Diversifying the Businesses You Own

Many feel that if managed properly, owning a diverse set of businesses can help insulate against business peaks and troughs in the market. Many wealth planners will generally present diversification models to allow the purchase of multiple asset classes such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Diversification in the franchise industry is different. Franchisees can diversify within a particular industry by acquiring different brands.  Diversifying within the same industry, such as the buying several different restaurant brands, still allows the franchisee to apply the same basic infrastructure to their business.

This strategy of franchising helps spread the risk from a franchisee’s perspective. If the demography of existing brands and new brands are vastly different, there becomes an opportunity to cross-market both products and knowledge. Aziz Hashim, the president and CEO of NRD Holdings, LLC, highlights a smart way to diversify in his recent piece in Franchising World about this topic, stating that “The most effective way to execute a diversification strategy is to identify opportunities in new sectors where the operational complexity is generally lower than the existing operations so as to not dilute the franchisee’s time and focus, where at least some existing infrastructure can be leveraged and ideally where there are natural synergies through complementary service offerings and similar demographic.” Complementary service offerings can play a key role in expanding your opportunities and create growth.

Do you own a diverse set of businesses? We would love to hear feedback from you!

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Marketing to the “20-Somethings” of the World

I have been reading recently about a hot topic in marketing and advertising – targeting the Millennial generation. Who is the Millennial generation, you may ask? While there has been some debate over when the generation starts and stops, generally, it is considered those born between 1977 and 1995. Larger than the baby boomers’ 76 million, there are an estimated 80 million Millennials in this group of 18 to 34 year olds.

So from a marketing perspective, how do we target this generation of people ranging from college students to young parents? First off, we must recognize that most Millennials are technology dependent. There are several tips that Susan Glosby from FIT4MOM offered in this past month’s issue of Franchising World magazine offers some advice.

1. Offer ease of access to your information

Most Millennials use their smartphones and other similar electronic devices to access webpages. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and is easy to read for those accessing info via a smartphone. Additionally, make sure you have all the information people are seeking on your site – contact information, sales information, costs of goods – if they can’t find it quickly, they may take their business elsewhere.

2. A sense of involvement and purpose

Millennials are said to care about the purpose and identity of the brands they support more than generations of the past. What does your brand do to make the world a better place? This generation wants to know. Do you promote local volunteering with your franchisees and employees? Do you help educate your community? Do you donate to certain causes as a company? They want to know those things, and are more likely to be a repeat customer if your ideals are in line with their own.

3. Peer value

Use social media to provide peer endorsements! Millennials have the sense that when using technology, they are never truly alone – their peers are always with them. Having Instagram tags, a Facebook page, a twitter account, allows this generation to easily do some of the advertising for you among their friends.

 

What other ways can we appeal to our 20-somethings? Leave your marketing tips in the comments below!

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Franchise Profile: Baskin Robbins

Are you looking for a cool franchising opportunity?

Named “#1 Ice Cream & Frozen Treat Franchise” by Entrepreneur Magazine, Baskin-Robbins is the world’s largest chain of ice cream shops. Baskin Robbins has developed over the years to  offer ice cream and frozen desserts with creative cones, unique cakes, specialty desserts, frozen beverages and take-home treats. They also offer BRight Choices®, a line of better-for-you options including fat-free, dairy-free, no sugar added and light ice creams.

Reasons to Invest

  • Simplistic operations with convenient operating hours
  • Multiple revenue streams – in-store, take home, cakes and beverages
  • 95% brand awareness with a multi-million dollar national advertising program
  • Flexible real estate options
  • First-rate product innovation and new product pipeline
  • World-class training and support

Baskin Robbins can be opened in a traditional storefront with a floor plan usually between 800-1,500 square feet, or in non-traditional venues such as gas and convenient stores, universities, airports, mall food courts, and stadiums. To learn more about Baskin Robbins and available franchising opportunities, check out Baskin Robbins over on Franchise Clique.

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CarePatrol Franchising System Grows

CarePatrol, the pioneer of the senior living placement industry, recently bought their competitor, Assisted Transition. CarePatrol, founded in 1995 by a social worker after observing the personal trauma experienced by a family whose loved one had been placed in the wrong type of assisted living facility, today helps families make safe choices for their loved ones across the United States.

