Most franchise owners will tell you that they could easily have saved quite a bit of money from the costs incurred while opening their first units. This begs the question:
If this is such a universal truth, then why didn’t the franchise companies show them how to save this money as part of their training?
The answer is that they probably did.
The biggest money waster in terms of start-up costs, by far, is impatience of the franchisee. Most new franchisees are thrilled and excited to get going, as they should be, and they can’t wait until their new franchise opens for business. If there are two ways to do something, and the faster one costs more money, most new franchisees opt for speed. Those kinds of choices can really add up to a lot of money and in many cases the time gained doesn’t really produce any long-term value to offset the increased costs.
The secret to reaching the best result in terms of start-up costs is balance. If you picture the cost vs. speed quandary as a continuum, you don’t want to be at either extreme. Trying so hard to save money that you never open the business isn’t going to be any better for you than spending too much to open a little sooner than you otherwise would.
Where to Find Savings
There are five common expense categories where most start-up cost savings are found. Some of these are quite easy to take advantage of while others require some extra work or expertise. The old adage that ‘time is money’ applies to virtually every category since you’re usually trading some of your time to get the financial savings. The key areas to focus on include:
1. Franchise Company Fees
Though most good franchise companies don’t negotiate their fees, occasionally you’ll find one that does. If this is the case, make sure you save as much in this area as possible. Contact existing franchisees to determine what kind of deal they received so you have a ballpark idea of what’s possible. If you’re not comfortable negotiating yourself, use an attorney or someone who can drive the best bargain.
2. Turnkey Packages
Many franchise companies offer a turnkey package where nearly all you need to start, is available in a package from the franchisor or a third party vendor. In either case, the package is often chosen because it’s so convenient. Keep in mind that convenience is what is being sold in these packages – not the best value or lowest price. It’s quite common to learn after the fact that the components of a turnkey package could have been acquired by the franchisee for a significantly lower overall cost. The tradeoff, of course, is that the franchisee has to invest the time and effort to source and purchase each component to get the savings.
3. Construction Costs
Most franchises have a physical location and that site needs to be prepared according to the specifications of the franchise. There are a few simple things that can produce significant savings in this area. First of all, get multiple bids for the work that needs to be done. You won’t believe the variances you’ll see in the bids from one contractor to another.
Second, give a little thought to what you might be willing to do yourself. As an example, if you’re renting a 1 200-square-foot bay in a strip centre and the construction bid says it’s going to cost you R10 000 to paint the walls a simple off white colour, you may want to consider painting it yourself.
4. Equipment, Signage and Fixtures
This is a substantial expense category for most franchises and there are two big secrets to saving money here. The first is, again, get multiple bids on everything. It takes a little more work but you’ll see price variances of as much as 100% on things as simple as a standard sign for your business. The same is true of the cabinets and other fixtures. In terms of your equipment, you may be able to realise big savings from buying used items. Some franchises don’t allow the choice but most will allow you to source and purchase used equipment as long as it meets guidelines.
If you’re opening a business with a commercial kitchen as an example, you can potentially save a ton of money. Used equipment is readily available for many businesses and your franchisor should know of good sources in this area.
5. Lease Terms
This can be a huge category in terms of potential savings and it’s an area where you want expert advice and assistance if you’re not experienced yourself. This expertise is found in a good commercial realtor but you’ll also want an experienced real estate attorney familiar with the local market. All leases are negotiable to some extent, but most leases don’t initially offer a number of concessions that may be obtained through negotiation.
Use both your realtor and your attorney to determine what’s standard in the current marketplace in terms of items like the square foot rental rate, the Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charges, free rent periods, construction allowances and other economic terms. Then you have a baseline to use in determining if you’re getting a really good deal instead of just an average one. A good negotiator can sometimes get a landlord to include tens of thousands of rands in build-out costs into the lease that can be direct savings to you.
Learn From Others
As a final thought on this topic, remember that it’s easy to determine which areas will produce the most savings for you in whichever franchise you select.
All you need to do is ask the existing franchisees. Again, this will take some of your time but it will be an investment that can pay you big dividends in savings on your start-up costs if you’re willing to learn from their experience.
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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