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Franchisee Advice

Communicate With Your Clientele

Here are some ways you can go about cementing client relationships through good communication.

Basil O’Hagan

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A call is all it takes

Have you ever received a call from a business you frequent to ask you about the service? Or — even better — has anyone ever called you to thank you for complaining?

I once had a problem with the air-conditioner of my car and the dealership simply couldn’t seem to fix the defect. I complained to the service department, only to later receive a phone call from the general manager of the dealership. He thanked me for the call, explained that my car would be sent to a new air-con specialist at their expense to have it seen to again and that if it wasn’t fixed my bill would be refunded in full.

He invited me to come into the dealership to discuss it further if I wished. Although my car air-con wasn’t repaired, I really appreciated the manager going the extra mile to phone me and address my concerns.

Related: Customer Service Success Secrets

A phone call to address customer comments or complaints is a method that should be used by all businesses. The script is simple:

  1. Thank the customer for their feedback.
  2. Address their complaint.
  3. Tell them how it’s going to be sorted out.
  4. Thank them again.
  5. Invite them to come back soon. This is yet another way to turn a possibly damaging incident into a positive customer experience.

First-name terms

The sound of your own name has a certain magic about it. It makes you feel special, and it establishes a connection with the person speaking to you.

We all feel that way, so try to make your customers experience that special bond by using their first names when dealing with them. It elevates your interaction to the personal level from being just a bland transaction. You learn someone’s first name by introducing yourself by name when they come into your shop or from your business communications.

When speaking to your customer, pay attention to how they pronounce their name, then use it accordingly, and best of all, remember it. Practice using people’s first names as you address them. “I can do you a half lamb for just under R1 000, Dave. How does that grab you?”

This kind of thing will be sure to grab Dave a lot better since you’re using his first name. You’ve established a special personal bond, right there in your butchery.

Online customers, online customer service

Whether you do business on the Internet, or your store simply has a Facebook account, you have an online presence. You need to have an online customer-service ethic.

Be sure to deal with every query and comment you come across online. Do web searches for your company’s name on Facebook and Twitter. Visit your store’s Facebook page regularly and respond to every comment
on there. Check your company email inbox.

Online conversations are personal, in the same way a chat with a customer in your store is a personal one. So show the same sincere, positive, personal attitude you do in your shop. Make it personal, and someone who was initially having a rant about what they thought was a faceless company, will calm down and become reasonable.

Don’t look at your Facebook page or your Twitter account as a one-way broadcast for you to announce your promotions. It is a two-way forum for communication, and a great tool for customer service and to build positivity about your business.

A site like hellopeter.com is specifically for consumers to report on the service that they receive from suppliers. Go on there from time to time and do a search for your company name. If you find a comment — positive or negative — engage the individual. The same applies to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

In the case of an upset individual going on a bit of a rant, be reasonable and try to take the conversation offline. Ask for the person’s email address so they can explain their problem more fully. If necessary, give them a phone call. Show you care and address all issues sincerely, just as you would in real life.

Related: 6 Ways to Make Your Customer Service Better

Social-media-customer-service

Social media protocol

On social media like Twitter and Facebook you have a chance to interact with customers about your store or your brand. It’s a great opportunity. Here are a few pointers:

1. Interact

The point of social media is that it’s a form of multi-user interaction. Don’t think of it like a television ad or a newspaper promo that goes out from you to your customers. Everyone has the right to an opinion on your brand. Luckily you know it better than anyone. So get on there and join the conversation. Accept praise, manage complaints, and correct any possible misunderstandings.

2. Have an account manager

If the volume of your social media traffic is large, or you’re not an expert, hire a social media manager to look after your account. They will handle day-to-day interactions and flag any serious issues for your input.

3. Be positive

As in life, positivity is contagious. Negative comments from you reflect poorly on your business. So don’t diss your competition or any unhappy customers. Come at it from a positive, constructive point of view. Get on it, pronto. A message on your FB page, or on Twitter is not something to be put on your to-do list. It needs to be addressed immediately. Engage the person and start a conversation. Leaving them hanging or ignoring them is rude.

4. Don’t feed the trolls

If someone descends into abuse and disrespect, stop the conversation. State your case, and if people are unreasonable or abusive, move on. If necessary, block them.

Related: 8 Keys to Award-Winning Startup Customer Service

More haste, less speed

You know that some of the fastest service is not always a sign of good service. If I place an order at a restaurant and my meal arrives 40 seconds later, I’ll be slightly suspicious.

Similarly, customer service is not always just about speed. Sure, we are all under time pressure, but we still require quality service from the businesses we support. The Gallup Organization has conducted research that found satisfying the emotional needs of customers is equally, or more important than the speed of service.

