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Franchisee Advice

Deadly Discounts: 3 Reasons To Manage Your Customers’ Expectations

Discounting may draw customers to your franchise locations in droves, but is it a sustainable tactic to keep them coming back?

Diana Albertyn

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Sale! Marked-down! Reduced to clear! Priced to go! These (usually) bright red signs signal a saving that draws customers to shops like moths to a flame. But what works for a clothing retail store may not necessarily be the best tactic for your fast food franchise. After all, food is more frequently consumed than clothing is purchased.

In a recent survey of its franchisees, McDonald’s found that discounting across the board was a pain point, hurting their franchisees’ pockets. “Kick the discounting addiction. Focus on profitable sales, not just customer counts,” one franchisee suggested.

Discounting is a great way to attract customers, but an even easier way to drive them away if they can’t afford your items any other time or your quality decreases along with your prices.

Related: Want To Leave Customers Grinning And Vowing To Return? Do The Following

Here are some of the factors to keep in mind before enforcing a franchise-wide special:

1It could push up pricing of other menu items

Going to Spur on a Monday for their two-for-one burger special is a thing of the past as of April 2017. While the special discount increased sales on what would have otherwise been a quiet Monday evening, coupled with other weekday specials, Spur was losing money despite the rise in clientele.

The result was raising the price on other meals to make up for the loss, says the restaurant chain’s founder and executive chairman, Allen Ambor.

“We were over-discounting for a long time and we had to stop,” he says, adding that as of July, the prices decreased.

When deciding on special discounts, ensure it isn’t to the detriment of the rest of your sales. Even if your customers come for the burger special, there are those who will think twice about buying from you on other days of the week when pricing is higher than what they are used to.

2There’s a danger of devaluing your product

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A billboard on her commute route has finally convinced the mom-of-three to give into her children’s pleas for a fast food dinner on a mid-month weeknight. She goes to her nearest KFC drive-thru and is surprised to learn that the special is over.

‘Are you sure, because I saw it advertised,’ she says. No, it’s definitely over, is the response she gets. So she drives off to get something cheaper elsewhere.

Offering a discount on a popular item to entice customers into your shop expecting them to buy other products at their normal prices is a common tactic, but not always a successful one.

“Many bargain hunters are only interested in chasing the lowest prices – they might not come back to buy the goods you’re selling at full price,” notes Viresh Harduth, ‎vice president of new customer acquisition (Startup and Small Business) at Sage Africa and Middle East. This results in having to sell at a loss for no benefit.

Related: Get Into Your Franchisees’ Good Books: 4 Ways To Communicate Better

3Higher quantities could decrease quality

How many times have you arrived back from your favourite fast food joint with their latest creation, only to discover they left out the sauce or there’s a limp piece of brown lettuce in the middle?

Imagine if one of your customers had to experience this after being enticed to your product with the promise of more than what they have just bought.

“To sustain discounted pricing for a longer period, you might need to compromise on the quality of your ingredients, components or customer service,” says Harduth.

This has the potential to damage customer satisfaction and future sales more than selling a quality product at a reasonable rate..

Diana completed a BA in Journalism in 2010 and has honed her skills as a newspaper reporter, senior communications specialist and most recently worked at a weekly magazine as a writer. She joined the EMTS Group in 2016 as a writer for Entrepreneur magazine and SmartCompany Networks. Passionate about honing her writing skills and delivering exceptional client results, Diana continues to keep a finger on the pulse of industry news and insights.

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Franchisee Advice

Factors To Consider Before Signing Up As A Franchisee

Franchising is a brilliant way to get into business with not many entrepreneurial skills as it comes with a roadmap to follow for success.

Diana Albertyn

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You’ve been considering entrepreneurship for a while, and now that you’ve finally raised some money and been approved for a loan, you’re ready to quit your 9-5 job to run your own business. You may even already have your eye on a particular franchise, but while franchising is considered an easier and more low risk way to get into business, are you suited to being a franchisee?

