Rate our service
You find out how good your customer service is by asking your customers about it. It pays to conduct regular customer satisfaction surveys to check how you’re doing. These can be cards that you ask your customers to fill in while they’re in your store, or short online surveys that you email to your database.
These surveys should be short and succinct — no more than four or five questions — and easy to understand, fill in and submit. On the part of the respondent it should be incidental, but the info they provide is key.
Customers can be asked to rate their most recent visit, or the general quality of their various visits to your store. Once you tabulate the results, you’ll know exactly where you stand. Are you on the right track, or do you need to up your game? Either way, knowledge is power.
Play the role you’re paid to play
There is a limitless number of challenging situations that can arise in the course of a work day. But a lot of them can be foreseen and prepared for.
The best way to prepare your employees for some classic workplace situations is by roleplaying.
Here’s how to do that:
- You play the role of a customer in your store
- Your staffers play themselves
- You pose an unexpected problem
- They react spontaneously as they would in that situation.
This type of roleplaying simulation is as close as you can get to a real workplace problem. It’s way more realistic than you questioning your staff, saying, “So, what would you do if…?”
This way, you can simulate complaints about poor service, a customer losing their temper — all the way up to how you would handle a load-shedding power outage.
These re-enactments aren’t just you checking up on your staff, they’re also a form of training. Your staff get to experience what a situation is like before they encounter it for the first time ‘live’ in the store.
The comfy waiting room
Waiting rooms don’t have to feel like the kind of place your soul goes to to die. I don’t know why, but they’re usually just some chairs and a table of old Readers Digest magazines from 1997.
Why not have a computer, an iPad, and some charging stations so people can charge their phones? How about free WiFi? You should also instal a television with DStv showing sport, movies, reality TV or news, depending on your customers.
A free, sophisticated coffee machine would surely be much appreciated, or a vending machine with snacks and cool drinks. This will do so much for customer satisfaction, not to mention employee morale.
There are many retail stores where part of the experience entails a short wait. This is an opportunity to improve your customer’s experience at your store or office, instead of making it worse. Have waiting areas air-conditioned, avoid loud music, and keep the lighting bright and upbeat.
Businesses that could benefit from upgraded, contemporary waiting areas include:
- Doctors, dentists, etc.
- Cellphone stores.
- Car-repair garages
- Tyre dealerships
- Hair salons
- Any office lobby, entrance hall or reception area.
The fastest ‘Hello’ in the West
Why not introduce a rule in your outlet that every customer entering the premises has to be greeted within ten seconds of setting foot in the door?
That’s not even particularly fast, to be honest. You could probably make sure you greet every customer within five seconds. The point is, you and your team need to welcome every customer into your place of business as quickly as humanly possible. These people have come to support you – they must be warmly acknowledged like the precious blessings they are.
Imagine if you were hosting a braai at your house and one of your guests came in through the door. Would you let them loiter in your entrance hall for a while before you bothered to go over and say hi? Of course not! You’d go right over there, shake their hand, say howzit and invite them inside. “What can I get you to drink?” you’d ask them. “Come through to the braai area!”
Also, if you’re seated when a customer enters your shop, pay them the respect of getting to your feet while you serve them. Stand up.
I walked into a major bookstore the other day and the lady at the check-out point as well as her manager were eating lunch, sitting down and talking to me. It left a poor impression. They should remember to treat their customers with warmth and hospitality. Make them feel at home.
Show Your Gratitude
Just as offering a warm, sincere “Hello” is vital, it’s also important to conclude your business dealings, with a heartfelt “Thank you.”
If you’re lucky, you might complete dozens of transactions in the course of a day. Be careful not to develop a mantra that you repeat verbatim every time you hand someone their debit card back, or give them their change.
“Thanks for coming.” “Cheers, thanks a lot.” “Have a nice day.” “Shot, drive safely.”
These all might have begun life as meaningful sentences, but if you robotically repeat them a few hundred times, they become meaningless — and your customer senses it. Particularly if you’re already scanning for a new customer as you hand them their change.
Instead of having a routine statement that you repeat every time when you finish dealing with a customer, thank them properly. Tell them sincerely how grateful you are for their business.