So don’t neglect the personal aspect of your interaction with customers. Favouring speed above courtesy and effectiveness can actually be counter-productive. Who wants a meal prepared in a minute by grumpy staff that tastes awful?

Also, if your customer’s experience in your store is pleasant, the time they spend there can be irrelevant. They might spend a fun 20 minutes chatting to the waiters, watching sport on the big screen and reading your store magazine. Then their tasty meal arrives!

Most of the time, quality of service trumps speed.

Basil O’Hagan is the founder of both O’Hagan’s and The Brazen Head. Today, he runs Basil O’Hagan Marketing, which serves chains, independent operations and small family businesses, pinpointing and overcoming problems through proven neighbourhood marketing solutions.

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Franchisee Advice

5 Tips For Franchise Agreements

Below are 5 tips to ensure that your franchise agreement complies with the CPA.

Justine Krige

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South Africa has some great homegrown franchises – Mugg and Bean, Steers, Debonairs and Nandos, to name a few.  South Africa is also no stranger to international franchise groups, such as McDonalds, KFC, Wimpy and SPAR, although there has been an increase in the number of international franchises investing in South Africa in recent years.

The Consumer Protection Act, No 68 of 2008 (“CPA“) is the first piece of legislation in South Africa that specifically regulates franchise agreements. The CPA prescribes certain minimum requirements for franchise agreements, as well as certain information that must be disclosed prior to a franchise agreement being signed.  It is important that all franchise agreements comply with the CPA as provisions in franchise agreements may be declared to be void for non-compliance.

Below are 5 tips to ensure that your franchise agreement complies with the CPA:

1. Make sure you meet the minimum requirements

The CPA prescribes “minimum requirements” for franchise agreements.  These requirements, which are set out in the Regulations to the CPA, set out mandatory terms (i.e. terms which must be included) and prohibited terms (i.e. terms which must not be included).  They also prescribe that franchise agreements must be drafted in simple and plain language so as to be easily understood.  Legal jargon must be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

Related: The Perils Of The Franchise Agreement

2. Include prescribed minimum information

The CPA prescribes minimum information that must be included in a franchise agreement.  Most of this minimum prescribed information is fairly general in nature and would be contained in the franchise agreement in the ordinary course (for example, name and description of the types of goods or services that the franchise relates to, the obligations of the franchisor and franchisee, and any territorial rights).

There are, however, certain more unusual requirements in relation to prescribed information, which information would not necessarily be contained in a franchise agreement in the ordinary course (for example, the qualifications of the franchisor’s directors, and details of the members/shareholders of the franchisor).  These more unusual requirements must be kept in mind when preparing a franchise agreement.

3. Prepare a disclosure document

The CPA requires the franchisor to provide certain minimum prescribed information to the franchisee in a disclosure document delivered to the franchisee prior to the signature of the franchise agreement (including a list of current franchisees, if any, and of outlets owned by the franchisor; the direct contact details of the existing franchisees; an organogram depicting the support system in place for franchisees; and an auditors certificate confirming that that the franchisor’s audited annual financial statements are in order).

This information is intended to provide the franchisee with enough information about the franchise, its financial viability and potential business success so as to enable the franchisee to make an informed decision as to whether or not he/she wishes to “acquire” the particular franchise.

4. Prepare a non-disclosure agreement

It is important to ensure the protection of confidential information which may be disclosed to the prospective franchisee during the preliminary stages of negotiating and concluding a franchise agreement.

This may include, for example, the growth of the franchisor’s turnover, and written projections in respect of levels of potential sales, income and profit. Although not a requirement under the CPA, it is advisable for a franchisor to ensure that a prospective franchisee executes an appropriate confidentiality agreement prior to being sent the disclosure document.

Related: What Constitutes a Fair and Balanced Franchise Agreement?

5. Beware the “cooling-off” period

It is important to bear in mind that a franchisee has an entitlement under the CPA to cancel a franchise agreement without cost or penalty within 10 business days after signing such agreement, by giving written notice to the franchisor.

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Franchisee Advice

6 Top Tips For Reading Management Accounts

There is a golden key that reveals the secret of whether your business will survive and thrive. It is keeping tabs on the figures that summarise the strength of your business – your monthly management accounts.

Richard Mukheibir

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There is a golden key that reveals the secret of whether your business will survive and thrive. It is not the brilliance of your business concept. It is not your talent for talking clients to sign on the dotted line. It is keeping tabs on the figures that summarise the strength of your business – your monthly management accounts.

