Nicolette Boucher’s franchising journey started with ACDC Express in 2014, while electrical veteran Etienne Kunz’s accidental run-in with the Sunburst Electric brand introduced him to a concept he just had to be a part of. Today Nicolette’s Boksburg outlet and Etienne’s franchise in Alberton are thriving.
“Franchising is the ideal way to start your journey with entrepreneurship. You are given the recipe for success and you need to follow the recipe to ensure you get the results you need and want,” says Nicolette, who was the Operations Manager for Sunburst Electric’s sister company ACDC Express before becoming a Sunburst Electric franchisee.
With over 30 years’ experience in the electrical, electronic, and communication industries, Etienne worked for different companies holding various positions before buying into this unique concept. “Up to present there is no franchisee concept in South Africa operating as an electrical company,” Etienne explains.
Partnering with the best and brightest
Sunburst Electric caught Etienne’s eye when he was looking to invest in an electrical company. “I saw the Sunburst Electric concept and the idea of purchasing a franchise electrical company started to grow on me.”
Nicolette’s passion for customer service was sparked when the opportunity to become a Sunburst Electric franchisee arose.
“Everything about Sunburst Electric is developed and built around delivering high customer satisfaction and this is right up my alley,” she says.
“In our industry, there is a preconceived idea of what to expect when allowing an electrician into your home and I am happy that I can be a part of changing this perception, and showing all our customers that you can have a neat, tidy and courteous electrician who is on time and is not going to disappear once the job is done or even before the job is done.”
Upping the ante in the electrical service market
Being a fairly new concept in South Africa, penetrating the market is an expected challenge for Sunburst Electric, but, as an affiliate of The Dwyer Group, Sunburst Electric provides its franchisees with a strong support system. This was a strong selling point for Nicolette when she invested. The affiliation with a global brand means you have joined a network that has been in the industry for over 30 years and can provide the support and guidance you require,” she says.
“A lot of time and effort has been put into the franchise. In a nutshell, starting a business is like planting a tree; you need to love and nurture it and be patient before it becomes a blossoming tree. Sunburst Electric has given me the tools and motivation to help me grow my ‘tree’.”
Etienne agrees with the power of backing from a larger company and the confidence it brings to him as a franchisee. “Investing in a brand linked to well-known mother company Infinity Brands means marketing, training and equipment and the right tools to succeed in your business are provided to you, instead of doing it yourself from scratch.”
Pressing on and moving up
Recruiting the best-fit service professionals for the job in electrical services was a challenge for Nicolette initially, before Sunburst Electric got on board with a straightforward and painless process for its franchisees. “It’s not always easy to find employees who have the same drive for customer satisfaction as you do,” she says.
“At the end of the day it comes down to having the right people to get you where you want your brand to be.”
For Etienne, launching the new branch of Sunburst Electric in Alberton and making people aware of this new concept that provides superior service to consumers was difficult. “Introducing a new name and getting people to trust a new electrical company that does things differently compared to ordinary electrical companies wasn’t easy,” he recalls. “But there is a lot of support from the franchisor, who guides and trains you and your electrician in the right direction by advising and leading you to ensure the business is operating profitably.”
Getting started and running successfully
Both Nicolette and Etienne agree that franchising requires a dedicated and passionate entrepreneur.
“Remember to be patient when starting the business and be proactive about it,” says Nicolette. “You’re not going to make a profit in month one but with hard work, commitment and passion you will get the results you want.”
Etienne’s advice: “If you have the commitment, passion, drive and energy to work long hours and know how to deal with stress — and sometimes with difficult customers — resolving challenges and believing in yourself to make a success of a business, I would say go for it.”
What’s Stopping Your Business From Growing?
Three masters of scale unpack the reasons why you might be failing at growth – or in danger of doing so.
So, what’s stopping you from scaling? If you ask Rich Mullholland, founder of Missing Link, the reality is that most entrepreneurs don’t need to understand what it takes to scale. “Scaling speaks to exponential growth,” he says, “which for the vast majority of business owners simply shouldn’t be a consideration. Growth by itself is okay, and even then, it should be growth as and when it’s required.”
Rich’s key point is that growth for the sake of growth should never be a business owner’s primary goal. Growth should be strategic, and good for the company. Growth without a solid foundation can actually harm – or even kill – your company.
If your goal is growth though, here are three key points to keep top of mind.
1. Too many business owners don’t understand what it takes to scale a business
“Entrepreneurs are so focused on getting through the month with their cash flow intact that they often fail to lift their heads and look to the horizon,” says Allon Riaz, CEO and founder of Raizcorp. “Scale requires strategic thinking, while most entrepreneurs are in operational thinking mode.”
