Franchise Business Tips

3 Business Moves to Regret

Business aren’t infallible. CEOs tend to make as many mistakes as any employee of a company. Some of these mistakes, though, can be rather costly. These errors in judgment may have cost companies millions–or even billions.

Google It

Years ago, Google was in trouble. They had, shockingly, arrived too late on the search engine scene, and they struggled with their competitors. So founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page began looking to sell Google to a company called Excite. And CEO George Bell, when offered Google for $750,000, said no.

Depending on how you look at it, this was a very good move for Google and a very bad move for Bell. In the following years, very, very few search engines can stand up to Google. Their name has even entered our lexicon as a synonym for “to look up.” And Excite is nowhere to be seen.

Monday Night Football

In 1970, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle came up with a weekly TV program we now know as “Monday Night Football.” He offered the chance to air weekly football games to CBS and NBC, two of the three biggest networks. But both of them balked. They didn’t dare move their popular programs, like The Doris Day Show, off of Monday night! That would be a ridiculous move!

ABC, however, didn’t think so. They took a chance on the NFL. Now, over 10 million viewers tune in on Monday Night Football. Granted, it’s now on ESPN. But for a long time ABC couldn’t help but enjoy their wins while CBS and NBC made quite the fumble.

J. C. Penny is not Apple

Ron Johnson came to J. C. Penny in 2011, hoping to breathe new life into the company. Johnson had wild success with Apple stores, and hoped to use some of those same tricks on the big chain. He began by removing the coupons and sales under the claim that these were “fake prices,” trying to be more “real” with their customer base. This would work with Apple products. But, unfortunately, J. C. Penny is not Apple.

J. C. Penny customers liked the feeling of saving money. Buying from this store, unlike Apple, is not a status symbol. People who shop at J. C. Penny generally look for deals that fit in their budgets, rather than shiny trinkets. And the younger generation wasn’t having it, either. They were going to online businesses, like Amazon.

The board swiftly discharged Johnson. Johnson still believes this model would have worked had the company kept him on. However, this is not likely, as the company’s stock has fallen by 85% since then.

 

What can we learn from these companies? One, that no business is perfect. Every company will make mistakes. Second, it’s important to learn that sometimes, risks are worth a second look. You may want to take them. Or, in the case of trying to change your model drastically, perhaps you should avoid them.

Handling Difficult Coworkers

They are present in every workplace, from the complainer to the distracting chatterbox, from the gossiper to the bully. But you must learn how to handle difficult coworkers. Leaving an annoying or bad situation to simmer can only cause further escalation and lack of productivity. Eventually, you’ll come to work miserable every day. Here’s how to deal with difficult people in your workplace.

Dealing with Coworkers

When Realizing There’s a Problem

Determine that the source of your irritation or discomfort is really another person, and if it’s that person. Is it actually something at home or in your work that you are taking out on another person’s behavior? If so, then you may need to simply ignore that coworker’s quirks or behavior while you work out what else is bothering you.

Is it actually your coworker’s behavior? Then you need to address it. Move towards fixing the situation early on. Doing so will help keep your emotional state from escalating. Difficult situations left alone may explode later, especially in the middle of a project or a deadline.

You can talk it out with a trusted friend or coworker–anyone who can be a helpful but neutral third party. This lets you explore options in an objective, rational way. Don’t just leave it at complaining or whining, especially to someone who can’t do anything about it or who wants you to do something about it. You’ll quickly become the office complainer, and your situation will likely get worse.

Tips for Speaking to Them

If your coworker’s actions prevent you from getting work done, you will need to address these issues. However, you’ll have to do it wisely so you don’t escalate your situation.

Note that you’ll have to do this in person. You can’t just leave an anonymous letter. This won’t be productive. You also can’t be passive-aggressive like leaving deodorant or body spray on a coworker’s desk as a way to inform them that their hygiene bothers you. This creates extra conflict and will make your overall problem harder to resolve.

First, take the emotion out of speaking to them. Emotion on your part may fluster you or make you say things you’ll regret. Or, just having excess and uncontrolled emotion could escalate the confrontation and make a bad situation worse.

Rehearse what you can say. Not just what you want to say, but how you can and should say it. Rehearsing will also help you stay in control of your discussion.

Use “I” language while talking. Avoid using the word “you” as much as possible, as this can feel attacking or overly defensive. The other person may not know that their behavior is affecting you so much.