The recent deal will give CarePatrol approximately 150 franchises by the end of the year, after converting about 60 into the CarePatrol system. CEO Chuck Bongiovanni is excited for this purchase and transition for the company. With his social worker background, he prides himself in using the social work model to clients at CarePatrol. Client phone calls are answered by Master’s level social workers, rather than “the typical call center employees.”

Franchisees must receive their national certification as a certified senior advisor to maintain their franchise license. The purchase makes CarePatrol 10 times larger than their nearest competitor in the assisted living placement industry.

Want to learn more about CarePatrol? Learn more over on our site!

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Traditional Media and Content Marketing

It probably comes as no surprise that the printed newspaper and magazine industries are shrinking. Less and less people are reading printed articles, and more and more are turning to online media for their news. It is interesting to learn in recent studies that the trust of your targeted audience may be diminishing as well. Recently in a Gawker.com article, an executive from Chipotle said that Millennials “are skeptical of brands that perpetuate themselves.”

There is a decreasing number of future customers who have no desire to see commercials or ads that they don’t believe are true. Traditional marketing strategies as a whole just don’t seem to be getting the job done anymore when it comes to younger generations. With social media, we are bombarded daily with a surplus of news, opinions, and advertisements. The key to successful public relations strategies now is understanding what to share and how to share it.

Which leads to content marketing.  Content marketing is created when a company develops its own content in the form of articles, blogs, or videos featuring the business. The content must be professional, honest, and not self-serving. Bloggers, specifically, are becoming increasingly credible and popular influencers and can help drive products while not appearing as self-promoting as other forms of advertising.

What is your business doing to reach you target audience? Leave comments below!

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Community Outreach in Franchising

Recent studies are showing that volunteer rates in America are on the rise. A 2012 study by the U.S. Corporation for National and Community Service found that two-out-of-three citizens serve their communities today and those numbers are increasing each year. Sociologists believe we are seeing a shift in many parts of the country where people are returning to focusing on their smaller communities, through supporting local goods and services, as well their local nonprofits.

Why is this important to national franchises? Any smart business should follow sociological trends. Therefore, national franchise systems are challenged to create a local presence in their community. People want their neighbor Doug running the shop down the road, contributing to the local economy, and therefore national franchises should encourage their independent locations to run as such. The way to do this is through community outreach.

Community outreach shows the public that you ARE a part of the community. While you may be part of a large national company, you are living, working, and investing in the individual communities you serve. By franchise systems partnering with local charities, they show the community that they care about the individual communities they operate within.

“Building a Company Culture for Community Outreach” a recent article in Franchising World, by Robert A. Funk, gives guidelines for how to go about making community relations an important part of your business’s culture. Here are a few I especially liked:

1)      Communicate Core Values

First and foremost, you have to set direction, with both a mission and a vision. Market yourself as a philanthropic company, and use social media to show what you’re doing for your local charities.

 

2)      Financial Contributions

At the corporate level, franchises can supply grants to community projects, as well as local initiatives and programs that support their charitable mission.

 

3)      Engage Your Customers

People want to purchase from a business that is sincere and authentic about giving. Franchises can ask customers to directly donate to the cause, making them feel just as much a part of the giving as the franchise itself.

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How Creative Initiatives Can Fuel Growth

Through challenging economic times, franchisors have developed new ways to fuel growth and development in their business. When it comes to finding qualified, well-funded prospects for franchising, usually portals, franchise consultants, and advertising & networking all are strong factors in growing a franchise. Lead-generation sites, like Franchise Clique, play a huge role in connecting qualified clients to franchisors and consultants. Beyond these necessary tactics, franchisors are branching out further, and bringing creative ideas to development.

From the patterns I’ve observed, this is happening in several ways. Parent companies of franchising brands are now taking new approaches to their stores – in locations that offer opportunities for food-court style eating, such as hospitals, malls, and airports where normally one brand would be placed in a store, developers are bringing three or four of their brands to the same location. Both dual-brand storefronts and co-branded store partnerships are certainly on the rise in the franchising market. Providing two goods or services in one location offers customers more of a variety, and targets a wider range of customers altogether.

