchise sales programs - from the time when all the leads were print to now, when most of the leads are digital.

And, I have always found the same thing. Leads can be sorted or segmented into three groups: Cannot Buy, Ready to Buy & Not Ready to Buy, Yet.

Internet leads are much harder segment because it takes so much time to get in contact with the lead.

Mike and I developed some ad hoc systems to handle this problem, but we weren't really happy with this solutions performed. Either, like telephone verification, they were too costly or they did not sort the groups properly.

Early in 2015, we started experimenting with an entirely new system - one that relied upon some simple autoresponder rules.

We can classify a lead into: cannot buy, ready to buy, or not ready to buy, yet based on how the lead would respond to our messaging sequence.

Best of all, it was a great combination of human verification & autoresponder technology.

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We are confident that we can help you sort out your franchise lead problems.

If this sounds like your franchising story & you want some help solving your problems call me at 443.502.2636 or email me [email protected]

The show Shark Tank, where entrepreneurs pitch investors for capital, has some great business lessons . . .

1) If you get what you ask for, take it. Mark Cuban offered one entrepreneur exactly what he requested. The entrepreneur then asked for more and lost the deal. No one likes to do business with someone who gets what he requests and then asks for more; it's a sign of what's to come in the relationship.

2) Networks matter. The Shark Tank investors bring huge value in their networks. Daymond John got the sticker guys distribution in Best Buy as well as retail distribution for Nubrella. Lori Greiner is able to help the businesses she invests in get on QVC. When you're looking for investors understand their networks and more importantly if they're willing to leverage them for you. Ask about this before you sign a deal. Sometimes a deal with less lucrative financial terms is better if it brings the right network to the table.

3) Do your homework. When Mark Cuban negotiates and tells you a deal is final, he means it. I've seen enough episodes to know this, so I cringe when an entrepreneur tries to negotiate further and loses a deal entirely. You won't have the benefit of seeing most people you'll negotiate with on TV in advance, but you can still do plenty of due diligence -- like researching their past deals and talking to their business partners.

The most successful entrepreneurs also know enough about the Sharks to customize their pitch. They tell each one why he or she should personally be interested in the business.

4) Get an advisory board. Getting a Shark to invest in your company is one way to get partners with experience and a network, but not everyone can be on Shark Tank. Creating a strong advisory board can also increase your opportunities; for a small amount of equity you can build a great board. I've found that retired executives with extensive networks are often eager to get back in the game and make tremendous advisory board members.

5) Know your absolute bottom going into a negotiation. One entrepreneur was offered a deal and needed to think about it. By the time she decided to move forward, the Sharks had talked among themselves and reduced their offer. If she knew her absolute bottom going into the show, she could have made a decision on the spot and had a better deal.

Too many entrepreneurs are unsure of what they'd accept and their hesitancy gets them worse deals. Also, if you don't know the lowest offer you'd accept, you could commit to something you'd regret later. Of course, there may be exceptions if unexpected elements come into play, which sometimes happens on Shark Tank.

6) Solve your own problems. The most successful founders built companies to solve problems they faced. They're building for a market they understand and are passionate about. A couple examples are Travis Perry who developed ChordBuddy to help his daughter learn to play the guitar and Eric Corti who invented the Wine Balloon to better preserve wine after he and his wife opened a bottle.

Of course, the problem you're solving has to address a sizable market. No Sharks wanted to invest in Ledge Pillow because they didn't think the market was big enough.

7) Investors buy into people as much as ideas. The Sharks get most excited about a passionate, likeable entrepreneur. Be honest. If that's not you, and you need investors, consider finding a partner who fills this role.

8) Do a deal that works for everyone. The Sharks often say they won't invest in something because they don't have the right background or connections to help the business. If you're looking for investors, try to find those that can help you by serving as more than just a bank. In any deal, whether it's related to VC or not, make sure both sides provide value. You're probably going to do more deals in the future, and a one sided deal won't be good for your reputation.

9) Listen. The Shark Tank investors offer great advice when they turn people down. If you're told "no" don't be so displeased that you can't listen to the rationale. And, if they don't tell you why, ask so you can leverage that advice moving forward. This is a chance for insight from experts.

10) Don't respond to people you're pitching with disdain or sarcasm - even if they say something nasty. The people who do, tend not to get deals. How you act in a pitch will shape what potential partners think it would be like to work with you. In fact, maybe they're pushing you just to see how you'll react under pressure.

11) If you can't sell, learn to. This lesson is for everyone. Even if you're in a large company, you need to sell your ideas and yourself to get ahead. In the case of investors, Sharks are looking for people who can sell. And, business valuations are significantly higher when someone has revenue. Do whatever you can to get sales prior to approaching investors. Mark Cuban stresses that selling is one of the most important skills for entrepreneurs in his great book, How to Win at the Sport of Business.

12) Prepare. I've seen entrepreneurs on the show who don't know their financials or seem to freeze up in the middle of their pitch. When you're going to a meeting or pitch, practice enough that you can talk about your business even in stressful circumstances and please know your financials. The most successful people are usually over prepared. This is something Barbara Corcoran mentions in her excellent book, Shark Tales: How I turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business.

13) Demonstrate your commitment. Investors want to see that you've taken a risk - investing your money and time -- showing that you believe in your business. Don't ask for their money if you haven't invested yours.

14) Patents are extremely valuable. A worthwhile investment if you have something unique.

15) Have options. You can almost always tell when someone believes they have no other options. Those entrepreneurs get a worse deal than they'd otherwise receive. Whether you're selling a stake in your company or buying a car, you need alternatives to get the best deal. One alternative is knowing at what point you'll say "no."

16) Ask, "Are there any other offers on the table?" Some people have gotten much better offers when they ask this rather than responding to the offer that was given. Like anything, the more competition you can create for your business, the better deal you'll get.

17) Don't quibble over small numbers. I've seen deals get lost because someone is dickering over 1%. Don't do it.

18) Ask for something valuable . . . besides money. Steve Gadlin and Mark Cuban were negotiating an investment in Steve's business, I Want to Draw a Cat for You. When the financial terms were on the table, Steve asked Mark if he'd draw and sign every 1000th cat drawing. Mark said "yes." It was easy for Mark to say "yes," and it will add value to Steve's business. Look for opportunities where the other side can provide additional value without any out of pocket expense.

19) The right partner offers more than financial terms. There are some great businesses that are giving up huge chunks of equity for a seemingly small amount of money. Kevin O'Leary bought into Talbott Tea at what seemed like a great valuation for him, but within a short period of time he had the business packaged up and sold to Jamba Juice. When you do a deal with a Shark you're giving up more than you'd offer someone else, because they can exponentially grow your business faster.

20) Don't tell potential investors they're wrong. When you tell Sharks they're wrong - especially in front of other people (like the national TV audience of Shark Tank) they will naturally stop listening to you. No one wants to be told they're wrong in front of other people. Instead, say, "I think that . . ." or "What do you think about looking at it like. . . ." How you defend your position makes a difference.

21) If someone asks you to sell him something, ask, "Why do you want it?" Daymond John challenged an entrepreneur to sell him a pen. The guy did a good job, but I think he could have done better. Instead of jumping right into selling the pen, he could have asked Daymond what he was looking for in a pen and customized the pitch.

22) Find investors who are passionate about your business. The Sharks gravitate not only to the businesses they like but the ones that they're passionate about. Kevin O'Leary invested in the tea company (loves tea); Daymond John in the trash can cover company (he said he had just lost his own garbage can cover); and Robert Herjavec in the guitar learning company (he has a lifelong dream to learn guitar). Those entrepreneurs were solving problems that the VCs personally experienced. Do research to find partners passionate about what you do. You'll have a higher likelihood of making a deal.

23) More Sharks are better than one. Every investor will bring a different network and expertise to the table. Jewelry company M3 Girl Designs, founded by Maddie Bradshaw when she was 10, was offered $300K from Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban. Maddie said she'd take the deal if they'd let Robert Herjavec in as well. She got the same financial deal with one additional investor. See if you can increase the parties who have a stake in your business.

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It's that time of year again. Everyone's busy, stressed out and short of time. It can be easy to forget to thank folks. It shouldn't be. However, sadly, it is.

We can usually remember to thank our customers. And we probably don't have any trouble thanking family. However there is a group of folks that are often left out of the "thank you" pile.

And that would be our co-workers. The folks we spend most of the day with side-by-side. In the spirit of the holidays, we at Telephone Doctor, dedicate this column to our inside customers. The folks that are thought of as our 'home away from home' family. Sure, we argue and disagree with co-workers just like our family. And that's OK, because most of us have a family environment in our office. We understand that. It's our office family. 

With this in mind, our column goes to our co-workers, our internal customers, this month.

1. Understand Your Role - Each employee should know the mission of their organization and the role they play. Those of us who are in a small department of a large company can often times miss the big picture. If you don't know the mission of your company, ask for it. Keep it at your desk. It will help you with the big picture. You may start to understand the 'why' of the things you're asked to do sometimes and 'why' internal customer service is everyone's responsibility from president to maintenance. If management isn't doing their part, often times the entire customer service program will go out the window. We don't want double standards. Remember it starts at the top! 

2. Respect Employee Differences - Cub fan? Cardinal fan? Republican? Democrat? Rock music, classical, whatever. Just because we don't agree with someone doesn't make us right. Differences are crucial for an organization. Differences are key to understanding people. If everyone thought the same way, most of us wouldn't be needed. It's not healthy to argue just because a co-worker isn't doing it the way you would or thinking the way you do. Learn to respect the differences. That's why we have chocolate and vanilla ice cream. 

3. Recognize the Personal Space of Others - Simply put, this boils down to the golden rule. Those who can work with a radio playing music may disturb others around them who aren't able to concentrate. Loud voices around someone who's on the phone with an external customer can be annoying also. If you're working in a cubical or sharing an office or area, we need to recognize there are others around you. Be sensitive to their wishes, as you would hope they would be to yours. 

4. Work to Resolve Conflicts - Who hasn't had unkind words with another employee? Or perhaps you and a co-worker strongly disagree on a project or idea. Not trying to make it work can only lead to more stress and frustration. Learn to work it out (notice I didn't say 'try' and work it out) even if you need to call in a professional in the area. Normally someone from HR or another trusted employee can usually be of help on conflict resolutions. 

5. Show Appreciation - We saved this for last because being appreciated, showing you care with a genuine 'thank you". It can be a note, a phone call or just stopping by an office and letting someone know they did a great job. This makes a huge difference in our internal relationships. There are surveys upon surveys that show how much a genuine pat on the back of appreciation is thought of as a way of special compensation.

What the franchise world is saying about Nancy's annual conference programs:

Relevant • FUN • Entertaining • Engaging • Spontaneous • Real • Unforgettable

For a complimentary demo call 314.291.1012, email [email protected] or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

Join these (and many more) successful franchise clients: Philly Pretzel, CarStar, Big O Tires, Minuteman Press International, NOVUS Glass

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"Listening is related to influence, such that those who are better listeners are more influential," says a 2012 Columbia Business School research study, LISTENING AND ORGANIZATIONAL INFLUENCE, CLICK HERE.

The study goes on to suggest that, "How well organizational members listen is positively associated with their tendencies to influence others, over and above how well they engage in expressive communications."

Listening is one of the most important, yet under developed skills, necessary for success in our personal and professional lives. However, if we're going to be honest, most of us take listening for granted and we aren't very good at it. Unfortunately, our schools don't recognize the significance of this reality. In addition, for those of you who are parents, when was the last time you thought your kids were listening to you, much less in school?

My friend and colleague, Executive Coach, Henry (Chip) Scholz, reminds me that Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Ford and Chrysler said more than thirty years ago that, "Business people need to listen at least as much as they talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions."

Iacocca also said, "I only wish that I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen." The reality is that most schools don't offer classes nor teach listening skills.

Bernard T. Ferrari, dean of The Johns Hopkins University's Carey Business School and accomplished corporate strategist and management consultant to Fortune 50 companies, says in his book Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All, that, "

Power listening-the art of probing and challenging the information garnered from others to improve its quality and quantity--is the key to building a knowledge base that generates fresh insights." What's wrong with this picture?

Many years ago while working for AT&T in Michigan, I hired Dr. Lyman Steil, then Chairman of the communication department at University of Minnesota and currently Chairman & CEO, Communication Development, Inc & International Listening Leadership, to help us improve the listening skills of mid-level managers and above.

This three-day (required) class became part of the catalyst for measuring AT&T's customer satisfaction (from the customer's perspective), rather than an internally created metric. Ironically, what was once thought of as the holy grail of business, customer service, has been displaced in today's marketplace by the importance of the customer's experience.

Kathy Doering, President of Ann Michaels & Associates, Ltd., one of the most sophisticated mystery shopping organizations in the U.S., understands the benefits of listening, more than most.

She says, "Your front line employees are an often untapped source of innovative ideas and information on what customers think about doing business with you. Lead by example-show them the of value good listening skills. Mentor those who need help in this area and reinforce it, then, watch your business prosper."

In the article "Listening and interpersonal influence," in the Journal of Research in Personality (2012), Author(s): Daniel Ames, Joel Brockner & Lily Benjamin said that, "The gold standard of good listening is not measured by how quiet you are, it's about doing things to let the other person know that you are seriously considering what he has to say:

"We might also do well to remember that the most highly crafted presentation in the world is useless, if no one is listening.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

How to Qualify the Capital Intensive Candidate

Back in the 1990's, when "inbound marketing" was once again in fashion, I was working development for a large QSR brand.

Our prospective franchisees or candidates -we never referred to them as "leads"- called us on a land line. Sometimes, they would even fax us.

You must imagine this: A candidate needed to meet or exceed a net worth of $1 million to qualify for our development. I had to figure out whether they would qualify - over the phone.

Caller-id was no more revealing then than an email address is today. You could work for weeks with what turned out to be great candidate - except that they could not meet the financial qualifications.

What I learned, quickly enough, was to use a simple method to get people to truthfully reveal whether they were qualified or not. All over the telephone, using no other source of information.

The Secret Technique

I can reveal this method to you today - it still works.

You ask the on the phone - "Do you have a net worth that meets or exceeds our financial requirements?" at the exact right time in the sale process - after they have raised their hands and asked to go forward. People will truthfully reveal their financial qualifications - if your sales process is thoughtful.

(We actually had a terrific candidate who wasn't financially qualified. But we were able to match his talent with other capital - another story for another time. He is now a very successful multi-unit franchisee and a highly respected franchisee leader.)

The secret technique was waiting for, what my business partner Michael Webster calls, the Signal of Commitment. Only after I heard the right signals, could I ask for and get a truthful revelation of their financial qualifications.

Why Websites Don't Work

Contrast our ability to listen to a real human asking real questions about the business opportunity to what we ask for on websites.

Here is a representative application to a capital intensive franchise.

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You have already asked the candidate whether they were qualified - using a form on the internet!

How many worthless inquiries is this going to produce? Too many - but too few leads.

Your application process lacks grace.

You don't get the deal done with someone who is only committed to filling out a form on a website.

You don't get people to faithfully reveal their finances to a computer screen. (And if they do, they are completely oblivious to the costs of privacy.)

Summary

No, the only way to do capital intensive franchising is using old fashion technology - listening, waiting the signal and then asking for the commitment.

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)

Why You Have Bad Customers

Bad customers are everywhere. Showing up with coupons, but no cash. Wanting written estimates so they can price shop elsewhere. Bad customers make "frugal" a four letter word.

Even loyal and good customers are behaving badly -- how did it get so bad? Is it just this economy or has something else gone wrong?

Imagine that you sell and install "parts". You could sell auto parts, or you could sell specialized advice based on standard legal documents as an attorney or insurance broker.

Any business that has a specialized service component bundled with a standard good is a "parts" business. And most of us in North America and Europe are in this type of "parts" business.

Imagine your perfect "parts" customer. Call her "Maria". Why is Maria ideal? She is the perfect customer because;

  • She showed up for her regular appointments;
  • She accepted your service upgrades without hesitation, and;
  • She didn't haggle over the price of "parts" and service.

was good. For you and Maria.

Now, however, the "parts" business is getting hard.

On one hand, there are after market stores which will sell "replacement parts", even specialized IP is not immune to being sold as a "part". With their large, or on demand inventory, they can undercut you on the price of a "part".

On the other hand, is the rise of the "do it yourself mechanic", an unregulated body of individuals mimicking specialized work. The DIY crowd can "install parts" cheaper than you, given the right diagnostic.

/

And now, Maria is getting wise. She shows up, more often than not, asking only for a written diagnosis of her problem. Or she wants you to install "parts" she has bought from a competitor.

Maria has become a bottom feeder. Soon, you will only see her when, in desperation, you put out another ill conceived marketing offer - buy one and get one free, or a BOGO.

You don't want to turn down business. But, you would like to fire Maria. Except, so many of your customers are starting to look a lot like Maria.

One response is tempting. You can raise prices and drive out the bottom feeders. This response risks alienating your good customers - turning them into "Marias". You cannot afford that solution.

What do you do with a problem like Maria?

What You Need is a A Bad Customer Detector

No, what you want is a permanent or real solution- a Maria detector if you will.

Your strategic problem is this. You are being asked to give away confidential information - a diagnostic scan, a specialized legal opinion or insurance solution- to a user that is not yet committed as a customer.The user may thank-you for your valuable information and take it without paying.

You may respond by charging something for this confidential information. And, this may work for a short period of time -but it may also turn more of your loyal customers into price conscious shoppers - on the slippery slope to being a Maria.

So, what you need is a way to detect Bad Customers.

How Would This Work? Create A Specialized Bad Customer Training Exercise

If you knew a user was going to turn out to be a Maria, your staff could gently turn her request for confidential information down. Staff would explain that it is policy to only give away confidential information to proven and loyal customers.

How could you get a Bad Customer detector? How could you train your staff to play "Spot the Maria Game"- staff that were top notch Maria detectors? How much would you be willing to pay get train your staff with the Bad Customer detector?

(The "Spot the Maria" is a fairly simple variant of a well known negotiation training exercise. The logic of this strategy can be found by googling "deterrence" or "sub-perfect Nash equilibrium". But, you don't need to know why this games has attracted the attention of theorists; you just need to know that there is training exercise, which could be customized for your unique problem.)

Who Also Uses Negotiation Role Playing?

, there are cheaper solutions - the custom solution should prove to expensive. There are many excellent providers of standard negotiation training exercises. Most of these providers or their affiliates can address standard negotiation exercises and provide training that sticks to your staff.

Two top notch Universities are: Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management Dispute Resolution Research Center, and Harvard's Program on Negotiation, each which provide standard negotiation exercises, which you can review on line for free. Each has its own Linkedin Group, DRRC Linkedin Group, and PON Linkedin Group.

DRR and PON have free newsletters, seminars and useful resources. They also have for profit training seminars.

Here is a partial list of the DRCC and PON testimonials:

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Did you like this? Why not click here and subscribe to Webster's Strategic Stories.

Yes, our Telephone Doctor customer service and communication training covers this as well.

This subject gets covered a lot; however, we want to reiterate some key points on both email and live chat.

Points that will make life easier for those who use these methods of communication.

Live Chat

If your company is using live chat online, here are a few tips that will help you and the person on the other end.

A Telephone Doctor survey shows a live chat conversation will end up in a phone call nearly 50% of the time. What does that say to you? Well, it says to me, the conversation didn't go the right way. More help was needed. That's because the written word can often be mistaken for something it wasn't meant to be.

That being said, as many of you recall, Telephone Doctor started out as experts in telephone skills. As the other touch points of communication came along, we fine tuned our tips, skills, and techniques to help email, voice mail, snail mail, fax and face-to-face. (Texting is left out for now, because it's not in the mainstream just yet. Certainly there may be clients who prefer a text, but in the office/business world it's not "there" quite yet.)

Back to the live chat line. For those not familiar with live chat, simply put, it's servicing and communicating with customers, one-on-one, via a web-based site online. It's email in real time. In reading some of the printed live chats from clients and customers it was very clear to me, the biggest problem was: the personality is missing.

It appears the company person goes directly into a "robot mode." Yes. No. And a lot of one and two word answers. No smiley faces. Nothing that says, "Hey, I'm human" or "I care."

While we're not looking for answers that rival Gone with the Wind, we do know that three words make a sentence. We also know one word answers are considered rude and cold.

We found another BIG concern on live chat and email are the words many of us confuse day after day. Which is your albatross?

Here they are:

You're - Your

There - Their - They're

Grateful - Greatful

To - Too - Two

Hear - Here

Seamless - Seemless

Know - No - Now

Effect - Affect

When to use I vs. me

The list goes on and on. I'm about to give you the absolute best answer for never making these mistakes again. Ever!

WHEN IN DOUBT - LEAVE IT OUT!

If you're writing an email or doing live chat and aren't sure which 'word' is correct, use a totally different word.

Example. I found myself mixing up 'greatful' and "grateful'. As in: "It was a great party. Thank you" and "I am very grateful for this opportunity." So rather than worry if I used the right word or not, now I say, "It was a fabulous party. And I am so appreciative for this opportunity."

Remember, 'when in doubt, leave it out.' While we often don't think others will mind these errors, they do. They wonder about our credibility; our intelligence; our thoughtfulness.

If you're using live chat, think of the person you're communicating with as sitting right across the desk from you and talk with them. Not down to them.

Email

Do you know the top 5 email frustrations? Here they are:

1. Poor spelling and grammar

2. Unrelated subject lines

3. Forwarding unrelated messages (Ouch that can be bad!)

4. All caps. (It's OK when you're excited in a positive way; not necessary other times.)

5. Reply to all when not necessary and

5A. Messages that are way too long

We are all aware we could probably name five more offenses and frustrations. However, these top five keep coming up to the top time and time again. We believe they are the best of the worst. Keep them in mind as you email.

Ok, I promised this wouldn't be a long article. Hope you enjoyed. Love to hear from you on this or any topic you'd like to hear about.

# # #

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

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Most business owners know that customers will walk - take their business elsewhere if they're not treated as they'd like to be. But how does a business owner find out what the customer really likes or dislikes?

Well, as the Telephone Doctor, your customers have told us what they won't tell you. Here are TEN things only your best friend will tell you. (By the way, that would be us...The Telephone Doctor.)

Dear Telephone Doctor -

I'm not a person to be confrontational and cause a scene. However, there are several things that bother me when I call or walk into an establishment. If you pass this on to management, it couldn't hurt and probably would help. Thank you.

Dear Owner/Manager:

  1. Nobody greeted me when I walked into your store. No one said, "Hello," no one asked if they could help me, and no one said goodbye when I walked out. Well, at least I wasn't any trouble.
  2. Your sales staff looked tired. Yea, they did. Otherwise why wouldn't they greet me with a big smile and some enthusiasm? It didn't look like they even wanted me in the place.
  3. I bought a lot of stuff. I couldn't believe no one said, "Thank you." No one told me to enjoy my purchase. I did get a luke warm "Have a nice day." But it was said so routinely, it didn't mean anything to me.
  4. When I phoned for some information, my call was treated as an annoyance. I sensed very little desire to be of any real help. Know what I did then? I called a few more places until I found one who sounded as though they wanted my order.
  5. Whoever answered your phone never identified themselves. I happen to like to know who I'm talking with and when I don't, it hurts any trust I might give your company.
  6. During the phone call, the voice of whoever answered sounded aggressive and challenging. I didn't feel very welcomed.
  7. When I walked in, all your employees were talking and laughing amongst themselves and ignored me until I asked a question.
  8. There was no management around. Remember the old saying "when the boss is away, the mice will play." Guess what? They do!
  9. When I told your staff about my problem, which was important to me, no one sympathized with me. It was 'business as usual' for them.
  10. Everyone looked angry. No one was smiling. Remember, sometimes it's the things you 'don't do' that make me want to go elsewhere.

# # #

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

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The other night I had dinner at a favorite restaurant. Unfortunately, a bad customer service experience tainted the evening. The good news is that this event created a learning opportunity.

By the way, you don't have to be in the restaurant business to appreciate and learn from this story. As I take you through the story and the lessons we can take away from it, think about how they apply to your business.

On that evening I ordered the pasta dish that I've been ordering for years. It came out wrong. It had peas in it. Not just a few peas, but loaded with peas.

And I hate peas.

I picked up the menu and confirmed that I hadn't misread the description. Nowhere did it say peas. I motioned the server over and told her about the problem.

She had a great attitude and was happily going to take care of the situation.

But, just about then, the manager who had been observing, stepped in. I had never seen this manager before. He didn't apologize, and instead told me that they have two chefs and that this one likes to put peas in the pasta dishes. He said that most people find that the peas are a pleasant surprise.

Ah, that explains it. A pleasant surprise - not for me! And I nicely told him so. He just stared at me. I could tell how uncomfortable the server was at this interaction. She wanted to do something, but the manger had taken over, and he was blowing it.

Eventually, the manger asked if I would like to get a different pasta entree. I asked if they could make the same dish without the peas, as was on the menu. He finally took the dish away.

Several lessons come out of this incident:

  1. The server was handling things just fine. The manger got in the way of her taking care of me.
  2. The manager didn't respond with the same enthusiastic attitude of taking care of me, the way the server did. He didn't even apologize. Managers should set examples - good examples.
  3. The manager should have immediately taken the dish away. If you can get a problem out of the customer's sight, do it quickly. Once the dish has been taken away, then launch into recovery mode.
  4. The manager made an excuse rather than give an explanation. There is a fine line between excuses and explanations. An explanation comes with an apology and doesn't come across as defensive or aggressive.
  5. The manager wasn't listening to me. Why would he call the peas a pleasant surprise when he knew I didn't want them in the pasta? Because, he was defending the decision of his chef to change the ingredients. (Read that as changing a process if you aren't in the restaurant business.)
  6. Finally, the incident broke the consistency of prior experiences, which now leads to a lack of confidence. The next time I order this pasta dish I'm going to have to ask if it has peas, because you never know who's cooking in the back. Will it be the chef that likes to "pleasantly surprise" people with ingredients that aren't listed on the menu or the chef that follows the recipes I love - the ones that make me want to come back again and again.

The restaurant is great, and I'm going back, because I know this is an isolated incident. But, what if this was my first or second time at this restaurant? Given all of the good places there are to eat, would I want to spend my hard-earned money at a restaurant, or with any type of business, that makes mistakes?

My friend Tom Baldwin, former CEO of Morton's Steakhouse says, "Great service is mistakes handled well." That's great advice for any business.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or http://www.hyken.com.

For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)

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Language underlies almost all other components of the customer experience. Yet, your company has probably given more thought to the language it uses in marketing campaigns than to the words employees use when having conversations face-to-face with customers.

That's a mistake, because customers don't generally get their make-or-break impressions of your company from high-minded branding exercises. They get them primarily from day-to-day conversations with you. And those are the impressions they spread to others.

If you haven't given much thought to selecting your company language--what your staff, signage, emails, voicemails, and web-based autoresponders should say, and should never say, to customers--it's time to do it now.

No brand is complete until a brand-appropriate style of speaking with customers is in place at all levels of the enterprise.

Which is why, whether I'm consulting with a law firm on building a client service initiative, speaking to a hospitality audience on building guest loyalty, or assisting a hospital in improving customer service for its patients, one of the first pieces of work I suggest we do together is focus on achieving a consistent style of service speech.

Develop a language lexicon.

A distinctive and consistent companywide style of service speech won't happen on its own. You'll need social engineering: that is, systematic training of employees.

Imagine, for example, that you've selected ten promising salespeople for your new high-end jewelry boutique.

You've provided them with uniforms and stylish haircuts and encouraged them to become your own brand's versions of a Mr. or Ms. Cartier, starting on opening day.

But they'll still speak with customers much the way they speak in their own homes: that is, until you've trained them in a different language style.

Happily, ''engineering'' a company-wide style of speech can be a positive, collaborative experience. If you approach this correctly, you won't need to put a gag on anybody or twist any arms.

Once everybody in an organization understands the reasons for language guidelines, it becomes a challenge, not a hindrance. The improved customer reactions and collaborative pride of mission are rewarding. As a consequence, it can be a relatively easy sell companywide.

What should be in your language lexicon?

Here, for example, are some good/bad language choices:


Bad: ''You owe . . .''
Good: ''Our records show a balance of . . .''

Bad: ''You need to . . .'' (This makes some customers think: ''I don't
need to do jack, buddy--I'm your customer!'')
Good: ''We find it usually works best when . . .''

Bad: ''Please hold.''
Good: ''May I briefly place you on hold?'' (and then actually listen
to the caller's answer)

The specifics of the lexicon you develop will vary depending on industry, clientele, and location. A cheerful ''No worries!'' sounds fine coming from the clerk at a Bose audio store in Portland (an informal business in an informal town) but bizarre if spoken by the concierge at the Four Seasons in Milan.

An alternative approach:

If this ''Say This While Avoiding That'' approach strikes you as too prescriptive
(or too much work), if you don't want to develop scripted phrases and specific
word choices for your employees, at least consider developing a brief ''Negative Lexicon.'' A Negative Lexicon is just a list of crucial language Thou Shalt Nots.

The Negative Lexicon is the Danny Meyer approach, the one used by that great New York restaurateur and master of hospitality. Meyer feels uncomfortable giving his staff a list of what to say, but he doesn't hesitate to specifically ban phrases that grate on his ears (''Are we still working on the lamb?'').

A Negative Lexicon can be kept short, sweet, and easy to learn. Of course, new problematic words and phrases are sure to crop up as time moves on.

Ideally, you'll update your Negative Lexicon as frequently as Wired magazine updates its ''Jargon Watch'' column.

P.S. For more on language engineering, learn about the Five Words You Can Never Say To A Customer

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All rights reserved, expressly overriding the creative commons license.

"Would you like fries with that?" is a phrase you've probably heard a million times over. Once upon a time, that was considered the easiest, most effective cross selling opportunity.

Times have changed - menu offerings have expanded, and customers have become more health and money conscious. Cross selling and upselling opportunities have evolved, and training employees to handle this effectively can mean a world of difference in your bottom line.

Cross selling and upselling doesn't come naturally to some people, but if done in the right manner, it can become a comfortable process for staff.

Below are some tips to use when training staff to consistently upsell and cross sell to customers.

Don't do it for the sake of doing it: incorporating a standard cross sell to a cashier's order taking process won't work - it will sound mechanical instead of helpful.

Telling an employee to always ask, "Would you like fries with that?" no matter what the order will turn people off. Offering additional items or larger sizes in an attempt to meet the customer's needs will be way more effective in encouraging additional sales.

Value selling- make the customer see the value in a cross sell item, while letting them know their business is appreciated. Panera Bread does a great job with this.

When a customer orders a meal, the employee lets them know that because they did so, they are eligible to purchase any bakery item in the case for only $.99. It gets the customer thinking about dessert and looking at the bakery case.

Say it with pictures- a picture says a thousand words. Make sure you have visually appealing signage that is prominent on the menu board or at the speaker at the drive thru of high profit items.

People are drawn to visuals, and may be more likely to purchase these items, especially when the drive-thru employee starts off the conversation by asking if they'd like to try the promotional item.

If value meals show a high profit margin, feature images of value meals prominently - psychologically, the customer will perceive this as the item to order, even if that was not what they originally intended to purchase.

Show the savings- one way to resurrect the "would you like fries with that" mantra is to explain why you're suggesting that.

If a customer orders a sandwich and beverage, the cashier can easily say, "if you'd like to add a side to that, it's only an additional $.99 and you'll save $1.25 if you purchase it as a meal."

Be specific and enthusiastic- Instead of asking, "Would you like a drink with that?" offer specific beverages as suggestions. It could sound something like, "If you'd like to add a drink to your order, we have a great new Smoothie - you can choose Strawberry, Raspberry, or a Hawaiian blend.

I tried one and they are really good! They're on special for only $1.99 with any order."

Psychological upsell- this is a unique opportunity that can work wonders with upselling. When customers are placing orders for items that have more than one size, but they don't specify a size, training your employees to confidently suggest the larger size by saying, "That will be the eight piece order of mozzarella sticks, right?" while nodding their head in confirmation.

This can encourage a larger purchase, even if the customer only intended on purchasing the four piece order.

Know the menu- Employees need to listen to the customer orders and make their suggestions based on that, not what is "easy" to suggest.

You don't want to suggest a triple chocolate brownie pie to someone who just ordered a low calorie salad. Instead, focus on other healthy, low calorie items as a suggestion.

Indecision can increase sales- if a customer is unsure of what to order, this is a great opportunity! Teach employees which items or combination of items yield the highest profit margin so they can suggest those to the undecided customer. If customers are unsure what to order, they will often times take the employee's suggestions.

They are usually pressed for time and don't want to hold up the line by reading the entire menu board.

While the value of these additional sales is a known fact, seeing the actual impact can drive home the point even more of why this is so important.

Consistency is key. No matter which of the methods above are used, an attempt to either upsell or cross sell should be done during each and every transaction. If you're thinking that your employees do this all the time, just because you've trained them over and over on this matter, you may be surprised.

With many of our mystery shopping clients, including those in this industry, they are often times very surprised to find that the question on their mystery shopping program pertaining to this issue is only answered "yes" at 50% of the time!

Train your staff, remind often, and reward when effective techniques are used.

The tips are rather subtle methods to use so that it doesn't seem like a sales pitch. It will also give value to your customer's visit - they will feel as though the employee wants them to have the best experience possible.

This may not only lead to increased revenue, but customer retention and repeat business.

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We run a pretty good sales team at Telephone Doctor. Several team members have been with us over 15 - 20 years. One even longer. Some have left after 3 weeks. My guess is those that have left, left due to one of these 'reasons.' Actually it's not a guess. One of these reasons is definitely why they left.

Like all lists, it's not final. There are other reasons, however, I believe you'll agree this is a good start. Share with your sales team.

    1. They don't practice their skills
    2. They're not flexible
    3. They're not a team player
    4. They don't use their sense of humor
    5. They don't use their imagination
    6. They don't listen to management
    7. They make no effort
    8. They get too comfortable, too fast
    9. They interrupt too often
    10. They don't ask enough open-ended questions
    11. They make too many assumptions
    12. They're not sales minded in all areas
    13. They're not able to handle corrective criticism
    14. They don't have enough enthusiasm
    15. They have poor time management skills
    16. They don't use their Saturday night personality during the week
    17. They don't have a "Whatever It Takes" mentality
    18. They lose their focus
    19. They're not able to deal with personality conflicts
    20. They don't truly believe in their product
    21. They don't understand rapport building
    22. They don't understand ongoing customer service
    23. They have too many unqualified leads
    24. They lack confidence
    25. They don't have long-term commitments
    26. They're short sighted
    27. Honesty is a problem for them
    28. They don't do any self-improvement
    29. They refuse to follow scripts - even loosely
    30. They don't understand this list
    31. Wanna add your own?

Could this be YOUR franchise?

Common scenario: Franchisees phone rings with a potential customer. The caller is put on hold (often curtly). Or it rings too long. The caller waits five seconds, hangs up. No sale. No second chance.

Uncommon solution: The Customer Service Expert: Nancy Friedman, speaker, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Rapport building, retention and engagement a specialty.