Fixing the Problem

Once you’ve begun your discussion, you’ll have to address ways to fix the situation. Set boundaries for what behavior that person can use with you and what makes you uncomfortable. Focus only on the one or two worst behaviors that impact you the most. As you talk, try to come up with positive solutions together. That way, you’re not just berating and complaining at them, but showing that you want to find a solution and keep the work relationship a positive one.

Remember to be friendly and encouraging throughout. Sometimes factors like jealousy, their own personal problems, and others can affect their behavior. You’re not trying to bully them into giving you space or your way; that will also make things worse!

Didn’t Work?

Sadly, some people just don’t care. They may refuse to recognize that they have a problem, consider themselves incapable of change, or decide that you’re too negative/whiny/sensitive. If you run into one of these people, you may need to limit the time you are with them. This might require the intervention of a manager if you sit near them or must work alongside them on a project.

If the problem continues, discuss it with HR or your management.

Bullying

If you work with a bully, not just an annoying person, you may need to go to HR. This is especially true if you regularly feel intimidated, dread going near that coworker, or if you almost can’t bring yourself to come to work.

This kind of conflict resolution can make your franchise better for all involved! Remember to catch these problems early, and you’ll be fine.

Why You Should Create Subtitles on Videos

Marketers and content creators are always looking for the next big thing to help send their brand’s message. And in the last few years, it has been video. Video continues to skyrocket on all social media platforms. But for many companies, it’s not yet perfect. Why? Because they don’t use subtitles! If you don’t already, consider adding subtitles to all of your videos. Here’s why.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing Viewers

This should go without saying. You want your content to be accessible to everyone. And lip-reading is harder than you might think. Impossible, really, if your video is full of voice-overs! Rather than making Deaf or HOH viewers guess at what your actors are saying, provide subtitles or at least a summary under the video on your website.

Commuters or People at Work

On the rise of videos in social media, viewers found a new peeve: videos playing automatically, and usually at high volume. Rather than announce to everyone what they were watching, they skipped over videos quickly. Even though many platforms now have Mute as a default volume setting, scrolling past can still be a problem if you don’t have subtitles. However, adding subtitles can guarantee a higher viewer count, since people can watch them silently on their train or bus commute, or while on break.

Communicates the Message

Even if your viewers don’t eventually follow through, subtitles help get the message across more easily. Whether your audience members are auditory or visual learners or some combination, having both can reinforce the message in the video.

Multi-Lingual Videos

As companies become international and the Internet continues to grow, many social media users view videos in different languages. In the United States and Canada, a large portion of your customer base might not even speak English as a first language. Including subtitles on your videos facilitates the latter’s comprehension of your message. Plus, having subtitles means you could transport your content more easily to other countries to expand this base.

SEO

Yes, you can use subtitles for your SEO! Closed-captioning can make your videos more searchable, increasing your viewers and site traffic. Plus, you can more easily use your scripts as future content. Who wouldn’t want content made simpler?

How to Create Subtitles

Most video creation apps allow you to add subtitles right away. If the app you’re using doesn’t include this feature, you can easily add an .srt file with your subtitles. These tutorials can help you out with creating subtitles for your videos, and attach them to Facebook videos.

Make sure your text isn’t too small, or that it doesn’t form a block of text. Just include a line or two that keeps up with what the actor is saying. Even if you have to leave out a few filler words, that’s okay. Your viewers might keep on scrolling if they can’t read the text fast enough.

 

Don’t fall behind the times! Get subtitles onto your videos today, and keep your hard work accessible to all!

Get Real About How You’re Doing

Whatever our idea of “being in charge” is, chances are we picture strength. Courage. Being totally unflappable. It means never displaying weakness in order to keep the whole team strong. Right? Actually, wrong. It’s time to be a better leader by being vulnerable.

Bart Lorang, Managing Director at V1, starts every meeting by assessing how he feels. Is he calm and present, reactive and upset or just not feeling well, or somewhere in between? Checking in like this lets him get real with his team. Says Lorang, “Leaders think they have to have all of the answers, but what if instead you said ‘Team, I don’t know in this situation and I really need your help. I’m scared too.’ Now that’s courage. That’s leadership.”

Building a business is very very hard, as much as it is rewarding. Why not let yourself be honest about your venture in every way?