“The question is not ‘is franchising right for you’, but rather, are you right for franchising? Because if you don’t have the right attitude and skill set, it can be a very expensive mistake,” says small business expert and author Steve Strauss.

Franchising may seem like an easy way into entrepreneurship, but along with an established name and proven systems, come rules, regulations and little room for creativity. If you’re not ready to become a franchisee, but want to go into business for yourself, you may find yourself struggling to operate within the system’s blueprint.

Ask yourself these three questions before proceeding with the process of franchising:

1. Will you be able to follow the directions of the franchisor?

You’re buying into an existing and proven concept so it’s safe to assume that the franchisor knows best, and so you have to be open to learning and following guidelines for business success. If, for example, you have experience in advertising and think you have an improved technique of marketing the franchise, you may want to change the advertising material provided by the franchisor – don’t.

Related: 3 Ways You Can Innovate And Improve As A Franchisee

“Being a franchisee means following the directions of the franchisor, even when you think you know a better way,” advise experts from strategic and tactical advisory firm MSA Worldwide.

“In addition to initial training, you need to be prepared to accept coaching and advice from the franchisor on how you operate or market your location.”

2. Do you have the need to experiment?

Lou Groen may have had success in launching a new menu item that McDonald’s approved of in 1962, but not all franchisees are that lucky. Stick to the plan and limit deviations to the menu or anything that involves the customer experience.

If the franchisor’s concept doesn’t involve deliveries, offering them to your customers may cause issues for others within the franchise system. “If it’s not part of the franchisor’s concept, you’re deviating from the concept and therefore, no longer running your store as a franchise,” according to MSA. Franchising arguably limits innovation opportunities, so if you’re prone to implementing creative ideas and evolving business offerings based on said ideas, rather start your own independent business.

Related: 3 Pricing Tactics To Recession-Proof Your Franchise

3. Are you a team player?

These first two questions you address should already lead to the realisation that everything you do affects everyone in the franchise chain. One bad experience at your establishment and suddenly, all the stores are affected by bad press or unsavoury social media attention.

“Other franchisees are relying upon you to offer to the consumer a consistent level of service, product quality, and brand message. You are going to have to work with others in the system in making decisions,” advise experts.

Remember that as part of a chain of other business owners, you may have to accept that majority rules when it comes to decisions where franchises do have a say.

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Franchisee Advice

3 Ways You Can Innovate And Improve As A Franchisee

Although your role as a franchisee isn’t really to innovate, there’s room for creativity if you go about it the right way.

Diana Albertyn

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When you signed on the dotted line after reading and agreeing with the franchise agreement, you knew that you were buying into a proven system where everything has already been thought out for you, and all you have to do is follow the formula for success.

But you’re a franchisee longing to put your own imprint on your business, and it may be frustrating to feel boxed in by a formula, while you’re bursting with new ideas.

“Franchising, by its nature, discourages innovation on the part of franchisees, who are required by their franchisors to follow very specific policies and procedures on exactly what they will sell, how they will make or deliver it,” notes Randy Myers, contributing editor for CFO and Corporate Board Member magazines.

Related: Types Of Funding Available For Franchisees

This doesn’t mean your ideas will never see the light of day though. But before you approach your franchisor with your brilliant insight, consider the following steps that may well lead you down an innovative path:

1. Get the basics right first

Franchisors know that customers like consistency as it makes them comfortable and trust every location of their franchise they choose to visit. But, even the strictest franchisors get hungry for new ideas. It’s the timing that’s vital for your idea to even be considered.

“Most good systems don’t want new franchisees to even think about innovations until they learn the existing system inside out and prove that they can execute it like a star,” said Jeff Elgin, CEO of FranChoice, a network of franchise referral consultants. “At that point, they have become successful, their base is secure, and they have earned the right to consider innovations.”