They’ll appreciate it, and they’ll be back.
Meanwhile, here’s a treat
Sometimes you have no alternative but to make your customers wait. Perhaps their table isn’t ready, their car is still being vacuumed, or your previous appointment is running longer than expected.
Think of novel ways of making this waiting experience as painless as possible. Even better, make it interesting. I don’t mean a pile of five-year-old magazines on a table. Try to come up with a distinctive, value-added feature that will win your customers over — even before they get to the main event.
How about a bowl of apples? Or free WiFi? Or a free drink at the bar while they wait? Having a distinctive protocol to ease the wait will set you apart from your competitors. You might even be remembered for it.
In the motor industry, waiting areas are very important. I don’t think enough motor dealerships and tyre dealers realise the importance of waiting areas. One day a manufacturer is going to design a waiting area that will stun the industry, and whoever that may be will immediately gain a competitive advantage! This will be a real customer-service ‘wow’!
Whatever you invest in your waiting room scheme, you will earn it back a hundredfold in repeat business.
5 Tips For Franchise Agreements
Below are 5 tips to ensure that your franchise agreement complies with the CPA.
South Africa has some great homegrown franchises – Mugg and Bean, Steers, Debonairs and Nandos, to name a few. South Africa is also no stranger to international franchise groups, such as McDonalds, KFC, Wimpy and SPAR, although there has been an increase in the number of international franchises investing in South Africa in recent years.
The Consumer Protection Act, No 68 of 2008 (“CPA“) is the first piece of legislation in South Africa that specifically regulates franchise agreements. The CPA prescribes certain minimum requirements for franchise agreements, as well as certain information that must be disclosed prior to a franchise agreement being signed. It is important that all franchise agreements comply with the CPA as provisions in franchise agreements may be declared to be void for non-compliance.
Below are 5 tips to ensure that your franchise agreement complies with the CPA:
1. Make sure you meet the minimum requirements
The CPA prescribes “minimum requirements” for franchise agreements. These requirements, which are set out in the Regulations to the CPA, set out mandatory terms (i.e. terms which must be included) and prohibited terms (i.e. terms which must not be included). They also prescribe that franchise agreements must be drafted in simple and plain language so as to be easily understood. Legal jargon must be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
2. Include prescribed minimum information
The CPA prescribes minimum information that must be included in a franchise agreement. Most of this minimum prescribed information is fairly general in nature and would be contained in the franchise agreement in the ordinary course (for example, name and description of the types of goods or services that the franchise relates to, the obligations of the franchisor and franchisee, and any territorial rights).
There are, however, certain more unusual requirements in relation to prescribed information, which information would not necessarily be contained in a franchise agreement in the ordinary course (for example, the qualifications of the franchisor’s directors, and details of the members/shareholders of the franchisor). These more unusual requirements must be kept in mind when preparing a franchise agreement.
3. Prepare a disclosure document
The CPA requires the franchisor to provide certain minimum prescribed information to the franchisee in a disclosure document delivered to the franchisee prior to the signature of the franchise agreement (including a list of current franchisees, if any, and of outlets owned by the franchisor; the direct contact details of the existing franchisees; an organogram depicting the support system in place for franchisees; and an auditors certificate confirming that that the franchisor’s audited annual financial statements are in order).
This information is intended to provide the franchisee with enough information about the franchise, its financial viability and potential business success so as to enable the franchisee to make an informed decision as to whether or not he/she wishes to “acquire” the particular franchise.
4. Prepare a non-disclosure agreement
It is important to ensure the protection of confidential information which may be disclosed to the prospective franchisee during the preliminary stages of negotiating and concluding a franchise agreement.
This may include, for example, the growth of the franchisor’s turnover, and written projections in respect of levels of potential sales, income and profit. Although not a requirement under the CPA, it is advisable for a franchisor to ensure that a prospective franchisee executes an appropriate confidentiality agreement prior to being sent the disclosure document.
5. Beware the “cooling-off” period
It is important to bear in mind that a franchisee has an entitlement under the CPA to cancel a franchise agreement without cost or penalty within 10 business days after signing such agreement, by giving written notice to the franchisor.
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.
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