Be Honest With Your Team

Open up, whether at work or in life, and you’ll find people will trust you more. If you accept the ups and downs of a business publicly like this, your team will form a genuine connection. They’ll know you trust them in return.

After letting your team know your real feelings, it’s going to be easier to lean on their collective ideas and honest opinions. That way, you don’t have to carry out the search for solutions alone. You’ll have more productive and more sincere brainstorming sessions and meetings.

Be Honest With Yourself

Examine your feelings. Understand why you feel the way you do, whether you’re high on success or scared over a big risk. Then, you’ll be able to analyze solutions. Taking stock of yourself and your feelings helps you from being completely reactive and making a poor decision. It can also keep you from reacting badly to someone else on your team.

More than that, talking about your fears, especially with other people, helps lessen the anxiety. You can better face important issues head-on this way.

 

You can see more from Bart’s talk at the 2017 Propelify Innovation Festival.

Blunders That Killed These 5 Franchises

Failure is the best teacher. For some, that lesson comes harder, and leads to the closing of a business. But these former business owners are not the only ones who can learn from their mistakes. Other franchisors can have that chance too. Here’s a list of franchises we can learn from, and why they failed.

Branding Blunders

Sambo’s

Opening in 1957, Sambo’s restaurants faced controversy early on. Despite their claim that “Sambo” came from the founders’ names, it couldn’t justify the caricature of Li’l Black Sambo so easily. Rebranding could have saved this company had they done it earlier, but even trying to become “The Jolly Tiger” couldn’t undo the damage of poor corporate-level decisions that made it grow too quickly.

White Tower

Seeing the popularity of White Castle, John E. Saxe decided to imitate. They copied much of White Castle, down to the menu, advertising, and architecture of the restaurant. But as popular as this might have made them, they would have been better off distancing themselves a little further. Legal action from the original chain made them change their branding tune, and this ultimately killed White Tower.

Overreaching

Burger Chef

This food chain, popular in the 60s and 70s, once was a real challenger to McDonald’s. They were the first to develop a flamed-broiled burger, a self-serve bar, value combos, and a “Funmeal.” However, this company closed its doors for good in 1996. Why did it fail? It tried to do too much too fast. This rapid expansion helped bring Burger Chef to its knees.

Though you’ve got great ideas and you need to get them out before your competitors, make sure you’re not growing faster than you can handle!

Competition

Other franchisors will always see your success and try to imitate it. To avoid going under or losing customers to them, you have to stay on the edge in product and service.

Henry’s Hamburgers

Another once-challenger to the might of McDonald’s, Henry’s had over 200 restaurants by the early 60s. That’s more than McDonald’s had at the same time! But they could not adapt to the changing industry, as dozens of other hamburger chains began popping up. For example, as other chains began adding drive-thru pickup, Henry’s failed to do so. Plus, they had the disturbing controversy of possibly using horse meat.

Blockbuster

With the advent of streaming services and more convenient DVD rentals like Redbox, the once-common Blockbuster began shutting down in 2013, after going bankrupt in 2010. Their attempt to stick to their old model backfired, closing the vast majority of their stores. Imagine if Blockbuster had changed with the times instead of holding onto the DVD rental model. We might still see them around!

 

Divvy can help you avoid any social media or printing blunders. Just contact us today to learn how we can help your franchise succeed!

Giving: Why It’s Good for Business

Building a reputation as a giving business will affect you all year long. Customers are attracted to businesses that give, and starting even simple traditions will leave a lasting impression on your market.

Helps Your Community

If you’re looking to give this year, look to your own community. This could be with service or a local charity who’ll help those in your area. You’re helping your own community grow, which can make your service meaningful. Plus, you may be directly or indirectly helping your employees! That is an excellent way to show them and their friends or families in the area that your business cares.

Boosts Employee Morale

Even if you’re not helping them or their friends and family, your employees will appreciate the gesture of giving back. Making a corporate donation will generally make your workplace attitude positive. Everyone likes the feeling of giving back! And that’s a good feeling to have at work, when the holidays can be especially stressful.

Attracts Millennials

With a $2.75 trillion spending power, Millennials represent an important and growing part of your market. Millennials tend to support brands that give to a cause. You’ll also encourage those employees who are Millennials to feel better about your business. After all, Millennials like knowing that they–and the business they work for–are making a difference.

