The best way to run a successful franchise is to lead by example. Don’t sit in the back office, hoping staff will remember their training and see to the customers.
Get out there onto the floor and manage staff, help customers, oversee some deliveries. Or just have a regular wander around the office having a friendly check of what your team is up to. And then make sure your managers approach their leadership roles in the same way.
Keep this in mind when you manage your managers. When we first get into a management position we often suffer from what psychologists call the ‘imposter syndrome’.
We feel like we don’t deserve to be there. Remind your managers that they’re in that position for a reason. You have chosen them from a dozen or so possible candidates to lead your team.
Maybe you’re suffering from imposter syndrome. Then you need to remind yourself that you’ve raised funds to finance your own business, mapped out a vision and taken the plunge in launching it into the market. Of course you deserve to be there! So don’t be embarrassed about it. Lead the team. Live the values of your business.
At the Brazen Head, we always said we can either be spectators or players.
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Spectators sit in the stands and watch the game. Players are down on the field, taking the knocks and making it happen. The team captain should still play the game.
Empower Your Team
In the current South African business environment, there’s a lot of talk about empowerment. The type of empowerment I’m talking about here has nothing do with multi-million rand BEE deals, but rather is about giving staff the confidence, and the authority to serve customers.
This means giving them some real power, beyond asking, “How can I help you?” and processing transactions.
If you’re the owner or manager of a Harvey World Travel franchise and you’ve got some leave owing over the Easter break, you should actually take your leave. Place your assistant manager in charge of the store for a week. Go to Southbroom.
Sure, it’ll be a little nerve-wracking for you and for her. And rest assured, she will make a few small mistakes. But the boost in confidence that she will gain by being empowered will be invaluable. The confidence you have shown in her will grow her own self-confidence. And next time, you’ll know you can trust her to manage your business.
Spread the Love
Management can be a lonely experience if you end up chained to your desk, locked in your corner office, occasionally asking your PA to “Bring me the figures from last year.” It’s easy for this to happen, because you’re under a lot of stress and you have to deliver results.
But the best way to deliver results is through the people in your organisation. Try not to get trapped in your office. Get out into your business. Interact with your colleagues. I’ve heard this called MBWA — Managing By Walking Around!
Related: What the Franchisor Can Do
Many of the people working for you are specialists, highly skilled in their fields. So don’t think you need to go around telling them how to do their job. Rather, ask them for advice on how things could be better.
Ask your team questions like the following:
- Can you explain to me what you’re doing here?
- Have you ever thought there’s a better way for us to do it?
- Do the customers like our methods?
- How could we make things more customer friendly?
- What is our customers’ main complaint?
- What do our customers love?
- How do you think we could do more business?
- How do you think you could be more productive?
‘We Don’t Need An Office’
A former colleague and business partner of mine is Sean O’Connor. With him on my team we built much of O’Hagan’s and the Brazen Head pub and restaurant chain.
He has always been a massive believer in managers not being cloistered in the office. Whenever we were building a new store, he would be adamant that we didn’t need an office.
“The manager should be out on the floor until the customers leave,” was his philosophy. I would eventually convince him that we did need some kind of office. But even today, if you visit a Brazen Head or an O’Hagan’s you’ll see that the offices of our store managers are tiny!
Positive Roles For Your Colleagues
We speak elsewhere about positive names for your customers. But it’s equally important to have positive, motivational terms for the people you work with.
I remember once working with a keen, ambitious and highly talented young woman. She was new in the industry and thus a little inexperienced, but management chose to saddle her with a job title that was something like ‘Junior Sales Executive’.
After a few months of good service, she begged us, “Please can you just change my job title? Being called junior is undermining clients’ confidence in me.” We dropped the junior and her performance went from good to exceptional.
It made me realise the importance of names, and language in general. Why give someone a job title that undermines their own confidence and that of their clients. Likewise, I don’t see any need for hierarchy thinking in management. Don’t refer to the store manager as ‘my manager’. He’s the store manager. And the company staff are your colleagues, team members. No need to call them your subordinates, especially to their faces. This isn’t the French army and we’re not in a court martial.
A famous story from the Rolling Stones rock ‘n’ roll band concerns the time singer Mick Jagger phoned up to drummer Charlie Watts’s hotel room and asked, “Where’s my drummer?”
Charlie promptly walked down to the lobby and punched Mick in the mouth. “I’m not your anything,” was the implication. “I’m the drummer for the Rolling Stones.”
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.
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.”
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