Archive for June, 2011

If you’ve been in business very long at all (meaning you’ve had an empire as big as a lemonade stand
on the corner when you were six) you’ve probably heard the phrase “The devil is in the details.” It’s
a silly mantra that we spout whenever something wrong comes up. You might refer to it as Murphy’s
law, meaning that the worst possible thing that can go wrong inevitably will. Whatever way you look
at it, you have heard the phrase that the tiniest things are going to trip you up. So what can you do
about it?

When the devil in the details rears it’s ugly head, it is never when you would like it to. It never happens
during the planning phase of a new project, product launch, or marketing effort. It will always appear
when all appearances suggest that there is no possible way to fix it. This is where you discover the
differences in the hobbyists and the businesspeople.

Last minute disasters are inevitable. They will come up, and you will have to deal with them. The best
thing you can do is prepare yourself as much as possible, get your resources ready, and most of all, take
the advice of Douglas Adams in his classic book “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” and “Don’t
panic!”.

Having the confidence to face the unforeseen details of a project without losing your head will make
you stand head and shoulders above your competition. If you want to survive, you must stay in control
of your own thoughts, feelings, and emotional states. Here’s a little secret you can use too: Have an
emergency kit handy for when things are at their worst. Fill it with something that makes you laugh (a
favorite comedian, comic book, or picture), something that makes you feel good (a pair of clean socks,
a fresh shirt, or some other comfort item), and a list of people you call when you need a pick me up.
Keep your kit at your desk, ready for you when you need it.

You won’t be sorry.

The best marketers will tell you that money comes most easily to those who understand the wants,
wishes, and needs of your customer. If you are selling watches to active adult men, it doesn’t make
sense to give them ribbon bands with ponies and unicorns on them, right?

The funny thing is, many companies have begun making their product offering so generic, they really
aren’t targeting anyone at all. They offer the plainest, most generic items available, usually with black
or grey color schemes, and expect them to move like hotcakes on the market.

The less specific a marketer or business owner targets, the more likely it is that nobody will be
interested in buying the product. It is vital to understand that you are not creating your widgets or
service to be thrown into a magic pit from which money comes out. These products are going to
people who purchase them to solve a problem or improve their lives in some way.

In Og Mandino’s classic treatise on salesmanship “The Greatest Salesman in the World”, the first scroll
suggests that a salesman walk among his customers for thirty days and repeat to himself the words “I
love you” to everyone he passes. Try doing this for a single day, and see if you feel any different about
your own product. Would you sell it to someone you love? Would someone who loves you sell it to
you?

The phrase “It is not personal, it is business” is an outdated concept. All business must be personal if
a lasting relationship with a customer can be built. They must know you, like you, and trust you if you
intend to do business with them. So ask yourself, Where’s the love?

Offering a top quality service or product is a key aspect of business. Conrad Kolba offers some great
thoughts on quality in his blog. Click here to read his artticle “On Quality”.

One of the life bloods of franchising is lead flow. Not much different than another of our franchisees business, or any sales and marketing company; you need to be bringing in new blood all the time. At Five Star we are constantly measuring lead flow, sales cycles, velocity, close ratios, and other various metrics to make sure we are on track. Recently, in a sales meeting we discussed two things that we could do to increase our franchise sales.

1) Volume. This can mean so many things, but it can start at the very beginning of the sales cycle – impressions, or in the middle – leads, or in the end – contracts signed. The reality is that you need to be constantly reviewing ways to increase the volume of people looking at your concept, so, that they can express interest and enter into the journey of learning if your franchise concept if the right fit for them. Here are a few ideas on ways you could amp up the volume:

a. Cast a wider net. For example, if you are advertising for the word painting franchise, why not consider something like home based business, or service industry franchises in your online advertising. Some people know what they want, and others have an idea.
b. Use different channels. Online advertising is a fantastic tool that can be approached through SEO, Pay-Per-Click, affiliates, directories, and on and on. However, what about trying something different like Career Builder, or Monster.com? Business brokers is a channel that many franchisors use to get in front of candidates, and many of them use these techniques themselves. Why not try your hand at marketing to the right candidates directly?
c. PR. Public Relations is a tricky tool that few are able to wield effectively. I have approached this different ways for different concepts. The key is that if you aren’t using PR in your marketing mix you should think about doing it now. Have no money to hire and expert you say? Well then pick up the phone and pitch your cool concept yourself until someone gives you the time of day. You need some independently written articles by a quality publication saying your cool instead of that testimonial from your grandma.
d. Social Media – yes, believe it or not I have had people contact me through my blog, Facebook page, and twitter account to request information about one of our brands. So how do you find the time? Well its 12am right now, so, now you know.

