1. Make it easy
How easy is it for your customers to access your services? Is it easy for them to pay? Can I pay for my goods by cash, debit card, credit card or EFT? By e-wallet? Do I have to come in to your shop, or can I buy online, by phone, by SMS? Do you pick up or deliver from people’s homes and places of work?
It’s always sad to see the owners of businesses standing around in their stores, waiting for customers to come to them. They should consider going out into the world and taking their services to their customers. The easier it is for people to do business with you, the more likely they are to do so.
I once worked in an office where busy staff would often order lunch from the restaurant across the road that did deliveries. This ease of doing business made the order-in option more attractive than going out, getting into your car and then braving the Sandton City food court.
I also know of someone who brings in fresh farm lamb from the Eastern Cape and delivers it to your door. Ordering is as simple as sending an SMS. People use his services because it’s easy.
So try to remove any barriers of distance, time or inconvenience that stand between you and your customers. They’ll thank you for it with more orders.
2. How to lose a customer, guaranteed
Certain staff behaviour is guaranteed to put customers off your business.
Try to avoid these at all costs:
- Clock watching. Locking your store at the stroke of 5pm, or heaven forbid ten minutes early, is a big turn-off. And if someone arrives late and you can see them at your door, serve them! The traffic will still be there in 15 minutes’ time.
- Favouring the phone. Real personal interaction is the most important kind. So never interrupt a conversation to pick up the phone. It’s rude. If absolutely necessary, ask the customer if they mind if you answer this call.
- Eating, drinking or smoking. These are lunchbreak activities, to be done out of sight of your customers.
- Poor prioritising. Serving a customer comes first. So don’t insult them by laboriously wiping your counter while they stand around waiting
- Not greeting. Say hello, and look your client in the eye. A glazed, disinterested stare just makes me want to turn around and walk out.
- Pumping tunes. You might be having a fun moment, but music that’s too loud gives the impression that it’s all about your entertainment and not my service.
- There’s hardly any context where swearing is a better idea than not swearing. While you’re busy serving customers is definitely not the time for swearing.
- Staff should be trained to be knowledgeable about your products and services. If they’re not, that’s your fault.
- Power tripping. You may have authority in the store, but don’t lord it over your customers. Scolding them or abruptly ordering them around, or being condescending is inexcusable.
- Cleanliness failures. Keep your store clean, from the entrance to the displays to the floors to the toilets. In other words, everywhere.
3. Foster loyal customers
“We must come back here!” Have you ever found yourself uttering this statement as you leave a restaurant after a delicious meal and a great experience? That is a restaurant that has nailed the essence of customer service. They have built customer loyalty.
Friesland Milk Bar in the Quigney suburb of East London makes what some say is the best milkshake in South Africa. Their double-thick chocolate shake is something everyone should experience once in their life.
Whatever the owners do to make that thing, it’s quite magical. And the mystique of seeking out the quaint little shop adds to the experience. Friesland has built a community of loyal customers who now cannot visit East London without a Friesland shake.
Related: Customer Service Success Secrets
Loyal customers will tell their friends about your store, they will start looking for excuses to visit again. They will want to be the cool person who recommends a place that later becomes a community landmark. Whether through quality service or amazing products, or both, this should be your goal.
Besides wanting your customers’ business and their money, try to put yourself in their shoes. How can you make their experience in your store as good as possible? With this approach you will soon have a core of loyal customers who can’t wait to
4. People hate waiting
Ours is a time-poor society, and we are all often in a bit of a rush. So we do want our needs met as quickly and efficiently as possible. Your customers probably feel the same way.
Instead of seeing this as an extra form of stress, why not build a time challenge into the service that you offer? Put up a sign at your carwash saying: Cars washed within 30 minutes or you pay half price!
We all know the pizza deal that promises to have your large Margarita at your door within an hour, or it’s free.
This kind of a beat-the-clock promotion succeeds in three ways.
- It attracts customers. They want satisfaction and they want it now. Someone who promises quick service will pique their interest.
- It challenges staff. Your employees will need to be on their toes to meet these new deadlines. But they should be pretty sharp anyway.
- It sets you apart. Your 60-minute-challenge promotion distinguishes you from your competition. It shows your business is serious about providing a quick service.
