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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

danger-in-devaluing-products

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.

Franchisee Advice

6 Things You Need To Know About Profit And Cashflow

Why your business needs both and how to check.

Richard Mukheibir

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In the heat of the action as you build your business or launch a new line, it’s easy to hope some aspects will take care of themselves. It’s especially tempting to fall into that trap with your accounts if you don’t like dealing with figures.

Despite having a B. Comm degree, I’m happy to admit that I don’t really like accounts. I much prefer strategies, management and business development. Fortunately, my co-founder and our Chief Financial Officer Peter Forshaw tirelessly keeps us on track financially – and his message to our franchisees is always that in your own business, you must understand enough of the financial basics to know whether your business is swimming or sinking…

It’s so important that we include this as part of our franchisee training. To get you started, here’s what Engela van Loggerenberg, our Group Financial Manager, tells new franchisees:

  1. Cashflow and profit aren’t the same: You can’t track one and assume the other shows the same pattern. There is no natural correlation between the two – your cashflow can be positive and you can be making a loss or your cashflow can be negative but you’re making a profit.
  2. Cash keeps you going: It’s vital to have money available in your business so you need to be generating enough cash to pay operating expenses. Otherwise you could be making a profit but not be able to pay staff wages. If so, you will either have to put in some of your own money or take a loan to keep your cash flowing and your business afloat.
  3. Time for a checkup: Both cashflow and profit are important to a business – but you can’t do anything without cash which is why you have to manage your cashflow carefully. Check your profit monthly but your cashflow daily. This will alert you to problems in the making so you can head them off. You will see if your clients are overdue in paying their accounts with you, for example. If they fall behind, this could in turn squeeze your ability to pay your operating expenses, which is why cashflow monitoring is such an important tool to keep your business afloat.
  4. Different perspectives: Remember when you look at your figures that profit figures are a result of what has already happened and are usually reported with a time lag of a month. Cashflow is a snapshot of what is happening in your business now and will have an impact on profit figures in the months to come.
  5. Know what you’re looking for: What you need to know are your net, not gross, figures. For net cashflow that is your incoming cash less your outgoing cash for the period. So if you are receiving more than you are spending, you will be left with money in the bank to meet future expenses. Similarly, your total sales less direct costs make up your gross profit. Deduct all your operating expenses from the gross profit to calculate whether your business is making a net profit.
  6. Make the most of your cash: Take pressure off yourself by keeping spare cash for future expenses such as VAT and taxes in a good interest-bearing account such as a money market, call or investment account. Then set up reminders ahead of time to arrange to withdraw the sum required.

Remember that any system is only as good as the person operating it. So if like me, figures aren’t your thing, make sure that you have someone at your side who can manage them for you.

Read next: 4 Factors To Consider Before Converting Your Independent Business Into A Franchise

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Franchisee Advice

3 Ways To Ensure Your Loyalty Programme is Working Hard For You

Plastic cards are making way for app-based loyalty programmes. Is your franchise keeping up with the digitally savvy consumer?

Diana Albertyn

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The average consumer today is a member of at least five of the 100-plus loyalty programmes in South Africa, according to a 2017 study by Nielsen. As the loyalty playing field becomes more cluttered and competitive, what are you doing to ensure each one of your franchisees are catering to customer needs when it comes to loyalty?

Mobility. It’s not the newest buzzword, but it is useful for attracting customers who don’t want to lose loyalty points because their card is lost or not with them. Ailsa Wingfield, Nielsen’s Head of Emerging Markets: Thought Leadership, says that as adoption of non-traditional payment methods increases, loyalty programmes also need to introduce payment type flexibility.

“Mobile payment platforms will increasingly deliver an opportunity for loyalty-programme engagement with consumers, providing a convenient and personalised way for programme members and retailers to engage with one another all along the path to purchase.” – Ailsa Wingfield Nielsen Head of Emerging Markets Thought Leadership.

Related: 11 Ways To Double Your Customers In 4 Weeks

Have you considered what role tech could play in your current loyalty programme? Here are three ways to apply digital enhancements that appeal to present and potential customers: 

1. Offer differentiation through more options

Research has concluded that the loyalty programmes devised by retailers and franchises are not innovative enough to capture the attention of the youth – Millennials and Gen Z. it’s time to diversify your rewards offering. But how?

If your customer base is predominantly younger, being omni-present is key, according to the Truth Loyalty Whitepaper: “An omni-channel approach will not only meet the demands of the younger customer, it will also allow your business to combine intelligence on shopping, search and web behaviour history to assist you in identifying when to offer an in-store promotion, extend a seasonal offer or make a product recommendation through the appropriate channels.”

