Say you’re out looking for a site for your new business. On your way home from work, you pass by an intersection that has a new retail centre under construction. The centre is guaranteed to have a high volume of traffic, as it’s down the road from a major mall, directly off the major highways, and easily accessible from the streets. Every car in the neighbourhood has to pass that spot at least once a day.
Let’s assume two major retail anchors, a regional grocer and drug store, have already signed leases. You meet with the landlord, and you find out that except for the one space available, the centre is totally leased by nationally branded retailers and restaurants. The one space left is 12 000 m2, and it’s located on the end cap, ensuring that whoever gets that space will have the best visibility in the entire centre. Best news yet, if you want it, the space is yours. Location, location, location goes through your mind. You’re guaranteed success… aren’t you?
If you’re a retailer or a restaurant, that site might be perfect, if you can afford it. But if you’re in, say, the carpet-cleaning business, the site is likely to be a disaster. Picking the right location depends on the type of business you’re in.
Franchisor Knows Best
Selecting a site for your business requires that you have knowledge of what locations are right and, possibly more important, what locations are wrong for your business. That’s called the site criteria, and it’s worth every cent to get it from prospective franchisors. Well established franchisors have experience, not only in different markets, but also in locations that vary in size, surroundings and customer draws. They should be able to provide you with accurate site criteria as well as the training and other assistance needed to find your site. A franchisor’s ability to provide this kind of information is a key indicator of its competency.
Remember, there are no stock definitions of a great site, because every business requires different types of locations. If your customers will be coming to your place of business, then visibility and ease of accessibility should be foremost in your mind. However, if you’re in a service business that goes to a customer’s home or place of business, then highways, a place to park your vehicles and warehouse space may be most important.
Consider what your location will do for you and what you can afford. If your business plan calls for space that costs R52 per square metre and the available space is R104 per square metre, ask yourself whether the more expensive space will bring in enough additional customers to justify the price. If it won’t, how long will it be before you can no longer afford the rent? If you need 2 000 m2 but get a bargain price for 4 000 m2, is bigger better? Maybe not, whereas at 2 000 m2 your business will look busy, it may look empty (and less appealing) at 4 000 m2.
Some of the basics of site selection include:
How many people or businesses are in your trading area? Are they the right background, age, family size and income for your type of business? Certain companies can provide you with demographic reports telling you who lives and works around your location.
If you’re expecting customers to come to your location, it’s always beneficial to have other businesses nearby to help you draw them. Traffic generators such as malls, office complexes, schools or hospitals may bring you the right traffic. Anchors, like grocery stores, drug stores and department stores may also bring you the traffic you need. If your business is a women’s hair salon and your centre has several women’s clothing stores, that may be a perfect situation. But if your neighbour is a mattress store, will it bring you the appropriate traffic on a regular basis?
Traffic count and accessibility
How much traffic, both by car and by foot, passes by your location? Traffic counts aren’t enough though. If the traffic is going 120 km per hour and can’t get into your centre, then having a high traffic count won’t be very helpful. If foot traffic is high during the day but your business needs an evening clientele, then noon-time foot traffic won’t benefit you. You need to determine not only that traffic exists, but also that it’s accessible and available when you need it.
Some businesses, like quick-service restaurants, often do better in areas where other quick-service restaurants are established. However, if you own a dry cleaning business and there’s a dry cleaner on every corner near your possible location, saturation may be your undoing.
Is the site safe for your customers and your staff? Is the centre run-down and frequented by individuals who will chase your customers away?
Will you be able to hire people in your area? If the pool of potential employees is limited, your pay scales may go through the roof. If you need entry-level, minimum-wage employees and every kid in the neighborhood is driving a BMW or Porsche, will you find enough staff to even stay open?
Visibility, signage and zoning
Will customers be able to see your business and your signs easily?
Finding a great retail or restaurant site is very difficult today, simply because many of the great sites have already been taken. But you can limit your risk by understanding what types of sites work for your business and making certain that the site you select meets your needs.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.”
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.
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.
5 S-Words Make Your Store Site Pay For Itself
Richard Mukheibir, CEO of Cash Converters recently addressed delegates at the FASA (Franchise Association of SA) conference on the topic of choosing the best location for their business. He spoke about the 5-S technique to assist business owners with deciding which premises is best suited for their business.
The combination of continuing trading uncertainty in South Africa and the new financial year for many businesses can add up to carefully reviewing costs – including leases on premises. Choosing a site to set up or relocate your business can be just as stressful as deciding where to buy a house – and just as fundamental to its health, finances and sustainability, says Richard Mukheibir, CEO of Cash Converters.
This is not the time to snap up the property with the cheapest rental as that might turn out to be something you regret in the long run. Nor is it the time to be dazzled by the swankiest premises you can find. The potential for bragging rights could turn out to be poor value for money.
“This is a time for your head to rule your heart regardless of the industry you trade in.” he says.
The real-estate mantra of “location, location, location” works just as effectively in commercial as it does in private property but you will often be looking for rather different factors. Mukheibir shares his 5-S technique to help you begin narrowing down the areas where you will consider locating your business – first at the macro level, focus in further to the meso level, then look more closely at the micro level before you start weighing up specific sites.
Remind yourself of the medium and long-term strategies you have developed for your business. Keep your understanding of your business’s customers, purpose and growth prospects top of mind when you are selecting the areas where you will start looking for sites.
Within those areas, redline any sections where you feel the competition from other businesses will detract from your potential to grow your market. Greenline areas where there are good synergies between the people who live or work there and the demographic that you have identified as your target market.
Make sure there is clearly a good pool of potential customers for you – size definitely matters when it comes to ensuring that there are plenty of customers available to you. Look specifically for facilities that cater for the kind of customers you want to attract. Sports stores benefit from being close to schools and tertiary colleges, for example.
Although many businesses now have an online element, most still benefit from attracting customers to walk through the door. For your premises to be a good fit for your business, you should be located in plain sight and ensure that your ability to market yourself locally through signage and lamp-post posters is not restricted by local bylaws.
You will attract and retain good customers and staff if they feel they’re secure in the area. This perception includes factors such as easy, safe parking and a welcoming environment.
“Making a success of your business is not just about the product or your branding,” says Mukheibir. “It can be as fundamental as finding a site that ends up paying for itself. To do this, it must offer you a well-calculated gap in the market where the strong demand for the product or service that your business offers ensures sales and profit. If you have considered all these steps carefully, you will never worry about making rent and wages payment again.”
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