Marketing

Humanitarian and charity efforts look great on social media. Sharing videos, photos, and other stories from your business’s efforts to help people around you will attract plenty of attention. They’ll know you’re a business invested in people. This makes newcomers more willing to trust in your service and product.

It’s the Right Thing to Do

Most of all, give because it is right. There are many people in need in your community. Take action yourself or partner up with a charitable organization and make the season merry and bright.

 

Any reason that motivates you to give back is a good one! Giving back has a powerful impact on your work, your business, and your community.

Tips for Happier Holiday Office Gift Giving

While many of us love getting gifts, that doesn’t always go for buying presents for coworkers. This time of year can be stressful enough. Then we have to choose something at the right price while being just thoughtful enough to make the gift matter. Here are our tips for buying the right gifts for the people you work with without adding extra stress!

Learn the Rules

There are always unwritten rules of gift-giving and service. Find out by talking to your coworkers what people generally get one another. This helps you get an idea of what people liked and didn’t like, as well as the price range. This keeps you from the awkwardness of over- or under-spending.

Get Gifts For Your Subordinates, Not Your Boss

This is a great time of year to show your employees how much you appreciate them. Especially if your business is extra-busy and extra-stressful during the holidays, they need that extra touch. You don’t have to be extravagant or spend a lot of money, but do make sure no one gets overlooked. Your holiday behavior and gifts will set the tone for everyone else!

However, avoid getting gifts for your boss. One, this is already a difficult task. Two, a gift to your boss will look suspicious to them and to your coworkers, who’ll wonder if you are sucking up to them. This could be uncomfortable for the recipient at best. At worst, it might be embarrassing or inappropriate.

There are exceptions: if you really want to get your boss something, pool your resources to get him or her a department-wide gift.

Be Fair

Spend about the same amount on everyone. Overspending can be an expensive or suspicion-raising trap that makes it appear as if you’re sucking up to a superior or favoring a subordinate. Obvious underspending, too, makes you look like a Scrooge or like you don’t like one of your coworkers.

Especially if you’re a manager, avoid showing favoritism. Make sure you’re not leaving people out who might feel bad. For example, you should get all of your employees or immediate coworkers a gift, not just some of them or all but one. This should obviously go without saying. If money is a concern, you can get them cards with a nice note or other simple, inexpensive ways to show that you appreciate them.

Giving only one or a few coworkers a gift? Don’t highlight that fact. Use a gift exchange outside the office or avoid distributing them in front of those who aren’t getting any gifts.

Be Thoughtful (But Not Too Personal)

Pay attention to the things your coworker likes. You might get them some sports paraphernalia, something they like in pop culture, or a useful item they’ve been wishing they had at their desk.

When looking at a gift, ask if this is something you would like to get. If not, and not just because you don’t like that particular sports team, you probably should put it back. This applies to gifts that might inadvertently cause an office faux pas, like a desk organizer for a messy employee or body spray for a coworker who you think needs it. Conversely, you can get someone something too nice, which goes back to being fair to your other coworkers.

 

Getting office gifts doesn’t have to be too difficult to bear! How has your office handled Christmas gifts in the past? What have you learned from office gift exchanges? We’d love to hear from you.

Selecting the Right Candidates to Franchise

Franchising can have its fair share of challenges. But its most vital part–expanding to new franchisees–doesn’t have to be impossible or difficult! You’ll just need to know what you’re looking for.

Choosing the right franchisees is utterly crucial to your franchise. A franchisee is the representative of your brand in a specific store. Their professionalism and work ethic (and that of their employees) will affect how customers see your brand, whether at all or in a specific area. That can make your business stronger, or possibly cripple it if you’re still starting out.

Know What You’re Looking For

Though franchisees aren’t exactly “employees,” you should use a similar start to your search. Create a job description before setting out to find your ideal franchisees. You’ll need to know exactly the kinds of people you’re looking for and the qualifications you need to match. And in turn, they’ll need to know exactly what it takes to run one of your franchises. Outline all the expectations from the start. You don’t want any nasty surprises for either you or your franchisee!

Screen Franchisees

When you’ve attracted potential partnerships, interview them in person. You have to make sure they’re ready for the responsibility, and that you’ll be safe taking them on. Trust your instincts and don’t let the check for $30,000 blind you to a potential failure. Run background and credit checks on potential franchisees. Watch out for lawsuits, fraud charges, and bankruptcies.

