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?

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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.

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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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The 5% Rule

Posted by admin under Branding, Growth, Running a Business

Do you matter? When your customer looks at your place in the community, state, and world, do you
show up on the radar? Building your position in the minds of your customers is key. Building your
position in the minds of your employees is vital. Building your position in your own mind is critical.

We live in a place so covered with advertising messages that you can no longer afford to be “just
another business” to your customers or anyone else. If you aren’t near the top, you are on the compost
heap. If you aren’t taking steps to grow into the best company you can be, you have a one-way express
ticket to the bottom.

So what are you going to do about it?

Start by using the rule of 5%. Ask yourself, “If we were to improve our business by just 5% this
quarter, what would we do first? Where would we start?” Then go to work. You can set your own
benchmarks to get there, but get there. It doesn’t sound like a large number, but if you set a goal that
is easy to reach then harder goals become more reachable. Don’t set your sights too low, of course.
Stretch yourself and try to be the best company you can but don’t aim for anything less than 5%.

The funny thing about 5% is that it has a domino effect. You will be surprised at how much MORE
your business increases than just 5%. Usually, those little things that you have been putting off are the
foundations for much bigger operations. They are the building blocks of your company’s future. That
means that one of those little details on your to-do list may move you farther than you ever dreamed it
could.

What is on your 5% list?

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Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, that’s for sure. It takes hard work, discipline and effort to
live the life of freedom you want. But what about those days when you just can’t get started?
What do you do to keep moving when the aches and pains catch up with you and every bone
in your body is telling you to climb back in bed? How do you get your head back in the game
and push yourself to do more?

1: Routine. Never underestimate the power of habit. If you have a routine you follow to
the letter every morning then you’ll be up and going without even thinking about it. Forming
an automatic routine can take anywhere from 30 to 66 days. So for the next 60 days or so
make a commitment to yourself that you will do the same things in the same order every
morning. Get out of bed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, get dressed and go to work. Every
day it will get easier to jump out of bed in the morning.

2: Exercise. If you’ve spent any time around serial entrepreneurs then you’ve probably
been given a lecture about the importance of physical fitness. On top of keeping yourself in
top shape, daily exercise also stimulates serotonin, the “feel good” hormone in your brain.
Get moving; it will make you feel better!

3: Take time for you. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day details of running a company
and one major reason for burnout is that entrepreneurs tend to forget to take time for
themselves. There’s a classic quote from Abraham Lincoln that says “People are just about
as happy as they make up their minds to be.” So make up your mind to take some time for
yourself. Read a book, have a good meal, get a massage, or just play with your dog/cat/kids.
Even half an hour here and there can make a huge difference.

4: Mark Your Progress. Setting goals in business isn’t just important but is also vital.
Along with setting goals, it is important to have milestones set up along the way to mark
your progress. It is always more fun to go to work when you feel like you are accomplishing
something.

5: Get Some Perspective. Go outside and take a walk. Get some fresh air, breathe
deeply, think things through and let your mind wander. Sometimes all you need to feel
motivated is just a short break.

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Not all marketing is created equal. As CEO of a franchising company, I oversee a variety of businesses, each of which has different marketing needs. One cannot use the same tools to market a product verses a service. This is particularly true for online marketing and social media. Here is a rundown of the kinds of social media we use and which styles of company we use it for:

Facebook:

FacebookFacebook is the perfect venue to market a product. Our Sub Zero Ice Cream Facebook account is a great way to interact with customers. Because Sub Zero is such a cool product (who can argue with the awesomeness of cryogenically frozen ice cream?) the page grows with little effort on our part. Customers come to our page to connect with us, to support us, to tell us how much they love the product or even tell us about a sub-standard experience they had.  We can quickly and personally answer questions and remedy complaints.

Updating regularly allows us to stay in the minds of our customers. It really is free advertising to a self-selected audience. We have also chosen to utilize paid Facebook advertising. This works great for a product like Sub Zero, but it is not as effective for a service-related business like Five Star Painting. Unlike Google, where users search for a product when they are ready to buy, Facebook users are looking to be entertained and maybe learn more information. The more information you can lead a customer to while allowing them to stay within Facebook, the better.