I shoot down bad habits and punch holes - using humor - in the mistakes we all make in customer service and sales offering the positive alternatives to be used immediately and forever.

Results? ROI, increased customer service, more sales.

A 2015 IFA annual conference attendee said: "WOW! Exceptional does not even begin to cover how magnificent (Nancy's) presentation was. Funny, engaging, insightful, helpful, and downright phenomenal! Nancy's session was worth the trip & conference alone!"

Call me personally for more information.

Nancy Friedman | President | Speaker
Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

314-291-1210
www.nancyfriedman.com

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.

4-easy-ways-to-collect-email-addresses-on-your-website.png

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.

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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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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Every franchise buyer wants to know how much money they can make. What are you going to tell them?

New franchisee recruitment & sales is very competitive with more franchise brand options available today than at any time in the history of franchising.

All of them are competing for your prospects.

Qualified franchise buyers might not be enthusiastic enough to buy your franchise, right now. You have to give them compelling evidence.

Here's how some franchise sellers succeed in selling in this recovering economy: using creative, imaginative, but magical communications to convert prospects to franchise buyers.

  1. Partner with an industry or business publication. Give a stellar interview explaining the strength of your concept's unit level sales performance to the journalist. Of course have links to the articles on your website and send it out in your drip email campaigns.

  1. Use social media chatting where you can explain the important key performance indicators on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ forums.

  1. Blogging is a terrific way to get the word out to potential buyers. Contract with blogger journalists for hire who will write success stories about your business model including key franchisee interviews.

  1. An Investment ratio is a simple and common creative way for your prospects to do the simple calculation for gross revenue.

  1. Direct your franchise candidates to your select high performing franchisees who will share their P&Ls with franchise candidates.

All of these tried and true franchise prospect "confidence builders" work very well since every franchise-buyer wants to know how much money they can make.

And you should use them only if you are willing to sell franchises both recklessly and carelessly.

So what should you do instead?

  • Stop believing in magic.

  • Make sure your franchise model Return-On-Invested-Cash - ROIC works for franchisees.

  • Give the evidence your franchise concept is investment worthy by including a detailed Item 19 Financial Performance Representation - FPR in your Franchise Disclosure Document - FDD.

It's really that simple.

Franchise buyers demand business model performance evidence. Give it to them and you'll attract better qualified franchisees and sell more.

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For over 60 years we have thought of and configured franchise "concepts" as cookie cutter look alike replications - capitalizations upon so imprinting an image upon the public mind that instant brand recognition occurs in the mind of those with the least acuity among us.

Accordingly, we have now so devolved that the phenomenon of sameness has eroded the ticky tacky repetition of an inherently boring model to the point at which so many fight to sell ninety-nine cent Dupche Kapusta to every late night Dzebrak who still has a dollar in his pocket.

I believe that there is absolutely no economic reason on earth to invest upwards of a million dollars to sell the lowest common denominator products and services to the least able to afford anything customer base.

At that point one does not own a business in any real sense. I know that the 99 cent sandwich is not the raison d'etre of the QSR franchise industry, or of its equivalent in the services business, but it is in fact the focus of so much of its advertising message that it seems like it is. That is one of the surer signs of dilapidation of the brand.

At this point the entire ticky tacky approach should be rethought if the goal is to attract investors who are not themselves rather ignorant FranWad material to be fleeced in phantasy business proposals that have little or no likelihood of success. Anyone who follows the franchising horror stories today knows exactly what I am talking about with no need for further elaboration.

Yet there is no new approach on this horizon. So called franchising "concepts" that are not concepts at all in any real sense of economic opportunity abound.

They are sold to those who have no clue about pre investment due diligence who are told fairy tales about being able to rely on the FDD and conversations with existing franchisees as the way to satisfy themselves of the prospective soundness of an affirmative investment decision. Utter nonsense!

There are now affluent investors seeking real opportunities. Franchisors that are themselves serious about finding a more durable, less price sensitive proposition to sell should consider turning from the worn out pattern. There in another direction.

In my last article http://www.franchiseremedies.com/Selling-Investment-Worthy-Franchises.htm I described how to sell such an opportunity. Not I am going to suggest how that kind of opportunity should be configured.

Let's begin with recognition that the way customers find you is no longer focused so heavily upon signage, building configuration, color schemes and other visual references.

The Internet has made many profound changes in customer acquisition techniques.

So many go on line to find what they want, looking at sites that focus on what they want, from plumbers and electricians to dentists and places to dine.

That is the reference that enables what I am advocating here. The old mantra about putting a store within a mile of a McDonalds and making it look bright with a look that will quickly become an instant proclamation in a customers mind of your name - secondary meaning if you will - is not the reliable benchmark it used to be.

Today your store can look different at every location; comply with any sort of design theme; spend far less on interior brand identifiers like napkins with your name on them and things like that.

Today people are taught to go on line and find the directory where everyone who is in basically the same business as you is listed, together with focus aids like location (including maps), price range, ethnicity, hours of operation, special events, menus, wine lists, link to your website, and a special page for customers to blog their views about their customer experience with you - good and otherwise.

That is the ultimate game changer from the day when you had commercials about smiling brain dead people plastically endorsing you in terms only a moron would credit.

Illustratively, if you look today at a Liberty Mutual Insurance Company television advert you come away with the impression that Liberty Mutual only insures very stupid people who cut off tree limbs while their neighbor's car is parked beneath, without asking him to please move his car so he can safely cut off the limb.

Every one of their adverts has some similarly idiotic person doing something just as stupid.

In the world of television today, a Gecko is the smartest spokesperson there is. That kind of genre advertising focused upon less than room temperature target IQ customers will continue, but it has little to do with franchising going forward.

If the Internet focused website for even the semi literate to find everything they need or want is the reference point of the future - which I strongly believe it is - uniformity of logo display will quickly become less and less significant.

Franchising notions of the significance of uniformity are heading for the sewer in terms of usefulness.

The Internet is a qualitative informer. You will have to work on more substantive and really value significant messages other than price discounting.

You can no longer prevent unhappy customers from going to exactly where people look for businesses like yours and posting negative customer experience messages. Where does that leave you in your approach to franchising?

It leaves you to focus upon the individual store rather than the system of many stores. The individual store must provide an attractive look; excellent service; high levels of product/service quality and presentation; store ambience that is pleasing and appropriate.

It does not have to look like any of your other stores. You can now replicate the model without replicating the look, as the look is no longer a promise of desirability.

Model replication is now performance centric.

The performance quality just spoken of will yield financial performance quality with competent management and a competent management system.

Artificial requirements calculated primarily to generate extraneous revenue streams from franchisee to the pocket of the franchisor will still ruin store financial performance just as it now does with so many franchise concepts - think of the logo bearing napkins and tying in supplies entirely to designated suppliers that pay commissions to the franchisor on their sales to the franchisees.

(The temptation to abuse that to the point of franchisee ruination will still be there. There will still, therefore, be the Quiznos and Marble Slab Creamery models to personify franchisee impoverishment. But, that is another story.)

What is the marketing plan for this new franchise model? That is the message of http://www.franchiseremedies.com/Selling-Investment-Worthy-Franchises.htm . The franchising business is due for a major tune up. Hopefully this kind of upgrade in quality will be that adjustment.

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Customer feedback programs are effective tools to learn how your customers perceive your business and provide you with feedback for improvements, but it doesn't come without limitations; response rate is important, and making sure you're not only receiving the "extremes" (highly positive or negative feedback only) also plays a factor in the success of your program.

One discussion across the industry is whether or not social media will become a new form, or completely replace, customer feedback programs in the future. Let's face it - people are more likely to voice their opinions on blogs, forums, and other sites than provide that feedback directly to the company. There is also a feeling of anonymity online that allows people to be more honest in these forums.

By not keeping tabs on social media surrounding your company, brands may be missing out on potential opportunity. For example, if you're not monitoring online conversations, you may miss the post of a dissatisfied customer. By not knowing this information and not being able to respond in some way, it can be a lost chance to reengage that customer and get them to return in the future.

Social media monitoring tools are more sophisticated than they were even a year ago. This development provides analytical data that can be incorporated into the more traditional customer feedback data. Why is this important?

First, it gives deeper information on what makes customers tick, and secondly, if can alert a company to potential challenges with their current feedback system. For example, if feedback is coming back at a 95% satisfaction rate, yet online conversations lend to a lower rate, it may be that you are only collecting feedback (or making it inviting enough) from the completely satisfied customers. Is there something you can be doing differently to encourage all customers, regardless of their experience, to share their thoughts?

It could be a case of asking the wrong questions. If the questions on a feedback survey are too general, or only focus on one aspect of your business, you may be missing out on valuable feedback. Take, for example, a restaurant's customer feedback survey. If it asks general questions about the service a customer received and the overall experience, that's all well and good. However, if social conversations are suggesting that customers are dissatisfied with the food quality or portion size, it may be time to take those issues to your customers in your formal feedback program. If you're not asking the right questions, you may not be getting full information and miss the opportunity for customer loyalty and retention.

With all of the talk about companies monitoring what people are saying online, taking further steps by analyzing the information coming in, and engaging with customers, I can see how this might complement, but not fully replace, customer feedback programs.

For now, companies can think of social media as yet another tool at their disposal to learn more about their customers and see their business from the customer's perception. It'll be interesting to watch social media evolve over the next few years; its evolution over the last two years has been quite remarkable alone!

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On a recent sales process audit of a medium to large format full service franchise concept, we spent time with one of their new franchisees.

The concept is less complicated than a TGI Friday's but more challenging than a Qdoba Mexican Grill.

The unit is around 5000 square feet has a traditional grill menu you might expect with beer, wine and spirits.

The franchise owners were first time franchisees and had never owned a business before this one.

They both had very successful corporate careers as engineers.

Now, both are franchise owners. One is the full time primary owner/operator, the other owner is part time and still working as an engineer.

We asked the operating owner why a bar/grill concept?

His answer was straightforward and simple.

And only partly what you might think.

He and his financial partner had always wanted to be in this kind of business. Sort of makes sense - engineers are not shy around beer!

Then, I asked why a franchise and not just open an independent restaurant?

His answer was much more interesting.

He knew he didn't have the resident knowledge of the business, but could buy it in the form of franchise.

He planned to learn this new business inside and out, working as many hours as it would take and he did, and does

He also described how he could use his engineering skill, training and experience to run his franchise.

He went into great detail on how they made improvements to their operations by the way they chose to run their beer lines and design of the bar itself. He walked us through his kitchen describing the cooking and food expediting process. And told us what design mistakes they made with the build-out.

In his previous engineering role, he described the complex manufacturing problems he solved daily.

And, how he uses that knowledge everyday in running his business.

The engineer had a plan to buy a franchise in this category. He's smart. He knew what he wanted. He knew that he didn't need training - which was a good thing because his location is miles away from the corporate headquarters.

And, he approached this franchise project as an engineering problem to be solved.

Now there are a number of franchisors who would have looked at the application of these two engineers & would have rejected them since they didn't have the restaurant talent required.

They would have missed out a great franchisee who's running a topnotch unit and who plans to build two more.

And if you went into this restaurant and met the franchise owner you'd never believe he has only run a restaurant for a short time and this was his first one.

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I've read some posts on various industry portals that state that SEO is a better alternative to find franchise prospects than the franchise search engine portals (all well known to those in the industry).

Let's take a close look at these suppositions and what I call unfounded fear being driven in the minds of franchise sales executives.

Are we going to let an article change our behavior that has proven results? We need to look behind this.

One comment on a franchise group page came right out and basically said in effect that "internet franchise search portals" are dead. To me it's irresponsible to make such a bold statement. There is absolutely no hard metrics to make this statement. In fact it appears to be self-promoting. Is it relevant that the declaration was made by a group of people that are trying to get their audience to use their SEO services? Nothing worse than self-promoting declarations ungrounded in science.

I don't believe that lead generation portal advertising is dead -- and not by a long-shot.

It's true -- all franchisors want to direct prospects direct their websites. And social media is one way to do this. Any franchisor not implementing practices and programs to capture this kind of lead from the deep dark sea of prospects is missing out on growth opportunities.

In my view social media is part of a mix and to not drive leads through the franchise search portals is a huge mistake in spending. The franchisor that dismisses it as "dead" shows a lack of respect for the science behind lead generation. They do studies and their conversion rates are verifiable. Conversion metrics are proven.

It's true that brokers buy leads. But is this inherently bad? I find it rewarding to work with brokers. By and large they do a good job working with their clients to match them with franchises that will lead to fulfilling business lives.

But there are more reasons not to ignore the portals.

Users of portals do so at early stages of thinking about owning a business. They get to wander around and the media form becomes aspirational. Decisions get made over longer periods of time that that which social media is designed to prompt. To spend all the money on SEO is unwise because that is extremely costly as well and with wise spending on the portals one is "fishing where all the fish swim". They may not all want what we have to offer -- but at least our wares are for sale in the same marketplace.

Second, It's hard to know exactly what the user does, but for sure they go to the portals and the instincts of people are to open up another window and go to the franchisor's website. That would seem to the franchisor as a direct connection between the consumer and the website via SEO. But it's not. The lead came from the franchise search portal.

In fact the biggest challenge of social media (twitter, facebook, et al) from a consumer's perspective is that it is promotional in nature, and the users of such media, smell it and call it out. It's pure promotion and users frequently run for the hills. This is a truth spoken of by a great leader in social media at socialmediaexaminer.com. Don't be fooled, social media is no panacea to playing difficult odds in lead generation. It is just one avenue for spending and getting message out.

While the gauntlet may be thrown down by the pure SEO types, the fight is far from over. The franchisor -- perhaps with very few exceptions -- is best served with a mix of media forms -- and using the franchise search portals while the jury is out.

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Franchise recruitment sales is complex work.

It's very competitive out there and even more so for capital intensive franchises targeting high net worth sophisticated franchise buyers who are willing to commit to multi-unit development under an Area Development Agreement.

I have a lot of sympathy for franchise sales teams since they are under tremendous pressure to make sales happen and grow their brand.

No matter the size of the franchisor they all have budgets with a limit.

And with new franchisee marketing acquisition costs for these capital intensive franchises ranging from $12,000 - $25,000 you can easily speed through your budget doing trade shows, email blasts, direct mail, local market events, franchise portals, display print, PR, search engine optimization and social media marketing.

If we assume a $18,750 average franchise marketing acquisition cost and the franchisor wants to sell 20 new franchise deals it will require $375,000 in your marketing budget. You plan for that in your budget meetings. Before you start to sell.

But, then when it comes time to make the sale, you decide on "franchisor franchisee new development incentives" in the form of a fee and royalty reductions.

I have seen ranges from $10,000 - $30,000 with one franchisor waiving their upfront franchise fee entirely.

Will the franchisor's franchise fee incentive sell more franchises to existing franchisees?

Maybe, but I would argue if the franchisee cash-on-cash return for that franchise concept was compelling that most of those franchisees were already planning on developing new units and would have done so without a discount. The franchisor might recruit new franchisees because of the discount?

But I think that those new franchisees are like your smart existing franchisees who are looking at the numbers for an attractive cash-on-cash return. If they are not carefully considering the investment, do you as a franchisor want those franchise buyers?

But let's assume you need the $15,000 franchise fee discount to sell. What that does that do to your budget if you sell the same 20 franchises you would have normally sold?

This results in your new franchisee marketing acquisition cost per sale rising to $33,750 and a total annual cost of $675,000.

Almost a 100% increase in your acquisition budget! Would you have agreed to that at beginning of the sales process? Likely not, and you probably shouldn't agree now - especially when there are alternatives.

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This is why I think across the board franchise fee discounts are bad business because they can cause discontent with your franchisees who paid full-price and they are likely not the solution to your franchise sales problem.

Here are the 4 things you should do instead of discounting your franchise fees -

  1. Increase Your Franchise Marketing Recruitment Budget

  2. Increase Your Franchise Fee to Invest in Your Budget

  3. Drop Your Bottom Three Franchise Lead Sources

  4. Re-engineer Your Franchise Sales Process

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Getting the franchise sale may seem like a race to be the First to Respond and First to Engage.

It isn't.

Franchise sellers need to get to web leads who are intrigued with their franchise as fast as possible, right?

No.

Or they could lose the franchise buyer to a competitor.

Nope.

Of course the solution is an autoresponder. Well that does seem pretty simple, doesn't it? Problem solved.

Really wrong and could cost that sale.

Many of the franchise inquiry autoresponders I have seen when mystery shopping franchise sales processes are plain awful.

Here are some recent real examples -

Good morning Joe,

Thank you for considering the XYZ franchise opportunity. My name is Oscar and I am a Franchise Sales Representative with this great brand. My contact information is listed at the bottom of this email and please contact whenever you are available to take the next step. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Oscar

VP Franchise Development

Joe -

We received your request for franchising information through our website. Thanks for your interest and please call at your convenience to discuss.

Thank You,

Janet

National Director Franchising & Development

Joe,

Thank you for your interest in a franchise opportunity with our brand. George, VP Franchise Development, will be sending you information and contacting you regarding our Discovery Process.

Please feel free to contact me any time.

Pat

CEO and Founder

These examples are bland and do not engage and advance the inquiry/lead to a franchise sale.

Here is what you should do to fix your auto responder -

  1. Have a greeting better than "Thank you for your interest".

  2. Tell the inquiry/lead about your franchise process and what happens next.

  3. Use the autoresponder as the 1st message as part of a Top of the Franchise Sales Funnel communications campaign.

  4. Get the inquiry/lead to take a next step so you can qualify them a bit more.

It matters very little if you are First to Respond and First to Engage to an inquiry with a crappy message.

Franchise lead generation is the lifeblood of franchise sales and if you want to win more franchise sales you need a franchise sales process that sells from start to finish.

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Many franchisors have a love-hate relationship with the portals or directories that charge thousands of dollars a year with the promise of healthy lead generation. It's a well-known fact that while the costs keep going up, lead volume has waned in recent years.

There are a number of variables at work here, to be sure: a tougher economic climate, increased competition, but the most important factor is the evolution of the the Internet.

Studies show that the way we make big purchases has fundamentally changed; far more of the buying decision is complete before a prospect speaks to anyone from your company.

Face it, whether it's accurate or not, it feels more objective to research your company online before I subject myself to your sales pitch.

I learn about your business model, I check out your franchise pitch online. I peruse your top competitors. I pore over reviews from customers and owners... I may even ask questions on social sites. Then, if I'm still interested, I may email or call you.

To exert more control over this process, a franchisor needs to own the organic search results for the questions prospective owners are asking. It's not rocket science, but very few franchisors are thinking this through.

Most franchisors spend plenty of time building up content and fostering engagement with the consumer audience, but what about the other important audience: those carefully considering franchise options?

Instead of a few quick bullets on your franchise site, consider the many ways you can build up content and conversation around the questions and keywords people are considering about your business opportunity.

Here are 4 quick strategies to consider implementing.

  1. Talk advantages of your type of home-based business, or why your training and support materials are superior.

  2. Engage happy franchisees to create case studies on the process they went through to select their business.

  3. Add well-tagged video content about your Discovery Day process.

  4. Compare and contrast franchise opportunities in your space, much as you likely already do on the consumer side, you (or your advertising agency) need to create relevant content on an ongoing basis and push it out through social networks, from a B2B perspective.

In other words, instead of depending completely on portals, you can and should own content that will win prospect searches and start more serious buyer discussions.

The way buyers act today, it takes more than a few quick teasers on your franchise site to motivate an inquiry. You need to offer up much more information to snag Internet searches, to educate potential franchisees, build interest and compel a response.

Yes, this new world order brings with it a scary level of transparency - but as the social media saying goes: The discussion about your business opportunity is happening out there anyway, wouldn't you rather participate - perhaps even take the lead

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The State of Franchising - Waiting for Inbound Leads

Waiting for qualified franchise buyers to find you on all those web portals is frustrating.

The results are decidedly mixed.

Franchisors are rightly concerned about the web portal business model. Web portals collct & sell leads, non-exclusive leads. You can end up emailing someone who has never heard of you. And you know what happens then. You have wasted your time & money.

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An Alternative -- Prospect for Latent Affinity

Now, while I was with a very well-known established & capital intensive franchisor we decided waiting for web portal franchise leads wasn't working well enough. We wanted our franchise buyer identification to work better.

Sales Funnel.png

So, we decided to study our most successful franchisees, build a target profile, and test it.

Here are the three simple steps we took.

  1. We profiled and interviewed a statistically relevant sample of existing franchisees and built a profile matrix.

  1. Profiled an equal number of qualified franchise candidates who did not buy a franchise but could have.

  1. Interviewed a control group based on the profiles we built.

We carefully examined the data we collected. We discovered something surprising in the analysis.

Time and time again, while interviewing the control group, utilizing an experienced 3rd party, the respondents voluntarily said:

"Hey that's something that I might be interested in doing"!

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What we learned was that there were lots of people who were not actively looking for a franchise investment -but who possessed talent and capital- and their interest in our concept was latent and had to brought to the surface! We just weren't getting the right message to them.

We decided that a geographic targeted and tactical outbound marketing and recruiting component was something we had to add to our franchise lead generation budget. We reallocated our funds to make it happen. It was very successful. And continues to this day.

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How Start - Create Target Lists Using LinkedIn Filters

Heck, you don't have to be even that scientific. Today, I would use a slightly different approach.

I would create a basic qualification list in a target market and use direct response or mail to invite individuals an exclusive event.

I would use LinkedIn to create these lists.

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Latent affinity lead generation prospecting is a bit more work than simply creating franchise sales landing pages on a bunch of web portals.

But, finding franchise buyers with a latent affinity for franchising and your concept is something no serious franchisor can ignore.

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Everyone has their own opinion of the "franchise" concept in America.

Some argue that franchises are leading to the extinction of mom and pop shops, dissolving the local micro-cultures and communities that make our towns and cities unique.

While this idea may have validity, I believe that franchises are the new mom and pop shop.

Here are seven reasons why Mom and Pop are increasingly interested in the franchise option:

1) Buy with bargaining power

Independent operators have limited buying power. With an unknown brand and the buying power of one, it is a challenge to negotiate rates for purchasing inventory, supplies, and anything else needed to run the business.

Franchisors, who have a well-established brand and tens to thousands of locations, have the ability to negotiate bulk prices and share these reduced rates with franchisees. Moreover, vendors often view franchise customers as dependable long-term clients, making them more inclined to cut deals and extend credit to franchisees.

2) Ease of navigating government regulations

Understanding the laws and regulations that come along with opening a new business can be a tedious process. Depending on your city and state, you are likely required to adhere to different building codes, marketing laws, employment laws, workplace safety laws, environmental regulations, and more. (Some of these can be found on the SBA website.)

Acquiring the necessary legal consultation and learning to structure your business to comply with these regulations will eat up time and resources, franchises already offer functional business models, making it faster and easier to open up your doors.

3) Accessibility of peer support

A successful entrepreneur has a strong support system of mentors, consultants, and helpful peers. Independent owners may gain this through friends or membership in the chamber of commerce and other business organizations.

But, franchisees inherently amass a huge network of supporters through the franchise system. Whether it be through fellow franchisees, company conventions, or online support groups, the franchise owner has many forums to direct questions toward from people who have likely experienced similar issues and problems.

4) Availability of capital

Knowing that insufficient capital is a recurring reason why small businesses fail, finding adequate financing to build and operate a business is instrumental in the startup process.

Entrepreneurs with little experience frequently learn that securing a sizable loan can be difficult without a financial history to ensure profitability. Franchisors, on the other hand, oftentimes have relationships with lenders who perceive a diminished risk of lending to franchisees because of the brand recognition, documented financial history, and proven business model provided to them.

Another accelerator in the franchise loaning process, the Franchise Registry was developed in 2012 by the IFA and Consumer's Bank Association to give loan officers access to detailed financial information, allowing them to make faster, more informed decisions on lending to franchisees.

These resources and relationships make the loaning process much more efficient than it is for sole business owners.

5) Design & Marketing Costs

Branding has become an increasingly expensive task in the digital age for two reasons- for initial brand development and for ongoing marketing expenses. For example, in Santa Barbara, every business must submit their storefront logo design to a sign committee, which determines whether or not it is appropriate for public display and is consistent with the city vision.

For this process, business owners must allocate a budget for a graphic designer to assist them with developing proper signage and branding. Additionally, with the onset of the "digital age," business owners aren't able to simply put out a yellow page ad anymore. You must be seen and found on a myriad of different channels.

This means strategic advertisements, social media advertising, publishing on local directories, and building and managing business profiles on review sites like Yelp. Whether this entails hiring a social media marketer or paying for services like reputation monitoring and business listings management, a proactive marketing approach can be costly and time-consuming.

Franchisees are able to save on these expenses as their brand is already developed and they are usually supported by regional or national multi-million dollar advertising campaigns. As day-to-day marketing strategy is not a constant worry, the franchisee has more time to focus on running an efficient business.

6) Expandability

The franchise model itself is designed to be easily replicable. Mom and Pop shops do not have this luxury, and owners often have a difficult time maintaining consistency and quality when opening up multiple storefronts.

If a franchisee wants to expand and open a new location, the process is streamlined so that the equipment, supplies, and inventory needed to do so are either outlined or provided. This scalability is extremely appealing for entrepreneurs who foresee themselves managing multiple businesses.

7) Ability to resell

Generally, there comes a time where an entrepreneur wants to move on to new opportunities or retire and sell the business. If successfully developed over the years, a mom and pop shop can sell and be extremely profitable. However, the overall demand to buy into a franchise is much higher than it is for purchasing an independent business.

The power of names like Wendy's or Pizza Hut is a major selling point to potential buyers, who value the customer loyalty and familiarity associated with nationally recognized brands. While it is possible to sell a small business, selling a piece of a franchise will likely result in a much larger pool of interested buyers and a faster sale.

I believe that these are just seven of many reasons why the popularity of the franchise model for small businesses is growing exponentially.

It seems somewhat of an obvious choice for many aspiring entrepreneurs.

It's not that the mom and pop business model is dead, its just that these small business owners are now buying into the value of a franchise model and see the benefits of building their own business as part of a larger brand.

What do you think, is a franchise the best choice for those who want to start their own local business?

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What was in the air yesterday?

Two people called to discuss converting their business to the franchise model (which, considering my business, is not unusual) and both wanted to offer very low franchise fees. That's discouraging because I don't think they are doing the research necessary to be a really good, sustainable franchisor.

Let's look at both sides of that decision.

The potential franchisors said they were offering part time or adjunct businesses to people who weren't "professional business people" and so, couldn't afford a higher price.

They also felt that they could award more franchises at the lower price. On face value, those seem to be sound reasons. But let's look deeper. Franchise fees are a combination of value statement, practical cost containment and marketability.

We'll address the marketability first.

Many new franchisors do only this step without realizing what goes into the price and we will address that next. When you are shopping franchise fees look beyond your direct competitors.

When people look at franchises they look at several different verticals that share a common start-up cost, so you need to look beyond your market and see what's out there. Once you know what the market will bear, you have to look at the components of those fees.

The franchise fee is a buy-in fee. The franchisee gets the right to use the brand, marks and system of the franchisor for a defined time, so long as he abides by the system rules. As it gains fame and following, its value increases. That takes time and huge market share to move the proverbial needle.

The second component is cost containment and this one takes work. The franchisor has to determine the opportunity cost for selling the franchise. The opportunity cost includes the marketing costs, sales costs (commissions/bonuses, pro rata payroll costs, broker fees, etc.) and training costs, including a pro rata share of the trainer(s) payroll, training material, space rental if needed and start-up materials.

Think it through, price it out: You might not make money on franchise sales, but you shouldn't lose money. Now that you know what goes into a fee structure, let's look at the downside of low ones.

1) The perceived value of the brand is diminished by the lower price. No matter how you justify it, the perception is that the franchise not only costs less, it is worth less. Even if a part-time business, the brand has value.

2) Low barriers to entry are also low barriers to exit. If the franchisee is not significantly vested in the franchise, it will be too easy to walk away the moment things get tough. At the very least, it will be too easy to drop at renewals.

That means the franchisor constantly to pay full opportunity costs to keep franchise levels steady - there are no economies of scale. You will also have to disclose your turnover for years, and that can deter sales.

3) If your franchise fee does not cover your opportunity costs, you will start every franchise relationship at a loss. Before you decide to do this, calculate how long the average franchisee will take to ramp up, pay adequate royalties and offset the initial loss. If you sell several at once, can your company absorb the loss? Can you wait that long? And will the lower cost result in enough sales volume to offset the amount of time you wait to be positive on that investment?

4) No matter the size and return of the franchise, be sure to choose only those candidates who embrace your values, respect your system and have a true commitment. Every time you bring in a franchisee that is not qualified or dedicated, you wound the brand and the good franchisees you do have. That will drive out those good folks fairly soon. Bottom line: Price yourself in a way that makes financial sense for you, creates value for the franchisee and markets the respectability of the brand.

Think long-term and be proud of what you built. If you are not ready for that, you might not be ready for franchising.

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It's harder than ever to get your franchise candidate on the telephone.

You and I both know you can't sell a franchise until you have further qualified the franchise candidate for your offering. And that means engaging in verbal dialogue with your interested prospect. Not exchanging emails. Dialogue. The coin of the realm for sales.

salesman on phone.jpgIt is tempting to let your franchise recruitment website & a high powered CRM do all the heavy lifting.

But that would be a mistake.

Your top of the funnel inquiry process should result in a franchise candidate having a telephone call with you. Done right franchise buyers will be asking you when would be a good time for you to have a call with them. (If doesn't then you need to address the issues in Why You Cannot Get Your Franchise Leads on the Phone & What to Do About It)

The first call with a franchise candidate has to be all about them.

And all the real candidates have these same 3 basic questions.

  • How much does it cost?

  • How much can I make?

  • Is my area available?

But, here are the 3 qualifying questions you need answered from the candidate.

  • Does the franchise candidate meet or exceed your liquidity and net worth standards?

  • Is where the franchise candidate wants to open their franchise a fit where it makes sense for you to develop?

  • How interested in your franchise is the candidate and do you want to move on to the next step?

How you ask these questions can make or break the sale.

The best franchise sellers have a script for all their calls.

But getting the first call right is imperative in order to earn you a second call. And to determine if the franchise candidate is qualified to deserve more of your time.

You can see how this is an exchange of information between you and the franchise candidate. They get what they need to maintain their interest in your franchise & you achieve your qualification objectives. It is a negotiation dance between you and the franchise candidate. They have to get the sense that they earned the information they got from you. You cannot just dump this information on a website without getting something in return.

The negotiation dance on the first call is what determines whether the franchise candidate is going to buy. Get it right, get a sale. Get it wrong, and you are wasting your time & the franchisor's money.

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Customer loyalty programs can be simple, such as a buy 10 and get 1 free, or more complicated like an Airmiles program. But, it can be easy to misunderstand what even the simply loyalty program is doing.

For example, consider the Subway customer appreciation program, which used the following simple device to reward it loyal customers:

This seems straightforward enough - buy 10 and get a discount. What is hard to understand?

Well, Seth Godin, reminds us what the key to a customer loyalty program is:

Loyalty is what we call it when someone refuses a better option.

If your offering is always better, you don't have loyal customers, you have smart ones.

Don't brag about how loyal your customers are when you're the cheapest or you have clearly dominated some key element of what the market demands.

That's not loyalty. That's something else.

Loyal customers are temporarily not thinking as mere economic agents.

That is what your loyal program should be cultivating or testing - which customers who are not price shopping, right now.

Dan Ariely, in his always fascinating book, Predictably Irrational, contrasts market norms with social norms. We don't like to be offered payment for favours we do. Confusing the two would be like going to Mom's for wonderfully prepared family meal declaring it the best meal that you have ever had and then offering to tip Mom "something special".

To keep your customers loyal, ask them to do you favours, give them referrals to competitors, from time to time.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that a loyalty program is simply a way to lock in customers for purely economic reasons.

Validation can take up an enormous amount of time when recruiting new franchisees.

Most all prospects want to hear from existing franchisees about their experiences and get answers to their burning questions. If you let prospects call on a list of your key owners over and over, those franchisees would never get their work done!

There is a simple way to speed up the validation process - use a validation video. The key benefit of using a validation video is reducing the validation process from days (or weeks) to one step that can be completed in a single day or even less.

A validation video is the story of your Franchise as told by some of your current franchisees.

Choose some of your best, most experienced and diverse owners and film them addressing the same issues and talking points. When edited into a final video, you will have a totally credible presentation of your franchise from the owner's point of view

Be sure to have each of the selected franchisees address the same issues.

When a prospect can hear several owners answer the same question in their own words, there is no doubt about the authenticity and honesty of their comments - it is totally convincing. Plus, you still retain control over the message. You don't want to put words in their mouths, but you do want to avoid inaccuracies or misleading the potential buyer.

Franchisee Conventions are the perfect time to film validations as they are together in one space and a filming room or location can be dedicated to process.

Conventions are ideal because the owners are usually in a very positive frame of mind and you can select the best in your chain - especially if they are receiving recognition awards at the event. Another advantage of filming videos at the convention is the option of using the beautiful venue or resort as a backdrop for filming - after all, going to a great resort for a convention can be a powerful component to sway a prospect's decision.

Another option is using Skype to film and assemble the interviews. Using top notch digital cameras and quality microphones, Skype interviews can achieve excellent picture and sound quality that approaches live filming.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

Aranco Productions has been producing highly effective validation videos for many years and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can help you produce your own validation video. It just might become the most effective tool in your sales kit.

In a society where poor customer service is rampant, a well-trained company staff can shine if everyone adopts and commits to some simple service approaches.

The result can mean not only keeping your customers happy, but also keeping them period!

What is the biggest and most costly customer service mistake in business today?

My answer is simple - "We're just not friendly enough."

Customers should be treated as welcome guests when they call your office. Instead, they're often treated like an interruption or, even worse, an annoyance. More than 90 percent of all customer service starts with a telephone call. That said, customer service mistakes happen anytime and in many ways.

Customers can communicate with your company through any one of the six touch points of communication and any one of these touch points can damage a relationship, often permanently.

  • Email
  • Voice Mail
  • Snail Mail
  • Phone
  • Fax
  • Face-to-Face

(We left off texting on purpose. Let's leave that out for now. More on that later.)

Two of these communication tools are what is known as "synchronous;" the other four are "asynchronous."

Synchronous is instant communication, when two or more people are able to communicate immediately between each other, i.e., the telephone and in person.

Asynchronous is one-way information, with a lapse of time between initial contact and the response, i.e., email, snail mail, fax and voice mail.

With synchronous communications, you can easily signal your friendliness because you either have facial expressions or a tone of voice with which to befriend a member. With asynchronous, these relationship-building signals are not available, except perhaps for voice mail, when you can hear a smile. Thus, in written communications you must be an obviously friendly communicator. I'll focus on the telephone for now, but these tips and techniques are for all six modes of communication.

Over the years, Telephone Doctor customer service training programs have been presented to many conferences. It doesn't matter where I speak, someone from the audience, a member of the corporation, comes up to me afterwards and asks if I can bring a program to their company.

