It seems funny to think about selling your business before you even start, doesn’t it? But having a vision of how you would like to conclude your business ownership before getting started is no different from knowing your destination before you start a trip.
When I talk to prospective franchisees early in their discovery process, I always ask the same question: “When you look back at your first year in business, what would you like to have accomplished?” More than 75% of the time, I am met with a blank stare. When they finally do respond with an answer, I usually follow up with, “So, when the day comes to eventually leave the business, how do you foresee that happening?” That’s the guaranteed deer-in-the-headlights question.
Where to Start
Do you think if I had asked Donald Trump or Michael Phelps when they started out what they hoped to accomplish that they’d have that same look? Nope, not even close. These competitors know how they want to finish what they start – and how to build the plan to achieve it.
So how does an aspiring entrepreneur envision the conclusion of their business endeavour before they get too far into it? Often franchisees are first-time business owners, and it’s a huge step for them. It can seem inconceivable to discuss exit strategy before even celebrating the grand opening, but doing so has tremendous value for both the franchisee and the franchisor.
Why? First of all, it gives you a sense of motivation. The fear of losing a job or the sting of having already lost one is encouraging more people to own their own business. With the economic downturn, aspiring entrepreneurs are really struggling to fund their dreams of self-employment.
And once the funding is there, they still have to battle through the inherent fear of such a big decision. The best antidote to fear is knowledge! Knowing you have options and control over your future is empowering.
Think ‘What If’
In talking with other franchisors, I’m somewhat surprised at how few of them engage in the ‘what if’ business transfer discussion with prospective franchisees. In some cases, by not bringing eventuality, they fall short of extolling the many virtues of franchise ownership. Perhaps they fear extinguishing the excitement of the launch.
But I believe this is an ideal time to discuss the end-game, because in today’s uncertain world, it’s comforting to know you’ll have options when the time comes to exit your business. It takes planning and hard work to make sure you maximise the value of your efforts.
For example, one franchisor I talked to had a 70-year-old, highly successful franchisee who was thinking about passing on his franchise to a family member. But that family member didn’t have the same experience or appreciation for the franchisor and only saw the individual work their father had invested in building the business.
When the time came to prepare the owner’s exit, the franchisor reached out to both members of the family and worked with them to smoothly and profitably transition the business to the next generation.
Does this story make you wonder what would have happened if the business in question had not been a franchise? I can answer that from personal experience; my family’s landscaping business was a case study for exit strategies (both good and bad).
Exit Strategy in Practice
My father had a 10-year plan in mind the day he purchased seven acres to house the building and nursery of Lindenmayer Landscapes. At the time he was 55, and the thought of digging holes and carting around wheelbarrows into his late 60s was pretty far back in his mind. As the business’s 10th year began, my parents obviously planned to pass it on to my brother and me.
Unfortunately, his divorce and my lack of funds kept us from being able to carry the torch. My dad sold the equipment and a few accounts to a budding entrepreneur and the land was eventually sold in two parcels.
Lindenmayer Landscapes ceased to exist.
My family’s story is not uncommon among entrepreneurs who try to transfer their businesses to family members. Unfortunately, reports show that two-thirds of businesses passed on to the next generation fail.
I’m not saying a franchised business can’t fail upon a transfer, too, but a franchise system is designed to survive the individual, and a successful brand is something that has a life of its own.
A business doesn’t have to be a household name to have value at the end of one owner’s life-cycle; however you must have someone vested in the transition. By its nature, a franchise system must ensure the success of its franchisees and work diligently to provide training, support and ongoing inspiration to whoever’s at the helm.
Given the tightening of the credit markets and the transient nature of today’s society, don’t you want the peace of mind of knowing that your business is nearly as mobile as you are? Make sure you understand the options you’ll have down the road if and when the day comes to move on, and you may find that some of the anxiety of starting your journey into franchise ownership subsides. L
Keep in Mind
- Here are a couple of things to consider long before your grand opening:
- What’s the market for your business today? What’s it likely to be in five, 10, 20 years?
- Are there any barriers to you selling your business – certifications, the name of the business, personal relationships that can’t transfer beyond you, etc.?
- If passing the business on to family is a consideration, how will you prepare them to take over? Is that going to be an option for both you and them financially?
- Will your cash management allow you to properly value the business? What actions do you need to take to make sure you show accurate numbers to a potential buyer or investor?
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.”
6 Things You Need To Know About Profit And Cashflow
Why your business needs both and how to check.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?
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.
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.
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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