Service-related companies find less success on Facebook. However, as Facebook is the #1 social networking site, it is important for every business to be represented there. According to a Clickz study, “69% of consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information on a social networking site.” If your company is service-based like Five Star Painting is, you simply need to be more patient with your Facebook page. Don’t expect the high numbers a product might get, don’t overload your users with content, but do keep your page updated. (Click here for more Facebook Tips for your Business)

Twitter:

Drawing twitterTwitter is best described as micro-blogging. It is difficult to describe the appeal of twitter to a non-twitterer, but Twitter’s impact on the world — and business — is undeniable.

“Twitter is a communication platform that helps businesses stay connected with their customers. As a business, you can use it quickly to share information with people interested in your company, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and other people who care about your company.” [Source]

For any type of company, twitter can be a great way to connect with customers. You can share news, promotions, pictures, links and more.

Search Twitter for the name of your company to listen in on the conversations happening right now. There are many free Twitter account managers available for easy access to knowing what is being said to and about your company. (We use Hootsuite.)

LinkedIn:

LinkedInLinkedIn is the social networking site for professionals. LinkedIn is not the best place to be promoting your product and probably not a great place to be promoting your service either. LinkedIn is kind of like an online resume – you can include your education and work experience, and your connections can write “recommendations” for you. Here is a great article about why you can’t ignore LinkedIn.

While we do have a LinkedIn account for Five Star Painting, we don’t anticipate it bringing us any painting jobs. However, we do hope that it will help us to make connections with potential franchisees – people who want to be their own boss and run their own business. We utilize LinkedIn advertising for that reason.

If you have any questions about social media, marketing your business, or franchising, send them to info@fivestarfranchising.com.


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Utah 100

Posted by admin under Business, Entrepreneur, Franchise

Utah 100 PictureThis year, Chad Jones and I had the opportunity to attend the Utah 100 awards ceremony at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. The room was packed. There were probably around 500 people there. 130 of the companies were there that were winners of some kind, including Five Star Painting. The Utah 100 honors the 100 fastest growing companies in all of Utah. At the ceremony, we learned we placed 33rd among the top 100 fastest growing businesses. We could not be more pleased and proud.  We have won some awards in the past but have never before placed in the Utah 100. There are many great companies who placed this year and we are so excited to be numbered among them.

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As a franchiser and a strong believer in the franchise business model, it might be surprising to hear me say that franchising is not for everyone, but it’s true. There are certain reasons that would (and should) deter even the best entrepreneur from becoming a franchisee:

1.       The opportunity you’re looking for doesn’t fit a franchise mold.

There are lots of franchising opportunities available and odds are you will probably be able to find an opportunity that fits your particular interest… unless you’re interested in an industry that really shouldn’t be franchised. Certain businesses simply do not fit a franchise model, such as a farm or a computer chip manufacturing plant. The process of franchising consists of fragmenting and spreading a business over a more widespread territory – in the case of a farm or computer manufacturing plant, taking business away from the epicenter in order to “expand” would only weaken the company. If you are set on franchising, make sure it’s for an industry that can support successful franchises.

2.       You are not well-financed

Do you have the money to franchise?By the nature of the beast, when you buy a franchise you are going to spend thousands of dollars at the beginning. You are paying for the years and years of research and experience that multiple owners, founders and partners have utilized to create a successful, well-supported system – think of it as your “tuition.” Keep in mind that this franchise fee costs much less than the costs of the mistakes you will make if you try to start a company on your own. It is worthwhile to avoid those mistakes that only experience can prevent by buying into a franchise. But if you don’t have capital for start-up, you won’t be able to buy into a franchise and you certainly won’t be able to finance a start-up business of your own. If this is the case, try being an employee for a while. Make money while gaining experience until you have the money and ability to run a successful business.

3.       You have a strong independent streak

Many subscribe to the idea, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” That mentality will destroy an organization. Successful franchises are based on a team effort, especially within a service industry like Five Star Painting or Five Star Holiday Décor. Running a business takes a lot of knowledge and experience in a number of different specialties. For a franchisee to be successful he needs to trust the corporate team’s expertise.  Five Star, for instance, provides personalized websites complete with a slew of search engine optimization and management

'Lone Ranger' types don't want to rely on others to get the job done.