After a few needs analysis questions it pretty obvious training is needed. Read on.

Personal Note: I was a longtime member of an association and eventually became its president. Several years later, I decided not to renew. When I called to cancel my membership, all I heard was the perfunctory, "Okay, thanks." No one called. No one wrote to ask, "Why?" I figured no one cared - at least that's what I perceived.

Ya know what? It is NOT "okay" for a customer to be unhappy; to leave you without finding out WHY or what happened.

HINT: When someone calls to cancel an order or complain or not renew a membership, it is not "okay." It's often a failure attributable to disinterested treatment, rudeness, or generally poor customer service. I'm not saying the entire staff is bad, rude, or unfriendly, but what I hear most is that the little things - the things that customers expect (and rightfully should get) are missing.

We need to feel a cancellation, non-renewal or a complaint is like a death in the family.

Another common thread is the lack of an organized employee orientation program on customer service and telephone skills.

The usual scenario is: interview, hire, then train using trial by error - or worse, on-the-job training from someone else who may not have had any customer service training.

Let's dust off the Welcome Mat.

Here are some helpful customer service tips to help you start, or benchmark, your own customer service training program.

Bring your staff together at a time when everyone can attend and talk about any frustrating customer events. Discuss how they handled them versus how it could have been done. The meeting can be (and should be) short, maybe 15-20 minutes, and it doesn't need to be daily - but it does need to be done!

Not having a customer service training program in place can cost your company revenue and obviously customers. Also, poor service creates a negative image for the entire organization, no matter how wonderful the programs, products, or publications are that you offer.

Consider taking the serviceskills.com Tour. The 2:20 min Explainer Video.

And if staff has the attitude that no competition exists for the customer to go to, tell them that may be right, but if one customer tells another about a negative experience and so on down the line, you'll probably lose more customers. Then staff jobs will be lost, and eventually, bang - no company.

Take heed, it doesn't matter if the staff is large or small, they still need to be trained.

Here are three of the biggest mistakes in customer service:

MISTAKE 1: NOT SMILING

Solution: Smile! It sounds insanely simplistic, doesn't it? We're taught early on, that a smile can get us a lot. This is true even as adults, especially on the telephone. Since the telephone is the most commonly used mode of communication, your staff needs to understand why a smile works - because you can hear a smile. I recommend keeping a mirror by your desk, so when you pick up the receiver, you remember to smile and you can see yourself smiling.

Sometimes we don't feel like smiling. Smile anyway. The caller doesn't care if you feel like smiling or not. At Telephone Doctor, smiling before you pick up the phone is a condition of employment; not smiling is grounds for termination, and, yes, I have exercised that option. With customer service as our top priority, we simply don't tolerate not smiling before you pick up the phone. Frankly, I'd rather have the caller think your office is closed than to have you answer the phone in a negative mood. (YES, the caller CAN HEAR the smile.)

MISTAKE 2: NOT ACKNOWLEDGING A CALLER'S REQUEST

Solution: Rapid responses - RR. Use what we have called our 'mental stamp.' That means 'this request or piece of information needs an immediate and rapid response.' When we receive an email, fax or note, we immediately send that back to whoever sent it with the words, "Received and will handle." That way the person who asked for the information knows you got the request and everything is moving in the right direction. And it's good communication.

Another very good habit to get into is to ask the caller when they ask for something is: "And when would you be needing this information Mr. Jones?"

Our surveys found that when a caller is asked when he or she would like to receive the needed information, 80 percent of time they did not automatically respond, "I need it now," as you might expect. Thus, you don't have to promise, "I'll get that to you right away." Often, callers won't need something until tomorrow or next week. Asking for a timetable of delivery is good customer service. And remember, "as soon as possible" is not a time. Confirm a date.

MISTAKE 3: IMMEDIATE REJECTION OF A REQUEST

Solution: Be a "double-checker." It's so easy to tell people, "It's too late," or "We ran out of that report" or "we're out of widgets."

Instead, try: "Let me double-check on that for you." It's a wonderful way to defuse any disappointment about you not having what they called for in the first place. This simple statement of double checking immediately defuses some of the tension of not being able to fulfill a request completely. And often when we do double-check, we find a way to get what the person wanted after all.

You now have three techniques (simple as they are) to kick-start your customer service training program.

Remember, the entire staff, from president to maintenance needs to embrace the customer service program or it won't work. Be firm. The company's entire image is at stake since it is unlikely to get a second chance.

Don't have time? Make time. What or who is more important than customers? You'll be surprised at how much fun it is to hear a caller say, "Thanks, you've been super."

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

For a complimentary copy of Nancy's eBook, Hidden Gems of Customer Service, please click here.

Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, St. Louis, MO, is a popular KEYNOTE speaker at franchise, association and corporate conferences.

For a DEMO of Nancy in action, call 314-291-1012 or log on to: www.nancyfriedman.com or email her at [email protected].

Franchise selling is competitive.

And it's getting more competitive as more franchisors come online offering franchises for their concepts. It doesn't matter whether these nascent franchise offerings are investment worthy or not.

What's important they are selling franchises to candidates that you could have recruited for your brand.

So here's what you can do, right now to increase your sales.

You won't need to hire a consultant, buy a new CRM or re-invent your franchise landing pages, etc... although those longer term fixes may be smart to implement as well, but not today.

  1. Franchise sales supervisors are the key to your new franchise recruitment success.

In my experience you should give your attention and support to improving sales supervision. Focus your attention on your VPs and Directors of Franchising.

Improved results are more dependent on franchise sales supervisors than on franchise salespeople.

  1. Stop your franchise salespeople's habit of simply spewing information at your leads and candidates.

Instead train front-line franchise salespeople to ask the right questions of candidates so they can help qualified franchise-buyers see how your franchise concept fits into their lives or for professional multi-brand & multi-unit franchisees how your brand fits in their brand portfolio.

  1. Stop paying lip service to coaching.

Franchise salespeople despite what they may say, want you to help them and manage them. Make coaching part of your franchise sales team's daily routine and give your salespeople the opportunity to bring their candidate sales problems to you for help.

A great sales supervisor who coaches daily can guide salespeople through difficult sales negotiations.

  1. Fewer leads mean more sales.

This at first seems counterintuitive but we all know franchise salespeople keep leads and candidates far past their expiration dates.

These expired leads are like soured milk and you need to eliminate them. If you do your salespeople can focus on the candidates that are "raising their hands" and moving forward.

Warning - salespeople won't like this since everyone loves a big pipeline, but they'll thank you later when their commissions are paid.

Now get up from behind your desk right now and start making these fixes happen with your franchise sales team. You'll love the results you'll get. Thanks for listening.

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I used to believe that franchisees and other business owners failed because they were under-capitalized, but I believe that's a myth.

Someone somewhere many years ago said that the main reason for business failure was under-capitalization and everyone picked up on that and it has continued to this day.

I don't believe it, anymore.

And with US disclosure laws, as well as the opportunity to speak frankly with active franchisees prior to investing in any franchise, there's plenty of opportunity for franchise prospects to learn how much capital they will actually need.

Of course, many franchisees do not do that, and that's generally an indicator that there are other worthwhile things they also won't do.

Here is what I believe to be the major issues.

  • First, many franchisors select the wrong franchisees, and

  • Second, many franchisors are incompetent at training and coaching franchisees.

  • Third, many franchise fees are too low.

All of those problems could be fixed and I'm happy to know franchisors who have addressed those issues and who have enjoyed more success as a result.

Most franchisors appear to be uninterested in matching a franchisee's skills and motivations to the requirements of the franchise business. Why? I don't know.

I guess it's another step in the recruitment process and franchisors don't like delaying that process.

Unfortunately their emphasis is on "sell now" and not "succeed later". I tell every prospect I speak to -- several thousand annually -- to run from a franchisor that does not formally address how their personality/skills/motivations complement the requirements of the franchisee's operation.

Others have mentioned the 35k franchise fee & it's not enough money to pay for the support and training needed.

People tend to think that franchisors use the profit from franchise fees to buy vacation homes, send kids to college, and drive expensive automobiles -- but that's not my experience (and I've worked with many dozens of franchisors in the last 30+ years).

Most franchisors lose money on the 35k franchise fee . . . and then they don't have the money to invest in the proper training and development of the franchisee.

Even smart people need more than a week or two to learn how to operate a franchise business, but franchisors don't see it that way -- takes too long and costs too much.

Unfortunately franchisors have the wrong focus. Making a sale doesn't guarantee making a profit . . .

Only making the right sale and then properly training and developing the franchisee over time will indeed generate long-term profits.

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The quality of franchise sales has decreased over the last twenty years. And I know some of the reasons why & what can be done to reverse the trend.

No Franchise Sales Coaching

First, we have to remember that there is no specialized franchise sales training or coaching available to many franchisors. Everyone agrees that coaching the sales staff is of paramount importance.

In contrast to Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Xerox, there is no sales as process, no question based selling or no consultative selling training offered to franchisors.

Despite having to sell a complex product with very large price tags, franchise sales is often treated like a consumer sale. "Here is our franchise agreement, one price fits all. Buy my stuff." Doesn't work well.

Technology Doesn't Sell; Franchise Salesmen Sell.

Second, there has also been an unfavorable growth in technologies - first CRMs and now web portals. The aim is to displace the salesman. CRMs and web portals are sold with the promise of making the machine or website eliminate the need for the consultative based sales force.

But, the end product is not a commodity and we cannot reduce the sales process to a mere transaction.

But, Many Franchisors have forgotten How to Sell Franchises.

Finally, many sales departments have forgotten their ability to sell.

Let me tell you about a little test I did, some years ago.

I gathered our top 50 franchisees in terms of gross revenue. I also found their initial applications. I then redacted their names from the applications, but nothing else. (Back then, we weren't collecting a lot of personal information.) I distributed the applications of what would be our top 50 performers to our sales staff.

How many of those top 50 performers would our sales staff identify and process acting only on the very incomplete application?

Zero!

We would have missed all 50 - because we were now more focussed on the demands of the CRM rather than selling. We now demand too much information before we begin the sales process - and most of the information is not needed. What is needed isn't asked for.

We have forgotten how to sell. We aren't mentoring our younger sales forces, the way I was mentored.

So, take a look at your online application. Ask whether you really need the candidate to fill out all the information just in order to start your sales process -- you will find that it is easier to start selling with some information & get the application filled out later on in the sales process. Here is to a better sales process & more sales for you.

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Who Makes the Best Franchise Operators?

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Since the late 1970s franchising professionals have debated whether or not franchisees are entrepreneurs.

The debate still goes on; some claim franchisees are just employees who buy themselves a job, while others claim franchisees are just entrepreneurs who choose to buy a business instead of building one. Some people base their argument on the literal definition of the term "entrepreneur" while others go further and take into consideration its connotations.

You may say that it all boils down to semantics, so who cares, right? Well, all franchisors should care. This is not a philosophical or academic question; it's a strategic and operational one.

The term "Entrepreneurship" is not restrictive and unyielding; instead it's fluid and flexible. In franchising, we must look at this term not as an absolute, but more as a scale, not as the literal definition, but more as the complex concept it captures. And, the success of your franchisees, as well as their ramp-up and satisfaction, depends on how well you understand what the Entrepreneurship Scale means to your system.

entreprenuership_scale_border-01-1024x791.jpg

Franchisees, like all people, are complex beings--each one holds a different combination of personality traits, experiences, expertise, learning styles, preferences, strengths, weaknesses, beliefs systems, and habits that make them unique. To hold the perspective that all franchisees are entrepreneurs or that no franchisees are entrepreneurs is equally dangerous.

Both premises are oversimplifications that can take a franchisor in a totally wrong direction. Instead, consider that every franchisee falls on a different position on the Entrepreneurship Scale.

Thus their success greatly depends on how well you define and mold your business model, the franchise sales process, the training and support programs and the tools you incorporate in your business so as to address these differences. If you don't, successful results will remain a game of luck instead of one of skill. It's just that simple!

Although franchise success starts with a valid business model, the success of individual franchisees begins with a clear definition of that model as well as of your culture, and furthermore hinges on your proficiency at granting franchises to those people who better match your company. For example, franchisees who are closer to employees on the Entrepreneurship Scale tend to get better results in a company that has a highly supportive culture and a more structured model with stricter controls, clearer benchmarks, and systems.

On the other hand, those closer to the entrepreneur end of the scale will be more productive in less restrictive systems. So, if tight controls are important to you, a person closer to the ultimate employee will be a better match for your company.

The irony and challenge of franchising is that most franchisors search for individuals whose traits are closer to those held by the ultimate entrepreneur. Let's face it, most of us prefer to deal with people who are self-motivated and totally committed to success. These people move faster through the sales process and are quicker to make a decision. Yet, this type of individual is by nature more independent. Think about it, the people who are more likely to invest in your system are the same people who will be most prone to resist the system in which they invest. On the other hand, those people who tend to be better at following your system are less inclined to choose business ownership, and thus to invest in your franchise offering.

Although the success of individual franchisees starts with a good a match, it doesn't end there. No matter how hard we try or how many tools we use to benchmark and select franchisees, there is simply no way to ensure a perfect match every time. After all, we are dealing with people and the reactions of the most predictable of human beings can't be fully anticipated at all times and under all conditions.

This means that franchisees are always going to be a mix, some closer to our ideal combination and some farther away from it. Therefore the success of every single franchisee ultimately rests on how well you adapt your system, training, communications, and support to each individual so as to empower him or her to follow your system as closely as possible.

The ultimate paradox of franchising is that in order to get the consistency and uniformity inherent in franchising, we must use tailor-made training and support systems.

Franchisees who are closer to the ultimate employee end of the scale will require more support, more caring, more direction, and more coaching and communication in order for them to be able to absorb the information and apply it. On the other hand, franchisees who are closer to the ultimate entrepreneur will need less direction, more listening, less structure, and if you want to keep them from deviating from your system, you have to keep a closer eye on them since they will have a greater tendency to do their own thing which can damage your brand and also cause them to fail.

So, does the debate about whether franchisees are entrepreneurs or employees matter? You bet it does! Success in franchising is crafted, not something that just happens by pounding franchisees to follow the system. Understanding the nature of franchisees and how they learn is a crucial step in designing franchising systems that engender success.

The post Are Franchisees Entrepreneurs or Employees? Why Should You Care? appeared first on InFraSu.

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"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination." - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"According to a recent Gallup poll of 994 Franchise owners - 94% of them felt that there franchise business was successful."

Almost 4 years ago, I did some research on one of the more frustrating franchise statistics repeatedly quoted is average income. Nothing much has changed, so I updated it for today. Especially in light of the claim that 94% of franchise operators 'felt' that there business was successful.

Inevitably, this average income of a franchise owner always suggests that the typical franchisee earns $100,000+ per year.

To cite one example, the USA Franchisee Statistics page on www.franchiseseek.com states that

"In 2008 .... over 30% of franchisees earn over $149,000 per year." I recently read a press release citing a similar figure for 2009.

Such a figure falls into the category: "too good to believe".

In a country where the average income is under $50,000 a year and an unemployment rate in range of 10% to 20% range, this figure just doesn't pass the smell test. If we are in a recession, as I believe we are, is it possible that franchised business operations are a safe haven offering a guaranteed substantial income during difficult economic times? Or any economic times?

FranchiseFacts explored this issue in detail as part of its National Franchisee Survey, 2009-2010.

Our survey asked respondents to report if their business was profitable and, if profitable, their profitability over the most recent calendar year (2009).

Our preliminary findings then were that only 3% of respondents earned more than $100,000 over the past calendar year and only 15% claimed to earn in excess of $50,000 a year.

This is quite a contrast to the $149,000 figure cited above. At the other extreme, 61% of respondents state that their business is not profitable!

To be clear, none of this is suggestive of problems in the franchise industry.

The economy has ended an overheated phase where too many people paid far too much for businesses. They financed their businesses rather than starting slow and building through natural growth. Overly optimistic revenue projections were used to justify high operational expenses. These businesses, and their owners, now are saddled with financial obligations that cannot be paid out of current revenues. Consolidations and closures are inevitable.

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In interviewing our customers, I found that there were several things they value.

Things they want even before the product or the service.

They boiled down to three basic wants comprising of what we now call the R-T-C factor: Relationship, Trust and Consistency.

Let's go over them:

1. R - - Relationship Building rapport is an overlooked art.

Call many companies and the first word shouted at you is: "Name?" No "nice to meet you by phone" or even a "good morning."

There's very little rapport building found in today's customer service. Relationship starts within the first 4 to 6 seconds of a phone call or within 30 seconds for an in-person visit. That sets the stage for the rest of the transaction.

Plus, it lays the groundwork for possible future business. Rapport building and relationships are vital to every communication exchange. It's a simple basic process.

2. T - - Trust If the customer is unable to trust what you say, the relationship will melt to zero.

Gaining the trust of your customer is the KEY to relationship. From following through when you promise to call or fulfilling the company's guarantee statement, creating trust is vital.

If those trusts are broken, it's a big fence to mend. Keep your word to gain the trust of your customer. They need to know they can count on you. Before any sale, a customer must buy "you."

3. C - - Consistency The McDonald's hamburger in Cancun, Mexico tastes the same as the one in Des Moines, Iowa. Why? Consistency. The taste will be the same in each of the stores.

A business should run with the same consistency. It shouldn't matter who the customer talks with. Personally, I'm skeptical when someone tells me to, "Be sure to talk to Joe. He's the best there is." I'd rather hear, "You can talk to anyone in our office."

In summary, the R - T- C Factor is what customers look for and deserve in any of their transactions. So, I ask you? Do you provide enough R-T-C to keep your customers satisfied? As we like to say, this is not rocket science, it's not major surgery. . . it's plain old common sense. Do it.

A recent IFA Annual Conference speaker, Nancy speaks at franchise meetings across the country.

Her passion for the small business is second only to her techniques on sales and customer service.

Her reviews at IFA were off the chart. Contact Nancy personally about your meetings.

314 291 1012 [email protected] or www.nancyfriedman.com

For a complimentary copy of Nancy's eBook, Hidden Gems of Customer Service, please click here.

This is a very simple question.

It was recently asked in a LinkedIn Franchise Group.

And I bet we all want to know the answer.

It would make it easy to build next years franchise marketing budget for franchise buyers if we just had a short-list.

Even better if it had a performance ranking.

There were almost 50 answers and comments to this important question.

Here's a selection of what franchising people said -

"I speak with franchise development departments every day and have found that they can fork out as much as 60% of the initial franchise fee in order to secure qualified franchisees (using franchise consultants, recruiters, etc.). Are there any databases of open territories for potential franchisees to search? Vice-versa are there any databases of franchisees in the market to open a new location?" Mike Mackin

"It has been my experience that you can "catch the bigger fish" through today's portals. The secret is working with your portal vendor and let them help you on the franchise investment levels that you post on the site. The best experience I have had has been with Franchising.com. There numbers are a little lower, but the quality is very good. And don't forget that most consumers are not going to tell you what they really have in the bank until you get further down the sales process." Phil Mettra

"Portals are just another outlet for reaching your target, I don't think you can narrow down a specific vendor that does better than another. If the opportunity on the portal is attractive enough, the portal also ranks highly on Google for top keywords and it has healthy traffic stats (which the portal vendor can provide to you) then you have a winning vendor. You should always do your due diligence and ask those vendors to provide you monthly traffic to the page you will be listed and can even go as far as asking for the top 3 IP locations to ensure they are based in your market. Remember that candidates can come from anywhere but your digital presence, especially social and reputation, is what will give you the edge in higher investment brackets." Brendon Major

"My experience with the portals is that they sometimes work beautifully and other times they just dont. The exact same advert on one site delivers 10 leads and on another none. To be honest although I have met many "experts" I have never found one that has been able to unravel the mysteries of the portals." Sean Goldsmith

"Just wondering if there are other portals more likely to reach and succeed with the higher investment prospects? I believe in a strategy of creating presence and buzz for your brand, with a wide digital presence probably now being the top tactical priority" Kevin Kruse

"I may have a bit of a different take. If a company is looking for "high dollar" candidates, I suggest the you will find them better using highly target public/media relations campaigns, instead of portals. As noted above, using portals to find YOUR candidate is a bit like fishing in the Atlantic Ocean with a single line, a bobber, a safety pin, and a piece of corn as bait. They simply are not designed to find a specific type of candidate. They have tens of thousands of names/inquiries, but they simply cannot be targeted to YOUR candidate. It is MUCH better to design a PR/MR program that targets YOUR candidate BEFORE the person even starts looking for a franchise. By the time a potential candidate hits a portal, you are already competing with hundreds of other franchise companies. Right? Portals have a role, but not for finding a specific type of candidate." Dr. Michael (Mick) Riddiough

"Before you start your campaigns, it is good if the portal can offer statistics for the locations where you are listing in, because different categories work in different locations. The categories can change every 3 months, so it is important to keep on top of the statistics and results. Another point which might help, is that franchisees don't always come from franchise portals, our web portal is a business and franchise for sale portal, mainly because some people are looking for any business opportunity and inquire about the franchise opportunities on the website. It is a larger net to catch enquirers. I hope this is helpful in understanding web portals and how to run a more successful franchise recruitment campaign." Paul O'Brien

"That is great advice, and I like your approach to testing adverts and then placing the most highly effective ones. The big stumbling block is how forthcoming the portals are with their stats. I know in the UK you would have an easier time asking the Pope for his hand in marriage. Are the US portals more forthcoming?" Sean Goldsmith

"I have sold several franchises for clients with an investment level of $400k-$800k by using portals.Granted, there will ALWAYS be the prospect that overstates the amount of capital they have available and you have to just move on and keep on dialing. There hasn't been one portal that seemed to bring in more qualified leads on a more consistent basis than another. I do seem to spend a lot of time chasing credits for pay per lead sites that claim they "verified" leads before sending them, but by and large every portal site seems to do a fairly decent job for me." Tom Parks

"The biggest issue which all Franchisors are facing about this approach is the cost. Some websites in Australia are offering packages which help Franchisors to do this at a more cost effective price. Keep an eye out for this. Otherwise the only other advice I can offer on this is to keep track of leads and quality of leads which are being generated by the website. One of our clients mentioned to me once, from 1 website they had received heaps of leads, but didn't generate any solid leads, while from another they received only a hand full of leads in the month, but 2 of the lead had converted to solid leads" Paul O'Brien

"How helpful are portals in generating qualified leads? My experience tells me that really depends upon your brands investment range. Generally speaking the top 5 portals basically cost the same amount to advertise on them. However because of my sector "automotive" vs "food" the portal is unable to generate me enough leads to make the potal investment worthwhile. I understand the ratio on portal leads to be 200:1 or even 250:1. It would take years for a portal to drive me that much traffic. At which point I would have spent far more than the inital franchise fee in marketing dollars." Lee Oppenheim

"Portals definitely "had their day", i.e. in the late 1980's through the early 1990's. They were THE way to market one's franchise. Today, however, they have become quite common place in our industry, and while there definitely are differences among the wide range of portals, overall, the range of inquiries to sales, as Lee mentions, is in the 200 - 250 to 1. In some ways, portals have become today's franchise "classified ad" section of the Internet. And, it gets very expensive to hire high quality sales people to field these return phone calls. As Franchise Update points out in its 2013 annual marketing survey, the total advertising placement cost associated with one sale these days(for their surveyed companies) was around $13,000...not including personnel costs. Is it the same today?" Dr. Michael (Mick) Riddiough

"Something to be careful with which you might not know about. Make sure that the website which you are using doesn't use a technique called lead thinning. This is when the website generates 1 lead and farms it off to multiple franchisors on their website. Usually the person making the enquiry doesn't know that this is happening either. The way to identify this is when you start calling a lead, the person will say something like "I didn't inquire about your franchise or business". This makes the website look good because of the number of leads generated, but the quality of leads is decreases dramatically." Paul O'Brien

"Terrific dialogue everyone....... portals? To use or not to use...... I heard a lot of "casting a wide net" as well as "be specific in your targeting, e.g. Veterans" , which leads me to a conclusion I've reached before: we are in a challenging, competitive environment for sourcing qualified leads which turn into franchisees. At least we have a forum for discussing our strategies and tactics. Thanks for the insights....." Kevin Kruse

"The specific answer to Kevin's specific question is "No"...at least not by design and not very productively...and it is likely to be quite expensive for the franchisor. I once had a franchisor client in which the "all in" cost was $1.4MM. We did quite well with it. Did we use portals? Yes, as one avenue, and it was truly "dialing for dollars". We did much better with highly focused PR/media relations in terms of finding "high value" candidates." Dr. Michael (Mick) Riddiough

"I disagree. Portals work. You already used portals for your client, even in light of the reality that it's 'dialing for dollars.' Hey, it still takes 35 tons of ore to smelt one ounce of gold--all you have to do is make 200 enthusiastic dials. Big deal. Get with the idea that selling takes concerted effort, and plenty of money. If the average cost of sale (not including commissions) is around $12,000 or so, the obvious path is easy: pick 3-4 top portals;" Paul Stewart

"Your approach works for you, and that's great. I take a different route, and that works for me and my clients. I don't think one is right and one is wrong, just different...in many ways. I prefer more targeted and efficient ways of finding the right candidates. "Dialing for dollars" is simply not my preferred way" Dr. Michael (Mick) Riddiough

"Yes, absolutely, portals work for generating some quality leads that result in Franchise sales for the Franchisor at the investment levels stated" Ronald Silberstein CPA and CFE

"Portals are only as effective as the sales team that are working them, and the matrix you use to measure. Keep in mind the higher the investemnt the fewer the leads you can expect so it is important that your team devote the necessary effort into follow up with each and every lead that comes through." John Byron

"I would say the portals are only as good as the marketing team who works them and and the adverts. If the proper research hasn't been performed before the advert goes up, there is no guarantee of success" Paul O'Brien

"Simple answer to a simple question.. The answer is yes, you have to be in portals. You can add filters to any portal to try to catch the investor you are looking for. Portals are one leg of a triad that you need to build to reach your target customer." Dale Waite

I am glad we solved the riddle of getting high net worth franchise web portal inquiries.

Okay maybe there wasn't a simple answer to the simple franchise web portal question.
Here's some of what I think about the topic.

Franchise inquiries from web portals are minimal expressions of interest.

They are not leads.

You can't designate an Expression of Interest a Franchise Lead until you've qualified them.

The most reliable way to qualify them is to talk with them.

Franchise-Info has some ideas for you to work on this problem.

If you call me we can discuss two things -

  1. What to do with all your inactive inquiries who have expressed an interest
  2. How to attract Franchise Buyers online

I am easy to reach at 443.502.2636 and [email protected]. I answer my own telephone. And I call people back.

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Apple products are immensely popular with people.

And with me too.

You can't help but admire what Steve Jobs did with Apple the first time he built it.

Even better the second time when he was brought back and he re-invented it.

The products are great and easy for people to use.

I've had an iPhone for quite awhile and I moved to a MacBook Air in June 2013.

It's the best computer I have ever had.

  • Super easy to use
  • Very fast
  • Great design
  • Long battery life
  • Weighs just less than 3 lbs
  • Terrific telephone support

There's a lot of fun and useful things about the MacBook Air.

In June this year I had a problem with my MacBook.

The left speaker crackled intermittently. Which is not something you expect from an Apple product.

So I called AppleCare for help and they are almost always very good over the phone. The Apple tech agent walked me through the computer to do a reset and a computer share which didn't resolve the speaker problem.

AppleCare made an Apple Store appointment for me for the next day.

At the Apple Store it's an onslaught of hip Apple employees all dressed in official Apple tee-shirts with a super cool and relaxed demeanor.

After you get handed off to 3 very nicely trained people who can't help you then wait for the on-site tech who can.

Anyone who has been to the Apple Store knows it's loud. The decibel level has to be very high.

So I have a crackling speaker problem on a MacBook Air and the technician needs to hear it. Very lucky for me he does and they don't think I am imagining the problem.

That was good news.

The bad news was that they needed my MacBook for 3 days once the replacement speakers came in to the store. This meant I needed schlep back up to the Apple Store which is a 62 miles roundtrip and about one and 45 minutes of driving time if you catch a traffic break on I95. So my one trip to get my MacBook speakers up to speed would take 3 separate trips.

It was under warranty and Apple techs confirmed that there was a speaker crackling problem.

I followed the Apple servicing process and they fixed my MacBook Air's speakers. We tested it at the Apple Store and everything was as it should be.

Or so we thought.

Mid-September the same thing happens all over again. Speaker crackling and I call Apple Support. We run through their diagnostic process and reset. That fails. We schedule a visit to the Genius's at the Apple Store and I schlep up their once again. Where the Apple Genius wants to replace the speakers again and go through the MacBook to see if there is another problem.

They order new parts. And I go through the 3 trip drop off and retrieve Apple Process once again.

Not 4 weeks later speaker is crackling again.

I do the Apple Care telephone support and Genius Bar scheduling dance where I asked that a manager meet with me. I get to the Apple Store and go through the phalanx of Apple Tee-shirted people who can't help me and after waiting I meet with Helen the manager.

I explained to Helen that this now the 3rd time for my MacBook Air's speakers to fail. And I said that as good as the Apple Geniuses are they can't get my MacBook right and that it was a waste of my time to keep trudging back and forth to the Apple Store. Was it time for Helen to replace my MacBook Air with a new machine that fully functioned?

Helen convinces me to let her send the MacBook out to Apple's service center for better diagnostics and to a place that would have any part my computer would need. I agreed to it.

5 days go by and I receive my notification that the repairs were done.

This time Apple replaced the speakers (the 3rd time) and in addition a new Logic Board.

It didn't take but a few days and the speakers started to crackle again.

So I make the appointment and go to the store. I ask for Helen and I get Eileen. I tell Eileen the speaker story and she gets a Genius.

Let me take a break and tell you some of my observations of the Apple Store and the Apple Way. When things are easy to fix or user error the Apple Way works. And if you're buying something they have that down to perfection.

Apple team members have no last names and you can't tell a manager from a janitor since they all wear the very same hip Apple Tee-shirt. My thinking is you should not trust a company whose employees have no names. Apple has a reason for this and it's not to help you.

The Apple Way is designed to control you.

The hand off from employee to employee and queueing to wait for the Genius or manager.

The assault on your hearing with the noise levels and super bright lights.

The presence of uniformed and armed police.

The Stepford Wives trained all too nice staff.

Eileen and the Genius can't get the speaker to crackle and hear the noise. I suggest to Eileen that it is time to replace the MacBook. She wants the Genius tech to look it over.

The Genius complete's his inspection and another hip Apple employee tells me my options. Well there was only one option. Get a 4th set of speakers. To which I object ( the Apple hipsters do not like objections) and am told that maybe there really isn't a speaker problem.

Now I have been more than reasonable about a product that I love. But my Apple hipster has gone too far and I step it up a notch and she does not like it. She feigns a righteous indignation and runs off to get Eileen since she refuses to deal with me any longer if I am going to be difficult.

Eileen and I recap my MacBook speaker adventure and she now thinks it's a good idea to replace my MacBook right then and there. So back to the Genius Bar to set up the new MacBook and move my data.

So I won. I beat Apple. Just barely.

They were never going to offer a replacement Macbook. And they will make you earn it. The Apple Way is designed to suit Apple it's not about you.

After over 30 hours of my time and having driven 700 miles on this problem I am back to where I started with the exact same computer I originally bought.

If you haven't tried a MacBook Air I recommend it.

There is a huge difference between a problem and an inconvenience. You know it, I know it and your customers know it.

Listen to what happened to me the other day. We ordered a new copy machine at Telephone Doctor.

Gentleman brings the machine into the office. As he's installing the machine, one of the ladies sees the screen has a rather large crack on it and tells the installer. The young man who wheeled in the machine came looking for me to tell me and proudly exclaims, "Mrs. Friedman, we have a problem."

Because I am a problem solver I asked, "What is it?"

"Well," he says, "the screen on the copier machine is cracked."

I say, "Can it be fixed?" He says, "yes ma'am."

"Well, then," I tell him, "we don't have a problem, we have a minor inconvenience." He thought about that and then smiled.

"When can it be fixed?" I ask. "Oh, today for sure," he says.

Then I assured him, "We don't even have an inconvenience."

Why even use the word 'problem?' Why alert the customer to that? If you really need to let them know something isn't right. Use the word "inconvenience" and then to really simplify it, slice it into 'minor inconvenience' or 'major inconvenience.'

Customers are able to handle 'inconveniences.' Minor or major. They do not like problems. So avoid that word.

When you have a major inconvenience, be sure you have a major answer.

Remember Sales 101: When you're part of the problem, you need to be part of the solution.

Replace the word 'problem' with 'inconvenience.' Watch what happens - the entire situation goes down much better.

# # #

Nancy Friedman is a featured keynote customer service speaker covering communications skills and showing you how to capture & navigate the call.

Want Nancy to speak at your meeting? Call for a speaking demo & full information packet of Nancy - 314.291.1012, visit www.nancyfriedman.com or email [email protected].

Nancy is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and hundreds of other radio and TV shows.

The author of eight books on sales and customer service, Nancy is the spokesperson in the popular Telephone Doctor customer service training programs.

For a complimentary copy of Nancy's eBook, Hidden Gems of Customer Service, please click here.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

My entire career has been focused on developing ways to help companies communicate better with their customers.

Great customer service is sought by most everyone. Businesses go out of their way to give good customer service. Some make it; some don't.

Customers go out of their way looking for companies that give great customer service. Some find it; some don't.

We have tried so very hard to explain to both sides - the customer and the business, it's not rocket science; it's not brain surgery. It's plain old common sense. But you and I know common sense is not out there.

People love to vent. One of our books, Customer Service Nightmares, is proof of that. They love to report on how badly they've been handled.

I cannot count the number of articles out there on customer service. Some are good, some not; some have new ideas; some speak the old tried and true. And that's where Telephone Doctor customer service training comes into play; plain old customer service.

We call it 'Back to Basics.' You can imagine we have hundreds, if not thousands of ideas, tips, skills and techniques to share. Today we bring you 15; fifteen customer service tips that are good old common sense thoughts.

Short, sweet and to the point. Enjoy.

In no important order. They all should be #1.

  1. "Please" and "thank you" always have been, and always will be, powerful words. Seldom overused.
  2. "You're welcome" is the best replacement for "no problem."
  3. "Sorry 'bout that" is not an apology. It's a cliché. "My apologies" is much better.
  4. A frown is a smile upside down. Stand on your head if you must; but SMILE, darn it!
  5. You cannot do two things well at once. Pay attention to the call or the customer.
  6. One word answers on email or in person are considered cold and rude. Three words make a sentence.
  7. Learn what phrases frustrate your customers. They're probably the same ones that bother you.
  8. When was the last time you sent flowers to someone just because?
  9. Drop a personal handwritten note to a client and just say "thanks for being a good client."
  10. "Hey, how 'ya doing?" is not a great way to start up a conversation. It's not any way to start up a conversation. Period.
  11. Out with friends or family? Put the cell phone away. Talk for 30 minutes. (If you remember how.)
  12. Email manners? The same as phone and in person.
  13. The old "don't tell 'em what you can't do; tell 'em what you can do" applies to most, if not all, customer interactions.
  14. Get excited! Make sure you say something fun, nice and appropriate.
  15. Oh, and smile. That needed to be said twice. A phony smile is better than a real frown.