2) Efficiency. Getting more eyeballs on your web page is your first mission. Your second mission is to get them to click that submit button. Marketing is scientific, so, please, don’t make this about guy checks. Yes, you can start there, but measure, tweak, measure, tweak, measure, tweak until finally you can tell me you are at 25% conversion rates. 5 years ago I would have told you it wasn’t possible, but, today our team has moved the virtual mountains and now enjoy the results. This is something you can never stop thinking about. Here is a quick example of what we have done over the years.
Go to www.fivestarpaintingfranchise.net this site is our old franchise site. We have tweaked this site dozens of times, and it runs at about a 10% conversion rate. If you go to www.5starfranchising.com you will find very cool information and well-designed research site. This site is below 1%. Now if you go to www.fivestarpaintingfranchise.com you will see our main franchise site for Five Star Painting. I have many times shared these sites with people and have asked the question of which one they prefer, and which one they though would do best. Please remember, that the goal of your franchise site is to generate enough interest to get someone to click the submit button and begin the dialogue.

Of course there is more to franchise lead generation than this. So, with that being said: what do you do that works?

Whether you are on your own or working with a franchisor, you should know where you are headed,
what your goals are, and what you want your outcome to be. If you build a company with the intent to
sell it someday, you will act differently than if you plan on doing this for the rest of your life.

Having a good model to follow, whether self-designed or as part of a franchise agreement can give you
a road map to follow along the way. Business is rarely a stable element, and anything you can do to
add a little stability along the way is going to make your life much easier.

It does not matter if you have a long, drawn out document in a binder somewhere. You should have a
personal plan detailing what YOU want from your business experience. This is your guideline. You
need to know where YOU want to be.

Start by following our old friend Stephen R. Covey and “Begin with the End in Mind”. At the top
of a piece of paper, write what you ultimately want out of your business. Do you want to sell it for
$10,000,00 dollars? Do you want to build a legacy to leave to your husband/wife/children/cats after
you pass on? This needs to be the primary motivating force in your mind for wanting to build a
business. Whether you know it or not, you do have one, so take some time and decide what that is.
You can always change it later.

Set up your ultimate goal and work toward it. That is your job, your calling, and your opportunity.

Sometimes the best way to learn something is to either do it wrong yourself or learn from someone else’s mistakes. I have had the pleasure of doing both. If you are thinking of franchising your business you have probably read, or been told about the pot at the end of the rainbow. Well like anything in life, if it is worth having, it’s going to be a lot of work. Here are three tips to avoid some disasters and maybe help you catch the leprechaun:

1) Mess of pottage. Why trade your franchisor birthright for a few dollars? In franchising, someone looking to buy your franchise will pay you a handsome franchise fee, some concepts as high as $50,000 at signing. The franchise fee is there to do a few things, like get skin in the game, cover the costs of attracting top talent to your franchise system, pay the tuition for all of you’ve learned, fund development of systems, etc. The challenge with such large franchise fees is that it’s often more money than you will get in royalties for a few years. Because of this, franchisors are more excited about closing that big deal than all the hard work to earn the royalties that come from years of business building; they trade their birthright to a share in a successful business for a short term boost to the bottom line. Some franchisors take all this money, go on a nice vacation, buy a new car, and don’t follow through with support. Not only is this not ethical, in my opinion, but it is extremely short sighted. Don’t fall into that trap, stay the course, support your franchisees, and make sure each and every golden goose is well fed and cared for.

2) Dictatorship. So, you’ve convinced a few people to buy your concept and on top of all that you have your 90 page franchise agreement signed, that some high priced lawyers put together for you. All the bases are covered- and the sweet talk stops, honeymoon is over and it’s down to business. Yikes. Nobody like being told what to do; if someone was smart enough to buy your franchise, they are probably smart enough to learn from your team, as well as your fellow franchisees. People like to be influenced, led, and shown your vision. Help them buy into not just your business model but, you and your team by demonstrating why your next big idea is one that they should adopt. I recently read a book called The Science of Influence; definitely one worth reviewing for those of you looking to see who prefer to use the carrot over the stick.

3) Partnership. I have often heard that a partnership is a sinking ship. In saying this, I will say that I have been fortunate to have some amazing partners, and that I have experienced the dark side of partnerships as well. When you consider growing your business, it is critical you get your business structure right, and if you have partners, roles and responsibilities are going to be critical to your success. Whether you form a partnership or not, there needs to be one President, CEO, Chief Pooh-Bah, or whatever title you make up. Every company needs a leader, so don’t make the mistake of approaching your business like a marriage, unless, you are into divorce.

There are plenty more things you could do to mess things up, but, I believe, if you watch for these land mines you are well on your way. Feel free to share your views on ones I missed.

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