Related: 6 Things You Need To Know About Profit And Cashflow

Many entrepreneurs are usually more interested in operations and find product development or sales much more enjoyable than catching up on accounts. I sympathise – I’m one of them! So if you feel the same way, my top tip is always to make sure that you partner with or employ someone who can oversee the finances for you.

But that does not mean you can let the figure boffins and the finances take care of themselves. To function properly in your business, you need to know the outcome of your sales and development strategies – and the story of that is told in your management accounts.

 If you never look at your management accounts, it is like blinding yourself in one eye. It means you risk being literally blindsided by a big surprise, whether it is heading for a significant loss or being confronted by an unexpected provisional tax payment.

Here is how Engela van Loggerenberg, our Group Financial Manager, puts management accounts in perspective for our new franchisees. She urges them to focus on six key areas:

  1. Priorities: Management accounts can help you pinpoint areas that you need to prioritise, whether to capitalise on growth or because they are not performing as well as you hoped.
  2. Strength: All businesses aim to grow their assets over time and the balance sheet in your management accounts will reflect whether and how you are achieving that.
  3. Control: A strong balance sheet is one that shows you have your business liabilities well controlled. The key marker here is your current liquidity ratio, which results from dividing your current assets by your current liabilities. To keep your business healthy, always aim to keep this ratio at least 2:1.
  4. Revenue: Ideally, you want to see your revenue grow month by month. Check your income statement both for the trend in actual revenue and also for actual against budgeted revenue to check how well your strategies are delivering results.
  5. Profitability: Of course, revenue is not the same as profitability. You need to know your gross profit – the basic figure of your sales less the cost of those goods – and net profit, which also deducts a range of other expenses including taxes. Track the percentage of these two profit figures as well as the actual cash amount they represent to keep a check on whether your costs are creeping up too high.
  6. Finance: Most businesses at some point want to finance their growth by borrowing from a bank. A set of well-regulated management accounts is a prerequisite to obtaining finance.

Your management accounts do not have to be particularly complicated to give you these vital pointers – and if you are figure-shy, the more straightforward the better.

The important thing, though, is that you do not allow yourself to be too scared to ask if there is something which is not clear to you. That is the way to keep control of this key to your business fortunes and to keep building your business from strength to strength.

Related: 7 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Know About Managing Cash In The Business

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Company Posts

A Three-Pronged Approach To Franchise Success

Danie Nel, head of business development for Cash Crusaders franchising, says the brand’s success over the past 22 years 
is attributed to the sentiment that “a profitable franchisee 
is a happy franchisee.”

Nedbank Franchising

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What is your current footprint?

220 Stores. We’re looking to increase that number by another 20 stores for the 2018 financial year, which will then bring us to a total of 240 stores. Depending on the economy, we’re looking to grow our footprint even more to around 300 to 350 stores nationwide in the near future.

What are some of your brand’s biggest achievements that other franchises can learn from?

Our ability to read the retail market and innovate to stay ahead of times. We have recently launched an online platform where customers can sell their goods or borrow money — all online. This was a first for online retailing. One other achievement that I would wish to highlight is the launch of our mobile phone range, Doogee, exclusive to Cash Crusaders. Personally, having the honour of opening our 200th store was a tremendous achievement.

Franchisor involvement has also played a big role in the success of the organisation. Our CEO Sean Stegmann and other senior managers are as much involved in the business as any other operations manager or operator.

There is simply no ‘ivory tower’ management in our business and it makes a huge difference.

Related: How Sorbet Franchisee Kate Holahan Is Nailing Success By Following Her Dream

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered and how have you overcome these?

Some of our daily challenges include securing a premises at a favourable rental and securing a franchisee with sufficient unencumbered capital, who is credit- worthy. Once the store is open, cash flow management and stock procurement is key.

In addition to this, it’s a challenge to achieve profitability immediately and to meet franchisee expectations. It’s also vital to ensure superb customer service and to retain those customers in the current retail and economic climate. I would say that our single biggest challenge is to retain and to build our customer base.

What attracts franchisees to Cash Crusaders?

Our unique retail model that allows for multiple streams of income through one business. These three profit centres include: New goods (variety of imported quality goods), second-hand goods (which we buy directly from the public, either through customers coming directly to our stores, or via our house-buy system offered by some of our stores) and secured lending (a financial service where customers can borrow money against valuables, determined at store level, and the loan is repaid within 30 days — or the contract is renewed for another 30 days with interest and service fees charged).

Why is it important for successful franchises such as yours to have a strong banking partner and how does it benefit both the franchisor and the franchisee?

Gone are the days where you just got a deposit book or cheque book and a little business loan from your bank. Banking has become more sophisticated and the technology that the bank offers is as important as its service, making life for both the franchisee and the franchisor easier on a day-to-day basis.

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