If you start with these tips, skills, ideas and techniques, you'll notice a big difference in how your customers respond.

Yes, there are many more; didn't want to overdose on this. More coming during the year. Thanks.

###

Nancy Friedman is a keynote speaker on customer service at franchise, corporate, and association meetings. The author of 8 books, Nancy's articles have appeared in Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other major dailies. President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, she can be reached at 314 291 1012 or www.nancyfriedman.com.

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.

# # #

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.

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?

# # #

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.

As most of you are aware, all the stories we share with you at our onsite programs and in our newsletters, blogs, etc., are 'true.' Nothing is made up. They either happened to me personally, I witnessed them, or I verified the information if I am going to share it. Credibility is key to Telephone Doctor.

We don't make anything up. That being said, I want to share a story that happened to me the other weekend.

It's a clear example of WHY we don't need to agree with the customer all the time.

I went into my bank prepared to make some minor changes to a few accounts. It was a Saturday and the only other folks in the bank were the teller and the one lady (who never gave me her name and had no badge) who tried to help me.

I say 'tried' because it was a comedy of errors. Now, please know, just because I'm the Telephone Doctor I do not make a big deal out of poor service. I don't try and teach the person what to do on the spot when I don't agree. If they've done something not customer friendly I usually spank them with my wallet and go elsewhere. Very few people appreciate on the spot training. So I just take notes.

Anyway, after many faux pas in her service I get up to leave. I turned around to her and said (with a smile), "Oh, by the way, you're online banking stinks. It's not very user friendly."

Drum roll please.

Without missing a beat she says to me, "Oh yes, we hear that a lot." (Almost as though she was proud of it.)

All I could muster up was a blank stare. I released my shock and said, "OK, have a nice day." I got the same back.

While I didn't tell her what to say, I will tell you, our readers.

  • She never introduced herself. (I should have asked, but I waited to see if she would.)
  • She didn't ask for my name; just my account number.
  • She rarely smiled.
  • At the end when I asked, "I wonder, could I have done this over the phone?" She nicely said, "Sure you could have." (Why didn't she tell me that first?)

So again, I didn't try and 'fix' her on these points. But when I told her how bad the online banking was and have her tell me, "Yes, we hear that a lot." That floored me.

Where was: "Oh my goodness, tell me what happened."

Where was a pen and paper to jot my notes down as I told her my concerns about their online banking so she might share with whatever department to fix it?

Where was some sympathy? Had she ever had the same problems?

Why didn't she let me know, if this ever happens again, we can make it easier for you on the phone. You wouldn't need to make a special trip.

Where was her training?

Sorry folks, this is basic Customer Service 101.

Let's hear your own stories.

The 'BEST,' or shall we say, the worst will win a set of three (3) Telephone Doctor books.

Reminder: Listen to the customer. They aren't always looking for you to agree with them; sometimes they just need you to help them; to hear them; to see them; to listen to them.

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 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.

To download our Ebook, click here

Love to get your feedback. [email protected] 

Changing things for the better requires an element of risk.

After a large reorganization of a major QSR franchisor I worked for, I ended up with greater responsibility and not enough resources.

We had a  set way of doing things - lots of procedures & steps. And that was fine when we had more people.  But not now.

I also had a new boss.

He wasn't actually new to me. Reporting to him was new.

(My old boss took an "early retirement" as part of the reorganization.)

I had been with the QSR just over two years.

The new responsibilities were a bit of a shock.  However,  I did have some new ideas on how to make things work and sell some  more franchises. 

So I got to work.

High Rick Image.jpg

One of my first ideas was to change how we processed incoming leads. Very basic but important stuff on how we answered the phone.  Yes, leads in the early 1990s came in mostly by telephone & we screened and qualified inquiries.

My small team of three developed a plan. I wrote the plan up and then scheduled time with my boss to see what he thought. It wasn't a major change and so he approved it.

The second thing I wanted to do was to change some of our lead generation plans. I wasn't changing the budget but I was rebalancing the allocations.  I went to my boss presented the plan and got it approved, too.

Now I had great boss. He was open to new ways of doing things and wanted the new franchise development to be successful. 

I had a big job to do and more improvements planned.

But, when I brought to my boss my third idea for his blessing he stopped me dead in my tracks and asked me a question?

"When are you going to take some risks and stop asking for permission on everything you think is best to do?"

He didn't need to spend more time listening to my explanations.

He told me he would know if it was a good idea down the road when the franchise results for the year were accounted for.

So I took some risks, without asking for permission first.  Made a lot of sales that way. Sales to some great franchise operators!

When you need for your franchise sales process, don't ask for permssion, just contact us & we'll get started right away.

A recent email we received below gave us some good ammunition for this blog.

 

While the industry, as you can see, is in the legal profession, believe me, it can happen in every industry.

It's from an attorney, and Mike Webster tells me that this is par for the course.

 

1. Around 1:00 p.m. today I returned opposing counsel's telephone call from this morning.

2. The first person that answered the phone took my name and asked me to hold while he checked to see if she was back from lunch.

3. After a short hold, he came back on the line and transferred my call.

4. Now, at this point opposing counsel's assistant answered the phone.

5. She had to take  my name for the second time and then put me back on hold.

6. After holding a couple of minutes, opposing counsel's assistant came back on the line and asked if I could call back in twenty minutes!

7. I am sure that her assistant told opposing counsel that I am a jerk because I answered, "No, I am calling her back now."

 

How many .1 of an hour were billed for this non-communication do you think?

Ordering via tablets is making its way into restaurants and the quick serve industry, and it has proven successful.

Panera is one that a tablet was recently spotted - after watching customers, it seemed that customers were receptive to the concept and turned to the tablet to place orders versus waiting in line.

The system allows customers to place their order without waiting in line. After their meal, the receipt is sent to the customer via email, and a quick feedback survey consisting of three questions is included. This is a great example of how Panera is making the most of the tablet technology.

In sit down restaurants, the increased sales and tips are being realized.

According to a recent study, the use of tablet ordering cuts the meal time by seven minutes - not only is this more efficient for guests, but it also allows for tables to be turned over more quickly.

For servers, that is good news: more tables can result in higher tips.

tip.png

To add to the increased efficiency and resulting guest satisfaction, tablet based ordering can take things to the next level with restaurant guests, if tablet based consoles are used to their maximum potential.

For example, the Customer Engagement Console allows for a robust program that can incorporate customer feedback, encouragement to sign up for loyalty programs, and a gateway for guests to join the restaurant on social media while they're still at their table.

Throw in a feedback survey and restaurants have a quick, efficient way to truly engage with the customer on various levels while ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Technology is making improvements for the restaurant industry. While retailers may be a bit slower to adapt to the tablets in their locations, I anticipate that this will increase significantly in 2014.

If you want to know more about how a modern customer loyalty program would work for you, drop me a line on LinkedIn.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

Everyone's busy, stressed out and short of time.  

Are we forgetting some people?  

We usually remember to thank our customers.

And we probably don't have any trouble thanking family.

However, there is a group of folks that are often left out of the "thank you" pile. 

And that would be our co-workers. 

Known as our INTERNAL customers.

The folks we spend most of the day with side-by-side. The folks that are thought of as our 'home away from home' family.  

Sure, we argue and disagree with co-workers just like our family. And that's OK, because most of us have a family environment in our office. We understand that.

It's our office family. 

Our word of the day is: WACTEO.  

No need to look it up . . . we made it up. Here are the ground rules for WACTEO: We Are Customers To Each Other: 

 

1.    Understand Your Role - Each employee should know the mission of their organization and the role they play. Those of us who are in a small department of a large company can often times miss the big picture. If you don't know the mission of your company, ask for it. Keep it at your desk. It will help you with the big picture. You may start to understand the 'why' of the things you're asked to do sometimes and 'why' internal customer service is everyone's responsibility from president to maintenance. If management isn't doing their part, often times the entire customer service program will go out the window. We don't want double standards. Remember it starts at the top!  

2.    Respect Employee Differences - Cub fan? Cardinal fan? Republican? Democrat? Rock music, classical, whatever. Just because we don't agree with someone doesn't make us right. Differences are crucial for an organization. Differences are key to understanding people. If everyone thought the same way, most of us wouldn't be needed. It's not healthy to argue just because a co-worker isn't doing it the way you would or thinking the way you do. Learn to respect the differences. That's why we have chocolate and vanilla ice cream.  

3.    Recognize the Personal Space of Others - Simply put, this boils down to the golden rule. Those who can work with a radio playing music may disturb others around them who aren't able to concentrate. Loud voices around someone who's on the phone with an external customer can be annoying also. If you're working in a cubical or sharing an office or area, we need to recognize there are others around you. Be sensitive to their wishes, as you would hope they would be to yours. 

4.    Work to Resolve Conflicts - Who hasn't had unkind words with another employee? Or perhaps you and a co-worker strongly disagree on a project or idea. Not trying to make it work can only lead to more stress and frustration. Learn to work it out (notice I didn't say 'try' and work it out), even if you need to call in a professional in the area. Normally someone from HR or another trusted employee can usually be of help on conflict resolutions.  

5.    Show Appreciation - We saved this for last because being appreciated, showing you care with a genuine 'thank you,' is critical to WACTEO. It can be a note, a phone call or just stopping by an office and letting someone know they did a great job. This makes a huge difference in our internal relationships. There are surveys upon surveys that show how much a genuine pat on the back of appreciation is thought of as a way of special compensation.

 

A recent IFA Annual Conference speaker, Nancy speaks at franchise meetings across the country.

Her passion for the small business is second only to her techniques on sales and customer service.

Her reviews at IFA were off the chart. Contact Nancy personally about your meetings.

Everyone in sales hears, at one time or another: "We cannot afford your proposal."

Sometimes you just have to listen more, as this story shows:

But, sometimes people are objecting to your price. This is at least (2) different types of objections.

1 .The first objection dismisses your solution to their problem.

Your solution doesn't solve anything for them because they don't have that problem. So, they say "we cannot afford this". These people are not qualified to buy from you. You should sell them something cheaper or simply move on.

2. But, the second type of objection -which uses the same words- is different objection entirely.

The need is acknowledged as real, your solution a good one - but, your solution cannot work here and now because we don't have new sources of funding. These people are qualified to buy from you, but they are not ready yet.

Be clear on which type of objection you are hearing.

Responding to the second type of objection can be hard. After the budget has been set, it assumes a permanence that is unrealistic.

Instead, trying asking:

"Well, if we had been considering this proposal at the time we set the budget, what would we have done? What would we have cut out then & what cannot we do that now?"

And, see if you can get away with "we" instead of "you".

1. Most good ideas have to find funding.

2. More money is never allocated in the budget line under: "Good ideas, to come later."

Here is one trick that I know works for franchise vendors: If the franchisor has no more marketing spend, then ask about their training budget.

Many times a franchisor needs an educated or trained franchise owner for the system to work better.

So, ask for some training dollars, put on a workshop, and gather up some interested names/emails.

Follow-up with a nurturing newsletter program. Rinse and repeat with another franchise system.

(Inspiration for article: Buy-In website.)

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

If someone asked you 20 years ago which newspaper they should advertise in for franchise leads, you would want to know several things.

How big was the circulation of the newspaper? Was it a serious paper with articles on finance and business? Who were the readers?

Now, you have many more options: print, online, press release, display ads, search, pay per click, business directories, and trade shows.

How can you get more from my franchise lead budget with all these various options? How do I re-balance between them? What makes sense as a better balance? How do you decide where to advertise?

The basic methodology remains the same as it was 20 years ago.

And fortunately, much of the answers are far more transparent today than 20 years ago.

The General Test

1. How much am I spending now, in a particular medium?

2. What are the general metrics for that medium in terms of readers & time spent?

3. Are there cheaper substitutes which have similar engagement metrics? If so, put more money into the cheaper but similar substitutes and see if you get more leads. Repeat every 6 months to a year.

Here is a simple example, using data from 2012.

We know from the 2012 Franchise Update Survey that the median spend for lead generation is between $150 - $175k.

Ad Balance.png

1. The Franchise Portal Spend

On average, then people are spending between around $42,000 and $51,000 on advertising for leads using Franchise Portals.

In essence, the format on the Franchise Portal is a display ad in a business directory with an application form to fill out for more details.

2. What are the Engagement Scores of the Franchise Portals?

It is very easy to get some objective comparsions between the various Franchise Portals.

I compared our site, franchise-info.ca to 4 webportals: franchise.com, franchisegator.com, franchisedirect.com & franchising.com, in 2012.

Click on the image below to expand it.

Webportals.png


First, you want to focus the rank in US.

1. Franchisedirect

2. Franchisegator

3. Franchise-Info

4. Franchising.com

5. Franchise.com


Second, you want to pick some measure of engagment, say time on the site.

1. Franchise-Info

2. Franchisedirect

3. Franchisegator

4. Franchise.com

5. Franchising.com


Or you might pick pageviews, as another measure of engagement.

1. Franchise-Info

2. Franchisedirect

3. Franchise.com

4. Franchisegator

5. Franchising.com

3. Are there cheaper substitutes with similar engagement scores & that should produce the same number of leads for less?


Suppose your budget shows that you have been paying $800/month per display ad for portal 1 and $600/month for portal 2.

First, forget about the actual leads because we are interested in maximizing expected leads.

Second, is portal 2 more engaging than portal 1?

This calls for some judgment about how to balance relative rank against pageviews and time spent.

Make your decision, record the reasons why, and then revisit it in 6 months. Do the numbers still make sense? Is there evidence that you made the right trade-off? Should you rebalance again?

Keep at it and over time this rebalancing method will prove to produce better leads for less dollars.

If you want to use LinkedIn to recruit franchise operators, ask us to send you the LinkedIn Sponsored Content Guide. We will sign you up for our LinkedIn Marketing Tips newsletter, too.

What type of theatre experience have you ever had?

Why do I ask you that question?

Because if you have ever been on stage in a play, part of a band, chorus, dance group, stage manager, grip, sound, prompter, make up, lighting, director, or any form of theatre where the audience and other co-workers are depending on you, then you probably already know the answer to why I ask.

And you probably have a great background for customer service!

I have a professional theatre background and it has helped my career thrive immensely in the customer service arena. Now, it doesn't mean if you don't have a theatre background you won't be good in customer service, it just means you'll understand the mentality of customer service faster, and perhaps better.

Theatre 101, as I call it, is a perfect precursor to being in customer service. It prepares you in the best way for all these topics and many more.

I fibbed, there are more than 11 skills.

That's a good thing though. Here they are.

* Interacting with others

* Being on time

* Knowing priorities

* Learning how to say something even when you forget your lines

* Knowing how to have a phony smile even when you don't want to

* Understanding your problems are just that: your problems

* Learning to work well with others, even if you don't like them

* Understanding how it all 'comes' together

* Helping others when they forget or don't know what to say

* Learning the "show must go on" mentality

* Learning how to read a script without sounding like it

* Knowing the applause is for everyone

* No complaining!

* Keeping your lines sounding fresh no matter how many times you've said them

* Getting it right "the first time"

* Practice, practice and more practice

* Learning to go with the flow

Here's a real life example of "The Show Must Go On" skill:

On the day of one of our Saturday performances (we did a matinee and evening show) I got a bee sting on my foot. It swelled up and I couldn't put my shoe on that foot.

I had a show to do at 2 PM. What to do? What to do? Sure, I could go barefoot, but that might ruin the show for the others. And certainly for the audience. Theatre minds do not want to do that.

So the theatre mind in me said, "Figure it out, Nancy. Do something. You need to be at the theatre in 1 hour and 45 minutes."

Theatre minds are not necessarily logical minds. However, we are spontaneous. We are quick thinkers. We know something has to be done and we figure out how. My husband has a bigger foot than I do so that was not going to look very good if I wore his shoes. (Didn't go with my outfit anyway.)

What to do? What to do?

I believe I did what most fellow actors would do. I thought of something. The stinger of the bee was removed. I took two aspirins and took my own shoes for the show with me to the theatre. I got to the theatre in time for the 30 minute call and told the stage manager (theatre translation: The Boss) what happened. "However," I said, "I'll be ok. It feels a little bit better and I can squeeze into the shoe."

So that's what I did. I squeezed into the shoe and the show went on. The performance was great. The audience never knew anything was wrong.

Was I in pain? Yes. However, I knew I had a job to do. I wasn't going to let the other actors down and I certainly wouldn't let the audience down. In essence they were all my customers. They were depending on me.

QUESTION: If you got a bee sting on your foot, would you go to work? Would you be able to talk with customers and not let that affect you? Would you complain about it, talk about it until others were sick of hearing about it?

The theatre mind is one that thinks of the audience before themselves. In reality it's the same with your customers. Think of them before you. Remember, customer service is the 'stage.' The customers are your 'audience.' Make yourself a STAR.

Thanks for reading.... 

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.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

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).

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.

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!

My mother lived with me in her last years. We enjoyed her sense of humor.

Here's part of that - that made me realize how useless the phrase, "Hi How are you?" is.

The house phone rang. Esther answered.

The man says, "Hi, Mrs. Friedman, this is Dan from XXX, How are you?"

My mother says - without missing a beat:

"I'm so glad you called, I have a bad case of diarrhea, a terrible migraine, been vomiting all day, my pacemaker is running slower than normal, and I have a bad rash.... How are you?

He said, 'well, compared to you - a hell of a lot better" and hung up.

Point being; "Hi how are you" is semi useless" Especially to those we don't even know. I've seen folks pass in the halls, in a mall, in an office, everywhere... one says, "Hi how are you?" The other says "fine, how are you"?... no one stops...they're still walking - and nothing was accomplished.

I've removed "Hi How are you" from my vocabulary. It's been replaced with any one of these phrases and I share them with you:

  • Good to see you.
  • Hi, you're looking well.
  • Thanks for being here
  • You look super.
  • Nice to hear your voice (On phone)
  • I'm glad you called. (On phone)
  • You're sounding great. (On phone)

There are more.. I just got the ball rolling......anything, but "Hi, how are you?"

I've changed my mind. It's not semi useless. Just useless.

Watch what happens when you change your tune. People start really listening to you.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

# # #

Nancy Friedman is a featured Keynote speaker and subject matter expert on Customer Service and Communications skills, at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. Nancy is the author of 8 books on sales and customer service and is the spokesperson in the popular DVD customer service training programs. For a demo of Nancy call 314 291 1012 or visit - www.nancyfriedman.com.

Fred; I have been pitched over the past 25 years in franchising all manner of snake oil for "profiling" and many have said that they can measure top performers and we could use the model to recruit high caliber and similar franchisees and employees. 

What do you say to a franchisor who wants a reliable predictive performance tool, other than buy yours? 

How should they approach it practical manner?  What should they expect from using such a tool?

fred berni1.jpgJoe - Let's start with the 5 basics of all good design.

1. Predict Performance:

Make sure that whatever system you're considering was actually designed to predict performance for the job, in this case, owning a franchise.

2. Designed for Selection or Recruitment

Make sure the system under consideration was designed for selection. Several of the most common personality profiles specifically state on their websites that they were not designed for selection.

One even goes so far as to say it's unethical to use it for selection. Even so, people are out selling these profiles for selection purposes.

3. Don't Discriminate in an unreasonable manner.

Third, make sure that the system you're considering does not discriminate. Even unintentionally. See Griggs v. Duke Power Co. A good summary is at http://www.answers.com/topic/griggs-v-duke-power-co#ixzz32NTJOd4J

4.  Verify Performance Carefully, using an Independent 3rd Party.

Unfortunately, there's no simple way to run an analysis between performance and "profile scores". No matter what you're told.

There's a fair amount of complexity involved in comparing scores and actual performance.

And by performance, I don't mean simply a gut feeling of they're good or bad.

That's subjective criteria because the ratings can change depending on who's doing the rating and their relationship to the franchisee. That's not to say you can't use subjective data, just that if it's available, use objective data with subjective thrown in.

Objective data is something to which you can relate to hard numbers.

Things like actual $ sales per location, % increase one year over the next etc. I've even had clients in auto repair use $ sales per bay.

It all works as long as you can put a hard number on it. Then you have to use rigorous scientific methods to analyse the relationships between "profile" scores and performance. Hopefully this analysis is done by a 3rd party with no stake in how the results turn out.

5.  Include Everyone and Increase Sample Size.

You'll need to include good, bad and average performers.

Here's an example of what I mean: Let's assume you've just made a movie and want to project what your ticket sales will likely be.

If you only include good reviews you could say that 100% of the people that saw the movie like it.

True, but not accurate. Only by adding the bad and average do you get an accurate idea.

In the same scenario, how many people would you need to ask before you are comfortable with a projection? Five? Ten? Twenty-five? One hundred?

Generally accepted sample sizes are a minimum of 100 before you can accurately predict performance. Anything less than that and the best you could do would be to assume you've identified a possible trend.

As far a reliability is concerned, my definition is to be able to say with 95+% confidence that the there's a definite causal relationship between performance and profile scores.

With larger sample sizes, our confidence level could be 99.5% or even higher.

Having said that, it really boils down to what you're willing to accept as being reliable. Being able to predict accurately 50% of the time? 75%? 95%? What's your comfort level?

The bottom line is that it's simply not appropriate, accurate or legally defensible to just pick your  1. or 20 franchisees and base your decisions on that small a sample. Even if you include poor performers in the mix.

Having said that, if the system you're considering was developed to predict performance of franchisees in similar type of franchises, and can provide you with documentation of such, in all likelihood you'd be safe just going with the "template" already designed by the developer of the system.

Hope that answers your question Joe. Did I miss anything?

Of the many experiences we all have each day involving customer service, only a few may be memorably pleasant. Some may be okay. Some may even be abrasive. Shouldn't they all be great? 

Don't you think customers would be delighted in being treated one way, to have uniformly excellent service in each encounter? Wouldn't it be great to always receive "Business Friendly" customer service? Well, why isn't it that way? 

Bottom Line: The biggest mistake customer service professionals make is not treating customer's friendly enough. Somehow the cold, aloof, reserved, overly formal method of handling people has come to be considered "businesslike." But that's not true. It comes across like frostbite. To the customer it can sound curt, bored, and uncaring. It's costing companies billions of dollars in lost opportunities! 

"Business Friendly," simply put, is the middle ground between being too cold, impersonal, or uncaring, and the other extreme of being too familiar too fast. 

Want to deliver GREAT Business Friendly Customer Service? It involves the following: 

1. Treat every customer as unique; don't become desensitized. During a typical day you probably handle repetitive questions; the same thing over and over. Toward the end of the day the "lots of calls fatigue" syndrome sets in and your energy level begins to sag. This is when you need to avoid becoming desensitized, to avoid sounding bored and uncaring and unpleasant to customers. Every customer deserves the same uniform excellence, no matter what time of the day they call.

2. Solve the problem; don't argue! When a customer is wrong, and sometimes they are, it's not a good idea to tell them that they are wrong. Don't argue. Good "Business Friendly" customer service focuses on solving the problem, not identifying and placing the blame!

3. Show empathy; don't ignore what they say! Empathy is defined as the ability to share in another's emotions, thoughts, or feelings. When someone describes a problem or a situation, don't ignore it! Say something that shows you heard, understand, and share in the matter. Be empathetic. Reach out to involve yourself in the caller's experience. This indicates that you're being "Business Friendly."

4. Smile; don't be cold! A smile in your voice makes all the difference in the world. Yes, you can hear it! Without the smile in your voice, the listener's perception is that you aren't very friendly. It's like having a friendly expression on your face when you meet someone. Your smile is your friendly facial expression on the telephone. 

Simple as it sounds, these four steps will get you started on delivering great Business Friendly customer service. 

As a customer service professional, make it your goal to reach out and treat every customer with the same warm and caring manner. Your goal is uniform excellence. Make every contact memorably pleasant. To do that, make Telephone Doctor "Business Friendly" your goal. 

# # # 

Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor, is a keynote speaker at association, franchise and corporate meetings. She is the author of eight books on customer service and sales, has appeared on Fox News, CNN, Oprah, and dozens of other radio and TV shows. You can talk with Nancy at 314-291-1012, email her at [email protected] or visit www.nancyfriedman.com

"Variety made people less happy, not more" Daniel Gilbert

When I worked in a downtown law firm, there were many choices available for lunch. And groups of lawyers wasted much valuable time making these decisions.

But, for me, there were only two decision -left or right, once I got to the lobby doors.

298px-Stella_Artois_logo.svg.pngLeft at the lobby door meant going to Epicure, for a cheeseburger and a Stella.

Right, on the other hand, meant going to Tortilla Flats, for chili and a Creemore.

Monotony was the spice of my life.

Drove my partners crazy, who insisted on long & complex decision procedures for where to have lunch.

Our firm was located in the Fashion District of Toronto. So, there were many excellent restaurants in the area.

My partners insisted on full discovery rights before adopting a particular position about where to eat for lunch.

These "decisions" could take up to a better part of a 1/2 hour. Unremarkably, these searches produced no reliable decisions.

My Ph.D. in decision theory won me no respect. We "had" to engage in the search costs. Because everyone "knows" that variety is is the spice of life.

Turns out this is false & minimizing decision time also makes for a better lunch.

Daniel Gilbert, "Stumbling on Happiness", demonstrates that there is sound basis for my lunch simple rule.

No matter how lovely the view of lake, the quench of craft ale, the salty crunch of kosher chicken barbequed, all experiences fade to dull.

We become habituated.

There are two ways to beat habituation, or diminishing utility.

First, we can vary the experience. For example, we go to numerous craft beer tastings, or find different views of the lake, and so on.

The second way, however, is craftier: Simply increase the the time between the same pleasurable event.

"When episodes are sufficiently separated in time, variety is not unnecessary -- it can actually be costly".

Every other day, chili and Creemore is wonderful. As is a cheeseburger and Stella. You cannot do better if you searched high and low.

So, I told you this story just to make a bigger point - about customer loyalty programs.

If you are the franchise owner of Dunkins, Seattle's Best, or Krystal, then Daniel Gilbert has just designed your customer loyalty program.

Loyalty programs at QSR's are designed by the franchisor's staff who believe that only good things can come from offering loyal customers discounts, coupons, and other freebies. All of which come out of the franchise owner's pocket book.

But, Gilbert's scientific research offers a different loyalty program. It is simple. For the loyal customer, take away the menu choices. But spread out what they like over visits so they are habituated.

Sell subscriptions to a limited menu, available only to the loyal customers who had earned the privilege of beating 'the variety trap."

Help them make the only choices that count -left or right. They will have a better experience & make it to your location more often.

If you thought this was interesting and would like to read more in depth strategic stories, sign up here - you will be taken to a MailChimp signup page.

Child care marketing isn't easy whether you are an education center, kids gym, play space, or day care facility.  

Parents are extremely careful about which services they choose for their kids and do more research online than any other category.

Creating and executing child care marketing strategies are often the answer to low enrollment rates, even when operating on a small budget.

Below are 5 marketing tips a child care facility can implement to increase their enrollment.

1. Have a Modern and Mobile Website

The first step is to have a modern website that can be found by search engines and is mobile friendly. A website is crucial in order to grow a business and help develop the company brand. Without a quality website, parents may not even know services you provide. When somebody doesn't have a friend's referral they go to the Internet to find a local business, most of the time they will not click beyond the first page of search engine results page.

Abrakadoodle has done a great job with their website. The navigation bar is simple, yet effective. A parent unfamiliar with your offerings wants to learn more about your business and programs. If they like what they see, they will want to know your locations. All of this information is easily found within the navigation bar and also contains the same links within the footer.

2. Embrace Local SEO (local search engine optimization)

This means companies need to embrace how they appear on local search engines. Local SEO incorporates several strategies and tactics with the goal of positioning your website on Google's first or second page, your Google Place page on map searches, and your directory profiles on local and mobile searches. Very few people are going to open a phone book to find a child care facility, most people going to ask a friend or are going to perform a local search on their favorite search engine. If you aren't listed on the first or second page of Google and local directories, you won't hear your phone ring as often as you should. See 5 Steps to Local SEO Success.

3. Embrace Content Marketing As More Than Blogging

Content marketing should also be considered when marketing your business; it's a great way to build connection with parents. It allows parents to understand what actually goes on in your facility. If possible, try to include pictures within your articles; as you are much more likely to gain trust and visual elements make social media sharing more compelling.  Leverage your content everywhere you are online.  Use it to power newsletters, social media posts and use keywords throughout your copy, titles and URLs to help you win important local search keywords.   Remember, building a compelling content footprint online is critical to controlling your reputation. See Content Marketing - The Future of Local Brand Marketing.

4. Drive Your Social Reputation on Social Media Networks

Being active on the social networks that reach parents should also be a cornerstone to your marketing plan. Parents need to feel comfortable leaving their children in your care and will look online for reviews, what you put out there and what people put out there about you. By embracing content and social media marketing, you are able to develop trust, control the conversation with your topics, and show them how your run your business while you care for their child.   Your values can shine through and by communicating regularly with your loyal customers, you are more likely to solicit positive reviews (see 8 Simple Tips to Get Positive Yelp and Google+ Reviews).

Below are great tweets from Citibabes (a family membership club offering educational and fun family activities). The tweets are great for a couple of reasons. First, they include pictures and link to their Instagram account. Second, they are using popular hashtags such as #graduationday and also incorporate geographic hashtags, i.e. #NYC and #SoHo.

5. Remember Email Marketing Still Has the Highest ROI 

Child care facilities need to embrace email marketing to retain their current parents and upsell them to new services. Your parents want to know what is going on at your facility, as well as being informed about your new activities and events. Not only will existing parents find more reasons to come back, they will also take your emails and forward them to their friends who have children.  Email marketing returns $38 for every $1 spent and is still the most underutilized marketing channel in the child care marketing space in our opinion. See 6 Steps to Better Email Marketing.

If you utilize these 5 modern marketing channels, you will stop losing potential clients, increase repeat customers and start to see your child care enrollment increase.

Name? Account number? Zip code? Mother's maiden name? Sort of sounds like a prison movie, doesn't it? 

Well, it's not. It's the start of a pretty average call in many a call center. Why? In most cases, the call center agent hasn't been shown another way to answer a call. 

his next story illustrates why it's important for agents to gather information from callers without sounding like Wanda the Witch or Warren the Warden! 

My wallet was stolen a few months ago. Fortunately, I remembered the names of the credit cards I was carrying. Unfortunately, my wallet with all the credit cards also had my checkbook. 

My first response was to list the cards that I knew were in my wallet. I then began the daunting task of calling each of the major credit card companies to report the loss. Perhaps because of the type of work I do every day and because of the horror stories I've heard, I have become "Mrs. Perfect Customer." I don't yell, I don't belittle, and I don't get angry. I smile and try to help the call along. I'm really a good customer. 

With this in mind, I picked up the phone and made my first call to one of the credit card companies. "Hi, my name is Nancy Friedman," I said. "I'm in Orlando,Florida, and my wallet with all my credit cards has just been stolen and I wanted to report it right away." 

"NAME?" said the agent with the voice of a warden. 

I always give my name up front, as I had this time. Obviously, the agent who answered the phone didn't hear it, didn't write it down or didn't remember it. So I repeated my name and spelled it for her. (I don't like to get mail to Nancy Freeman.) 

"ACCOUNT NUMBER?" 

I thought one of us had better have a sense of humor, and I could tell it wasn't coming from the other end, so I said, "Well, I have my phone number, address and birthday memorized. I never got around to memorizing all my credit card numbers, and if you recall, my wallet with that information was stolen." 

Dead silence. Then I heard, "PHONE NUMBER?" 

Well, it went downward from there. I won't burden you with the rest of the conversation. Suffice to say, I was disappointed. There wasn't one word of sympathy or empathy from this agent. She sure didn't have what I refer to as the 'care gene.' She had a job to do and by gosh, she was going to do it and in record time, too. 

I had six credit cards in my wallet. When I called to report the loss of each one of them, none of the credit card companies acknowledged my problem. It was hard for me to believe, too. Probably the worst experience I had was when I called the bank concerning my checks. When I told my saga to the bank, the woman I spoke with asked the questions as though I had been the one who stole the wallet.

What does the behavior of the agents at the bank and the credit card companies say to me, the customer? It says that maybe I should take my business somewhere else. 

To keep customers satisfied and loyal to your company, it is crucial that an agent build rapport with every customer at the beginning of each call, whether the customer is calling to discuss a problem, a concern or an inconvenience. 

The agent who answers the call should acknowledge what the customer is saying and use the same words that the customer says, as in the following example: 

Caller: "I just lost my wallet." Agent: "Your wallet? I'm so sorry. Let me get your name and we'll see how we can help." 

Learning how to build rapport is an art, not a science.

You may recall Yul Brynner, the great actor, who appeared in the musical "The King and I" in more than 2,000 performances. He said the same words, night after night. Yet each performance was award winning. Why? Because each performance he gave was to a different audience.

I imagine he got tired of the script sometimes. Yet because he knew the audience was new each night, he made his lines sound fresh every time. 

For call center agents, the telephone is the stage and the mouthpiece is the curtain. One of the best ways agents can be sure to convey empathy is to practice the lines they say most often so that they sound different every time. 

I sympathize with agents who work in centers that receive enormous numbers of calls. But I also hear all sorts of excuses. One of the most common is: "Gee,Nancy, we have to say the same thing over and over. It gets so boring." Or "Nancy, we're limited for time for each call." Or "Our policy is to get on and off the phone as quickly as possible." 

These are excuses. Not reasons. Although an agent may say the same thing over and over again, it's probably the caller's first time asking the question. And it isn't enough for agents to know the answers. They also have to reassure customers that they're ready to help them. When customers reach call center agents, they don't care how much they know - until they know how much they care. 

# # # 

Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor, is a keynote speaker at association, franchise and corporate meetings. She is the author of eight books on customer service and sales, has appeared on Fox News, CNN, Oprah, and dozens of other radio and TV shows. You can talk with Nancy at 314-291-1012, email her at [email protected] or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

Smart and savvy franchise buyers almost always ask for your Franchise Disclosure Document - FDD at the outset when they contact their target franchisors. 

Or they get the FDD from another source before inquiring directly to a franchisor.

franchise ABC.jpg

There are 23 Items in the FDD. 

The franchise buyer initially is looking at Item 7 Estimated Initial Investment and Item 19 Financial Performance Representation - FPR of the franchise concepts they are vetting.

Item 7 Estimated Initial Investment gives the prospective franchise buyer a high & low range for the investment.

Item 19 FPRs or what prior to 2008 was called an Earnings Claim provides franchise concept financial performance information.

The franchisor must have a reasonable basis for their Item 19 FPR.

Item 19 FPRs come in a variety of formats and level of financial detail can range from a minimal gross sales representation to full blown profit and loss statements.

