Taking over an existing store
“Buying an existing store has definite benefits. You have built-in loyal clients, and you have a team that knows the business. When we took over the business, we retained all the staff, which helped a lot. Even though my husband and I were new to the franchise, our staff knew how things worked and helped us get up and running.
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“Still, taking over an existing store can be daunting. Even though you’re completely new to the business, everything is ticking over as usual, and this can feel overwhelming. You feel as if you’ve been thrown into the deep end. But, if you can figure things out, you can see a relatively quick return on investment, since you already have a solid client base.”
The need for business knowledge
You don’t need printing experience to open up a business such as this, but I do think you need a bit of business experience. If you’ve owned your own business before, the transition will be much simpler. There is a lot of admin to deal with. We typically handle 50 to 80 quotes a day, so there is a lot to keep track of.
“Thankfully, Minuteman uses fantastic software to manage workflow, which makes the day-to-day running much easier, but it still helps to be comfortable with business management.”
Learning about printing
“My husband and I had both owned other businesses and retail stores when we took over the Minuteman Press, but printing was new to us. Luckily, we had staff who were knowledgeable and an incredibly helpful franchisor. The training we received was excellent. We even travelled to New York (during the middle of a very harsh winter!) for training, and the people there were fantastic.
“One of the big advantages of buying a franchise, as opposed to opening up an independent operation, is the support that you receive. Since we needed to learn about printing, knowing that an experienced team was just a phone call away really eased the pressure.”
Having good staff
“It’s very important to employ the right people. There were five people here when we started — we now have ten. Your workers really are the lifeblood of your operation. We were very lucky to retain great staff when the previous owner sold the business. We wouldn’t have the successful business we do today if it was not for them.”
Providing great service
“We live by the motto ‘under-promise and over-deliver’. A lot of printing companies don’t reply quickly enough to a request for a quote. We have a strict rule that large quotes should be sent out within 24 hours of receiving the request. If it’s a quote for a small job, it should be done practically immediately.
“At the same time, you need to manage clients expectations. Some clients don’t realise how time-consuming and complex printing can be. It’s also a fact of life that things go wrong. Sometimes a printer breaks down or something else goes wrong, and you simply can’t meet the deadline. The important thing, though, is to communicate with the client. You need to let them know that something has happened. Simply sticking your head in the sand is not a good strategy.
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“In order to have more control over jobs and deadlines, we’ve brought a lot of printing in-house over the last four years. It can be good to send out very large printing jobs when you’re getting started, but bringing those in-house really helps as your knowledge of printing improves.”
Staying on top of technology
“Printing technology is constantly improving and evolving, which keeps things interesting. Once again, having a franchisor to help navigate technology changes and keep you abreast of changes is very useful.”
“You need to realise that you’ll be working hard. We typically have around 200 jobs in progress at any one time. As the owner of a Minuteman Press, you’ll rarely ever be bored.
“However, what I like about a franchise such as this is that it tends to stick to business hours. There aren’t too many late nights. We have a lot of corporate clients, so that allows us to stick to business hours.
“It should also be mentioned that the franchise offers great rewards. It’s hard work, but you get what you put in.”
A dependable franchisor
“Minuteman Press is a great franchise to be a part of. Of course, it is an international brand that’s highly respected, but it also has a great team in South Africa. The local team is knowledgeable and always willing to help. As a franchisee, you can always pick up the phone and ask for advice. We really have a great relationship with the franchisor. I know that, should we suddenly have a family emergency, he would be in the shop helping out the next day.
“Occasionally, issues crop up, and it’s great to have a franchisor that’s willing to assist. For instance, a supplier might be closed for the holidays, and Minuteman Press head office can then recommend a substitute for that period. Or, there might be a glitch with the software that head office can help to sort out.
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“As you become more comfortable in the role of business owner, you might need less assistance from the franchisor. In the early days, though, it’s important to have support.”
For more information, visit krugersdorp.minutemanpress.co.za.
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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