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Franchisee Advice

Go The Extra Mile: Walk 500 Miles Then Walk 500 More

Here are tips and strategies that will help you stand out from the competition by offering unparalleled service.

Basil O’Hagan

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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.

Related: Go Above And Beyond With Your Customer Service

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
    for you.
  • 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
come back!

4. People hate waiting

man-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.

Related: 6 Ways to Make Your Customer Service Better

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.

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

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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Franchisee Advice

Effective Ways To Bring Customers To Your Door

Here are a few tips from Local Area Marketing Manager of Cash Converters, Juan Botha, to assist you in bringing customers to knock on your door.

Richard Mukheibir

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Retail, craft, artisan and service businesses can’t rely on only carrying on trade online – you also need people coming through the door and engaging with your product. But how do they find you? Are you the neighbourhood’s “best-kept secret” – and not in a good way?

Your premises, the surrounding area and the audience for your brand are a unique combination. Get to know both inside out so that you can hone your products and your marketing to appeal to potential local customers. With all the pressure to run a website, Facebook page or maintain other online presence, it’s easy to forget the basics and fail to reach your closest customers – those on your doorstep.

Our Local Area Marketing Manager, Juan Botha, previously worked in advertising with local and multinational brands and he taught us how each store needs to make sure its marketing lives up to the pointer, “Act global, think local”.

Related: How Your Fast Food Franchise Can Attract Quality-Conscious Consumers

Here are a few of his tips:

Position yourself

If customers know about you but can’t find you, they’re likely to get frustrated looking for you and give up. If they don’t even know you’re there to find, your chances of using your sales skills with them or getting them to fall in love with your product are zero.

Remember the times you’ve spent searching for a bar or a restaurant hidden in a maze of city streets or a B&B somewhere along a never-ending country road? Those businesses have forgotten that first-time customers can’t be sure where they are. Draw up directions to include on your website or online page. Make sure a friend who doesn’t know the area well test drives them.

Brand yourself

People won’t notice you until they need or want what you are offering so keep reminding them of your existence. Being visible is key. Your fascia signage is part of your marketing mission to attract and influence potential customers.

Nobody walking to work or taking their dog out should think, “I wonder what that new place is about?”

As well as giving your business’s name and contact details, your signage must succinctly indicate what your business offers. If you have a display window, use this second important opportunity to sum up your offering – keep it interesting and updated.

Be a customer magnet

If you wait to build a business on passing trade, you could wait forever. Get on the radar with potential customers in the neighbourhood so they all know you exist and where to find you. Each time they’re reminded that you exist and how to find you, they will be prompted to come and seek you out.

You can achieve this – and help new customers trying to find you – by making a modest investment in lamp-post signage. Check local regulations with your municipality and ensure this signage reflects your brand visually. This is a win-win, reinforcing your brand in a potential customer’s mind and helping them recognise your premises as they approach.

Related: Why Your Franchise Brand Should Be Culturally Relevant

Connect locally

Part of marketing is making people interested in and attracted to your business long before their first direct contact with you. Embed yourself in the community by forming alliances.

If security is an issue, bond with the local SAPS, Community Policing Forum and security companies by offering them free coffee. If you have a huge bargain order of toys to shift, offer a few prizes to the local Moms ‘n Tots group. Plug into local business networks and offer to host a speaker or sponsor the audio equipment for a forthcoming meeting.

You’ll be harnessing the incomparable power of word-of-mouth and setting your business growing in a great direction.

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