Great franchise buyers use the Items 7 and 19 combination to develop a basic return on invested cash - ROIC calculation. 

This preliminary ROIC calculation helps rule in and rule out franchise concepts for further consideration.

  • Franchise concepts with Item 19 FPRs insufficient to estimate cash flow are ruled out.

  • ROIC calculations within the range of 3 to 5 years franchise investment payback are ruled in.

There are over 3000 franchises offered for sale in the United States. 

Only 40% or less of franchisors include the optional Item 19 FPR in their FDD. 

And the as competition increases in franchising more franchisors are including an Item 19 FPR or improving the quality and depth of financial disclosure they provide

Smart and savvy franchise buyers see little reason to spend time on potential franchise investments with franchisors who cannot or will not provide financial performance evidence proving that their franchise is investment grade.

If you are a franchisor without an Item 19, you are at a real competitive disadvantage.

So, give me a call to chat how we can help you with your Item 19.

Print leads were different from internet leads.

It used to be that a print lead would phone you after seeing your print ad.

While on the phone with the prospective purchaser, you had to qualify them financially.  

You also had to separate pretenders from the contenders.  In restaurant franchising, the pretenders would often want to know if we would come and "look at their site".  "Well, not until we are in the site selection phase - which happens after you sign the franchise agreement."

 

cold-call.jpg

Prospects were easier to qualify because they phoned you.

But over the last ten or eleven years, internet leads have replaced print leads.

Qualifying leads has grown exponentially harder for two reasons:

 

1.  There many more internet leads.

2.  It is very hard to get the internet lead on the phone.

I have spent many years reviewing a franchise sales programs - from the time when all the leads were print to now, when most of the leads are digital.

I have always found the same thing.  

Leads can be sorted or segmented into three groups: Cannot Buy, Ready to Buy & Not Ready to Buy, Yet.

Internet leads are much harder to segment because it takes so much time to get in contact with the lead.

We have developed some ad hoc systems to handle this problem, but we weren't really happy with this solutions performed.  

For example, telephone verification was either too costly or they did not sort the groups properly.

Early in 2013, we started experimenting with an entirely new system - one that relied upon some sophisticated autoresponder rules.  

We can classify a lead into: cannot buy, ready to buy, or not ready to buy, yet based on how the lead would respond to our messaging sequence.  

Best of all, it was a great combination of human verification & autoresponder technology.

Franchise Info Lead Filter Qualifier.png

We are confident that we can help you sort out your franchise lead problems.

So, give me a call to chat about your franchise lead problems.

Call Me at: 443-502-2636 

Click here to email me, Joe Caruso.

Nobody with any common sense will believe that having a tattoo helps you manage your franchise owners.

It is a silly idea.

But, here is what is not silly:

Asking your franchise owners to get a "tattoo".

What are they willing to commit to?

Here is Barry Nalebuff giving a great example of a commitment device- Get a Tattoo, for me.

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If you've ever trained a puppy, you learned how to negotiate. SIT! Good boy. Here's a treat. That's negotiation.

We negotiate with our KIDS every day. "If /when you finish your veggies, you can have the ice cream." That's negotiation.

And what about our spouses? "Honey, if I go out to the paint store and pick up the paint, will you paint the kitchen?" That's negotiation.

Point being while negotiation is thought of as a SALES SKILL, it really is an everyday life skill we use a lot more than we realize.

There are some areas that are non-negotiable. For example, try getting a discount at a department store. Unless it's on sale, the price is the price. In some industries, negotiation is the norm - real estate for example.

What about a car? It's a known fact there's a window sticker price and the price that you pay; a negotiated price.

That's an 'up front' negotiation. It's expected. And sometimes it doesn't go well.

Cut-Your-Price.jpgOne side won't budge or won't negotiate to your satisfaction, so someone loses. Usually both parties.

For negotiation to be successful, both parties need to feel good at the conclusion.

But if you're in sales, price cutting can be a daily negotiation.

Tips to make you better at negotiating:

1. Never, ever discount the price right off the bat. Often a price cut will get the salesperson more excited than the prospect. You may think going in with a lower price will make the prospect grateful and give you an easy 'go' right away. It usually won't. If they take your offer of the lower price, that indicates they might have taken it at the rate card price which is where you SHOULD be quoting from to start with.

2. When you talk price be strong and confident. A weak or hesitant delivery makes the salesperson sound soft. Then the price sounds soft and thereby invites a lower offer.

3. Delay giving concessions until the end of the conversation. A concession given too early is just a 'giveaway.' Save it for closing the sale by saying, "That's an interesting idea. Let's come back to that a bit later."

4. When there is a request for a price concession, have a nice way to reject it. Just because they have dealt with other weak salespeople doesn't mean you need to be that way. We can use a very effective, "I wish we could; however, that's not an option we have" technique. Or you can say, "Since you only have $4,000 and the project is $5,500, we can work to remove a few parts of the package."

5. Never underestimate your strength in a negotiating situation. Some prospects assume a salesperson is in the position of weakness. If you fall for that, that will weaken your resolve and soften your backbone. Understand this: If the prospect is bargaining with you or even discussing the proposal with you, that's an indicator of interest; a buying sign. Their actions are telling you without saying it outright you have something they need or want.

6. When do negotiations begin? When you say hello. Negotiations, in general, are ongoing all day long at work and at home. And it's often a subtle thing. Recognizing you're constantly involved in negotiation gives you an advantage. Be aware that life itself is a series of negotiating situations. You often are negotiating without realizing it.

7. Avoid goodwill conceding. (Thank you Gavin Kennedy - Everything is Negotiable for this concept.) The principle of "goodwill conceding" is this: The salesperson thinks that if they are nice and give a price concession to the other side, the other side will reciprocate with a concession back to you. In other words, they'll buy.

Nice idea. Only it backfires with a professional buyer. What they do is take what you offer and try to get more. (After all you're giving things away.)

8. When you give - GET. When you do give a price concession, use the 'if/then' technique so that you get something in return. "Mr. Jones, if I can get you the widgets at that price, is you able to give me the go-ahead today (or can we do business today)?" or "Mr. Jones, if I can give you that price, can I get a referral from you?"

There are dozens of other "gets" when you give. Salespeople don't mind giving when they are getting something in return. But perhaps the most important reason to take something back when you give a concession is this: It puts a 'price' on your concession. No longer are concession requests free. By asking for something in return, it keeps you from getting additional requests for concessions.

9. Why is it important to be a good negotiator? Because a bad negotiator leaks dollars and reduces the all important profit to the company. Profit is what's needed to run a company. No profit, no company.

Now, one closes suggestion: Whenever you can, substitute the word 'investment' for the word price. In most cases, the prospect is making an investment, and a good one at that.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association and corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. Nancy is the author of 8 books on sales and customer service and is the spokesperson in the popular DVD customer service training programs. For a demo of Nancy call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

Here are the top cusotmer service solutions we teach, train, and practice to perfection at the Telephone Doctor.

  • Be a DOUBLE CHECKER.

Learn to use those words. Everyone loves it when you double check something for them. Even if you're pretty sure the item is out of stock or the appointment is filled or there's no room available, it sounds so good to hear, "Let me double check that for you."

  • PRETEND IT'S YOU

If you're working with a customer, either on the phone or in person, and they need something, pretend it's you. What would you want to have happen? What would make you happy? What would make you satisfied? Here's a great place to remember the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

  • GET INVOLVED

Let your customer know you're on their team. If you're ringing up a purchase for someone, mention how nice their choice is. If you're helping someone with a trip of some sort get excited with them. When customers feel as though you're part of the package they love it.

  • STAY FOCUSED

Eye contact is critical in delivering excellent customer service. Heads that turn on a spindle and look everywhere but at the customer get very few good marks in customer service. Eye contact shows you are listening. If you're on the phone, eye contact is definitely difficult. We can, however, learn to stay focused on the phone. Don't type unless it pertains to what you are doing. Don't read something while you're on the phone with a customer . . . STAY FOCUSED on the caller. We need to stay focused without eye contact.

  • DO SOMETHING EXTRA.

There's usually always 'something' you can do for the customer that's extra. In most of the cases it won't even cost very much. Example: Keep a stock of penny lollipops for kids when they come into your store with the moms. Or a balloon. Or coloring books. Spend a few dollars if you have the budget for those "giveaways." Nail clippers . . . key chains . . . customers LOVE that something extra, oddly enough, even if they can't use it. The thought of getting something FREE is very special to the customer.

  • SHOW YOUR TEETH.

(In Telephone Doctor language that means to smile.) There are many people who think they're smiling, but aren't. So Telephone Doctor's motto is: SHOW YOUR TEETH. Smiling is one of the best customer service techniques there is. It's so frustrating to walk into a store, or call some place and not see or hear a smile. (And, yes, you can hear a smile!)

  • ASK QUESTIONS

A super way to offer superior customer service is to ASK QUESTIONS. Build on what the customer is talking about. Listen for one or two words that you can ask something about. Even a simple, "Tell me more," will work. Once the customer is talking, you will be able to help them much better.

  • USE COMPLETE SENTENCES

One word answers are semi-useless in customer service. And one word answers are definitely perceived as RUDE. "Yes," "no," and the like, tell the customer "I'm not really interested in you or what you need."

  • CARE

Most people have what Telephone Doctor calls the CARE GENE. Some of us use it more than others. We just forget we have it. Learn to CARE what your customer's needs are. CARE what they are referring to. CARE about your customers and they will take CARE of you.

  • LAUGHTER

Laughter will lighten the load. Everyone likes to laugh. Some even in the darkest moments. Take the time to laugh and enjoy your customers. 

Put any one of these Telephone Doctor customer service skills and techniques tips into action and watch what happens. They intertwine with each other and make customer service special. Use all ten and expect more business.

Ask us about our instant customer service, team building, conflict resolution, leadership and communication training library.

Anyone can talk about customer service, but only the Telephone Doctor can train your staff.

When you need customer service training, get it from a training company.

Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is a Keynote speaker at association conferences, franchise and corporate meetings.

You need her to inspire you to better customer service. She has inspired thousands to do better & she can help you too.

So, call Nancy at 314‑291‑1012 to book her for your next Keynote, or visit her on line at www.nancyfriedman.com.

The Franchise sales process has changed since I began over 20 years ago.

Back when I started out, people interested in franchises used the telephone to inquire and request information.

Because they saw our ads in the Wall Street Journal or some other important franchising magazine. 

We talked to them and sent our info packets out through the mail or UPS NextDay.  The sales process had begun.

But, today franchisors are building costly & elaborate franchise recruitment websites.

  • They give probable purchasers glossy franchise brochure PDF downloads.

  • They use higher-powered full-blown & expensive CRMs to move the probable purchasers through to a sale.

Yet, here's the biggest complaint I hear today from franchisors.

Their sales teams can't get people on the telephone. The leads will not call them back -or the phone number was fake.

Now that is a big problem. 

You cannot sell franchise to someone who won't answer their phone or call you.  

Why aren't they returning your calls?

You built a wonderful franchise "information platform". These probable purchasers have all the research they need.  Don't they?

But, they still won't return your call.

Do you know why?

The probable purchaser feels as though he doesn't need to talk to your franchise sales team members.  You have provided all the information.

You had the best of intentions. You wanted to make it easy for their sales team to sell franchises.  It is disappointing to spend all this money.

I know what the problem & I can fix it.

Because I have been doing franchise sales development for a very long time.

And Mike Webster knows a thing or two about how people really make franchise investment decisions.

So, when you need a combination of great practical skill and wonderful social science - which no other franchise developer group can give you- give us call and we will fix your sales process for you.

There are a lot of 'rules' in customer service, but few more important than the six we've listed here. Each makes a valid statement and will increase the satisfaction of your clients. 

Cardinal Rule #1 - Personal Responsibility/Accountability: Don't Pass the Buck 

In a recent survey, we found that "responsibility/accountability" is the number one characteristic employers want from their employees. 

Oh, there are lots of characteristics they'd like; however, the one that rose to the top consistently was responsibility/accountability. 

One of the most important attributes a team player can have is personal responsibility - personal accountability. Those that have it refuse to accuse, blame and complain. 

Those that do accuse, blame and complain break one of the most important cardinal rules. "Who" statements accuse and blame. "Who took my stapler?" A more positive manner might be: "I seem to have misplaced my stapler; has anyone seen it?" 

Remember to take full responsibility with the customer. The customer doesn't like to hear accusing, blaming and complaining statements. They know when you're passing the buck! 

Cardinal Rule #2 - People Before Paperwork 

When someone walks into your place of business or calls you while you're working on something, Cardinal Rule #2 says drop everything. Put what you're doing DOWN. Attend to that person. Remember, paperwork and other tasks can wait, people should not. Most of us have experienced being abused when we go shopping and have been ignored because the staffer is doing something else. We feel we're more important than whatever they're doing. Most of the time there isn't even any eye contact to say "one moment please" or "I'll be with you shortly." Which doesn't make it right; but at least there was some form of contact. 

Let's not abuse our own customers. Remember: People before paperwork. 

Cardinal Rule #3 - Don't RUSH Your Customers 

Sure, you may understand something real quick, but rushing the customer along will only lead to them feeling intimidated. Very often it's the first time the customer is hearing, learning or finding out about something that you've done over and over. 

And it's a good thing to remember to mirror their speed. A slow talker or a senior person won't take to being "done with" by you. Trying to be "done" with a customer as quickly as possible is seen as being rude and uncaring.

Rushing threatens customers. Take your time with each and every contact. 

Cardinal Rule #4 - Company Jargon 

Well we have text now so there are even more folks doing jargon. KWIM (Know what I Mean?); BRB (Be right back); IDK (I don't know). There is a BOOK of texting terms. It's a real OMG. 

Ever get a report from a company and not understand it? Some companies have company jargon, words and phrases that makes the CIA wonder what's up. Be very careful not to use your own company jargon on your customers. You and your employees may understand it very well, but the customer may not. And you'll only cause a lot of unnecessary confusion. Spell things out for your customers. Use easy words. Try not to abbreviate. As we say, remember, don't use military language on civilians. 

Cardinal Rule #5 - Don't Be Too Busy To Be Nice 

Hey, everyone's busy! That's what it's all about. Being busy does not give you carte blanche to be rude. Remember, you meet the same people going down as you do going up. They'll remember you. (What's worse than being busy? NOT being busy!) I kept this short because I figure it's easy to understand. The old golden rule: Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. 

Cardinal Rule # 6 - Be Friendly BEFORE You Know Who It Is 

There's a good lesson to be learned here. Telephone Doctor says: "Smile BEFORE you know who it is." Often times it's too late. Being friendly before you know who it is will earn you classic customer service points. The customer needs to know you want to work with them no matter who they are. Remember, sometimes it's way too late to smile and be friendly after you know who it is. 

Caller ID is not all it's cracked up to be. Many folks use other people's phones, extensions, etc. I have horror story after horror story about folks who picked up the phone "thinking" they knew who was on the line and said something inappropriate...only to find out...wrong person! 

Any one of these tips can boost your customer service! 

# # # #

 

Nancy Friedman, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training is a featured speaker at franchise, association and corporate meetings around the world. She has appeared on OPRAH, Fox News, The Today Show, CNN, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning.

Her articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, as well as hundreds of other print outlets. She is also the author of eight best-selling books.

For more information, log onto the www.nancyfriedman.com or call Nancy at 314 291 1012. You'll be glad you did.

Do you know what the number one skill in sales and service is?

I gave you a hint in the title. Right - listening skills.

Do we really LISTEN? Most of us 'hear,' but do we really listen to what people are saying?

What do you think the difference is between listening and hearing?

Bottom line: Hearing is physical. Listening is mental.

What do some folks do that others don't in order to be a good listener?

It's pretty simple. Take a TV commercial. Most of us normally hear it, but do we always listen to it? Probably not. Especially if it's about something we're not particularly interested in for ourselves.

Again, recall all the buzz about the Super Bowl ads.

We talk about the commercials before they're even on TV. How many can you remember now? My guess is you'll recall those that were of 'interest' to you. We probably 'heard' them. We may have watched them. But again, how many did we really listen to? Pay attention to?

Are there any methods, tricks, ideas, tips or techniques to make us better listeners?

Yes, there are. Listed below are 6 top skills of better listeners.

As with many things there are more for sure, but starting with these will help you a lot. Listen up!

1. Decide to be a Better Listener - That's like an attitude.

You can really decide to be a good listener. It's a decision.

Will everything be of interest or value to you? Maybe not, but not listening can be dangerous.

So make a mental decision to listen better to those you talk with; especially if you have asked them a question and they answer. We need to listen to them. We need to acknowledge. We can only intelligently answer and acknowledge if we are listening.

2. Welcome the Customer - On the phone, in person, in business or at a event.

We need to make the person feel welcomed. That in turn helps make you a much better listener. We need to be obviously friendly when we're talking with a customer. And it needs to be sincere. (Most folks can tell when you're not.) So bring a welcoming phrase to the table and use it to make the customer feel as though he's a long lost friend!

3. Concentrate - Listening is not the time for multi-tasking.

And today, we can all turn to the left or right and catch someone texting and probably trying to have an in person conversation as well. One of these things will be in trouble.

We simply cannot do two things well at once.

Your concentration must be on the conversation - in person or on the phone.

Do nothing else but 'listen.' Don't text, don't hold side conversations, and keep your eyes (and ears) on the person talking.

4. Keep an Open Mind - Well, why do we need to do this?

I'll tell you why. There are some of us who think we know what the other person is going to say before they say it and so we interrupt (or interject) our comments before the person can answer.

That's not keeping an open mind.

That's not listening to what they're saying. Some of the times we're right.

And yes, we do know what the person will say, but it's important to put your teeth in your tongue and not interrupt. By keeping an open mind you'll gain more information as well. And your listening skills will be sharper.

5. Give Verbal Feedback - Talking with someone and not acknowledging what they're talking about is very frustrating for them, especially on the phone, because we don't even have body language to check out.

So come up with a few feedback lines. A few to start you off are: "I see." "Hmmm, that's good." "Ok." "Interesting."

A few simple words and phrases like that will help the person feel you're listening and listening well. In person, you have the ability to nod and smile, and they can SEE your expressions.

However, on the phone, we need verbal feedback. And be careful we're not saying the same word over and over. Like OK, OK, OK, OK. That's just boring.

6. Take Notes as You Talk - This is my favorite. And yes, even in person. That's perfectly acceptable!

Taking notes, lets the person know you're interested in what they're saying. It's a good sign of respect.

I do it all the time when I'm on the phone. I tell the client, "I'm taking notes so I can refer to them later and so I don't forget what you're saying."

No one has ever said, "Don't do that." Most say, "Thank you. That's great; that's super!"

Taking notes so you can refer back is also a big compliment. Don't forget to do it. It really helps your listening skills.

There you are. Six pretty easy steps to becoming a good listener.

(And watch how many times you need to say: "I'm sorry, what did you say?" That's not a great sign you're listening.)

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

A recent IFA Annual Conference speaker, Nancy speaks at franchise meetings across the country.

Her passion for the small business is second only to her techniques on sales and customer service.

Her reviews at IFA were off the chart. Contact Nancy personally about your meetings.

314 291 1012 [email protected] or www.nancyfriedman.com

Here is what my friend, John Lindsey, Sales Trainer says about sales success.

I have witnessed, over the past thirty years, that the determination to persevere is often the difference between failure and success.

I have also discovered that 46% of salespeople ask for the order one time and then quit. Just 24% ask for the order two times and then never ask again.

Simply 14% will ask for the business three times and then quit.

Only 12% of salespeople will ask for the order four times and then quit asking.

That's a total of 96% who quit selling after four attempts.

Yet, research reveals that 60% of all sales are made after the fifth closing attempt.

Therefore, 4% of all salespeople are making 60% of all the sales.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

The Franchise sales process has changed since I began over 20 years ago.

Back when I started out, people interested in franchises used the telephone to inquire and request information.

Because they saw our ads in the Wall Street Journal or some other important franchising magazine. 

We talked to them and sent our info packets out through the mail or UPS NextDay.  The sales process had begun.

But, today franchisors are building costly & elaborate franchise recruitment websites.

  • They give probable purchasers glossy franchise brochure PDF downloads.

  • They use higher-powered full-blown & expensive CRMs to move the probable purchasers through to a sale.

Yet, here's the biggest complaint I hear today from franchisors.

Their sales teams can't get people on the telephone. The leads will not call them back -or the phone number was fake.

Now that is a big problem. 

You cannot sell franchise to someone who won't answer their phone or call you.  

Why aren't they returning your calls?

You built a wonderful franchise "information platform". These probable purchasers have all the research they need.  Don't they?

But, they still won't return your call.

Do you know why?

The probable purchaser feels as though he doesn't need to talk to your franchise sales team members.  You have provided all the information.

You had the best of intentions. You wanted to make it easy for their sales team to sell franchises.  It is disappointing to spend all this money.

I know what the problem is & I can fix it.

Because I have been doing franchise sales development for a very long time.

And Mike Webster knows a thing or two about how people really make  big ticket franchise investment decisions.

So, when you need a combination of great practical skill and wonderful science - which no other franchise developer group can give you- give us call and we will fix your sales process for you.

When putting together a strategic marketing plan, many franchisors view aspects of their plan in silos.

One silo consists of placing advertising in print, broadcast, and digital platforms.

A second silo includes public relations initiatives.

The third silo involves the social media implementation.

This approach may result in some effectiveness; however, integrating the three efforts will provide greater results, especially as it relates to your search marketing efforts and organic lead generation.

Integration is not a naughty word.

Search marketing is a vital component of a franchisor's marketing success, and one crucial element is the franchise public relations aspects of the plan.

When the PR facets of the plan are defined and implemented, elements like advertising and social media fit together smoothly into the integrated approach.

Taking the time to develop strong public relations initiatives is essential, and the following three steps will provide a foundation for future success.

Develop Quality Content

It's important to create quality content that is relevant, fresh, and interesting. Strong content for websites, press releases, and blogs is vital to ranking on search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. To develop quality content, it's important to stay organized in the approach. Creating a content calendar to schedule posts and releases is very beneficial, and will benefit the integration of the advertising and social media efforts enormously.

Choose Strong Keywords

Developing strong keywords will help drive traffic to a site, and increase the effectiveness of press releases and blogs. Selecting strong keywords is key, and for franchise companies it's important to select keywords that describe a product or service. Once keywords are defined, it's important to hyperlink those words back to a website. This will increase the effectiveness of a press release and blog, and will drive a reader to the franchise opportunity page, which is the goal.

Strategic Distribution

Content must be distributed strategically to be effective. Press releases are often sent through a wire service, which helps increase the reach and publicity of the news on the web.

Distributing a news release over the wire ensures releases are delivered directly into the newsrooms of daily newspapers, newsweeklies, national news services (like the AP, Dow Jones, Reuters), trade publications and broadcast newsrooms.

Also, keywords in press releases are also beneficial when sending through the wire, because the news feeds devoted to a specific industry are more likely to release.

As for blogs, it's important to tie into the social media implementation and share on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn accounts.

Integrating strong public relations tactics into a marketing plan will help improve a franchise's marketing strategy and search marketing results, as well as, increase incoming lead generation. Incorporating quality content, strong keywords, and strategic distribution are key ways to communicate your message and services to your customers, and are essential to a business' marketing success.

If your franchise business is interested in improving your search marketing plan and would like help creating dynamic content for your public relations and marketing strategy, please contact the experts at Ripley PR.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

You know that customer loyalty is the best way to get more sales & beat your competition.

There are hundreds, thousands of ways to gain loyal customers.

But, here are 9 easy ways to get better and more loyal customers.

Just start now - or give us a call if you need help.

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.

 

A recent IFA Annual Conference speaker, Nancy speaks at franchise meetings across the country.

Her passion for the small business is second only to her techniques on sales and customer service.

Her reviews at IFA were off the chart. Contact Nancy personally about your meetings.

314 291 1012   [email protected] or  www.nancyfriedman.com

 

Mobile web adoption is growing 8 times faster than web adoption did in the 1990s and early 2000s.

One in three mobile searches have local intent versus one in five on desktop computers.

Meaning people perform different types of searches depending on the device they are using and where they are. Given the mobile growth rate, brick-and-mortar companies really need to evaluate their mobile strategy.

What is mobile marketing?

The definition according to the Mobile Marketing Associationis, 'Mobile Marketing is a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.'

Mobile marketing consists of the following marketing mediums:

Organic Mobile Marketing (vs. Advertising)

It always amazes me that when people talk about marketing, they really seem to mean advertising. Marketing is much more than advertising and when we think of mobile marketingin the local space, we primarily think of 3 big buckets.

  • Local Mobile Search: Making sure you rank on searches on mobile devices means optimizing for Google Places and local directories and apps where 50% of local searches occur

  • Mobile Website Optimization: Mobile optimization means that your website looks great on a mobile device, loads in under 3 seconds (or 60%), and is location aware. Links to social and reputation sites are helpful as well.
  • Mobile Content Distribution: Distributing local deals and announcements to mobile content networks is extremely effective in generating local interest and engagement from location based content.

Mobile Advertising

  • App-based marketing: While you can build your own mobile app, generally that doesn't make sense for brick-and-mortar businesses. You can also engage with services like GoogleAdMob to create mobile ads that appear within third-party mobile apps.

  • In-game mobile marketing: Mobile ads appear within mobile games.

  • QR codes: QR is short for Quick Response and is a unique two dimensional code. When read by a QR reader, the code takes the person to a specific URL.

  • Location-based marketing: Location-based ads appear on mobile devices based on a user's location relative to a specific area.

  • Mobile search ads: Ads that appear within a mobile search, based on key terms.

  • Mobile image ads: These ads similar to traditional text ads but are image based.

According to a 2014 Pew Internet study, 42% of Americans own a tablet and 58% own a smartphone, and these numbers are growing quickly. During the third quarter of 2013, over a quarter of a billion units (smartphone or tablet) shipped worldwide! This means it's critical to get your mobile marketing strategy in place.

Key Findings and Takeaways from the Infographic

    • 33% of businesses are NOT using mobile marketing

    • Almost 50% of businesses plan to increase their mobile marketing budget this year

    • 33% of businesses allocate less than an hour per week on mobile marketing

    • Most popular mobile marketing medium is having a mobile website

    • The 3 biggest hurdles

      • 17% being time requirements

29% cite lack of budget

    • A whopping 32% say they do not have the 'know-how'

infographic-mobile-marketing.png

Below are some other interesting mobile facts that should be noted:

  • Most popular mobile operating system is Android

  • 1 in 7 people worldwide own a smartphone, with more people owning one everyday

  • 67% of smartphone and tablet users access a social network from a mobile device

  • U.S. Social Media Ad revenues are expected to reach $11 billion by 2017

  • Most popular apps based on mobile audience reach are:

    • Facebook 74%

    • Google Play 53%

    • Google Search 53%

    • YouTube 49%

    • Pandora Radio 49%

Based on these mobile trends, companies need to embrace mobile marketing now, otherwise they risk losing a portion of their sales to a more technology advanced competitor.

The post The State of Mobile MarketingLocalVox

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In a recent major national survey of customers conducted by Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, 85% of the respondents said that good telephone courtesy on the part of businesses makes a lot of difference in willingness to purchase goods and services from them.

And almost half of these consumers indicated that they've refused to do business with companies because they received poor customer service over the phone.

The worst offense was being put on hold immediately when calls were answered:

And use of an automated attendant was the second biggest peeve: 62% reported they preferred to do business with organizations that use only real persons to answer their calls rather than listen to an automated attendant.

"But, says Nancy Friedman, President of Telephone Doctor, "it's not always the AA that's the frustration all the time...it's the frustrating phrase, "Your call is very important to me" that gets their goat!"

"The survey indicated that businesses should not underestimate the importance of providing good customer service over the telephone," said Nancy Friedman, president, and speaker at franchise, corporate and industry association meetings."

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Every end of year you ask your franchise sales team how many franchise deals will they close next year. And they tell you a number.

Almost always the number is higher than the previous year and you believe them, or at least you want to believe them.

Your team is being optimistic. They want to do well and they want to please you.

But you might end up blaming them when the results don't happen and you will consider making personnel changes. About every 18 months, a franchise sales director is terminated.

It's no secret that franchise sales teams have high turnover and you can chalk some if it up to a bad hire here and there. But in my experience that's not the reason why most of the time.

The turnover happens mostly out of frustration. You fire under-performers or they quit because they know they are failing. You find a new person and cycle repeats itself. Every 18 months.

Stop being set up for disappointment and having to get a new team, every 18 months.

You can do something about it now to make things better for this year.

Here is how to do something different? Try improving on one of these dimensions.

  • Confirm your team actually follows your franchise sales process - You will be surprised at what you learn.

  • Find the leaks in your sales funnel - Where are your franchise candidates losing interest & dropping out?

  • Rebuild your franchise sales process - Most processes have too few or the wrong steps to match your prospects timing and decision making.

  • Become expert at using your franchise sales CRM software - You need to be great at it so you can coach your team and know what's happening.

  • Read everything out loud that you are sending out to prospects from your auto-response to closing letter - These emails & letters have changed over-time and need fixing.

  • Listen to your franchise sales scripts - They have to make sense to prospects and your sales team or they won't use them or work.

Do these six things faithfully and you will have a killer franchise selling machine.

You will get more sales out your team and your disappointment will vanish.

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How do you make sure every customer's visit turns into the Almighty Customer Experience, the kind that creates a great lasting impression?

You start things off right! Here are the top 5 ways to set the stage with your customers at your establishment, right from the get-go!

And it doesn't matter what industry...the top 5 are the top 5!

Here's what your customers are looking for in those critical first moments:

1. A Proper Greeting

The first words a customer hears really do matter, so make them count! The most common greeting we seem to hear is, "Hi, how are ya?" While it's not the worst thing you can say, it's weak and ineffective. Why? Well, because it's social noise. Let's face it... most folks don't care how you are. And it's usually just returned with, "Fine, how are you?" Again, there's no substance, and therefore no basis to begin building rapport. Kick start that almighty customer experience with one of these:

• "Nice to see you!"

• "Glad you're here!"

• "Nice of you to stop in today!"

The list goes on. Anything but the dull, overused, "Hi, how are you?"

2. A Few Good Manners

Please. Thank you. You're welcome. Come on...your mother taught you these! But sadly, they're underused, replaced by casual, sloppy language and just plain bad manners.

• "No problem" is NOT "You're welcome"

• "Here ya go" is NOT "Thank you"

• Any instruction you give that doesn't begin or end with "please" is an order ("Pull forward to the next window.")

Please. Thank you. You're welcome. These are words that every customer needs to hear.

Add them into your conversations, phone calls, emails...wherever and whenever you're working with a customer.

Darn it, I shouldn't have to tell you this! It would be nice to hear a "Thank you for holding," when you come back after putting a caller on hold, too.

3. Turn Your Ears On

Your customers must believe they're being heard, and that means you need to listen! When a customer has to repeat themselves, they get frustrated. Why? Because they feel you're not listening.

So even if you need pen and paper to jot notes as they talk, be sure you've listened and heard what they have to say. Then ask questions. Building rapport begins with good listening skills. Your customers need to be heard.

4. Show What You Know (Job Knowledge)

Customers want to deal with people who know what they're doing, and that's why the phrase, "I don't know" must be banished from your vocabulary. As most of our Telephone Doctor clients know, "I don't know" is a forbidden phrase. It's not allowed. At Telephone Doctor, it's a condition of employment, grounds for termination. That's right, you will never hear, "I don't know" from a Telephone Doctor employee. You might hear, "Gee, that's a great question! Let me find out for you." Don't derail yourself with that one forbidden phrase! Show your customers that you're knowledgeable and competent.

5. Smile

Right, smile! You knew that, didn't you? And smiling means we want to see those pearly whites! (Otherwise, you're just grinning, and that makes you look goofy.) Here's the coolest thing about a smile...it's contagious! Once you start one, your customers catch it. Your co-workers catch it, and maybe even your grumpy ol' boss catches it! Pretty soon, you have a full-on smile epidemic, and the world is a better place!

The list of things that go into creating that Almighty Customer Experience goes on, but I promise you, these Top 5 Kick Starters will set you on the right path!

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~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Nancy Friedman is a frequent speaker at association, corporate and franchise meetings. The author of 8 books on her service expertise, she has appeared on Fox News, CNN, Today Show, and Oprah, as well as many other shows. She has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today along with many major dailies. President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, she can be reached at 314-291-1012 or www.nancyfriedman.com.

I previously wrote an article "How to Quit Having Discovery Days & Sell More Franchises".

I suggested you come up with a new and better name for "Discovery Day".

Here is what you need to do before and during your "New Name Discovery Day".

If you are like most franchisors you carefully track your closing ratios.

And the sale closes soon or just after you have met your candidates at your corporate office.

Here's what you should know about your candidates well before meeting day.

  1. How many. Financially qualified for the number of units they plan to develop.

  2. Where: Area of Interest is available and you want development in that market

  3. Who: Key person or operator has the talent you require to run the business

  4. Ready to Buy? Candidates are ready-to-buy

The franchise sales team has been living with the prospective franchisee throughout the franchise sales process, however the rest of the headquarters team haven't.

You need to inform your operations, training, marketing and real estate teams about your franchise candidates. Make it easy for them to buy-in on your prospects.

Write up a summarizing profile including the vital information and decision logic or business case for approving your candidates.

On meeting day here's what you need to do make it come off without a hitch.

  1. Have a simple agenda, give it to your candidates & headquarter team in advance and follow it.

  2. Define exactly what you want the company presenters to say and give them scripts to follow.

  3. Have only the essential franchisor staff meet with your candidates.

  4. Do a "What Happens Next" at the meeting by scheduling a closing date and review your closing process with your candidates.

When you embrace these basic franchise sales process control elements you'll improve your closing ratio and sell more franchises.

Bottom-line: You have approved the candidate and meeting them is simply a confirmation of a previously made decision.

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If your job entails taking calls from unhappy, irate callers, you've got your work cut out for you. Employees who deal with callers are especially vulnerable to outbursts from customers who are going through an emotional, stressful time. 

Handling this type of customer takes time and training, but it can be accomplished effectively.

Here are some of the Telephone Doctor's best techniques for turning unhappy callers into satisfied customers. 

Get Off on the Right Foot 

Realize that upset angry customers are not unhappy with you, but with the situation. Don't take a caller's hostility personally. You are merely the rod that redirects the violent lightning. You can do a great deal to diffuse a caller's anger before you ever pick up the phone. How?

By smiling before you answer that call. You can really "hear" a smile over the phone. It's very difficult to be rude to someone who is warm and friendly. 

Anatomy of a Hostile Call 

There are four basic steps to handling an irate caller. Telephone Doctor calls them our ASAP techniques. 

A- Acknowledge the person's feelings and apologize for the inconvenience the customer has encountered. Make an effort to be sincere. In today's impersonal society, it's incredibly rare to hear the words, "I'm sorry that happened. Let me get the ball rolling to fix it." You'll probably spend about 80 percent of your time massaging the caller's feelings and 20 percent actually solving the problem. 