Howard Mann, president at Brickyard Partners and a US-based business turnaround specialist, advises business owners to stop focusing on revenue growth alone. “Scaling a business is about balance and too many entrepreneurs just focus on the speed of revenue growth. When revenue grows without the infrastructure to support that growth, clients leave as quickly as they come in.
“Instead of focusing on top-line growth, focus on maximum profit margins. This will completely change where you focus your efforts. I would rather have a $10 million business with 50% margins over the false glamour of a $50 million revenue business with razor thin profits.”
2. Without the right systems, process and people, you’ll never be able to scale
Allon believes the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make are:
- Not arranging sufficient cash reserves for a growth period
- Believing that the people who brought you to point A are the same people who will take you to point B
- Having insufficient systems to scale the business
Rich agrees, adding that you need to focus on the business you want to be, and not the business you currently are. “Businesses often commit legacide,” he says. “They allow the legacy systems, put in place for a business of a smaller stature, to hold them back. Not to get too cheesy here, but to quote the Great One, NHL hockey legend Wayne Gretsky, you need to skate to where the puck is going. The systems you put in your business should be systems appropriate for the business you want, not the business you have. Sure, you’ll possibly be paying more in the short term, but it will be a fraction of what you lose trying to play catch-up later.”
Howard believes that losing track of managing the expenses required to manage growth is one of the biggest stumbling blocks entrepreneurs face. “To intentionally over simplify it, you want to figure out the most efficient and effective way to rapidly attract and close new clients while being able to serve and delight them at the lowest possible cost,” he says.
“Another mistake is taking on too much debt in the name of growth. We are all mesmerized by VC backed start-ups that put out press about their massive growth. You do not see how much cash they are burning through and that most of these companies have net losses that are growing as fast (or faster) than their revenue growth. Again, protect your profit margins. That is your growth fuel and protection against shocks in the economy.”
3. Growth for the sake of growth can actually kill your business
Before you embark on your growth journey, understand that growth, without sufficient structural foundations, can often lead to a business collapsing. “Some scale has the opposite of economies of scale, and actually becomes more expensive as the business becomes more complex,” says Allon. “It’s important to restructure the model as the business grows to ensure the highest possibility of economies of scale.”
Howard warns that a business structured to lose money as it grows is a poorly structured business. “Making the switch back to strong profitability after a growth phase is difficult to pull off,” he says. “Yes, we all know Amazon.com eventually did it. You are not Amazon.com. Growing with a net loss is a straight road to the business graveyard.”
Rich disagrees with the notion that growth in and of itself will lead to death. He believes that growth is, generally speaking, healthy. “I’ve seen businesses grow too quickly and not know how to deal with it, and I’ve seen businesses that out-grow the maturity of their management teams and get strangled by the firm hold the management team try to keep,” he says, but for Rich, this is the product of a business ill-prepared for growth, rather than a product of the growth itself.
“This is why slow is often better, as opposed to scale,” he says. “I remember when my son was young, and I was still his hero. I couldn’t imagine him shouting at me the way I did to my folks as a teenager – I’d be destroyed. So, I asked my dad about it, he smiled and said, don’t worry kiddo, they ease you into it, it all happens over time. By the time they start screaming, you’re ready. That’s true too for business growth. Most entrepreneurs are running their businesses as a real-time business school. You can’t always rush that education.”
Allon: One top tip for business owners on scale is to remain strategic by knowing what you want to create and by ensuring a healthy balance of capital resources, sufficient people skills and the appropriate support systems.
Howard: Famed business owner Ricardo Semler said “Only two things grow for the sake of growth: Businesses and tumors.” Get crystal clear on why you want to grow. Once you do, find your balance between accelerating new business and the cost to manage that business.Scaling, like a scale, needs balance
Rich: Stop thinking about scale, and start thinking about solving an important problem that world has, even (especially) if they don’t know it yet. It the problem is real, and big enough, you will have a scale-able business.
See Allon Raiz, Rich Mulholland and Howard Mann live at the first Secrets of Scale event, which will be taking place at the MESH Club in Rosebank on Thursday, 24 May. Buy your tickets online here: www.qkt.io/secretsofscale
Why Customers Don’t Respond To Disruption
You’ve got chatbots running your customer service, interactive screens across your stores and you’ve just appointed a chief digital officer. Why aren’t you seeing sales going through the roof?
PwC partner Quinton Pienaar says there could be many reasons for this. But the short answer is probably that in your understandable rush to stay relevant and keep up with the latest technology trends and developments, you lost sight of your number one priority. You’re just not that into your customers – and they know it.
