- Player: Frik van Niekerk
- Franchise: Minuteman Press
- Established: 1973 (US); 1996 (SA)
- Visit: minutemanpress.co.za
- Constant innovation: Minuteman Press head office in the US has a dedicated R&D department researching the latest developments in the print industry to help make the best equipment recommendations for its franchisees.
In the beginning
The company was founded in the US in 1973 and grew to five locations. It was then converted to a franchise model in 1975. Five existing company-owned stores were then converted to franchisee-owned stores, and all outlets since have been owned by franchisees.
From the US, Minuteman Press expanded to Canada and England, and in 1996 the first store opened in South Africa. In the time since, it’s grown to around 50 outlets in South Africa and has continued its international expansion to Australia, Ireland and Scotland.
Each territory has a regional office that answers to the US head office, rather than master franchisors.
“My role as regional VP is to expand our South African footprint, and offer support to existing franchisees with my support team, who are highly experienced in the print industry and travel between franchisees,” says Frik van Niekerk.
Related: In A Minute With Minuteman Press
The franchise model
“Our fees structure differs from other franchises. Royalties and marketing fees are an area where franchisees can get unhappy, no matter the brand or industry. There will always be complaints that the percentage paid to the franchisor for marketing is not being spent adequately or doesn’t work for the franchisees. Minuteman Press mitigates this by having no marketing fee,” says Van Niekerk.
Franchisees are provided with guidelines for marketing campaigns and are free to market their businesses as they see fit. Proprietary Minuteman Press software helps franchisees monitor their campaigns to assess viability and gauge the ROI.
“Minuteman Press creates a partnership which supports franchisees as they grow their own businesses. This means that we don’t force preferred suppliers on them — we rather provide a list of preferred suppliers, but if you find your own you’re free to use them. We don’t force store outfitting and revamps like the retail and fast food sectors are known to — franchisees are required to retain the Minuteman Press branding and logo, but stores can reflect their own tastes and personality,” says Van Niekerk.
Because its philosophy is one of partnership, and because it’s the new and inexperienced franchisees that require the most support, royalties are capped. Franchisees pay a 6% royalty that caps at a turnover of R200 000 per month.
Support for franchisees
“We’ve developed proprietary software that’s been improved and modernised to become the most comprehensive print software in the world — it does everything from estimates, to job comps, invoices, statements, production management, marketing scheduling, financial reporting, and everything else that goes into running a Minuteman Press shop. This means no industry experience is required of our franchisees — in fact, 98% of our franchisees come from other industries — because they’re given the training, support and tools for success,” says Van Niekerk.
Minuteman encourages entrepreneurial flair that’s balanced with ability to follow systems and guidelines, since franchisees must be owner-operators. With the right attitude, proper self-motivation and discipline, Minuteman Press franchisees can be successful business owners.
To this end, the organisation selects franchisees on attitude and how well they get along with the regional office staff.
“When expanding, we ensure every franchisee’s prospective area is properly assessed to ensure it has the right density and mix of small to medium businesses as they make up the core of a franchisee’s business,” says Van Niekerk. “If an area has reached saturation, we focus on keeping existing franchisees’ radiuses exclusive and profitable, while tapping new markets for new franchisees.”
For new franchisees, Minuteman Press assists with area studies, location assessments, and lease negotiations. When it comes to franchisee support, staff are 100% flexible and mobile.
“If there’s a problem, a franchisee calls us up, and if it can’t be resolved on the phone we will physically drive to their store and provide support. Where franchisees are so busy and successful without requiring support, like our top ten performers, we will have scheduled, periodic meetings so as not to cause disruption,” says Van Niekerk.
Related: Xpress Operation On A Roll
“Last year, one of our franchisees turned over close to R17 million, and it came from a good mix of B2B relationships with small to medium-sized business, networking, direct and indirect marketing, extensive SEO generated business, website leads, word-of-mouth referrals by existing clients, and, of course, walk-ins,” says Van Niekerk.
Minuteman Press is a quality-driven business and part of the area assessment is doing a pricing survey of competitors to ensure that the brand is in the middle to upper third. For Minuteman, being quality driven doesn’t stop at quality output, but is also about excellent customer service.
“Our ultimate goal is not for clients to think ‘I need printing… Minuteman Press’. Then they’re only half way there,” says Van Niekerk. “We want clients to think, ‘I need printing… Frik’s outlet.’ And if a franchisee doesn’t have the services to complete a job, they need the ‘can do’ attitude and access to reliable vendors that can aid them in being a one-stop-shop for all printing projects.”
Future of the brand
One would think that digital innovations are threatening the print industry, yet every year paper consumption of the previous year is exceeded as early as August or September. We are clearly nowhere near becoming a paperless society.
“What has changed, however, is the printing behaviour of businesses: It’s very much print-on-demand in much smaller, more frequent and more customised batches — and at much shorter notice,” says Van Niekerk. “Print jobs arrive on USB sticks or Dropbox, and technology and equipment are becoming better, cheaper and more efficient, but there is always a place for printing.”
Minuteman Press’s head office in the US has a dedicated R&D department that monitors industry trends and tech advancements, analyses equipment investments in terms of quality output, maintenance costs and manufacturer support and then makes recommendations to its regional offices.
“Regional offices conduct feasibility studies with their franchisees to determine the best equipment purchases or rentals to help their stores become the most efficient, profitable, and best in class,” says Van Niekerk.
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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