It’s wise to ensure you’ve learned your franchisor’s existing business model before you suggest any improvements.

2. Do your homework

So, you’re doing well and you’re sure your idea will be welcomed as a crucial innovation to the franchise system – but research your proposal, suggests Kim Stevens, VP of Regional Development and Director of Franchise Awarding at Woodhouse Day Spas. “Especially if you’re suggesting something that would impact all franchisees, create a business plan before approaching your franchisor,’ she says.

Related: To Buy Into A Franchise Or Purchase A Licence? 3 Factors To Consider

It’s also good to have another look at the franchisor’s policy for accepting new ideas to ensure you’re prepared for tough questions before you propose your idea.

3. Speak to the right people

Elgin recommends you first identify the person at the franchisor’s head office who’s responsible for receiving new ideas. “Many of the ideas a franchisee comes up with will already have been proposed by another franchisee,” notes Elgin.

To avoid wasting your time, no matter how great you think the idea is, present it as early as possible before spending anything developing the idea.

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Franchisee Advice

3 Pricing Tactics To Recession-Proof Your Franchise

As consumers tighten their belts, how can you ensure your franchise is their first choice in the midst of strict budgeting and curbing of spending?

Diana Albertyn

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Whether or not there is a dip in the economy, you have stock on shelf you need to sell. But, if consumers are cash-strapped, you have to make every effort to ensure that your franchisees aren’t running at a loss.

“There’s no doubt that shoppers are more discerning about what they need and how they shop. However, quality remains significant and brands that continue to delight their customers will reap the benefit of being chosen,” says Ailsa Wingfield, executive director marketing and communications: Africa, at Nielsen.

Why not give customers the best of both – value for money at a competitive price – by applying one or more of the following pricing tactics in tough economic times:

1. Consider a greater focus on your house brand

“The days of in-house retail brands being treated with a fair amount of disdain by South African consumers have come to an end,” says Wingfield.

Related: What Makes Franchises Recession Proof?

The global performance management company’s research has found that R38.4 billion of the amount consumers spend at hypermarket and supermarket tills – or R10 out of every R50 – is spent on private label products. South African consumers are beginning to feel that the quality of these house brand products is as good as that of established name brands.

Since research indicates consumers are further likely to shift between branded products and retailer private label offerings, it would be of benefit to your franchise if your in-house products are perceived as viable value alternatives of similar or better quality.

2. Sell products in bundles

This the method combining various products and selling them together as one bundle for a lot less than if they were being sold separately. This method is great for moving items that might be selling slower but also great for achieving a higher value perception in the minds of consumers.

CEO of GuruShots, Gilon Miller, says there are several bundling techniques you could apply, including:

  • Pure bundling, where you offer a group of products that are only available as a bundle and aren’t sold separately.
  • Mixed bundling, where you offer products that are sold both as bundles and as individual units.
  • New- or lesser-product bundle, where you bundle a successful product with a newer or less successful product – the stronger product will help the other product find its way into a new market.

Bundling results in cost efficiency, more competitive pricing and might also encourage customers to regard a single store as a source for several solutions.

Related: How To Recession-Proof Your Business

3. Add even more value

When you price your product in alignment with the value your customer sees in it, you’re preventing both you and your customer from the possibility of losing out on value.

Calculating your optimum price, involves asking yourself these questions:

  • Will your customers save money or time by using your product or service?
  • Is your product or service is unique?
  • Will your product or service help customers gain a competitive advantage?
  • What does the competition charges?

“Value-based pricing ensures that your customers feel happy paying your price for the value they’re getting,” says Patrick Campbell, co-founder and CEO of Price Intelligently. “Pricing according to the value your customer sees in your product prevents you from short-changing yourself while creating an experience for customers that’s most aligned.”

The more value your customers see in your product, the more they will be willing to pay for it, ultimately improving your bottom line. When your pricing is reasonable, they won’t need much convincing to make the purchase at your franchise instead of your competitor’s.

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