'Lone Ranger' types don't want to rely on others to get the job done.

campaigns. We also provide a comprehensive 24-hour sales and support center complete with a first-contact lead system, marketing planning and management. Franchisees are also provided the Five Star branding as well as in0house software that produces accurate computerized estimates, reports and customer tracking.

There are some people who feel a strong need to be in control of everything, that it has to be done their way. They believe they’re “my customers” and no one else can talk to them. That’s the individual that wants to be in business all by himself – book keeping, finance, every single department run by himself.  These types of people make great consultants. They can be a successful one-man show, but they can’t run an operation. If you’re looking into starting a business but aren’t looking for help, franchising is not for you.

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No Ordinary Ice Cream

Posted by admin under Business, Product
How can shift from selling a product to selling an experience?

Are you selling a product or an experience?

A cup of coffee is, all things considered, probably worth less than fifty cents. How then does a company like Starbucks get its customers to pay upwards of five dollars for that same cup? The answer is that Starbucks is not simply selling a cup of coffee; they are selling an experience. Starbucks provides an environment and a culture that makes a simple (or not so simple) cup of coffee worth that much more.

This idea is explored in the book The Experience Economy: Work is Theater & Every Business a Stage by B. Joseph Pine II. Alongside Starbucks, The Experience Economy examines the work of Walt Disney who created the world’s first theme parks which provide guests (never “customers” or “clients”) a living, immersive cartoon world with rides that not only entertain but involve guests in an unfolding story. Disneyland and Starbucks both provide more than a simple commodity; they provide an experience.

Businesses that have caught onto this idea of experience economy have learned they can charge more for their product. People want don’t just want to buy stuff anymore, they also want to be entertained. Restaurant theaters have caught on to this, being able to provide a meal and a show, involving the audience in the experience. Movies have become that way with 3D. Some take the stuff out of the equation altogether; owners of corn fields have learned that they can make a much larger profit by creating a corn maze than by simply selling the corn for consumption. Something that has been around forever, like corn, can be turned into an experience for a much greater profit.

It is this same notion of the experience as a commodity that has gotten us so interested in working with Sub Zero. Sub Zero is not your average ice cream shop. On the Sub Zero website, it states, “Our secret is Cryogenics, the science of ultra cold where we use direct contact freezing. Our process takes a matter of seconds. This is the best and fastest ice cream you will ever see or taste.” Sub Zero has turned ordinary ice cream into extraordinary ice cream. “Nothing is frozen before you order.”

Ice cream is a product that has been around forever, but with Sub Zero, they are selling the experience. Couple that experience with an amazing product and that is what will be successful.

Sub Zero

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Speed of Trust
I was on Facebook the other day when I saw a friend’s post about a book by Stephen Covey on the speed of trust. Curious, I did a quick read on the topic. Though I didn’t dig much deeper than that, I have thought about the idea of the book since. How much does trust impact business? How do you build trust quickly?

During the training of our franchisees we often discuss the fact that customers don’t buy from people they like, but from people they trust. If you can build trust quickly it usually leads to improved sales. The thing about trust is that it has to be authentic. In other words, if your only motivation for building trust is to improve sales you won’t be as successful at building trust.

Everyone has a different level at which they are comfortable trusting others. I think we all know people who blindly trust everyone (some may call them gullible). This continues until they get burned, after which they learn to be more cautious about giving their trust so freely. Some become cynical, feeling as though everyone is out to get them, and trust no one. Somewhere in between there is a balance of letting others earn your trust while also awarding that trust and maintaining the belief in the overall good nature of people.

So, in business, how important is trust? Can you even do business if you are not able to earn people’s trust or trust others? Having had a number of business partners to date, I argue that without trust you may as well not even bother starting a business with any partner. Trust forms the foundation of any strong business, partnership, employee or franchisee.

Back to the question of how to build trust quickly. Here is a link to Covey’s book’s synopsis. I think it’s worth giving a read. Having not read this book beyond the abstract and a couple forum discussions, I make the following observation:  Trust is likely the reason so many do business with close friends or family, where trust was earned outside of business and then extended to business dealings.

What do you think? How do you earn trust, and how do you award it to those around you? What is the number one thing that builds trust in your relationships?

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