Joe Barbat Wireless Toyz on Franchise Business Tips
By Joe Barbat
Thorough Training – A Key to Success
Review the training section in the FDD. Ask current franchisees if they feel the training is adequate. Make sure training on these topics is covered in the FDD:
- Marketing and sales
- Information systems
- Step-by-step opening guide with timeline
You will need sufficient training in all of them. Even if you think you are an expert at one of these areas, do not skip the franchisor’s training. You are buying their system: You need to use it their way or you risk losing the agreement due to noncompliance.
There are no shortcuts to success. You must be prepared to complete the franchisor’s full training schedule. Be on time and be ready to learn.
In addition to initial training, understand what ongoing training and support the franchisor provides. Ask the franchisor‟s representative these questions:
- How does the franchisor build brand recognition nationally? In local markets?
- How does the franchisor provide additional training?
- How does the franchisor provide support? In person? Through forums? By phone?
- What technologies does the franchisor support or recommend?
- Describe the franchise culture? How does the franchisor facilitate relationships?
- Encourage independence?
- How are conflicts resolved?
Marketing Your Business
The old adage that goes, “You have to spend money to make money” holds true here. You have to spend some money to tell the world about your business. Many franchisors have established Grand Opening marketing plans. If yours has one, follow it. If they suggest spending $5,000-$7,000 on initial advertising, do it. A strong opening is critically important to the success of your business. Franchisors often include on-site support just before and/or during your Grand Opening. Take advantage of their ability to represent the brand, spot and fix problems early, and help you become a more confident franchisee.
Name recognition counts for a lot here. How are people going to know about your business if you don‟t tell them, or at least send a few postcards, place an ad in the local mailer, or place your business information in the Google, Bing and Yahoo! Local Business Directories?
Your franchisor should help you with this, or at least provide templates. In your training you should have learned about the franchisor’s marketing plan, guidelines for local and online marketing, and support. If not, go back and ask.
Hiring and Keeping the Right Team
Another place it pays to spend money is on your staff. Just because unemployment is at alltime highs, doesn‟t mean you will get a quality workforce on the cheap. Think about the time and expense it takes to hire someone. It will cost less and benefit you more in the long run if you find someone worth keeping and pay them more, than if you try to get great help for nothing.
If you have a great performer, reward that person generously and they will be less likely to leave you. If you have an average performer, pay should be commensurate. Be prepared to let the under-achievers go, even if it‟s a family member.
If your business model is based on having a quality team, you will fail if you do not hire the right team. Don‟t be “quick to hire,” or “slow to fire.” It is better to be slow to hire and quick to fire than end up with the wrong people on your team.
Don’t forget that your first employee is you. Ask yourself, “What kind of employee would I like to have in my business?” and be the employee you would want to hire.
Remember to ask your franchisor for their guidance in hiring. Also check sba.gov , irs.gov, and your State’s website for guidance.
Mind Your Own Business
Opening a franchise is hard work. Keep a positive attitude, but also be prepared. A lack of coping skills can wear you down. Create a support system. This can include the franchisor’s Field Support Representative, other franchisees, other local business owners that you meet through networking, EO (Entrepreneurs Organization), or a business coach. Some coaching organizations you may want to consider include Flo Schell‟s Franchise Coaching Systems, The Alternative Board, Gino Wickman‟s Entrepreneurial Operating System or Michael Gerber’s E-Myth.
Don’t give up too easily. Depending on the franchise, it can take many months before you see a profit.
There will be bumps in the road. When you see a problem, find an answer. If you ignore it, it will get worse. The worst thing you can do is nothing. Do something; you may be right, you may not. At least you will learn from the experience. Ask your franchise corporate support team as well as other franchisees. They probably have experienced your concern and can provide quality advice and counsel.
Be sure to talk regularly with your front line, keeping in mind that you may be the front line in many cases. You and your front line team should notice if traffic in your business changes dramatically, quickly, or if there is a rise in customer complaints, negative feedback or quality issues.
Watch the numbers. If you are not seeing positive cash flow, be sure to consult with your franchisor and a respected accountant (preferably one that knows your brand or industry).
Foster a culture of openness so your staff feels they can come to you problems. You may be able to catch something early before it deteriorates into a disaster.
Create a culture of creativity. Have a system for solving problems. Stay in touch with your franchise corporate team and other franchisees for support. Your franchisor may conduct site visits. These are extremely valuable in helping catch problems early so they don‟t grow into fatal errors that could put your Franchise Agreement at risk.
When a franchisee is not happy, it‟s usually due to unmet expectations. If you believe it will take you six months to break even and it takes eight months, in month seven you are very upset and disappointed. That‟s why it‟s so important to tell the franchisor what your expectations are before signing. This way you can ensure your expectations, both financial and non-financial, are in line with each other. Taking extra time up front to come to mutual, agreeable expectations will save anger, frustration and discord in the future.
What Others Say About Joe Barbat
“When the wireless industry changed a few years back, a lot of us were concerned about our livelihoods. Joe Barbat remained confident that the multi-carrier concept was still what the customers wanted and would get us through the tough times. I’m glad I stuck it out.”
- Lawrence Dawood