Build a Relationship

Entering into a franchise requires building a partnership with your franchisees. It requires mutual trust, communication, and a desire to help your business grow. Choose people you can build that relationship with. This doesn’t mean you should be best friends with your franchisees, or only choose people with whom you already have a friendship. But a healthy relationship will keep things positive between you and your franchisees, and will help you both grow your business.

Still worried about finding the right business partners? We have even more tips!

Choosing a Franchise Broker: What Franchisors Should Know

A franchise broker (sometimes called a consultant) focuses on helping franchises to expand their business by matching them with potential franchisees. So it’s important to know how to pick the right consultant for your needs.

For franchisors, this means finding someone whose goals match yours.  They’ll be a partner in this expansion. Go forward prepared with these tips for choosing a franchise broker for your business.

Choose experience

Search for a broker or consultant who has been a franchisee or otherwise involved in many franchises. You’ll want more than just the talk; you’ll need someone who knows the industry and who knows your business. Potential franchisees will be looking for experience and knowledgeable answers to their questions. After all, they need to know every detail of how the franchises run before they make a decision. Someone who knows franchising will be better at getting the right franchisees into your company.

Keep their focus

Franchise brokers work with multiple companies to help them expand their business. If they’re good at what they do, they can balance these needs. However, you’ll need to ensure that they’re going to give your company the attention and care it needs to grow. Check out their track record to make sure they can handle multiple companies and that they will promote yours fairly.

Check their results

Always check out your potential broker’s results. Do they make good decisions for their franchisees? Are the franchisors they work with satisfied? If they are a good broker, they should have helped a large number of people come together within a franchise, and be poised to do more in the future.

Make a connection

As with franchisees, the most effective way to choose the broker who will help your business is to build a relationship with them. If they genuinely care for you, they’ll care for your business. They won’t try to line up just any potential franchisee in order to earn a commission. Instead, they’ll be invested in the future of your business and work to make your dreams–and the franchisee’s–come true.

Franchise Brokers: What Franchisees Should Know

A franchise broker (sometimes called a consultant) focuses on helping the franchisor and franchisee come together in business. Mainly, they help specific franchises to expand their business by helping potential franchisees find the right business for them. This means they work at both ends of the franchise business. So it’s important to know how to pick the right consultant for your needs.

How do franchise brokers work?

Franchise brokers work with about 10 franchises to help them expand their business. They have the information about the franchise, and now all they need is you. Think of them like a matchmaker for business!

When you meet with a franchise broker, they’ll offer you their matching services for free. They depend on this freedom to get your business. You’ll tell them all about your budget, your desires, and your dream franchise. In response, they’ll match you to about 3 of their contracted franchises according to which they see fits you the best.

Remember that brokers match you to a franchise for free. This is good for you. It means you can speak to multiple franchise brokers until you can become part of your dream franchise, rather than tying yourself to someone who is not a good match just because you paid for it. Choose someone who helps you.

When you work with a franchise broker, you’ll be a candidate, not a client. That is because the franchisor is the broker’s client. The franchisor, after all, is the one paying the broker, not you. And they’re getting 40-50% of the initial franchise fee. So you’ll have to be careful to choose the right brokers who are interested in you and not just in themselves.

You can catch this quickly if the franchise broker doesn’t ask about your finances and your desired business experience. If they’re just trying to sell you on an expensive franchise that doesn’t seem right for you, question their motives.

Get all the information

The broker you choose should know all the details of the franchises they present. You’ll need to know as much as you can about a company, down to its culture and day-to-day life. This will affect how you run your business, and whether it’ll be an enjoyable experience or a long-lived regret.

When reviewing their options, be aware that you’ll only get to see franchises your broker has a signed contract with. This means you should take it with a grain of salt when a broker promises to show you franchise opportunities that he or she doesn’t work with.

Trust your feelings

Don’t let yourself feel pressured at any point of the consulting process. This partnership is to fulfill your dreams, not the broker’s. If you do feel pressured, that may be a huge red flag. Remember that large commission? Someone who pressures you may be interested in lining their own wallet with an expensive franchise you won’t want.

You should also look for a genuine connection with your franchise broker. That real connection and trust will get you the best franchise for your needs. And, if there’s a genuine connection, you’ll likely be looking out for each other. What better trait could there be in a partnership?