S - Sympathize and empathize with the caller. Phrases like "I can understand why you're upset" can help soothe ruffled feathers. Pretend it's you calling. Then get busy solving the problem. 

A - Accept 100 percent responsibility for the call. This is probably the toughest part. Chances are excellent that you had nothing to do with the problem. However, it's your job to take the responsibility and help initiate a solution. 

P - Prepare to help. Begin by re-introducing yourself - callers don't usually remember your name. State that you will be able to help. Use the caller's name, if possible. This helps to diffuse anger. A willing attitude is essential, because if the caller senses insincerity or indifference, it will cause them to stay angry. It's exasperating to file a complaint with someone who obviously doesn't care. 

1. Excuses 

Never make an excuse to a complaining caller. No one wants to hear "The computer is down" or "I'm the only one here." That is your problem, not the caller's. When you give an excuse, the caller automatically hears "I'm not going to help you" 

2. Transferring Calls 

Sometimes you're not able to solve the problem on the spot. Many times you need more information from another department. Perhaps the call needs to be handled by another person. Although these are legitimate courses of action, they usually upset your caller all over again. 

If you need more information, TELL the caller. Ask them if they're able to hold while you obtain it, or would they prefer a call back. "Joe, I need to check with our claims department in order to answer your question. It will take two or three minutes, are you able to hold/wait while I check?" Avoid untrue, frustrating phrases like "Hold on a second." Nothing takes a second. 

If you need to transfer a caller, if you can, let them know the name of the person they'll be speaking with. It's also good to explain a reason why you're bringing in a third party. "Joe, Mrs. Smith in our claims department is the real expert in resolving your type of situation. May I transfer you directly to her?" 

The ASAP technique works! Try it and see! 

# # # 

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

What Would You Do?

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I was at the St. Louis airport curbside checking bags waiting behind a man and woman with two large suitcases that needed to be weighed as they looked close to 50 lbs each. It was about 15 degrees.  

Skycap said to the couple with a friendly smile, "You're lucky; they're not overweight." The couple said "thanks" and walked away into the airport.  

I could see the surprise in the skycaps face because he didn't get a tip. I tapped the skycap on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me, did that man not tip you?" 

The skycap shook his head and said, "No ma'am he didn't."  

What did I do?  

Pick one  

A. Shake my head in disbelief & mind my own business  

B. Call after the couple who didn't tip & suggest they do  

C. Open my wallet and give the skycap $2.00 and tell him he did a good job 

To those who know me, you know I did "C." The skycap didn't want to take the money at first; however, I asked him to please take it and pay it forward one day. He seemed to understand that. 

I also told him my bet was those folks probably didn't travel much and perhaps weren't aware of the premise of curbside check in. Those guys work hard in all types of weather. All this with a hard to miss sign that simply says "gratuities accepted."  

I really wanted to give the traveler the benefit of the doubt, but then again.... I wonder. 

What would you have done?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Nancy Friedman is a frequent speaker at association, corporate and franchise meetings. The author of 8 books on her service expertise, she has appeared on Fox News, CNN, Today Show, and Oprah, as well as many other shows. She has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today along with many major dailies. President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, she can be reached at 314-291-1012 or www.nancyfriedman.com.

I once took over a franchise development department where the sales team was getting 5000 leads a year. 

The sales team was very proud of that 5000 lead number and so was the CEO of the company.

We were popular with people inquiring about our franchise offering. And it seemed we were especially popular with just about every franchising web portal out there.

(In franchising we tend to use the terms lead and inquiry interchangeably and most of what we call leads are really inquiries. And that's okay as long we understand we can't sell to an inquiry until they have been qualified as an active lead.)

We had been selling a fair amount of franchises every year but given the amount of leads we thought we were missing out on some sales opportunities. So we decided to take a closer look.

Here's what we discovered about our web portal leads.

  • Our financial qualification filters on the web portals were incorrect & too low.

  • International leads were turned on but we only developed in the US.

  • Some of the portals we were using had never generated a candidate application.  

Here's what we did.

  • Created a uniform franchise landing page for our web portals.

  • Filtered out International leads.

  • Dropped 50% of the web portals .

  • Reallocated our lead generation budget .

Here's what happened after 12 months.

  • Leads decreased 40%

  • But, qualified applications increased 10%

  • Franchise sales increased 23%

It took the sales team a lot of hard work and confidence to make these improvements. 

They loved the results. And so did the CEO.

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A few facts about customer service...

85% of consumers are dissatisfied with their phone experience, providing solid customer service via phone is key

81% of consumers are more likely to give a company repeated business after good service

• A 5% increase in customer retention equates to a 125% increase in profits

• Companies that prioritize the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors

• A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%

• On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 X'S as much as their first purchase

• It is 7 X'S more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

We all love movies like "Glengarry Glen Ross".

Well, I do.

To hear and watch Alec Baldwin doing the ABC of Always Be Closing and a lot of foul language speech is awesome theater. 

Before we say yeah baby Always Be Closing, let's take a closer look at the movie plot. 

Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris and of course Alec Baldwin were a great cast. And compelling characters all of them. Right? 

Well these guys were scammers, confidence men, the guys that would sell your mom swamp land in Florida and ocean front property in Arizona all in the same day.

They were liars and cheats. 

If you have a franchise sales vice president like "Blake" (Alec Baldwin) fire him now. 

He's a threat to your franchise company. You don't want him selling any of your franchises, managing any of your people or in charge of franchise sales compliance.

You don't want "Blake" sweeping the parking lot for cigarette butts. 

And if you have any "Blake" franchise brokers or franchise sales outsourcers get rid of them too. They are a greater threat because you can't watch how they sell outside your control (of course keep your honest brokers).

You see in Glengarry Glen Ross they were selling undeveloped land to people who could nary afford to make any investment let alone one as speculative as raw land. It was unsuitable and dishonest to entice these people into buying no matter how pretty the sales pitch and process.

You see there's a big difference between Al Pacino or Jack Lemmon selling a piece of property, closing the deal and moving on to the next mark and you selling a franchise to your new franchisee. Don't get me wrong, what Al's and Jack's characters did was reprehensible.

In Glengarry Glen Ross after the deal was done, Mitch & Murray were done. They had the buyer's money and that was it. On to the next...

When you sell a new franchise you're not Mitch or Murray and you know you're not done. Not by a long shot. 

You and your brand spanking new franchisee have just begun a 10, 15 or 20 year business life together.

If Al or Jack sold them the franchise Glengarry style you will likely begin with problems at the start. Your new franchisee will likely not have enough capital to get financed or the operational expertise needed to make the franchise successful. This will not end well.

We can all agree great franchise sales is about recruiting both talent and capital. You want both.

To get what your franchise company wants you need an honest & effective franchise sales process and salespeople you and your candidates can count on.

Franchisees will remember how you sold them. 

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Showrooming has been a concern for brick and mortar retailers, and Amazon is attempting to make it more of a concern in the near future.

Showrooming entails visiting brick and mortar stores for product selection, only to end up purchasing online.

Some e-commerce sites have been making that task easier by allowing easier online shopping and purchasing from mobile devices, but Amazon is taking a new turn to step in at the critical moment of purchase.

According to a recent article, Flow is the newest addition to Amazon's arsenal, allowing customers to scan bar codes of items they are shopping for, which in turn are used to look for that item on Amazon's site and allow the consumer to make a mobile purchase, right then and there.

Consumers also have the option to save the item to a wish list or share on popular social media sites.

This latest addition to Amazon's ever competitive strategy is forcing retailers to make their move to mobile more quickly than before.

Retailers who offer mobile apps that make the purchase process simpler and more accessible will be able to leverage themselves against Amazon in some capacity.

But, with this new in store capability Amazon is rolling out, it will be interesting to see if it can take valuable dollars from brick and mortar retailers.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this new move from Amazon will hurt brick and mortars?

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Thank you for keeping our country safe.

You're doing a good job and America appreciates it.

We do have a favor to ask, though.  Just one.

It seems to us that we can be told to follow procedures with a smile, a "please" and a "thank you."

We're gonna bet your parents taught you basic manners, and that you know how to be polite.

We just don't understand why you're so rude and discourteous at work. 

And we're not sure when you last traveled as an airline passenger.

That might be very interesting for you to do. Take a flight. You need to EXPERIENCE IT.

Sort of like what we at The Telephone Doctor suggest to a business owner, when we tell them to call in and ask for themselves to see how their customers are handled.

We believe you're gonna be surprised, and feel as we do: 

Can't they smile? Can't they say "please" and "thank you?" Can't they just be a little nice?

To those agents who do take the time to be courteous, and those of you who do return our smiles, or even start one of your own, we as Americans give you a big shout out and say:

Please keep it up, and thank you for being nice while helping to keep us safe. It's much appreciated!

Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor and all the others you keep safe.

# # #

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. They are the 50 Shades of the Customer Service Experience! 

We all love a good story, and of course, Telephone Doctor loves good customer service. Put the two together and, well, it's a slice of heaven! Great service stories need to be shared with the world, so we're holding a contest. Send in your great customer service experience story, and you'll have a chance to win! 

For some folks it's one big thing. For others, it might be several little things that worked together to create that wonderful customer experience. We want to hear about it...the service experience that made you feel the WOW, the POW, the X, the Y, and the Z factor! 

We're not talking about Disney, the Ritz, Nordstrom, or any of the big dogs who've already staked their claim to superior customer service.

I want to hear from folks who've enjoyed a fabulous customer experience from companies or service providers who don't get much attention, but who just plain understand how to do it right! 

Your stories of real experiences can make the world a better place by helping all service providers see just what it takes to be good to the customer. Small or large, tell us about the experience that makes you want to return to that wonderful place, encounter that helpful person again, or re-live that special moment. 

Stories should be from 250-1,000 words. Telephone Doctor will publish the best 50 stories, so by entering this contest you consent to having your work published. Oh, and my team reserves the right to do a little editing if necessary (they do it to me all the time!), but we promise not to alter the content of your story.

If your story is chosen for 50 Shades of the Customer Service Experience, we'll send you a complimentary copy of the book. But wait! There's more!

The authors of the three best stories will win more prizes: 1st prize = iPad, 2nd prize = $250, 3rd prize = $100. 

Your odds of winning depend on how many of you submit a story. Anyone can send a story, and you can even send more than one, if you've been that lucky!

The contest is open throughout the whole month of February through March 15, 2014. I can't wait to read about your experiences, so get busy on that keyboard and send in your story today! 

50 Shades of the Customer Service Experience Contest At-A-Glance: 

Story criteria: Above-and-beyond customer experience stories (the really good ones!) 

Publishing: 50 Shades of the Customer Service Experience will be published. 

Eligibility: Anyone can enter as many stories as they like...no restrictions here! 

Prizes: All published story authors will receive a copy of 50 Shades of the Customer Service Experience. The top three stories will be awarded prizes: 1st prize = iPad, 2nd prize = $250, 3rd prize = $100. 

Contest dates: February 1 through March 15, 2014. 

How to enter: Send your story to [email protected], and please include your name, address, and best contact phone number (we promise not to call unless it's really, really important news about the contest!) 

Franchise Update recently released its 2014 Annual Franchise Development Report, which is a comprehensive research guide to sales and lead generation performance in franchise recruitment.

This year's results were collected and analyzed from September-November of last year, and highlight some of the keys to franchise development success. We found several points interesting, especially those that touched on social media and public relations, including the following:

  • Social media is playing a huge role in franchise sales and development. Fifteen of the respondents said they'd made 123 sales using social media last year. That nearly triples the previous year, when 14 companies reported a total of 46 sales through social media.

    More than 50 of those sales were made through blogging, 49 through LinkedIn, 10 through Facebook, seven through Craigslist, and five through YouTube.

    Franchise Update believes the trend is likely to continue.

    At Ripley PR, we agree. We encourage all of our franchisor clients to be active in blogging and on social media, and we have seen the results of such efforts pay off in franchise sales.

    Twitter wasn't included on the report's list, but we believe it's a great, although underused, source for finding leads.

  • Respondents to the report said their five more important factors in franchise development success were: 1) franchisee validation, 2) unit economics, 3) quality leads, 4) sales person, and 5) sales process. By making use of resources like social media, we have definitely helped our clients achieve success.

  • Businesses need to understand that social media is useful for much more than finding friends or colleagues.

    An estimated 87 percent of franchisors have a Facebook link on their website, and 73 percent have a Google+ corporate page.

    However, Franchise Update believes (and we agree) that franchisors needs to learn how to make better use of social media as part of their development strategy.

  • Franchisors spend about 12 percent of their recruitment budgets on PR. If you're on the fence about whether this is a worthwhile expense, all it takes is to see the results that an effective public relations and marketing strategy can have on your business.

  • Here's one area where PR is very important: getting your franchise opportunity into the media including newspapers and trade publications, as well as helping raise your rankings on search engine results. The report found that multi-unit franchisees use these tools to find new brands.

So, are you attending Franchise Expo South? If you plan to be there and would like to meet me to find out more about these things and how we can help your franchise development strategy, please reach out to me directly at [email protected]. We hope to see you there!

Kuwait is an amazing place for so many reasons, but it is also still stuck in the 1950s.

Legit businesses here are licensed by the government , partly to control how many businesses there are in any given niche.

And the process is extremely challenging.

Also, every business is owned by a Kuwaiti, at least 51% (but profits are not necessarily split the same).

Kuwait does a marvelous job of protecting its own, unlike the USA!

There are no specific franchise laws here and there's no one government agency in charge of overseeing franchising.

Since most everything is in Arabic, I have managed to stay clear of most government offices.

Franchising is booming in Kuwait, but it occurs in one of two ways:

1. The best way is to get Mr. Alshaya to buy your franchise -- he is probably the world's largest holder of franchise licenses (70 some say).

But Mr. Alshaya is very private and operates only within his close circle of Wharton friends .

For example, I have been pleading for an interview for 4 years-- no luck.

2. The second way is that a Kuwaiti, or a group of Kuwaitis (often a family), decides they want a certain type of franchise and they find the largest brand in the USA and bring it to Kuwait.

It's extremely difficult to market franchises any other way in Kuwait.

Most of the franchises here are controlled by the same families or groups.

And very few concepts are sub-franchised within Kuwait -- Mr. Alshaya owns it all no matter where he goes, it appears. Other families will sub-franchise outside of Kuwait, but even then it's to a "cousin".

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I've been selling franchises for quite awhile. It might surprise you to learn that I had never held a Discovery Day until years after I began selling franchises.

Yes, that's right I sold franchises without a Discovery Day with tremendous success. And I'm confident having a Discovery Day would have sold less franchises!

When I started selling franchises at a capital intensive quick service restaurant - QSR- franchisor I went through my franchise development process training to learn how they sold franchises.

Here's some of what I learned about their franchise sales process.

About three years earlier the QSR franchisor had hired a franchise consultant to come in and redesign their franchise sales process.

And they didn't have a Discovery Day in the new franchise sales process.

Although they ended up with one of longest franchise sales processes in franchising. However it did include inviting our qualified prospective franchisees to a Corporate Interview at headquarters.

But, I discovered our process was simply not as effective as it could be and was costing us time and money.

It lacked grace & worse it didn't describe what actually happened.

My opinion is that you need a process for simple sales transactions as well as complex ones.

Of course franchise sales is a complex sale, but it doesn't have to be painful for the participants. It seems to me that if it's graceful for the franchise-buyers & the franchise sellers you will likely get better compliance and faithfulness to it? People just do better with things they like and understand. I know I do, and you probably do too.

Now I was working with sophisticated high net worth prospects.They were already successful and they were smart. They also didn't love the idea of having to go to a "Corporate Interview". It was a tough sell, a brick wall, and it didn't need to be that way. Our team agreed. So we decided to change it.

We began looking around at what similar franchisors were doing. We found that many if not most franchisors had a Discovery Day.

And, we thought Discovery Day didn't fit exactly with what we wanted in the architecture of our new franchise sales process.

We had already designed the process to be give & take in the exchanges of information through out the sales & decision steps.

So, we looked at: Decision Day, Confirmation Day, Meet the Franchisee Day and many others, some better some worse.

We decided on Development Strategy Meeting. Here's what we liked about that name and why we chose it over Discovery Day.

Discovery Day seems to always get shortened to D-Day in everyday corporate-speak which is fine for WWII buffs, but not for building a franchise relationship. And "Development Strategy Meeting" didn't roll of the tongue shortened to DSM in the same way or regularity.

With Development Strategy Meeting we could keep the description of the content focused how the candidate was going to develop, what schedule & where, who was going to be the operating principal and who would go into training.

You see we already had successful content and schedule for the Corporate Interview, we just had a poor name. Probably just as poor as some of your names.

The result was the sales scripts to get franchise prospects to the Development Strategy Meeting worked better after the change to that name and we sold more franchises.

So if you have a Corporate Interview or an unforgivingly named equivalent step in you franchise sales process you should get rid of that name. And find something that works because it describes what you really do.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

Voice mail (business or cell) remains a large frustration in this busy business world.

And it's not just voice mail.

The automated attendant is also on the list. In an effort to help reduce voice mail frustration, here are the five most frustrating phrases that your callers don't want to hear.

(I'll discuss the auto attendant in another blog.)

Here are the big 5 Most Frustrating Voice Mail phrases. 

1. I'm not at my desk right now 

DUH? That's a hot lot of news. What a boring, semi useless statement. Live a little. Let your callers know where you ARE - not where you're not. Tell them, "I AM in the office all this week" OR "I'm in a sales meeting till 3 pm." Let them know if you do or don't check messages. Let them know when you will be back. 

2. Your call is very important to me 

OMG. Really? A big time waster. The caller is thinking, "Well, if I'm so darn important, where the heck are you?" And then again, think about it. Maybe the call isn't so important to you. You just don't need this phrase. Semi useless 

3. I'm sorry I missed your call 

How dull. Of course you are. (Although, there are probably some that you're not sorry to have missed.) OK to leave this phrase out! It's a given. Use the time and space for something more valuable. Like where you are and when you will return!! Or, who they can call for more information. 

4. I'll call you back as soon as possible 

Not interesting and not fun. Mainly because your as soon as possible and my as soon as possible may not and probably are not the same. And based on our Telephone Doctor surveys, probably not true. The truth is most people aren't returning their phone calls in a timely fashion. (if at all) If you're telling your callers you'll call them back, make sure you do. If you think you may not return the call...then try this: "Go ahead and leave your phone number and I'll DECIDE if I'll call you back or not." (Just kidding!) Unreturned phone calls rank high on the frustration list. "As soon as possible" is not an effective phrase. All you need is to say, "I will call you back." (Then do it! Or have it returned on your behalf.) Not returning a phone call is like not using your turn signal. Just rude. 

5. No escape 

Remember to tell callers to hit ZERO for the operator (or whoever) if they need more information. Or better yet, give them another name and extension. Although for the most part, that voice mail may come on also. (Then you're into what is called Voice Mail Jail!!!) Main point here is to offer an alternative if you're not there. Plus, you've bought back some time to say something more interesting or helpful to the caller.

# # #

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

"Do you want fries with that?"

Easily the most recognizable & classic upsell. But do you who invented the upsell?

Do you recognize these lines: "Shall I fill it up?"Or, "Would you like red or white wine with your dinner?"

I know you have heard "Sell the sizzle, not the steak."

Elmer Wheeler, whom I am pretty sure you haven't heard of, wrote these. He was one of the first to seriously study what happened in the gap between delivering an effective advertisement and getting the sale.

It is a great story- still relevant today.

Wheeler was working as newspaper man in the mid 30's. He knew that his clients, the advertisers, were only interested in increased sales. Any other measure or metric of "success" was irrelevant to this group.

And Wheeler was vexed. How could his advertising campaigns deliver traffic to a well stocked store, yet there be a failure to buy? How could people who started with an interest in buying be changed into tire kickers by the time they reached the store.

Wheeler was so vexed, he proposed a startling course of action to the publisher. They would experiment.

And, according Tom Sant, in The Giants of Sales: What Dale Carnegie, John Patterson, Elmer Wheeler, and Joe Girard Can Teach You About Real Sales Success , pages 125-126, what happened next was this:

"Wheeler gave 20 of the Baltimore News-Post reporters five dollars each, telling them to go to the May Company and buy as many men's shirts as the five dollars would purchase and the clerks would sell them. (Remember, this was back in the 1930's and five bucks went a long way, then. You could buy a quality men's shirt for less than a dollar.)"

The result?

These motivated buyers who had $100 to spend - could have bought 100 shirts.

How many shirts were sold to them? 90? 75? or only 60? (Remember, it wasn't their money. They didn't have to save any money.)

Nope, the customer service staff at the May Department Store extracted a whopping 5% of the total surplus value - 5 shirts. Yes, only 5 shirts were sold.

Sant writes:

"Wilbur May, [owner] instantly realized that although he may have a million-dollar establishment, with a million dollars worth of merchandise on the shelves, the real control of his business was in the hands of his minimum wage sales clerks."

And right then and there, Elmer Wheeler switched professions from advertising into customer service and sales!

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Telephone Doctor Customer Service training has focused an entire career developing ways to help companies communicate better with their customers.  Telephone Doctors Customer Service is a training company, with over 25 dedicated employees.

We've helped thousands. How? With our simple, logical techniques that most folks already know and we bring them to the forefront.  

Most businesses go out of their way to attempt to give good customer service. Some make it; some don't.  

Customers go out of their way looking for companies that give great customer service. Some find it; some don't.  

We have tried so very hard to explain to both sides. It's not rocket science; it's not brain surgery. It's plain old common sense. But you and I know common sense is not out there. There is a mass of grey average out there. You don't wanna be in it. Rise above that mass of gray and come along with Telephone Doctor.  

Customers love to vent. They love to report on how badly they've been handled. And today with the internet, it's sad how stuff goes viral so quickly.  

I cannot count the number of articles out there on customer service. Some are good, some not; some have new ideas; some speak the old tried and true.

And that's where Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training comes into play - plain old customer service. We call it 'Back to Basics.' You can imagine we have hundreds, if not thousands, of ideas, tips, skills and techniques to share.

To start the New Year out right, here are fifteen customer service tips that are good old common sense thoughts that bring you back to the basics. 

Here we go:  

1. "Please" and "thank you" always have been, and always will be, powerful words. Seldom overused.  

2. "You're welcome" is the best replacement for "no problem."  

3. "Sorry 'bout that" is not an apology. It's a cliché. "My apologies" is much better.  

4. A frown is a smile upside down. Stand on your head if you must; but SMILE, darn it!  

5. You cannot do two things well at once. Pay attention to the call or the customer.  

6. One word answers on email or in person are considered cold and rude. Three words make a sentence.  

7. Learn what phrases frustrate your customers. They're probably the same ones that bother you.  

8. When was the last time you sent flowers to someone just because?  

9. Drop a personal handwritten note to a client and just say "thanks for being a good client."  

10. "Hey how 'ya doing?" is not a great way to start up a conversation.  

11. Out with friends or family? Put the cell phone away. Talk for 30 minutes. (If you remember how.)  

12. Email manners? The same as phone and in person.  

13. The old "don't tell 'em what you can't do; tell 'em what you can do" applies to most, if not all, customer interactions.  

14. Get excited! 

15. Oh, and smile. That needed to be said twice.  

Have a great year and we'll be bringing you more articles, tips, skills and techniques for your reading pleasure and customer service improvement. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~  

Nancy Friedman is a frequent speaker at association, corporate and franchise meetings. The author of 8 books on her service expertise, she has appeared on Fox News, CNN, Today Show, and Oprah, as well as many other shows.

She has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today along with many major dailies. President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, she can be reached at 314-291-1012 or www.nancyfriedman.com. Call her when you are serious about customer training & need a speaker to inspire your staff.

I recently had an interesting experience with a large scale retailer, that is yet unresolved, at least in my opinion. I'm waiting to see how it plays out, but thought it was a good example of how asking for feedback can find the issues that are falling through the cracks within your company.

I received an email saying my online account with the company had been compromised, and as a precaution, they locked my account and cleared my saved payment options. They provided a link to reopen my account and change the password. While it looked authentic, I am always hesitant to take the emails as legitimate.

I went to the company's website (not through the link in the email) and found that not only could I access my account easily, but my settings were not changed at all. Out of an abundance of caution, I changed the password and removed anything that could potentially get in the wrong hands.

I called the toll free number, which led me through a long, drawn out, unclear path to be transferred to someone who might be able to help me. Once I found the right combination of numbers to press, the call was transferred. All I heard was some silence and the call disconnected. I did this two more times with the same result. Okay, I guess they don't want to talk to me.

So I went to the website to fill out a contact form on the website. This went unanswered for two days. On the third day, I received an email from the company asking for my feedback. They wanted to be sure that my issue was resolved and the customer service I received was satisfactory.

I was happy to provide feedback, including all of the information on my journey to have a simple question answered, and explained that as of the time of the survey, I have not received any information from their company.

Now, I'm waiting to see how long it takes the feedback to filter through and someone reaches out to try to help me - or not.

At first I was frustrated getting the feedback request when I have yet to receive another response. I felt like one hand (the feedback team) didn't know what the other hand (customer service) was doing. Then I realized this may very well be an automated system that sends out feedback requests within x number of days from the request, assuming that the issue would be resolved, or at least on its way, by that point.

If customers share feedback like I have, this is useful to companies.

First, it ensures that all issues are being addressed with customers. By receiving the type of feedback I provided, the company can look for trends to identify why issues may be falling through the cracks, where requests are being routed and which are being resolved vs not resolved, and do better.

Second, it gives the company a second chance to do good by the customer. I am hoping for a response from the company within 24 hours after leaving feedback; trying to stay positive, though if my issue wasn't addressed quickly, I'm not sure why I think someone will respond promptly to the feedback I've left.

It's a good experience to serve as a reminder to pay attention to feedback surveys. Reviewing them in as real time as possible is the best way to manage customer complaints while maintaining quality control over the customer service provided.

I will return to this story once it has time to play out. I am hoping to return with positive results... ... ...

Unfortunately, as of today a week later, I have not gotten any type of response, and my issue remains unresolved.

However, I have received several emails from the company, alerting me to specials, new products, and other promotional material!!

I guess this is one issue that will go unresolved. I'm left to wonder if there are people on the other side reading the responses to the feedback surveys, or if this is just too busy of a time for them to properly staff that department. Perhaps they only look at the quantitative data without reading the comments?

At any rate, it's been an interesting experience, and one that drives home my point about using follow up with feedback/inquiries/complaints to make sure there are no issues going unresolved.

This is a good example of what can happen if there is no quality control in place within a customer feedback department, and a good reminder for companies to continually review their processes in this area.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

Ray Kroc and the McDonald's executives from the 1960's -1980's are rightly praised for their brilliance in selecting McDonald's managers, franchisees and suppliers. 

But today, Kroc's vision about the importance of suppliers is overwhelmed with legal talk of franchisor's standards.

Franchise lawyers - who are not part of franchising business- misunderstand standards.  They confuse standards with uniformity & draft agreements purporting to demand uniformity.  

But the correct view is this: "McDonald's manages to mix conformity with creativity."
 
Kroc understood that the supplier community was not a source of rebates, but rather an active partner with the franchise system in bringing about rationalization and change to the supply chain for the betterment of the brand.
 
The best example of this is the "simple" french fry and Simplot Foods.
 
For those of a certain age, the magic of McDonald's was its French Fry.  Even the best home cooks could not match McDonald's.  And I know - my mother who is an excellent cook would allow my father to buy the family "chips" from McDonalds.
 
But in the early 60's, McDonald's had consistency problems, in part because the supply chain consisted of several hundred local suppliers, some who shipped potatoes of lower quality than the specified Russets.
 
Simplot convinced Kroc that moving to frozen fries would allow better consistency and control over their potato supply.
 
And, in 1960, the usual method of creating frozen french fries, blanching, freezing, and finish frying, produced fries that were not crisp or flavorful.
 
So, Simplot invested $3.5 million for an experimental process to produce frozen french fries - all on a Ray Kroc handshake with no guarantee of success.
 
Yet, Simplot took the risk, and was richly rewarded for the success.
 
So, If you want to be a franchise supplier or consultant, you have to have the ability find solutions to the problems that the franchise system faces and implement them.  On a handshake.

Tales of awful customer service are especially bothersome at this time of year. It seems everyone has a story or two. The retail clerk who doesn't know or doesn't care.  The airline automated attendant system with endless loops before you encounter a human being.  The angry fast food attendant who is mad at the world. Or even part-timers who may not be very well trained. You get the idea. 

It's easy to feel that the employment playing field has changed. For many businesses it's harder than ever to find really good team members. Sometimes it seems staff get hired because they're breathing, and not because they have the requisite skill set to be excellent with the public they were hired to serve.  Knowing you can't change who that organization put in place to assist you, is there anything you as the customer are able to do?  

There sure are.  Here are some reminders to help you get the level of customer service you should receive: 

1. Don't be shocked or put-off by obviously poor great service. You'll make it worse. Be realistic. In some cases it helps to lower your expectations temporarily.  You may be dealing with a new hire that may have received very little training.  They could have no experience. But there's hope. Read on.  

2. Understand that you can actually influence the type of service you get. The same way an angry customer can have negative emotions mirrored back their way, entering a service situation with a positive and upbeat demeanor can help influence the treatment you'll get back. We use this approach a lot. We were in Las Vegas and walked up to a visibly upset hostess. Instead of being insulted, demanding, or giving her back cold treatment, we said "Oh good! We're getting a cheery hostess who's going to take very good care of us!" She took a deep breath and we were rewarded with a big smile and helpful service. She may have just had the customer from hell. But she wasn't going to take it out on us. We weren't going to allow it. 

3. Plan how to win them over. In a perfect world it should be up to them to win you over. But for now, especially in the holiday season, the tables are often turned. Have a strategy and be ready to explain your situation clearly and confidently.  You may need to exert some effort if you want a pleasant experience.  

4. Sometimes it takes a second effort. Realize that the last few interactions your service provider endured or experienced may have been brutal. Do what you can to establish a friendly atmosphere. Smile and be in a positive frame of mind. Take control of the situation. By the end of the transaction, you'll probably be having a far more positive relationship. Be obviously friendly and smiling. It is contagious.

5. Accept the occasional situation where nothing works. Don't take it personally. And try not to get frustrated. Don't YOU be the bad guy. That salesperson or employee will be abrasive to the customers that follow you as he was to the ones before you.  

Before you enter into the next situation where you're depending on someone to provide you with service, think about ways you're able to affect the outcome.  A customer definitely can influence the service they receive. Take more responsibility to radiate your own good mood and attitude and see if you're not treated better.

# # #

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

What is Social Care?

Basically, it is customer service. It's simply customer service delivered online, usually through social networks.

Why is this essential in today's day and age?

More and more consumers are turning to the Internet to get their customer service issues resolved.

People would rather tweet about something or post it on Facebook than they would pick up the phone or send an email.

Often online social care is delivered much more quickly than standard customer care. Underlying this is the simple fact that issues posted online are public. You're not simply dealing with one person on the other end of the phone. Not at all. It's public. The whole world can see the issue, so if it's not resolved quickly, everyone knows about it.

For franchises this means that they not only need a system to provide customer care through social networks. They need to a system to provide customer care through social networks to all of their customers at any of their franchises world-wide. Your social care policy is this system.

Delivering good customer care is really quite simple.

It's a matter of:

●monitoring conversations;
●listening to what your audience is saying; and
●responding in a positive way.

Keep in mind that even negative criticism about your franchise can be positive if it is handled appropriately.

As part of your social care policy, it is important to have a customer care response guide in place.

First, this will define who is responsible for responding to online customer service issues: franchisor or franchisees. Second, it will ensure that whoever is handling it, whether it is the franchisor or franchisee or both, knows exactly how to respond in any given situation.

When you have a social care policy in place, you'll also know how to handle damage control when it's necessary. Whether it is damage control due to an employee or franchisee or to someone in your audience, it's crucial to know how you'll handle it in advance of things happening.

The reality is that people are talking about your franchise, whether you're there to hear it and respond or not. Be there. Monitor the conversations. Listen to what your audience is saying.

Then, have your social care policy in place so you know exactly where to take things from there. You'll find that this will bring you increased customer loyalty and more new customers.

There's absolutely no downside to good social care.

When you want to discuss some best pratices about social care for your franchisees, connect with me on LinkedIn and let's chat further.

The smartest marketers are able to understand which customer segments are most valuable to their business and how each of those segments prefer to receive communication.

 

 

We've noticed there are 3 primary buckets of engagement: The Overt, The Personal, The Money Talker. 

 

 

  1. The Overt customers are the ones that post on social media, tell their friends where to go and are generally "the loudest".  They want to feel appreciated when they share love for your brand.

  2. The Personal customers are the ones who will communicate with your brand when you reach out to them.  They tend to be the most engaged email subscribers, enroll in loyalty programs, answer surveys and claim promotions.

  3. The Money Talkers let their wallet give all the feedback they need.

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The key to identifying who customers are and what they want is collecting data on them.  You can start collecting data immediately:

  • Send a feedback survey via email to your email subscribers
  • Invite people to try a new menu item
  • Run a promotion for your social media fans only

More data = better segments.

As you collect more customer contact information and additional data on who these people are, you will start to see some trends and consistencies - these will comprise your customer segments.  

It's easy to fall down a rabbit hole and make arbitrary segments so, when you get to creating your segments, it's important to think about the drivers of your business first.

For casual dining businesses, increased online engagement increases the average frequency of visits. You should create segments that help you understand how to engage that segment to do what will drive your business.

Segments for casual dining restaurants that can encouraged to come more frequently might be:

  • Facebook Fan + has spent money in-store before
  • Filled out a survey + on email list
  • Enrolled in loyalty program + social media follower + has been to website in the past month + filled out a survey

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There are nearly unlimited different segments you can create and maintain, the key is starting somewhere and tailoring as you go. Once you create segments, you can send targeted and custom messaging that relates to what that segment cares about. They will appreciate the tailored messaging and you will benefit from them coming and giving you more of their business.

 

Jake Cohen.jpgTo see how Privy can help you create and maintain segments, click here.

 

 

 

Julie Ricchuito.jpgTo see how On The Spot Systems can help you collect in-store surveys and apply them to your segments, click here

 

The best exit strategy is one that has unfolded over the course of years. It is never too early to begin an exit strategy. You should have had one on the day you signed your franchise agreement.

In addition, you should review your goals annually. Part of the review should focus on your exit timing. If you think now is the time to exit then you must honestly ask yourself how motivated you really are to sell. Like any big project, you will need to devote time, money and effort to do it properly.

Most small business owners, however, worry more about building their business than selling it and never plan their exit. Be assured, it's never too late to develop a plan.

After making the decision that now is the time to exit you need to accomplish three critical things before placing your business on the market.

1. Discuss Your Exits with Your Franchisor.

First, you should discuss with your franchisor what your plans are. All franchise relationships eventually come to an end. You are not the first and won't be the last franchisee to exit your system.

You have used the franchise system, brand, and people to build your business. Don't be afraid to use them to exit. They have a
critical interest in a successful transition. Use them to help you close the deal.