It’s fairly easy to get dazzled by the array of technologies out there. But the trap that you’ve got to guard against is that you start seeing the world through a technology lens, rather than a customer one. Remember, technology is a tool, not an outcome. It’s the means to the end, not the end itself.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be transforming your business digitally. You absolutely should. But there’s a big difference between investing in technology to keep up with the Joneses, and investing in technology that’s going to drive specific business outcomes and improve the customer experience.
Related: Reimagine The Use Of Technology
In fact, it would be downright dangerous to ignore the game-changing benefits that the current wave of emerging technologies brings to the table. To understand what they can do for your business, you have to know what they are. We at PwC talk about the ‘essential eight’:
- The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the building blocks for the next generation of digital work.
- Robotics, drones, and 3-D printing are all about machines that extend the reach of computing power into the material world.
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) merge the physical and digital realms, and offer incredible advances in customer experience.
- Blockchain rethinks our approach to commercial transactions by allowing participants to exchange value, and verify ownership of something, without a third party.
Some of these technologies are verging on science fiction. So how do we use them in a way that supports customer obsession? The starting point of any successful customer transformation is a customer-focused design that brings together three essential elements – business strategy, customer experience and technology – into a coherent, fully-fledged digital strategy.
In other words, today’s most successful companies have a strategy that is focused around a simple and regularly-updated list of priorities. They incorporate the new generation of technologies like IoT, blockchain and AI. But they keep their people, and their customers at the core of their business by designing strategies that directly address customers’ underlying needs and desired outcomes.
This sounds dead obvious. But what we find is that many companies we talk to are focused on growing their revenues, or making improvements to their products and services, rather than creating better customer experiences. Or they have the strategy, but are battling to execute it effectively.
Of course, to underpin this customer transformation journey, you’re going to need some data and the foundational technologies on which today’s innovations depend – data mining and analytics, mobile, and cloud. You may also need to rethink your processes to manage, enrich and maintain data, and operationalise it throughout your business.
So you have all of that in place? Good. Now stop. Breathe. Ask yourself whether your technology and data are truly supporting an unwavering focus on the customer. Because if you take one message from this article, let it be this: in today’s marketplace, putting your customer at the centre of your business is imperative to driving growth and profitability, winning market share and unlocking the value of your technology investments.
Start This Business With Zero Advertising Budget And No Need For Premises
What do we need to do to make our chances of entrepreneurial success as high as possible? Is it possible to build and position a business that has the highest statistical chances of survival? How would we even go about building such a business? Financial Freedom Project seems to have the answer.
What are the causes of most business failures?
When it comes to business failure in South Africa, the numbers aren’t optimistic. Some of the more common reasons for business failure include:
- Start-up funding
- Ongoing support
- Lack of new business to sustain growth
- Admin time / costs associated with running a business
- High cost of equipment / premises
- Advertising budget
- Cost of personnel labor
- Legalities of employment contracts
- Costs of credit
- Market experience
- Competition within the industry
- Current market conditions.
With the odds stacked against you, what type of business could you start that offers you:
1. Minimal start-up funding
Consider minimal start-up funding requirements to mitigate as much risk as possible and make start-up as easy and quick as possible.
We need to go as low as less than one month of one month’s average salary as so to be able to start this business on the spot. Let’s make our criteria less than R10 000.
2. Mentor/ Trainer support
For support and experience we need to have easily accessible communication methods with a mentor / trainer i.e. WhatsApp and skype.
3. Access to a market full of customers with unlimited spending ability
Want a colossal market, how about an estimated 5.3 Trillion Dollars a day?
4. No need for an advertising budget
Maybe a business where customers come to you without advertising because they want what you have. Let’s be ridiculous and put a zero advertising budget.
5. Minimum paper work / admin requirements before and after sales
Let’s aim for no admin and have everything processed and stored online for absolute minimal ongoing costs.
6. No premises required
You can work from anywhere at minimal cost and only need one computer.
7. No employees required
This business must be able to run as a “one man show” as to exclude all labor costs and employment legalities. As in previous point, let’s aim for one person to run this business and internet to stay connected to the world.
8. Little competition
This industry offers the least possible competition between participants.
9. A industry with no “seasonal times” so you can make money all the time
To get a never ending supply of opportunity we absolutely have to be a part of the global supply and demand system.
10. A proven concept
This will be outlined below.
What’s the business?
Financial Freedom Project provides you with a long-term financial freedom by utilising financial markets. The Financial Freedom Project is a results-based wealth creation training and mentorship programme that has start-up capital requirements of only R4 000 to begin accessing markets. The course requires only 3 days of your time and offers unlimited course re-sits.
For more information about how you can work with Financial Freedom Project visit financialfreedomproject.net or call them on 010 020 5699 for further info.
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