It’s an interesting approach, and if you take it seriously it will help you provide the best service you possibly can. And you’ll have a happy, satisfied customer. Then, when you’ve successfully handled that person’s business, do exactly the same thing with the next customer to walk in. It’s good neighbourhood marketing.
This technique helps to ensure that you appreciate your customers and make them feel appreciated too. The ‘most important person’ approach will see your customers leaving your store saying, “Wow, finally a store that gives me the service I deserve!”
5. Under-promise and over-deliver
Managing client expectations is a key part of doing business. Although it feels good to talk a great game and impress your customers when you tell them what kind of service to expect, you may be setting them up for disappointment.
If you tell your client you’ll have his suit dry-cleaned by tomorrow, he’ll probably show up tomorrow expecting his suit. If it’s not ready by then, he’ll think you’re a pretty useless drycleaner. So if it’s going to be tight getting the suit ready by tomorrow, why not promise to have it ready in a more realistic two days’ time.
Then, do your utmost to have the suit ready by tomorrow. If you pull it off, give your customer a call and tell him: “Great news! I’ve got your suit ready for you.” He’ll be surprised and impressed.
You’ve under-promised and over-delivered. By managing your customer’s expectations you’ve made him feel like he’s getting amazing service. You also haven’t put yourself under too much pressure, while leaving the door open to still deliver early and impress your client.
Develop Digital Marketing Competency In 3 Simple Steps
Conquering the digital revolution needn’t be daunting. Polish up your tech skills and watch your digital marketing prowess increase throughout your franchise.
As a franchisor, digital marketing may be proving to be a challenge due to the unique structuring of the business.
“The very nature of franchises is ‘structured’, however, when it comes to marketing, that structure often lacks,” says Marcela De Vivo, Founder and CEO of Gryffin Media.
Franchisors and franchisees often struggle to reach common ground when looking to achieve different marketing goals. While the franchisor needs to control the brand in its entirety, the franchisee wants to market their business using particular strategies suited to their location.
Research has found that smartphones are the biggest influencers of 82% of users when they make their in-store purchase decisions while. It’s for this reason that the importance of digital marketing for franchises has increased.
Here’s how to harness its power of influence, amplify foot traffic and solidify brand loyalty:
1. Recruit digital natives and early adopters
As much as you’re the leader of your franchise network, there are franchisees in your chain you could learn from. The global increase in millennial franchise owners means it is highly likely that you’ll be able to identify early digital adopters within your franchise network.
“The best people to learn from are those who have been in your shoes before,” says Matt Forman of the Franchise Centre at Griffith University.
“Encourage and support their efforts and use them as case studies to demonstrate to the rest of your franchisees the value of digital marketing, and how to do it right.”
2. Invest in training your team
“Each digital competency level requires more education and resources in order to integrate digital marketing with your physical stores,” says Forman. For this reason, regularly investing in continuous training for your team so as to ensure they keep abreast of any new and emerging trends.
Proactivity and adapting to the constantly evolving digital landscape led KFC to open a LinkedIn account for its founder and mascot Colonel Sanders. KFC’s out of the box tactic is a fresh approach to what has long been considered a B2B platform, under-utilised as a B2C platform.
3. Apply custom targeting techniques
The discovery of new and small businesses is being fuelled by Google searches, social media and online reviews, making these platforms a goldmine of invaluable tools.
Leveraging certain custom targeting techniques like easily searchable keywords and exposure on other reputable and high-traffic websites, gives your franchise’s digital marketing efforts a boost. This results in an effective campaign, favourable reviews and meaningful and lasting interactions with consumers “whether it’s a reply to a Facebook comment or a retweet,” says Entrepreneur’s Emily Conklin.
How To Hire Skilled Workers For Your Franchise
Your staff run your business – you just have to show them how. This is why employing the best people for the job is essential.
According to the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) 2017 Franchisor Survey, one of the main challenges facing franchisees is finding the right staff.
“Staffing your franchise can be one of the most challenging parts of running a successful business. Without a great team of employees, you cannot run your business effectively,” says Saxon Marsden-Huggins, founder of WebRover.