2. Gather your Documentation.

Second, you need to gather documentation and clean up any inconsistencies, errors or omissions in your paperwork. The list is extensive and you can never have too much documentation.

Buyers will take lack of documentation or documentation they have to fight to get as a sign of trouble and it will break down the trust between you. Not only will it potentially affect your value, it will cause unnecessary delays.

In a small business transaction the trust between the buyer and seller is critical. Without trust the deal will not happen. The way you can build trust is by having all the documents readily available for any buyer who is serious about making an offer.

You need to tell a story to the buyer, and that story has to be validated by documentation.

3. Look for Financing Options for the Buyer.

Finally, you should see what if any financing will be available for a buyer. This should be done before you even list your business for sale. Talk to your business broker, attorney or accountant to get some recommendations on financing sources to pre‐qualify your business.

Not only will this make it easier to sell the business, it will be a great reality check on your price. If the price can't support financing, then maybe you shouldn't sell until the business grows into the price you want.

Buyers of small businesses always have to make a leap of faith, similar to the leap you made when you got into the business. You need to convince the buyer why this transaction makes sense.

If you are really ready to sell, have prepared a well organized and thorough package, and have pre‐qualified your business for financing, you will have a better chance of selling your business on your own terms.

When you are ready to think about selling your franchise, connect with me on LinkedIn and give me a call.

I'm not just a speaker on customer service.

I've focused my entire career developing ways to help companies communicate better with their customers.

Great customer service is sought by most everyone.

Businesses go out of their way to give good customer service. Some make it; some don't.

Customers go out of their way looking for companies that give great customer service. Some find it; some don't.

We have tried so very hard to explain to both sides - the customer and the business, it's not rocket science; it's not brain surgery. It's plain old common sense.

But you and I know common sense is not out there.

Our book Customer Service Nightmares is proof that people love to vent. They love to report on how badly they've been handled.

I cannot count the number of articles out there on customer service. Some are good, some not; some have new ideas; some speak the old tried and true.

And that's where Telephone Doctor customer service training comes into play; plain old customer service.

We call it 'Back to Basics.' You can imagine I have hundreds, if not thousands of ideas, tips, skills and techniques to share.

Today we bring you 15; fifteen good customer service tips that are good old common sense thoughts.

Here we go:

  1. "Please" and "thank you" always have been, and always will be, powerful words. Seldom overused.
  2. "You're welcome" is the best replacement for "no problem."
  3. "Sorry 'bout that" is not an apology. It's a cliché. "My apologies" is much better.
  4. A frown is a smile upside down. Stand on your head if you must; but SMILE, darn it!
  5. You cannot do two things well at once. Pay attention to the call or the customer.
  6. One word answers on email or in person are considered cold and rude. Three words make a sentence.
  7. Learn what phrases frustrate your customers. They're probably the same ones that bother you.
  8. When was the last time you sent flowers to someone just because?
  9. Drop a personal handwritten note to a client and just say "thanks for being a good client."
  10. "Hey how 'ya doing?" is not a great way to start up a conversation.
  11. Out with friends or family? Put the cell phone away. Talk for 30 minutes. (If you remember how.)
  12. Email manners? The same as phone and in person.
  13. The old "don't tell 'em what you can't do; tell 'em what you can do" applies to most, if not all, customer interactions.
  14. Get excited!
  15. Oh, and smile. That needed to be said twice.

When you want a customer service training program that just works, connect with me on LinkedIn and let's talk.

# # #

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

Franchisors need to grow!  What better way to grow than to sign multi-unit development agreements.

How do you find multi-unit operators to create growth in your franchise system? Well, you have to recruit for growth by matching talent and capital.

Some franchisors recruit established existing franchisees of their own brands who possess the operational expertise, development know-how, and who are also well-funded.

Dunkin Donuts just used this strategy in California: "Dunkin' Donuts, America's all-day, everyday stop for coffee and baked goods, and one of the fastest-growing quick service restaurant (QSR) brands based on unit growth, announced the signing of a multi-store development agreement with existing franchisees, Harry Patel and Parag Patel, to develop 18 new standalone restaurants in North Orange County and the Central Inland Empire."

Dunkin Donuts likely have a great feel for what the Patels can achieve.

But, what about recruiting multi-unit operators from other brands? 

Three Myths about Multi-Unit Operators Expansion

First, there is the standard or run-of-the-mill franchisor expansion myth:

Just go and find the multi-unit & multi-brand operators, sign them up for your concept and watch the development territories build out as new units come on-line.  

Like clockwork.

The franchisor only has to collect the upfront area development agreement fees, the unit franchisee fees, and the expected the windfall of royalties and advertising fund contributions.

Don't let the multi-unit operators fool you into believing this myth. Brand expansion doesn't happen that way.

Second, when you talk to those multi-unit operators you'll be told straight away they won't need all the hand holding, training, and guidance that those attention stealing needy newbie first-timer franchisees demand. Those experienced operators will manage themselves! You will likely be told that you could learn a thing or two from these highly experienced operators.

Again, the reality is different.

The reality is that many development agreements are not strictly complied with, according to the terms the agreement.

Searching the SEC corporate filings from publicly traded franchise companies you can find that many area development agreements are in default, technical default, terminated, or re-negotiated.  

You may need to review the historical Franchise Disclosure Documents, FDDs, which may be harder to access.

The third myth is that experienced multi-unit operators are easier to manage.  There are four reasons why this may not be true, either.

1. Multi-unit operators are further away from the day-to-day operations. They may require or even demand more training and support from the franchisor.

2. Multi-unit operators may challenge your training, support delivery systems, or standards.

3. They may have different ideas on site selection criteria and who has final say on site approval -despite what the agreement states.

4.  A seasoned multi-unit operator may change your concept, menu, build-out, equipment package and they may not ask your permission.  Again, despite what the agreement states.

So,  recruiting mult-unit operators from other brands does require a bit more due diligence.  Here are four tips to get you on your way.

1. Access to Capital: Do they have access to capital to build out the development schedule for your new concept?

Many multi-unit operators look more profitable than they are.  Their development schedule may have been drafted in a moment of enthusiasm.  Their capital maybe entirely locked-up in their current brands.  

Don't automatically assume that a 40 unit operator has sufficient capital or access to capital to commit to your project.  

Don't fall into the trap of getting excited about signing up a large multi-unit operator for your brand, unless they show you the money.

2. Other Development Obligations: What are their development obligations, including remodel commitments, to their other concepts?

Just knowing that they have the money isn't enough.  You need to know about their development obligations to their current brands.   You have to pay to attention to their remodel commitments.  Much of their capital may already be spoken for.

Can they build the stores and remodel the units that they are already committed to without exhausting their capital?  Is the multi-unit operator meeting its current lender obligations and staying within their loan covenants?

3. Compliance with Schedule: Are they in compliance with the schedule in their current development agreement(s)?

The mulit-unit operator may have sufficient capital to expand your franchise system.  But, are they dragging their feet in their current development agreement?  

Development schedules can be slowed if operating revenue has been reduced.  Beware of the multi-unit operator who uses a slow development tactic to extract territorial concessions from you mid-deal.

4. Compliance with Operations: Are they in operational compliance under their current franchise agreements?

Not all multi-unit operators are actually great operators - despite what they would claim!  Don't be fooled by a multi-unit operator who is merely tolerated in the system because they own great locations or control the underlying real estate.  

Check to make sure that they are exceeding the franchisor's standards.

Conclusion

Franchisors need to grow. And you should recruit from established existing franchisees of other brands. But they need to possess the operational expertise, development know-how and be well-funded.

Some franchisors will blame their customer service problems on their part-time help. They're saying that the part-timers are just that. "Part Timers." They don't want to take responsibility. They don't want to take ownership. They just want to take the money and run. They can't wait to get off work. Not, true.
 
In reality, what I've found are few franchisors have some sort of new employee orientation or training on customer service or telephone skills.

Sure, there's product training. ('Ya gotta know where everything is, don't ya.? ) But when it comes to the customer service Training, most simply tell the new employees to "smile and be nice."

If you're operating a franchise; ask yourself what type of customer relations training you have in your store. And if there's not one - Think again

The good news is, if you'll read on, we're going to give you a training program. Right here, on paper. All you'll need to do is gather the folks you've hired together - and explain you're doing a customer service training program.

"Gee, Nancy, I'm so busy doing other things. There's just no time for that type of training. . "That's not my job," I hear a lot of times from managers and owners. "We're just too busy to stop and train." Too busy to be nice? Too busy to teach your employees? Think again.

It's up to each and every owner or manager to provide some sort of customer service training.

Just putting them on the floor or at a counter and telling them to, "be nice" or "tell everyone to have a good day," is not customer service training.

Whether your customers call you or come into the store, or call you... following these Telephone Doctor ground rules can help make your store the one the customer wants to come back to.

It will give you the competitive edge.
 

Ground Rule # 1 - GREET CUSTOMERS FIRST

Make it a game. If a customer says "hello" first, you lose. It's amazing how often you can go into a store - any store - walk around - touch things - look at prices - and walk out. All without anyone saying anything to you. The minute a customer walks into the store - the sales staff needs to be the one to say hello first. It's their job to say hello first. It's not the customer's job to do it. That first friendly hello sets the stage - sets the tone to make sure the customer is in the right place.

Ground Rule #1 - A. DON"T JUST ASK "CAN I HELP YOU?"

And if your staff is simply saying, "Can I help you with anything?" As they say in the Sopranos'... fagetaboutit.

"Can I help you with anything?" is weak and ineffective.

Better to use, "so glad you're here - what in particular are you looking for that I can help you with." That will go much further than, "can I help you?" 
 
Ground Rule # 2 - SMILE

Right. It's that simple. Make smiling on the job a condition of employment...and grounds for termination. Tell your staff that item in the interview process. "We smile here." It's a simple statement - and a powerful sales tool. Don't relent on this one - ever! I recently heard about a young man, about 17, who quit his job 2 weeks after he started. When his folks asked, "Why?"... his answer was: "They drove me crazy...they wanted me to smile all the time."
 

Ground Rule # 3 - ENTHUSIASM COUNTS

Dale Carnegie said it first. And my father said it second. He used to tell me, "enthusiasm is a disease - let's start an epidemic." And how true that is. When a customer brings something to the counter for you to ring up... Or even tells you what they want on the phone: get excited. Let them know you care. When the customer sees, feels and hears your enthusiasm you'll ring up a lot more sales. And your enthusiasm is a great setup for up selling or cross selling.
 

Ground Rule # 4 - DON'T POINT - GO SHOW

How many times have you walked into a store, asked for something - and the sales person either just nods you to the item or only points to the direction without saying anything. When and if possible - walk with the customer to the area they need. If that becomes impossible...cheerfully direct the person to what they need...and give clear, easy, and most important - friendly directions. "Aisle 3, on your right" is clear and easy...but not very friendly.

This is friendly:

"The New widgets? Sure, we have them. They're great. You'll find them right past the flower section...in aisle 3 - it'll be on your right hand side. Right next to the Elephant Display. (Using landmarks helps.) Let me know if you're not able to locate them and I'll get someone to help you.'

Clear, easy and friendly directions. Pointing is plain rude. (Ask any waiter to direct you to the restroom and 100% of the time they point. It's possible to give clear directions to that area, too.)
 

Ground Rule # 5 - PLEASE, THANK YOU AND YOU'RE WELCOME

Yes...still the most favorite words to all customers. I used to be embarrassed in my training programs to remind the attendees to use those words. But every time I'm out shopping, I'm reminded that it needs to be taught. It still surprises me. Because those are the very first words a parent teaches a child.

There's not a 3 year old that hasn't been told - "Tell the lady thank you, Bobbie - go on - Bobbie, you can say it. Tell her thank you." Many parents won't let the other person go until the child has said "thank you."

We spend hours teaching our kids those words...and then at age 16 - what happens?
 

Ground Rule # 6 - PRETEND IT'S YOU

Ask your staff to make believe it's them walking into the store trying to purchase something. How would they like to be treated? Tell them every customer will go away thinking one of two ways. Either, "Hey those guys were great".... or "Hey, I'm never gonna go back there again." And if they think that's not their problem, tell them to think again. Because if the customers don't come back...you close up...and they're out of a job. Then it is their problem. Simple.
 

Ground Rule # 7 - GO BACK THROUGH GROUND RULE 1 - 6

You cannot go over these items too many times. If you - as a business owner/ manager do not currently have some sort of customer service training program for your staff in place as you read this, tear this article out - gather your staff together, and go over these items with them, before the store opens.

Consider posting this article in an area employees check. How about a bulletin board? Put this article in their paycheck. Have them read this aloud. They need to know you are serious about Customer Service. It's not just a passing fancy.

Franchising is challenging in the best of times. And in these demanding times, even more so. Be extra good to your customers.

Have a training program for your staff.

You're welcome.  But if you need more information about how to keep an effective customer training program going, drop me a line on LinkedIn using the business card below.  We have the right programs for you.

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

There are many, many ways to sabotage your business. And, chances are, your staff is doing some of these now, without your even knowing it - on the phone and in person. And worse yet, you've probably even heard some of this yourself (ouch!). That's the bad news. 

The good news is we're able to bring to you the top five sabotage practices 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 Ways to Sabotage Your Business today:  

       1. I Have No Idea 

This is normally used as an excuse more than anything else. It's a sure sign that the employee has not been shown how to explain something to the customer. 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.  

      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 do, not what you DON'T do. If you get a call and someone asks for something that you don't handle, it's far more effective to say, "I work in the paint department. Let me get you to someone in the area you need." 

This is far more effective than telling someone it's not your department. And please don't say, "YOU have the wrong department." Take full responsibility with the "I" statement.  

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

This one really makes me laugh. Does that excuse the company? 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 an issue to discuss. 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

SO? Okay, 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? So 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 Telephone Doctor 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 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. 

What's Next?  Why Not book Nancy as Keynote Speaker to Help You with Your Customer Service. Click here to BOOK HER TODAY! You'll be glad you did!

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

 

Many people contact me who are interested in buying an existing franchised business, for example, an existing fast food restaurant, massage or weight loss franchised business.

In advising them, I tell them that there are two critical aspects to evaluating this opportunity.

  • One aspect is evaluating the existing business in the same way you would any existing business opportunity.
  • The second, equally important evaluation is to determine if the franchise is good.

1. Evaluate the Existing Business Location

In evaluating any acquisition of a business, a prospective buyer needs to perform careful due diligence.

The due diligence (or homework) should include a careful evaluation by an experienced business accountant of the financials of the business for the past few years.

In additon, the legal due diligence should include evaluating any employee contracts and benefits, existing leases (both real estate and equipment) and other contracts the business may have that are on-going liabilities or obligations.

A determination of how an on-going obligation, that has been pre-paid, should be handled, is important.

2. Evaluate the Existing Franchise & Support

In addition to the evaluation of the existing business, when that business is a part of a franchise, it is important to evaluate the franchise.

This evaluation should include these four factors:

  1. Investigation by the prospective buyer of the support and training the franchisor provides;
  2. How other existing franchisees feel about the support and training they received and continue to receive;
  3. Evaluation of the franchise agreement that the buyer will be required to enter, and;
  4. A complete understanding of the obligations that the buyer will have to the franchisor and the expectations the buyer should have of the franchisor.

Many prospective buyers of franchised businesses make the mistake of thinking that the evaluation of the existing business is all that matters.

This can be a costly error.

(This post does not create an attorney-client privilege and is not intended to provide legal advice for any particular situation.)

Prospective franchisees think reading an franchise disclosure document, FDD, is hard.

They are wrong - not reading and losing your life savings is hard.

This article is about how to read and understand Item 5 disclosures - what happens when you pay your franchise fee. What you get for paying the initial fee.

Before I tell you why I think that the Taco John's franchise disclosure of Item 5 is so admirable, I want to tell a very different story.

Your Lawyer's Retainer

(The following story is a parody, no lawyers were harmed in its production.)

You walk into your business lawyer's office. You want him to review your FDD. He has a new associate, who beckons you forth.

You move forward, and notice another new wrinkle - a VISA machine smack on top of the associate's desk. The associate apologetically explains that due to the economy all clients are on a pay before you go plan.

Fortunately, there is now a fixed fee schedule and you are relieved to see that the associate only charges $800 for a review of the FDD.

You hand over your FDD, sign the standard retainer agreement, and shell out $800 on your VISA debit card.

The associate confirms the transaction, ruffles through the FDD, and smiles at you expectantly.

This isn't going well, you think. So you venture, "Well what did you think?"

"About what?"

"The FDD", you persist. "The Franchise Contract."

"Oh that. "It is the standard franchise agreement." He then drones on something about France, the Singer Sewing Machine and a "Lanham Act".

You really aren't interested and wish the associate would begin earning his retainer.

Abruptly, the monologue ends, but now the associate seems to have dozed off.

You want to shake him or worse. You want to pound the desk with your shoe.

The associate snaps to attention, looks around, fixates upon the classic timepiece on his desk and blurts: "Times up, Next. Agreement is terminated. And the Fee is forfeit."

"But, you haven't done anything!", you protest.

"Fulfilled the terms of the contract as per the standard retainer clause, paragraph 42.", says the associate as you are ushered out the door.

Paragraph 42, you wonder? So you flip open the retainer agreement -you just signed without reading.

You get out your magnifying glass and read:

Paragraph 42:

"You will pay us $800.00 for a FDD agreement review, the Retainer Contract.

Your contract is likely to contain several contingencies that will allow you, your attorney to terminate your Retainer Contract if such contingencies are not met.

The types of contingencies that may be included in Retainer contract are, by example:

· obtaining appropriate approval;

· obtaining adequate financing;

· receiving 3 acceptable bids for your Retainer contract, and:

· obtaining required municipal licenses.

If a contingency is not met as described above and your Retainer Contract is terminated, we will not refund any of the payments you have already made to us.

And, we reserve the right to determine in our sole and unreasonable discretion whether the contingency is met or not.

These payments will have been fully earned by the Attorney as a result of our lost and deferred opportunity costs, corporate expenses, and all efforts performed on your behalf before the termination of your Retainer Agreement.

We will, however, assist you in your efforts to locate another attorney and fully support your efforts to acquire another Franchise Disclosure Document review."

So, you are now out $800 because you failed to understand the significance of a deeply convoluted legal clause buried deep within your retainer agreement.

Even if it was marked in red, bold print, and had the notation:

"Here is a VERY DANGERGOUS CLAUSE", its significance would not have been apparent until you were "terminated".

(The above story is a parody, no lawyers were harmed in its production. Really they weren't.)

Could things get any worse for you?

No, things are going to get better for you because your FDD is written with admirable clarity.

Your FDD might be written as well as the Taco John's 2012 FDD:

"If you terminate the Franchise Agreement any time before all persons required to complete initial training have been certified by us, or if we terminate the Franchise Agreement because of your (or your owner's or manager's) failure to meet our initial training requirements (see Items 6, 11 and 17 of this Disclosure Document), we will refund the Initial Franchise Fee less the actual expenses we incur due to your acquisition of the Franchise, but we will not retain more than 30% of the Initial Franchise Fee to cover our expenses."

This is terrifically clear.

If you want to bail out after signing the agreement, it will cost you 30% of your franchisee fee at most.

If they want you to bail out, it will cost them 70% of what what you have paid them.

There are no tricks to this clause, and the attorney who drafted it should be congratulated.

So should the franchisor who has explained with clarity and transperancy the risks of not completing the intial training. More importantly, there are no gotcha's in this clause - no unforeseen conditional contingencies which may rob you of your initial franchisee fee.

Review the item 5 disclosure. It should read more like Taco John's item 5, and not at all like your lawyer's paragraph 42.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

After survey after survey, we found these are the top five word phrases which kill sales.

They are conversation diverters. Just as ALWAYS and NEVER are conversation diverters, these five killer word phrases will make your customers and your potential customers veer away from the real point of your conversation. 

So best we eliminate them from our routine and vocabulary. It's not easy to do. If it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it...and we know everyone isn't doing it. 

Remove these 5 Killer word phrases from your sales.

"It's not our policy."- Ouch! Okay, okay, most every company has policies and it's something we need to deal with on a daily basis I'm sure. What we realized was it's not necessarily the policy that's frustrating, it's blurting out first and foremost, "It's not our policy" or in some cases it's "their" policy.

The policy needs to be rephrased so that it starts off in a more positive way. We like to say "rejecting gently." And rephrasing policies are a good way to explain what's not gonna happen. 

Next time you find yourself saying, "That's not our (their) policy." Stop. Regroup and reword. Buffer it with, "Let me see what we can do. Normally the policy of that company doesn't allow last minute changes. (The request MUST be stated so the customer hears that you're going to go to bat for them.) However, we can sure tackle this." 

What happens here is sometimes when we go back on behalf of the client, it works. And then sometimes it doesn't. But at least we double checked. And we didn't just slough it off with, "I'm sorry. It's not our/their policy." 

2. "Our computers are so slow." - Big excuse. Everyone's computer runs slow every once in a while. When you complain about your computer it's as though, you're complaining about your company. That's how it's perceived. And perception is reality. Take the time to say, "This might take a bit longer than I'd like it to. Tell me about..." and then ask a benign question that will take time and let the customer talk. 

While most people do understand slow computers, they don't like it. It kills the conversation. 

3. "Calm Down." - Oh man does that make the hair on the back of their neck stand up. In any movie or TV show I've watched lately when someone is told to "calm down," the next words are, "Don't you tell me to calm down." 

Bill O'Reilly said that to a guest the other night. And the guest slammed back at him "don't you tell me to calm down."

There are times when the client may need to vent. Your job is to listen and come in at the appropriate time with sympathetic and empathetic wording. Instructions on how to handle something is one of the last things they need. Get rid of "calm down." 

4. "No Problem." - And they're thinking, "When was I a problem?" Believe we can thank the 'islands' for this one. When we take a cruise and ask for anything, what's the first thing the waiter says? Right, "no problem." 

Well on the cruise it may be ok; however, back home it should be "you're welcome," "my pleasure," "happy to help," and a host of other ways to let the customer know you're glad to do that.

No problem appears to be a big problem with your customers. Lose it. It kills the conversation. 

5. "Yes, but..." - Hmm what's wrong with that? We all say it. Well, what's wrong with that is the minute we say "yes, but," the client knows something negative is coming. 

If you have ever said, "I love you so much, but..." There's a condition coming, isn't there? Here's one way to change that: "Yes, we can do that. There is, however, a $50 additional fee." Doesn't that sound better than, "Yes but..."? 

Most people have phrases and sayings they don't like or that aggravate them. Keep a list of your killer words (along with ours) and avoid them.

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

OK! OK! Yes, there are certainly more than 21 ways to gain the Customer Experience, but rather than overwhelm you, we wanted to start out with a palatable number.

And 21 sounded like a good number to me. Any one of these tips will produce better relations in your customer service.

The idea is to bring UNEXPECTED GREAT customer service. Things that most other folks don't do!   

1.      Smile! All the time. Right. Don't kid yourself. Just as it can be seen in person, it can be heard on the phone. So as NIKE says...Just Do It!  

2.      Say something nice at least once a day to someone. I was at the St. Louis airport a while back and the skycap came up to me and said, "Are you going first class or does it just look that way?" That was over 10 years ago and it still seems like yesterday. People remember nice things, just as they remember the not so nice things. 

3.      Don't ever argue with a customer. You'll lose every single time. Don't even get into the ring with them. "Maybe you're right" is a great saying.  

4.      If you're sending something to a customer via any method, consider add a short personal note. Items received without any note or mention of transaction is perceived as cold and rude. A simple "Thank you" on company notepaper will do the trick. It says you stopped to do something special. 

5.      Use "WE" statements when possible rather than YOU. We is consultative and feels friendlier. And it's far less confrontational. 

6.       See someone walking into your store/branch/location/office? Say "HELLO" loud and clear. Ignoring people, even fellow employees, isn't good customer service. 

7.       Keep the fences in your organization low. We all know there needs to be rules, guidelines and policies. However, when there are so many of them, they can make doing business difficult. It's not worth it.  

8.        Be a double checker. Often, we can miss something or not know all the details. Most people appreciate hearing, "The last time I checked, we were out of stock on that; however, let me DOUBLE CHECK for you." That particular statement is so comforting. Everyone loves a double checker. 

9.        We cannot do 2 things well at once. If you're working with a customer, on the phone or in person, then focus on that person. Trying to type, or file, or do some paperwork while you're communicating with a customer is dangerous and rude. 

10.      If your attitude stinks, change it. No one - absolutely no one - wants to be connected with someone with a bad or negative attitude.  

11.      Respond rapidly. When you receive information from a client, it's a good thing to let them know you did receive it and will be working on it. That's good communication. 

12.      Extend a firm handshake when being introduced to a customer. And FIRM is the key word. That loose, fish like handshake is not a sign of confidence. FIRM is key. 

13.      Thank you notes are still thought of as GREAT. Take the time to jot several off a day to new, or better yet, older clients. Email thank you's are just OK. Unexpected is a personal note.  

14.      Use your name when you answer the phone. Everyone likes to know who they're talking with.  

15.      Use your listening skills more often. We all like to talk, mainly to show off how much we know. But listening to what the customer knows is much better. Let others have the stage. 

16.      It shouldn't take 2 people to give good customer service. Learn how to handle the situation yourself rather than trying to get rid of it by shipping it off to a co-worker or supervisor.  

17.      Show some empathy or sympathy when a customer complains. Doing or saying nothing when they feel they have a problem will put you in the doghouse fast. 

18.      Learn to say, "I apologize for what happened." Do something that will allow the customer to feel that you are apologizing. That quick, "Sorry 'bout that" statement sounds as though you're throwing the statement away.  

19.      Be prepared. If you're in customer service, or any front line position, expect things to happen. Be prepared is not just for the Boy Scouts. It's for anyone who works with customers. Prepare for the unexpected. 

20.     When in doubt, leave it out. Writing a letter to a client or calling them? If you're in doubt of using a certain word, leave it out or use something else. 

21.    Monogram the experience. Know their name; use their name.  Everyone likes to hear their name pronounced correctly.  Make sure you get it right. 

PS - Thanks for taking time to read and share this article.

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

There are really more, we know that.

But what we have found after a fun survey from our clients is these five killer words always seem to rise to the top. 

They are conversation diverters. Just as ALWAYS and NEVER are conversation diverters, these five killer words will make your customers and your potential customers veer away from the real point of your conversation.  

So best we eliminate them from our routine and vocabulary. It's not easy to do. If it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it...and we know everyone isn't doing it.  

Remove these 5 Killer Words from your sales and presentations and watch the scene go smoother. 

1.      "It's not our policy." - Ouch! Okay, okay, most every company has policies and it's something we need to deal with on a daily basis I'm sure. What we realized was it's not necessarily the policy that's frustrating, it's blurting out first and foremost, "It's not our policy" or in some cases it's "their" policy. 

      The policy needs to be rephrased so that it starts off in a more positive way. We like to say "rejecting gently." And rephrasing policies are a good way to explain what's not gonna happen.  

      Next time you find yourself saying, "That's not our (their) policy." Stop. Regroup and reword. Buffer it with, "Let me see what we can do. Normally the policy of that company doesn't allow last minute changes. (The request MUST be stated so the customer hears that you're going to go to bat for them.) However, we can sure tackle this." 

      What happens here is sometimes when we go back on behalf of the client, it works. And then sometimes it doesn't. But at least we double checked. And we didn't just slough it off with, "I'm sorry. It's not our/their policy." 

2.   "Our computers are so slow." - Big excuse. Everyone's computer runs slow every once in a while. When you complain about your computer it's as though, you're complaining about your company. That's how it's perceived. And perception is reality. Take the time to say, "This might take a bit longer than I'd like it to. Tell me about..." and then ask a benign question that will take time and let the customer talk.  

      While most people do understand slow computers, they don't like it. It kills the conversation.  

3.   "Calm Down." - Oh man does that make the hair on the back of their neck stand up. In any movie or TV show I've watched lately when someone is told to "calm down," the next words are, "Don't you tell me to calm down."  

      Bill O'Reilly said that to a guest the other night. And the guest slammed back at him "don't you tell me to calm down."  

      There are times when the client may need to vent. Your job is to listen and come in at the appropriate time with sympathetic and empathetic wording. Instructions on how to handle something is one of the last things they need. Get rid of "calm down."  

4.   "No Problem." - And they're thinking, "When was I a problem?" Believe we can thank the 'islands' for this one. When we take a cruise and ask for anything, what's the first thing the waiter says? Right, "no problem."  

      Well on the cruise it may be ok; however, back home it should be "you're welcome," "my pleasure," "happy to help," and a host of other ways to let the customer know you're glad to do that.  

      No problem appears to be a big problem with your customers. Lose it. It kills the conversation. 

5.   "Yes, but..." - Hmm what's wrong with that? We all say it. Well, what's wrong with that is the minute we say "yes, but," the client knows something negative is coming.  

      If you have ever said, "I love you so much, but..." There's a condition coming, isn't there? Here's one way to change that: "Yes, we can do that. There is, however, a $50 additional fee." Doesn't that sound better than, "Yes but..."?  

Most people have phrases and sayings they don't like or that aggravate them. Keep a list of your killer words (along with ours) and avoid them. 

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

Frustrations with Cell phone remains high.

In a recent Telephone Doctor survey, we received the following cell phone 'frustrations' from all over the country.

Is yours on this list?

There were more; however, these were at the top of the list.

  • Talking on a cell phone while conducting business. 
  • Answering a cell phone while talking to someone else in person. 
  • Talking loudly in a store/restaurant. 
  • Not using the vibrate feature when at work or in a public place. 
  • Talking on your cell phone when you're in the car with others. 
  • Using your speakerphone in public. 
  • Initiating a cell phone call when others are present. 
  • Talking on your cell phone and landline at the same time. 
  • Using call waiting. What? I'm not important enough to finish our conversation? 
  • People with 'awful' voice mail messages. 
  • Not answering when called when we know you're there. 
  • When the first thing a person asks is, "Where are you?" 
  • Having to listen to the chirps and weird rings and tones some cell phones make.

So then what are the 5 voice mail frustrations which are probably on your cell phone voice mail right now?

  1. Hi, I'm not here/ or not available right now. (DUH. That's a hot lot of news. We know that. That's why your voice mail answered) 
  2. Your call is very important to me. (Right, then why aren't you there?) 
  3. I'm sorry I missed your call. (Well sometimes we're not. Besides that's a pretty useless statement.) 
  4. I'll call you back as soon as possible. (Now what's wrong with that? Well... Your ASAP may be different from my ASAP and we'll never exceed anyone's expectation with ASAP. Simply state "And I will return the call." 
  5. Not giving caller an 'out' or another way to reach the party; i.e. Another phone number, a person, or an email to locate them.

When was the last time you checked your own message? Probably time to do that.

# # #

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

The thought of making a cold call can send chills through the hearts of even the most seasoned business owners.

After all, calling a stranger is hard enough without the stress of trying to get them to buy something. Here are some tricks to make cold calling less stressful and more productive.

1. Have the mindset that they will never buy from you. Doing this will release you of the pressure of having to make the sale.

2. Find out who the key decision maker is. Don't waste your time making your pitch to junior employees, receptionists or people in the wrong department.

3. Don't start the conversation by asking them how they're doing. They're busy and don't have time for small talk with strangers. Cut to the chase as towhy you're calling.

4. Set the bar low. Don't try to close the sale. Instead ask for a meeting. If that doesn't work, ask if you can send them some information, then follow up later.

5. Name drop if you can. Mention a colleague you both know or an association you both belong to. This will help build rapport and warm the call.

Neil Rackham is one of the best known modern sales leader who combines expert theoretical knowledge with practical intuitions to deliver effective sales-as-a-process tools.

Sales-as-a-process dates back to NCR's founding father, John Henry Patterson. Rackman, the author of Spin Selling, has updated some of Patterson's original thinking about how to create an effective sales process.

One surprising result is that passion won't produce sales. Because passionate people aren't conscious listeners.

Neil Rackham explains why in this video -pay attention to the first 2:12 minutes. [Neil is talking about entrepreneurs, but he could be also talking about franchisors.]

The fundamental reason why [franchisors cannot sell franchises] is that, almost by definition, a franchisor has a deep enthusiasm for what they are doing and their products.

And one thing we know about selling, we've known for nearly forty years, the best selling isn't at all about your products and what you can offer, it is very much about the customer and their needs.

And franchisors very often swamp the customer.

After all, since 1970 research has shown that in a sales call the more time a customer talks the higher the probability that the call will succeed.

In my experience, franchisors cannot help themselves. When they get in front of the customer, they want to tell them The Story.

It can be a very compelling story, it just doesn't cause the franchise prospect to buy, as well as if they focused on the prospect and listened to what the prospect needs were and worked from there.

[Franchisors do listen], but they listen very selectively.

They are listening for how can I get in and start talking about what I can offer.

[But] when you study highly effective sales people, one of the things you find is that highly effective sales people talk about solutions or what they could offer very late in the sales process. Less effective sales people cannot wait until they can start talking about what they can do.

Franchisors are impatient people.

And often, they will jump in too quickly and start talking about answers. And the prospect listening to them doesn't link that answer to their needs. Because prospects have to start with their needs and move towards what fulfills their needs. The prospect doesn't want to start with the franchisor's products and start to work backwards.

Too many franchisors say: "We have this Great Thing, Do You Need it?"

And the answer the prospect often gives is: It is a Great Thing, But We don't Need it".

For More Great Franchise Sales Tips, Why Not Subscribe to The Franchise Sales Newsletter?

Do your customers care?  I'm willing to bet they do when it comes to themselves.  While that may sound selfish, lets keep in mind that your customers buy from you based on what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.  The problem is that many business people seem to forget that.

I was at a local electronics retailer the other day looking for an item that was advertised in their flyer.  When I got there, the item was nowhere to be found.  When I asked about it, the guy behind the counter went on in great lengths how the factory in the US shipped it late and it went to the head office instead of the store, and on and on.

Do I need to know this?  Of course not.  Did this make me feel better about leaving empty handed?  No way.  And to make matters worse, he couldn't tell me when the item would actually arrive.

"But the sale will be over in two days." I said.  "Can I at least get a rain check so I can purchase it at the sale price when it arrives?"

What would you have said if you were the guy behind the counter?  A no brainer, huh?  Well this is what he told me: "Sorry sir, but we don't do rain checks.  It's our policy."  He then went on to explain that this item has been known to go on sale more than once throughout the year.  Thanks, I'll try to keep that in mind.

A true story.

While you may have handled the situation differently, there are still times when we expect our customers to show sympathy when we are unable to provide five star service.  Sure, things beyond our control will happen that impact on our ability to keep our promises. 

Just don't expect your customers to care about them.

Instead, just deal with it head on.  Put yourself in the shoes of your customer.  Sometimes a "sorry" is enough.  Other times, some form of compensation may be appropriate.

Here's five questions to ask yourself next time one of your customers asks for something:

  1. Is my customer unhappy as a result of a transaction with my company?
  2. Could this customer potentially buy from me again?
  3. What is my cost in dollars to make this customer happy?  (It may be less that you think)
  4. How can I turn this situation into a win-win experience?  (Make this your top motivator)
  5. What would I want this person to say if asked of their experience with my company?