Implementing a digital loyalty campaign is also a smart way to reduce costs. Coffee shop franchise Mugg & Bean’s Generous Rewards App and partnership with Vitality Active Rewards, means members can earn cash-back rewards to spend on their favourites. Just downloading the app earns you a R25 voucher.

2. Use your tools to engage more

A crucial mistake most franchisors make is not communicating consistently with their loyalty programme members once they’ve signed up and increased numbers. They spend a lot of time recruiting customers to join, but expect them to prompt cashiers for points’ balances and produce their cards independently in their various locations.

“You have gained permission to talk to your customers and created the opportunity to collect enormous amounts of valuable data. Use this to your advantage by creating meaningful and relevant engagement initiatives and communications across your customers’ lifecycle,” advises Truth, a boutique consultancy business specialising in customer centricity and loyalty programme strategy and design.

When enhancing your engagement strategy, Accenture advises that you keep the following in mind:

  • 54% of South African consumers are loyal to brands that actively engage them to help design or co-create products or services.
  • 57% are loyal to organisations that present them with new experiences, products or services.
  • 47% are loyal to brands that engage them in ‘multi-sensory’ experiences, using new technologies such as virtual reality or augmented reality.

Related: 3 Ways To Stop Taking Your Most Loyal Customers For Granted

3. Keep the experience simple

Review your loyalty programme. Honestly. Then ask yourself if you’ve made your programme too complicated for the layman. If your answer is ‘no’ or even ‘maybe’, how can your target consumer ever reap the full rewards of this programme if they don’t understand the rewards on offer and how to redeem them?

Changing rules too often is the first complication to go. No matter which one of your stores they choose to shop at, the redemption and earning process should be simple enough to keep members interested and engaged in the programme. Make sure you keep your programme simple and transparent.

“Clicks made a simple but fundamental change to its redemption process – paper-vouchers were replaced with virtual points that can be redeemed as cash-back when you swipe your card at the till. While Clicks and Dis-Chem are among only a handful of brands that do this, it’s a sure-fire mechanism for increasing redemption,” said Amanda Cromhout, founder and CEO of Truth.

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Franchisee Advice

3 Crucial Considerations For New Multi-unit Franchisees

Your marked success as a single-unit franchisee has led to the choice to multiply your achievement. But do you know what it really takes to move from owner-operator, to multi-outlet operator?

Diana Albertyn

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Multi-unit franchise ownership is a brilliant way to grow your business portfolio, once you’re successfully running your single location. Once you get the hang of being franchise business owner, adding one or a few more units could be the next logical step.

“The risk with having one store is higher than if you have more than one store, as the stores support one another. When the one is down the other one is up,” says multi-unit Montagu franchise owner Pierre Lombard.

You’ve probably already realised this lucrative option and are getting acquainted with multi-unit franchising. As this is new territory, you may want to consider these methods to multiply your success.

1. Make more discerning recruitment choices

When you opened shop at your first location, you were probably warned against hiring a manager, because they may not be as invested in the success of your business as you are. Now that you growing, you have no choice, so you need to be selective in your decision of who’s going to run the show when you’re not around.

Related: 3 Employment Best Practices To Apply In Your Franchise

The best way to ensure consistency in service and quality in each location is to always put culture fit over ability. While a certain level of skill is required to carry out the tasks required of a manager, attitude trumps aptitude when selecting capability running your locations.

“Place one of your outstanding managers or staff from your current store in the new one and have them train up any new staff,” suggests Francesca Nicasio, Retail Expert at Vend.

“That way the practices and attitude that you’ve cultivated in your business will continue into your new store.”

2. You need tech to help you be everywhere

Not only are Cloud technologies enabling franchise owners to scale quickly, easily and more affordably compared to on-site solutions, but these advancements mean you can remotely optimise inventory across all your locations, get a more accurate assessment each store’s performance and better understand your business – all you need is an Internet connection.

With the variety of Cloud-based solutions available today, you’re also able to connect your sales, staff, and customer information to give customers a seamless experience at all locations. You’re also able to receive alerts on low stock levels and automatically have it.

3. Set and stick to a specific standard

As a franchisee, consistency is standard practice. But that’s easy done as a single-unit owner than when running multiple locations. To make your mini network more manageable, ensure all your store understand brand standards beyond the operation manual.

Related: Multi-Unit Franchising Growing In South Africa

“Naturally, you have your franchise systems’ operations manual and procedures but the way you personally want to stamp your mark on customer experience, for instance, needs to be documented too,” experts at Inside Franchise Business advise.

Doing this reduces the stress of continually keeping tabs on staff, and frees you up to collect and collate the data you need to make smarter decisions faster.

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