These three tips could help you find the best employees for your franchise outlet:
1. Don’t hire in haste
While you may be rearing to go and keen to fill gaps to speed up profitability, research your candidates thoroughly.
As the job applications keep flowing into your inbox, keep in mind that not all of them qualify for the positions available – it may even be a small percent who are actually viable candidates. This is why your hiring process should include:
- Taking the time to thoroughly screen CVs to develop a short list
- Creating a carefully crafted list of interview questions
- Setting aside adequate time for thorough interviews
- Getting to know the candidates through a second round of interviews to confirm your choice.
Giving the hiring process dedication and attention will ensure you get the cream of the crop, contributing to the long-term success of your franchise.
2. Demonstrate support in the workplace
While you can instil the necessary skills into new recruits, it’s difficult to train for culture. This is why choosing the right employees from the beginning will make the rest of your franchise management system will run more smoothly.
“The manner by which you run the franchise will influence employee perceptions of the brand as well,” says Hireology’s Erin Borgerson. “Your staff must become ambassadors of your franchise system to attract the target consumer market.”
The best way to do this is encouraging staff to give you their honest feedback. Your commitment to creating and upholding a positive culture will result in increased loyalty from your current staff and a superior pool of applicants.
3. Offer appealing incentives
When advancement opportunities are clearly communicated, staff is keen to hear how they can get there, as they have career goals of their own. Encouraging this ambition will draw good employees to your franchise.
“Helping employees understand the steps to advancement helps them to view their current job as an important part of a career with an upward path, not just a pay cheque for this week,” say financial reporting technology experts at Qvinci.
Performance bonuses and employee benefits incentivise staff’s efforts, therefore increasing their income alongside the profit of the business. “This serves to make employees a part of the business and not merely people ‘who work there’,” they explain.
3 Ways Communication Helps You Run Your Franchise Better
Managing your business as an independent owner may have been challenging at the beginning, but – as you’ve come to realise – the successful operation of a franchise network requires an extended set of skills.
“When it comes to a multi-location business such as a franchise, effective communication is vital,” says Dani Peleva, Managing Director at online marketing agency Local Fame. “So what happens when you’re struggling to connect with the franchise network you have in place?”
It may be time to upgrade your franchise management skills, because the success of your franchise network has a direct correlation to how you integrate feedback systems into your management processes.
Have a clear comprehension of the challenges your franchise encounters, keep an open chain of communication between yourself, franchisees and managers, and maintain regular interactions between everyone in the network. These are some of the most crucial aspects of successful franchise management:
1. Understand the challenges you face
A thorough understanding of your business requires dedication to regular and consistent groundwork for first-hand experience on how the day-to-day operations of the business are conducted.
“Seeing and talking to the people that make your business will help you understand the challenges that franchisees face and the systems they need to drive higher profitability and growth,” says Rosie Niblock, Marketing and Communications Manager at Proactive Marketing.
“That way you can work more effectively to make improvements to franchise management systems logically and within the financial grasp of all franchisees.”
2. Get personal through regular visits
You never want your franchises to feel neglected. It’ll demoralise them and possibly drop sales, profits and their ability to keep the business running as you intended. Maintaining regular contact and sharing as much information as possible – when you can – fosters strong relations with your franchisees.
Empowerment through information and communication makes a difference in the business and helps franchisees make decisions in favour of the business and to make sure that they all pull in the same direction in terms of customer satisfaction, says Alan van der Westhuizen, executive manager of new business sales at Fournews, a 20-year-old franchise holding company for News Café, Krispy Kreme, Moyo, Brooklyn Brothers, Smooch, Cafe Fino and Go! outlets.
Ensure your response to these concerns is swift. “If not discussed they could fester ad create undesirable rumours,” says Niblock.
3. Create events for network collaboration
One of the most important aspects of managing your franchise is meeting with all your franchisees, at least annually. “Franchise conventions are almost certainly the biggest tool when it comes to building profitable engagement,” says Peleva. “They’re one of the most important things to focus on when you’re considering how to lead your franchise network.” According to her, a successfully attended and executed convention will let you:
- Boost your network-wide productivity
- Hugely increase your profitability
- Drive passion for your brand
Communicating with your franchisees is the best way to identify problems, work towards solving them, and building a pleasant and fruitful relationship with your owners.
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