The most important thing any customer can give you is their trust.  If they believe that you will right any wrong and look out for them, they will be your customers for life.  And no amount of advertising will get you that.

By the way, I ended up taking the flyer to a national electronics retailer that had the product in stock and matched the sale price.

Marc Gordon is a professional speaker and marketing consultant based in Toronto, Ontario. His firm, Fourword Marketing, specializes in helping businesses create a brand identity and developing effective marketing campaigns.  Marc can be reached at (416) 238-7811 or visit his website, by clicking here

When it comes time to sell a business bad practices become costly.

The general rule of thumb is that a business is valued at three times income or one time sales then adjusted according to circumstances.  While this appears to be a clean and simple method of valuing and selling a business it is unrealistic based on my experience and, I suspect, those who have successfully sold or assisted in the sale of a business. 

At the most basic level, why should the potential buyer of a business actually believe that the seller is providing realistic and reliable information?

How does one get around this tendency to mistrust the other party in such a transaction?

Selling a business involves a high degree of trust between buyer and seller.  A seller must provide information (particularly financials) that are real, indicative of the business and presented in a manner that exudes confidence.  A potential buyer of the business must be trusted not to use confidential information provided to them to damage the business. 

Mutual trust requires a level of compromise and openness that is not easily given.  It is necessary to the successful sale of a small business.  Overcoming this hurdle is the responsibility of the seller of a business.  It typically involves preparing for the sale of the business at least three years in advance to ensure that financials (a key component of achieving this trust) are ready for disclosure at the time of sale.

I was recently involved with two businesses where this trust was compromised.  Failure to obtain this trust resulted in early termination of negotiations for the sale of each business.

In one instance, the business lacked even the most rudimentary Profit & Loss Statement.  They provided two years of revenue by month and "estimated" the cost of goods sold as a standard percent of sales.  There was no reference to operating costs - a complete lack of even the most rudimentary accounting systems. 

A prospective purchaser of the business had no understanding of the profitability or operations of this business.  While the business was may have been profitable, lack of reasonable disclosure made this difficult to determine.   

This sale failed to due to a lack of disclosure.

The situation of the second business was quite different.  It had extremely effective management control and accounting systems.  The owner provided a comprehensive set of financials that allowed a prospective buyer to fully understand the business.  Unfortunately, the business was unprofitable.  To compensate, the seller provided a "normalized" set of financials that showed what a new owner could earn. 

This seller was relying on a level of trust that enabled a prospective buyer to purchase based on potential rather than actual results.  Perhaps this was considered necessary in order to justify the desired selling price. 

Nevertheless, the necessary trust between both parties was never established.  Discussions on the sale of the business were terminated.

Many business owners consider management control systems are an unnecessary expenditure.  Perhaps this is because they do not understand how to use the information gleaned from these systems to improve their business. 

This approach may increase short term profitability but at what cost?  The success of any business is determined by its profitability and a lack of adequate management insight is a serious liability.  When this same business is for sale and exposed to a potential buyer, a lack of management insight is likely to result in a reduced valuation by an outside party.  Perhaps this is why many owner operated businesses fail to survive to a second generation of ownership.

Investing in good management control systems is the foundation upon which successful businesses are built and maintained.  Maximizing the valuation of a business is important to the owner selling the business. 

It is only through effective management control systems that this value can be determined and reliably documented when the business is put up for sale.

If you like this tip, and want more from Perry Shoom, click here to subscribe to his newsletter!

As a speaker on sales and service, I'm learning, and rather quickly, that one of the fastest growing segments to retailers are women. Hello? Are you surprised? I am. I'm surprised it's taken this long to realize that.

Automotive industry. Fastest growing segment? Women!

Gun industry. Fastest growing segment? Women!

Heating and cooling industry. Fastest growing segment? Right. Women!

The list goes on.

What I'm concerned about for these industries is how they're handling the situation. I've experienced how retail handles selling to women, as well as having watched it from the sidelines and it's not that great. I'm sure there are lots of folks talking on the topic. Sadly they're not getting to the right audience.

Let's talk SELLING TO WOMEN!

Can you name me the three TOP needs for a woman while shopping? We're talking first glance; interpersonal skills. Go on. I'll wait.

Don't wanna play the game? Okay, I'll fill in the blanks.

Here are the top 3 skills a woman needs when she walks into your place of business

1. Immediate eye contact.

2. A big smile where she can see your teeth. Not a grin. SHOW YOUR TEETH!

3. A firm handshake coming or going. Not a fish handshake; NOT a herring type limp, drab, slimy handshake. We can take the same kind you give your 'brother.' Please don't go breaking our hands though. Just remember a firm handshake.

I can assure you if you start off with those three you're ahead of the game.

And if it's a phone call, you need number 2 bigger and bigger because, right, no eye contact, no hand shake available.

So replace those two items with the following: strong listening skills and intelligent questions. Based on our surveys, here are a few more things to pay attention to when selling to women.

* Women buy emotionally men buy logically

* Don't talk down to a woman

* Don't assume she isn't aware or familiar with your products. ASK, "how familiar are you with...?

* When a woman comes into the store with a male, don't assume he is the decision maker. Talk with both. Include her.

* If I have kids with me and you don't have a spot for them (play area) whose fault is that?

* Have you ignored your retail setting? Is it clean? How are the bathrooms? Is there anything 'female oriented' or are all the publications "Field & Stream? Huh?

* I have a name and it's not sweetheart, honey or darling. Please use my name.

Naturally there's more to "Selling To Women" Had to jot these top hits to you fast.

Best wishes and good luck!

# # #

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

For almost 25 years, I have been selling franchises - usually for capital intensive projects.

I have always used a sales process, instead of relying upon magical phrases like: "Be Your Own Boss", or "In Business for Yourself but not by Yourself." To the sophisticated probable purchaser, these and similar phrases are trite.

There are six benefits to having a sales process - benefits for any sized franchise.

1. Consistent: With a specific and focussed sales process, a sales force can be taught, manage and coached to excellence.  Your sales process has to provide a consistent and professional face to the probable purchaser.  A sales process does that.

2. Repeatable: Standardized delivery to consumers is the heart of franchising.  Standardized delivery of your marketing message to the probable purchaser is equally important.

3.  Less Work: A sales process will eliminate inquiries early on. You will stop wasting time & start closing more deals by working with less inquiries and more probable purchasers.

4. Accurate Item 20 Projections: Sales is an optimistic profession.  Too optimistic.  A salesman will give a highly optimistic opinion of which deals will close and when.  Just look at the item 20's in any FDD - how many projected openings year to the next turn into locations opened?  Not many.  A sales process helps the franchisor project gross royalties better.  And all planning starts from accurate numbers.

5. Manageable: A sales process has clearly defined steps -ones that could be outlined with a decision tree.  If you pay attention to what is happening in the sales process, it is easy for the sales manager to monitor that staff's progress to their quota or targets.

6.  Teachable: Because a sales process breaks down the complex sale into a series of steps, it is easier to learn.  New sales staff can progress through the complex sale without getting overwhelmed.

Finally, a franchise sale process has to lead a probable purchaser through the questions that are important to the purchaser and not on what you believe are the great features of your system!

How to Really Sell More Franchises.

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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.

Our DVD program ESSENTIAL TELEPHONE SKILLS is just that. A basic, common sense program - uncomplicated, yet effective. Ideas, tips, skills and techniques that everyone should be doing, but they're not.

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. Rule #1: 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?

These are 5 great, simple, basic skills for you.

# # #

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

While being interviewed on a local radio show, one of the co-hosts posed this question - "Errol, exactly what is customer service?" 

I don't ever remember being asked that particular question but here's my reply -"Customer service is a methodology that when put in motion, creates a customer's experience."  This definition is not specific to any particular industry nor does the size of the organization matter.

Now someone is probably wondering what I mean by methodology. When defining customer service as a methodology, I'm speaking of the systems that an organization chooses to put in place to provide a customer experience.

Ok, now someone may be asking "Errol, now what systems are you referring to? Allow me to explain.

When determining what your organization's customer service methodology will be, you are actually determining the experience your customer will receive when interacting with those within your organization. For instance, when your customer calls and your inbound call methodology dictates that persons answering calls will perform certain tasks while on the call and do so within a certain time frame, those requirements lead to the customer's experience.

When that person's performance review and salary increase is tied to their success in meeting the goals of that inbound call strategy, this too determines the customer's experience with your organization. If your strategy induces this person to be more concerned with meeting goals than taking the necessary steps and time for each customer's situation, this too creates an experience.

When creating core values for your organization, you are creating an experience for your customer. If words such as integrity, honesty, respect and valued are included in your core values, your customer should experience these words when interacting with your organization. Core values are the frame-work from which your customer service methodology is created. Every component of your strategy should be grounded in your core values.

When choosing your training methodology, once again you're creating an experience for your customer. Your customer is depending upon customer contact personnel to be experts on your products and services. Keep the customer's experience in mind when developing training programs. I suggest focusing on creating ambassadors for your organization.

Are customer contact personnel educated on your various products or services?

Have they actually utilized or experienced your products or services for themselves in order to gain the customer's perspective?

What tools will they need to provide a great customer experience?  

Be sure to equip them with basic soft skills training as one's ability to be pleasant and professional goes a long way in creating a positive customer experience.

When choosing who get's the opportunity to be the face of your organization through your hiring methodology, here again you're creating an experience for your customer. It's important to carefully establish your hiring criteria. What characteristics are critical for your customer contact personnel? Is industry experience more important than personality traits? Remember, you're attempting to create a great customer experience. Your hiring choices will bear fruit! Make sure it's good fruit!

When exercising your personnel management methodology, remember that this too creates an experience for your customer. Just as you must strive to make sound customer contact personnel hiring decisions, it's even more important to utilize sound management practices. Make sure managers have the proper tools required for this position - people skills, products and services knowledge, coaching skills, leadership skills and a good comprehensive understanding of the organization.

Should your customer contact personnel become frustrated with management practices, your customer will eventually be impacted. Employee turnover, discontent and low productivity all  create an experience for your customer. Manage employees in a way that will certainly lead to a great customer experience.

When developing complaint resolution methodology - you got it - you're creating an experience for your customer. We all know that sometimes mistakes are made or things get left undone.

When these errors happen, the need for a quick and thorough resolution is paramount. Is your methodology in this area customer friendly? 

Does every resolution require a supervisor/manager's approval or are your customer contact personnel equipped with options for a speedy resolution?

Are you tracking customer complaints for patterns and trends?

Doing so allows one to identify possible operational issues which once corrected will alleviate repeat complaints which in turn - you guessed it - creates a positive customer experience.

When choosing the methodology to get your customer's opinion regarding your products or services - one more time - you're creating an experience for your customer.

We all know the value in getting the customer's opinion. Most love the opportunity to let you know exactly what they think of your organization.

Make it easy for them to do so as the more customer feedback you receive, the more data you have to make decisions. Do you need to make adjustments to your product or services? Do your customer contact personnel need additional training? Provide regular feedback opportunities  in order to stay current on what's important to your customer.

 These various methodology components create an organizational customer service system which in turn creates customer experiences. Examine your methodologies to insure that they all are geared toward providing what's important to your customer. Now put them all in motion and create great customer experiences!

David Gould is one of our franchise sales experts on our upcoming round-table discussion on franchising. Get a preview of what he'll be saying about franchise sales in his article -

Franchisors: Why the Best Candidates Don't Buy Your Franchise & One Smart Fix
http://bit.ly/17PowqE

If you want to Learn How to Dramatically Improve Your Franchise Sales Process http://bit.ly/ZStilj register to attend CAFA on May 21st at the Columbia Country Club, Chevy Chase, MD

Whether you're a new franchise or seasoned franchise sales leader this event is for you.

If participating in this Round-table event sells you only one extra franchise this year it will be worth your time and attention.

1. Is your franchise sales process producing the results you want?

2. Do you have the right 7 steps in your franchise sales process?

3. Do you know the 3 questions all franchise candidates ask?

4. Are you engaging effectively with qualified candidates from start to finish?

5. Is your sales approach right for your concept, sales team and target profiles?

Register online and reserve your seat - http://cafafranchise.org/meeting-schedule/26

See you at CAFA! 

Long ago a good friend once told me, "Nancy, the training your company provides is common sense that's actually NOT very common!"

There's a lot of truth to that statement. Yet years later, rudeness and low service levels still plague franchises.

We hope you enjoy taking this customer service quiz to test how common your common sense is. 

  1. "How can I help you?" belongs:
    1. In the initial greeting.
    2. In the message taking scenario.
    3. Nowhere. I'm not able to help anyone.
  2. When I'm not able to help a customer, I should:
    1. Tell them honestly & thank them for their business and hang up.
    2. Give whatever information I can, right or wrong. Wrong information is better than no information.
    3. Get help immediately and advise the person help is on the way.
  3. When I'm having a bad day, I should:
    1. Not bother coming into work.
    2. Leave my troubles at the doorstep like the song says.
    3. Tell all my co-workers my troubles to get it off my back.
  4. Chewing gum at work is:
    1. OK.
    2. A bad breath refresher.
    3. Downright rude and obnoxious. Fugetaboutit!
  5. A mirror at my desk will:
    1. Keep my ego in check.
    2. Remind me to smile BEFORE I pick up the phone.
    3. Give me bad luck if it breaks.
  6. Basic customer service skills are important to me because:
    1. Everyone needs a refresher.
    2. I need a lot of help.
    3. I never learned any.
  7. Internal customer service means:
    1. Be nice to others who come into my office.
    2. The customer is giving me a stomachache.
    3. Treating my co-workers as customers.
  8. When using voice mail and leaving a message I should:
    1. Leave my phone number twice and slowly.
    2. Leave a good clean joke to keep them smiling.
    3. Not leave a message...just call back till I reach them.
  9. Irate callers/customers are important to our company because:
    1. It's fun to handle those kinds of calls.
    2. At least we get a second chance to make it right.
    3. I finally get to yell back.
  10. Asking questions of the customer will:
    1. Aggravate them.
    2. Show I'm interested in helping.
    3. Be considered being too nosy.

# # #

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

I am delighted that CAFA is able to introduce both a young new and exciting franchisor, Buffalo Wing Factory and Pub Franchising and Nikki Sicilian, along with a seasoned franchise salesman and good friend of mine, David Gould, recently of Kiddie Academy.

We know a number of younger franchisors and more established franchisors have trouble selling franchises on a consistent basis.  A quick peak at many franchisor's Item 20 comparing their last year's projected openings with actual openings is revealing.  When those numbers aren't consistent, you know that the franchisor doesn't have an effective sales process or funnel.

David will explain some of the elements of an effective sales funnel, Nikki will share their sales challenges as an emerging franchisor, and Warren Lewis will navigate us all through the conversation.

 David GouldPanelist  

 

 Nikki SicilianPanelist

 

TBA, Panelist

 

&

 

 Warren Lee Lewis, Moderator 

 

Whether  you're a new franchise or seasoned franchise sales leader this event is for you.

 

If participating in this Roundtable event sells you only one extra franchise this year it will be worth your time and attention.

 

1. Is your franchise sales process producing the results you want?

2. Do you have the right 7 steps in your franchise sales process?

3. Do you know the 3 questions all franchise candidates ask?

4. Are you engaging effectively with qualified candidates from start to finish?

5. Is your sales approach right for your concept, sales team and target profiles?

 

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013, from 11:45 - 2pm;

 

Registration 11:45 - 12:15 - Lunch 12:15 - 12:45 - RoundTable 12:45-2:00

 

columbia_country_club3-thumb-540x297-1393

Columbia Country Club

7900 Connecticut Ave, Chevy Chase, MD 20815

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I have been giving you some powerful tips about customer service, which I hope you have been able to implement.  If changing your customer service culturre has been hard, we do have a system for you that just plain works.

ServiceSkills.com is a powerful web-based learning platform which offers your team access to a complete library of customer service and communication training resources. This system features streaming video chapters, quizzes, post-quiz feedback, key points reminders and certificates of completion. An administrative management system is also included.

ServiceSkills.com is a hosted solution, meaning there's no hardware to buy or software to install on your network. Your team will sharpen skills and improve performance using any web browser. The platform is intuitive to operate which reduces the hassles common with other online learning.

Content is powered by Telephone Doctor, America's favorite customer service training brand, which has helped over 30,000 organizations improve the way they communicate. ServiceSkills.com is available via an annual, all-inclusive subscription and pricing is based on the usage tier level that fits your needs.

Here is a short introduction to the platform. We will ask you for your email about a 1 minute into the video, but do review the entire video before you decide to get on our mailing list. We are interested in those franchises with a serious intent to train and implement new customer service skills.

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

A good sales plan establishes goals, priorities, timetables, and necessary resources.

A sales plan that will achieve your ends has these characteristics:

1.       Sets measurable, specific, vivid, and motivating goals. Where do you intend to be in one year? What measures will you use to gauge your achievements: Number of buyers contacted? Percentage of sales to certain types of customers? Sales volume? Profit? Ranking among your peers?

2.       Identifies the enabling objectives necessary to achieve ultimate goals. What objectives must you reach on the way to the intended outcome? What new work habits must you develop? What values will you need to embrace?

3.       Outlines a logical order among the intermediate steps. What is the logical sequence for achieving your ultimate goal? What must happen first, second, third, and so on?

4.       Establishes a reasonable yet challenging time line. When will you achieve your ultimate goal? When will you jump the intermediate hurdles?

5.       Pinpoints the barriers between you and your objectives. Why haven't you been achieving your objectives? What are the constraining forces, either in you or in the environment? What has stood in the way?

6.       Specifies strategies, procedures, and tactics. What actions will overcome the barriers that have kept you from achieving your objectives?

7.       Summarizes the resources needed. What money, materials, supplies, equipment, facilities, information, education, training, support, counsel, or staffing do you require?

8.       Establishes accountability. What will you do to hold your feet to the fire?

9.       Is in writing. Plans not written are dreams. Plans written become vows. Don't just dream about success, vow to succeed.

10.    Is shared and negotiated with those responsible for implementing it. The more people who see your plan, the more pressure you'll feel to make it happen.

11.    Signifies commitment. Start your plan only once you become totally confident in it and fully committed to it.

Kevin will be speaking at Frantopia 2013, presented by Bill.com,  an interactive learning and networking event for franchisees this June. Franchisees will hear from industry experts and other successful franchisees, while sharing their own challenges and best practices. The 2-day program will address issues such as budgeting/cash flow, local community involvement, and social media literacy.

Registration is limited, so reserve your seat today!

Frantopia is operated by FranchiseBusinessREVIEW, a leading franchise research firm specializing in franchisee satisfaction and performance.

Franchising is a complex sale.  

The best way to increase the effectiveness of your marketing budget is to take a serious look at your sales process.

We can all do better at selling, especially when selling something as complicated as a franchise.

Whether  you're a new franchise or seasoned franchise sales leader this event is for you. 

If participating in this Roundtable event sells you only one extra franchise this year it will be worth your time and attention.

  • Is your franchise sales process producing the results you want?
  • Do you have the right 7 steps in your franchise sales process? 
  • Do you know the 3 questions all franchise candidates ask?
  • Are you engaging effectively with qualified candidates from start to finish?
  • Is your sales approach right for your concept, sales team and target profiles?

Put Tuesday, May 21st on your calendar and plan to attend the Capital Area Franchise Association -May 21, 2013 @ Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, MD.  Topic:  Expert Roundtable Discussion on Franchise Sales

Columbia_Country_Club3.jpg

Who should attend - CEOs, CDOs, franchise sales executives, candidate qualifiers, franchise brokers, franchise sales outsourcers, CRM & franchise marketing suppliers, legal compliance experts and franchise buyers interested in how franchises are professionally sold.

 

There are many costly mistakes in business. With this challenging environment; don't make these mistakes.

We're only listing five right; there are many more.  But, let's start here.

MISTAKE 1: NOT SMILING

Insanely simplistic. On the phone or in person, we need to understand a smile works. In person yes, you can see it...and on the phone, yes, you can hear a smile. Don't feel like smiling? Well, smile anyway. The customer doesn't care if you feel like smiling or not. It's better to have the customer think your office is closed than to have the phone answered or greet someone in person without a smile and in a negative mood.

MISTAKE 2: NOT ACKNOWLEDGING A CUSTOMER'S REQUEST OR PROBLEM IMMEDIATELY.

Requests and problems need to be handled sooner than later. Delaying a request or at least not immediately acknowledging it can cause more problems than the original request. Delaying handling a problem makes the problem bigger. Use Telephone Doctors' Rapid Response mentality.

MISTAKE 3: IMMEDIATE REJECTION OF A REQUEST

Be a "double-checker." It's easy to tell people, "We don't have it", "Sorry, it's past the deadline" or "We ran out of that." Instead, use a soft rejection: Something like: "The last time I checked it wasn't available, let me double-check for you." This simple statement immediately defuses some of the tension of not being able to fulfill a request. And often when we do double-check, we find a way to get what the person wanted after all. Be a double checker.

MISTAKE 4. GIVING A PRICE WHEN THEY CALL or WALK IN.

"Hi, how much is a widget"? Answer: $10.75. "Ok, thanks, bye". DANGEROUS! Try not to ever give a price at the top of the conversation. Consider: "We have several types of widgets. Which were you interested in hearing about?' Or, 'Our widgets come in a variety of shapes and colors. Tell me what you're looking for". Or "how many did you need? There's a nice discount with 3″. Anything but giving the price right out at the top of the conversation- if you can help it.

MISTAKE 5. FORGETTING WHAT MOM TAUGHT YOU.

You're right. Not using Please, thank you and you're welcome will lose business for you in a hurry. No matter how much or how little money someone has, they all need and want to be appreciated and treated well. Those three little phrases are critically important to today's business world. See, I told you "mom was right". Thanks Mom.

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.


A few years ago, I interviewed and subsequently hired a woman for a position on the phones at our office. At Telephone Doctor, our customer service techniques are a condition of employment.

In this particular case, the young lady we interviewed was spectacular. She said the right thing. She looked right. She was the most positive, upbeat, happy individual we'd seen in a long time. We laughed and had a wonderful interview. Her laugh seemed contagious. Her beautiful smile was constant. Her positive mental attitude was perfect. She had faced much adversity in her life and she explained how she handled it with the same great mentality.

Her name was Carol.

I was impressed. After she left I thought about her. "Gee," I thought to myself, "what a special person this could be for us." Carol came back a day or so later for the 2nd interview. Again, the same wonderful personality. Her friendliness was so natural, so outgoing you wanted to bottle it. Bingo - Carol was hired on the spot. Everyone I introduced her to was very excited.

She went into our training program with gusto. She learned the Telephone Doctor products quickly and after three or four weeks we put Carol on the phones, to call our clients.

One day, shortly after she was put on the phones, I was walking past her office. I paused to listen to her thinking how great she'd be. Well, I almost fell over. Here was the same lady, but her entire personality had changed. The voice I heard was downbeat; almost depressing. There sure was no smile in her voice. The conversation she had going with a client was stilted and cold. One word answers. It was, to put it mildly, shocking and frankly, embarrassing.

I quickly called Carol into my office. "Carol," I said, "what happened? When we interviewed you a few weeks ago, you were wonderful. You were so cheerful, so happy, so full of life. Your voice had a personality I wanted to bottle. And now, while I was listening to you, it seemed as though you were an entirely different person. Your voice was down, there was no personality. You seemed cold and unfriendly. What happened?"

"Oh," she said without missing a beat and very firmly, "when we interviewed - that was different. We're like friends. That was fun. These are business calls. That's different."

"Wrong" I said, "these are our business friends and they need to be treated as such." I told her if she was going to give me half her personality I'd give her half her pay.

P.S. - Carol doesn't work here anymore.

Think about your interview. Did you tell the person you interviewed with you loved people? That you're a "people" person? That you loved to be busy? Did you smile during the interview to impress them? Why be any different to your customers?

Remember, customers are our business friends and deserve the same treatment as that 'great' interview you gave.

Don't be a "Carol." Be you. Be the person they interviewed. All the time.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

What unprofessional behavior irritates you the most when, as a consumer, you are interacting with another company? At Telephone Doctor we hear a lot of what bothers the public.

It's important to know that customer service that is perceived as rude is not always intentional and often is the result of absent-mindedness or carelessness on behalf of an employee. Either way, bad customer service can translate into lower sales and lost business.

Based on Telephone Doctor surveys, we've compiled 15 customer service NO NO's. They are listed below along with Telephone Doctor's guidelines on how to do it better. Believe me, there are plenty more. These are at the top of the list.

If any of your folks are guilty of these, it's time for some action. Otherwise you may have an image problem that could sabotage your effort to produce and market great products.

15 TOP NO NO's

1. Employees are having a bad day and their foul mood carries over in conversations with customers. (Yes, everyone has bad days every once in a while, but employees need to keep theirs to themselves.)

2. Your employees hang up on angry customers. (Ironclad rule: We never hang up on anyone. When we hang up on someone, we label ourselves as rude.)

3. Phone calls or voice mail messages are not returned. (All calls are to be returned or have calls returned on your behalf.)

4. Employees put callers on hold without asking them first, if they are able to hold . . . as a courtesy. (Ask customers politely if you can put them on hold; very few will complain or say "No way!")

5. Employees put callers on a speakerphone without asking if it's OK first. (It's the nice thing to do, as a courtesy.)

6. Employees eat, drink or chew gum while talking with customers on the phone or face-to-face. (Chew away from the customer. And save that stick of gum for break time by yourself.)

7. Employees make personal calls (or text) on cell phones while working with customers. (RUDE, RUDE, RUDE!)

8. Employees forget to use the words "please," "thank you," or "you're welcome." (Your mother was right. Please use these words generously. Thank you.)

9. Employees hold side conversations with friends or each other while talking to customers. (A big customer frustration.)

10. Employees seem incapable of offering more than one-word answers. (One-word answers come across as rude and uncaring.)

11. Employees use a lot of words that are grounded in company or industry jargon that many customers don't understand. (If you sell tech products, for example, don't casually drop in abbreviations such as APIs, ISVs, SMTP or TCP/IP.)

12. Employees request that customers call them back when it's 'not so busy.' (Customers should never be told to call back. Request the customer's number instead and you call them back.)

13. Employees rush customers, forcing them off the phone or out the door at the earliest opportunity. (Rushing threatens customers - take your time.)

14. Employees obnoxiously bellow, "What's this in reference to?" effectively humbling customers and belittling their requests. (Screening techniques can be used with a little more warmth and finesse. If a caller/customer has mistakenly come your way, do your best to point them in the right direction. And yes, with a smile.)

15. Employees freely admit to customers that they hate their jobs. (This simply makes the entire company look bad. And don't think such a moment of candor or lapse in judgment won't get back to the boss.)

In defense of employees, customers can be rude too. And customer service jobs can often be thankless with little motivation or incentive to do the job right.  

Sadly, yes, customers can be rude and get away with it. Employees cannot if they want to help their companies succeed and keep their jobs as well. It is what it is.

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

Doesn't matter what you're selling or providing, if you're a franchise owner and have a staff you have the same concerns.

How do we keep our clients (customers) or whatever you want to call them, you name it, happy and coming back? That's the big question.

Sadly there's not just one skill and definitely there are more than 3, but in order to get you off on the right foot here are 3 big ones you can start with today.

1. Listening Skills - "HUH?" "WHAT DID YA SAY?" and other caustic phases like that won't do. Every time you ask a customer what they said is a red flag to them. It simply says "I wasn't paying any attention to you."

Getting their order wrong says you weren't listening/paying attention. Sending the wrong information says you weren't listening/paying attention. And that goes for whether you're a fast food or a service provider.

Remember. We hear, but are we really listening? Are we paying attention?

2. Sympathy and Empathy - And being sure they know the difference.

* Sympathy - Sincerely feeling badly something happened and acknowledging it.

* Empathy - Understanding how a customer feels that something happened and acknowledging it.

Not acknowledging a situation is big cause for your customer to take their business elsewhere.

3. The Ability to Apologize Properly - Believe me, "SORRY 'bout that" is not an apology. When we screw up, make a mistake, or do something wrong, the words need to be, "My apologies." Not, "Sorry 'bout that."

Wrong change, wrong order, or wrong information is "MY APOLOGIES."

They say employees can only grasp 3 items at one time and for your information, it takes 21 days to change a habit. These are not overnight changes.

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

The other day, someone asked me, "What's Customer Experience, Nancy?"

They had not heard the expression yet. And as I went on to explain, I realized it's not just one item, it's many things. How can you put the entire 'experience' into one word? Not sure we can.

And since 'customer experience' seems to be the new hot buzz word of the day, we wanted to share a few of the tips that will help make a better customer experience for you and your customer. Common sense that they are, they're not often done.

1. "No problem" is not a substitute for the gold standard of "you're welcome." "My pleasure" or "glad to help" will save the day and make a better customer experience.

2. "Sorry 'bout that" is not a replacement for "I apologize." When an error occurs, "sorry 'bout that" won't work. "I apologize" always helps make a better customer experience.

3. "Hey, how ya doing?" is not a good greeting, on the phone or in person. "How nice to talk/or see you/or meet you" brings the customer experience to the forefront.

4. Want to spoil a good customer experience quickly? Chew gum, crack your knuckles, cough or sneeze without covering your mouth and not saying excuse me. All these will ruin a good customer experience.

5. Just being 'nice' isn't going to create a great customer experience. You're suppose to be nice! Say or do something extra special to make it great.

6. Being on your cell phone or texting while helping a customer will completely ruin a good customer experience.

7. "Please," "thank you" and "you're welcome" will never go out of style. Use them often for that great customer experience.

8. Listening skills is one of the, if not THE, most important customer experience skill you can have.

9. Ownership (not passing the buck) is one of the best personal skills you can have when it comes to making a great customer experience.

10. No excuses help make a great customer experience. Excuses only say, "I'm not going to help you now."

11. We don't let the customer leave the store or off the phone until they're happy. We stick with it.

12. We stand up if we're sitting down when the customer comes into the store or we're at a tradeshow booth. We don't just stay seated. That's not a good customer experience.

13. While 13 is usually thought of as unlucky, this tip is the luckiest and I'm betting you already know what it is. YUP - smile! On the phone or in person, it can be heard. Your customers want to work with happy, upbeat people. That's what makes a great customer experience.

So you ask, what is customer experience? As you see, it's a whole lot of things. What it is NOT is brain surgery or rocket science.

There are hundreds of things that help make a great customer experience.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

Hello, my name is Andrew and I am a principal of Synergy Sales & Marketing (an outsourced, more results based executive sales and marketing leadership team) and I have a confession to make...

I am a failure.

In fact, I am the CFO - the Chief FAILURE Officer for many corporations around the world!  

Seriously, I am.

Rewarded more for the results rather than the services my firm provides and time it takes to render them, we have an extraordinary high tolerance for failure.  A tolerance that over the years has enabled us to look at the very concept of failure in a different way.  A way that has taught us a whole new truth.  A truth that at first seemed implausible.

For those who are not in the sales and marketing profession, you should know that our profession is riddled with failure.  In fact, it is more about failure than success.  This is an indisputable fact. For example, well done direct mail campaigns yield a 3% conversion, social media advertising, less than 1/2 of 1%, sales, dozens maybe even hundreds of no's before you get your first yes.  

Also, very often (an no matter how talented your marketing team is) website messaging is notoriously never right the first time or the second or the third... not resonating with its hyper-specific audience and buyers.

So, if this is the case, then why is every consultant, every book, every coach, every sales and marketing pro focused solely on how to do things the right way?  Why are they all instructing us how failure is averted even though that "right way" still statistically yields a terrible result?

Well, something amazing happened.  Or, should I say, I allowed it to happen.  By allowing myself to have this intimate relationship with failure for over 10 years now, through the good times and the bad, I came to realize something.  Something of paramount importance.  Something that will cause you to at least pivot and very likely make a completely shift.

In the never ending process of always trying to "figure it out" I realized that predominance of our best solutions, our largest paydays came from those lessons in failure.  I learned that:

  • the faster and more frequently we failed,
  • the better we emotionally detached from those failures,
  • the better able to objectively observe the process of what failure could provide (give back), and,
  • the faster and more frequently the solutions came to us.
  • the fast solutions came, the faster the incremental, measurable results.

Ultimately what I observed is that failing, failing fast and failing often helped us find a way to significantly improve upon the present statistical paradigms.  Most importantly, I realized that failure is not only a good thing, but if you can actually change how you (and everyone around you) feels about failure and control that process, the reward is almost limitless.

At Synergy, we change not only how our clients look at failure but how they FEEL about it.  Leading by example we not only interrupt the corporate culture, we change how they all collectively feel about failure.  And, what that new feeling engenders (spread person by person, task by task) is a collective willingness to fail.  

A change in cultural behavior that renders the collective:

  • Smarter than most,
  • Faster than most, and
  • Better than most.

Through massive yet compressed (expeditious) failure, our clients know better than anyone in their space how NOT to do it.  They also know however, better than anyone else, how TO do it.  How to figure it out faster; find that sweet spot faster.  Succeed faster!

Success today, or scaled conversion as I like to call it (aka getting customers to buy in mass) has really become less about the practice of "here's how" and more about the science of "here's how NOT to".  The science of allowing measured, controlled failure to reveal key learnings that ultimately allow for rapid and advanced solutions, adaptation and evolution.  And by fundamentally changing how we all feel about failure... now that's where the real magic happens!

So yes, I am now a failure scientist.  I like to call it that because I really am a former (environmental) scientist... a university adjunct professor in fact.  I am, and always will be... a recovering geek!  A recovering geek who realized that his talent was never actually doing the science but communicating it.  Taking difficult subject matter and making it more easily digestible for people to understand and BUY!

I realized this because I started landing huge clients for the firm for which I was last employed many years ago.  Then I landed MANY huge clients.  It was at that time when I knew my calling was of all things, not science, but sales!

Now, I am a business man.  An entrepreneur.  A chief sales officer.  And yes, the geek in me will tell you, a failure scientist.  Sales and marketing departments are now my laboratory.  Companies, leaders, hire me, hire us to figure it out.  To actually figure out how to get people to buy... and buy in mass.  They hire us not just build it and orchestrate it, they hire us make what we build and orchestrate WORK.

Leading my client's sales and marketing efforts, I have an awesome responsibility.  A responsibility to pass on my wisdom.  To lead them down a road less traveled than mine.  And that responsibility has taught me more about courage, specifically the courage to not only say I fail but, I am actually good at it... and you should be too.

If you and your company truly embrace failure what you will find is that you will create an entirely different culture.  A culture that embraces rapid change, adapts to it and reaps the rewards by creating incredibly inventive and rapid solutions.  Something we a Synergy call The Culture Of Conversion.

Hello my name is Andrew and I am a failure and... A Chief Failure Officer.

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For more about me, Synergy and Creating The Culture Of Conversion for your business go to my Linkedin profile at www.linkedin.com/in/resultsnow/