In addition to multi-brand locations, I continue to see a growth in social enterprise within the franchise industry. Non-profit organizations such as Affordable Homes of South Texas, Inc., Dale Rogers Training Center, and the National Christian Foundation are all teaming up with major franchises like Great Clips, Papa Murphy’s, and Blimpie, bringing franchisee profits straight to these organizations.

These partnerships are doing well because they solve fundamental issues that both franchisors and non-profits face. On one hand, franchisors benefit because they are launching a new location, which is owned and managed by a non-profit group that possesses strong and favorable community reputation, while on the other,  the non-profit benefits because it is buying into proven concepts and corporate office teams who are invested in their success. It truly is a win-win.

What are other ways you have seen franchisors creatively fuel growth? Leave your comments below!

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Three Tips for Growth in a Sluggish Economy

  1. LEADERSHIP IS PRICELESS.
    Any growing business needs a strong leader. This holds true especially when a business is struggling. Senior management should play on the strengths of other team members to reinvent old ways and pull from outside sources to evaluate what is and what is not working. As a leader, it’s important to be transparent and honest about the financial stability of the system, yet remain optimistic that positive changes can be made to face economic conditions head on.

2. ACT LOCALLY
National and global goals are certainly something to aspire to; however, market share is won at the local level. A successful and motivated franchisor helps franchisees get active with local businesses, schools, and charitable       organizations. Having a strong brand in a local market can build reputation and lead to potential growth opportunities.

3. LOYALTY IS EVERYTHING
Customer loyalty is crucial during tough financial times. Along with a high-quality product, it is just as necessary to give your customers an awesome experience, consistently. To provide loyalty incentives to your customers is a win, win. For example, this year, the Marco’s Pizza franchise received more than 27 percent of new restaurant applications from Marco’s Pizza customers. Additionally, 30 percent of applications came from referrals of existing owners who sought to share franchise opportunities with ambitious entrepreneurs.

Thanks to Franchising World Magazine‘s January issue for some of this week’s content! Check out more here!

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Handling Change In Your Business

Whether you are a current franchisee, a future franchisee, or even just a fan of our blog, chances are that you have experienced major changes in your workplace. Changes can cause great anxiety, especially if you are forced to adjust the way you have always approached a situation. Changes in process are often the best way to enhance productivity in business, yet the transition can prove to be troublesome.

I wanted to take this week’s post to discuss dealing with change and the growth contained in the process of change. Most of us operate under the illusion that life remains constant, but in reality, it is always changing. Your business, if it’s growing, is always changing, too.

Based on a study by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), the number one issue facing senior leadership today is “dealing with complex challenges.” Furthermore, studies say that the number one most important competency in shortest supply today is dealing with change. The CCL defines challenges as problems that:

  1. Lack a clearly defined solution
  2. Remain beyond an individual’s or single group’s ability to overcome
  3. Have significant strategic, cultural, environmental, and marketplace impact
  4. Create a paradox of reflection and action
  5. Render traditional solutions ineffective
  6. Demand flexibility and agility as challenges shift seemingly overnight

Being open to change and the lessons within change is no small task. Positive change requires letting go of old patterns and taking a fresh approach. In business, and in life, we must go beyond our preconceived ideas. We have to embrace, rather than resist, the change.

Change in an organization calls for a great deal of communication, specifically from the leaders in the group. What are some important lessons that you have learned about change from your business? Leave comments below!

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Nonprofits in the Franchise Industry

It may surprise you to learn that Nonprofit groups around the country own franchises, like Blimpie Subs and Papa Murphy’s Pizza. Nonprofit groups, in a more recent trend, are purchasing franchises, and using that revenue from the outlets to support their social missions.

For example, Affordable Homes of South Texas, a nonprofit that constructs houses for low-income families, opened a Blimpie sub shop in downtown Weslaco, Texas. Affordable Homes of South Texas turned to exploring new options for funding when there was a drop in federal housing grants earlier last year.

Other charitable organizations view it as an opportunity to train and employ people in their community. The Dale Rogers Training Center, an organization dedicated to providing jobs to over 1,100 people with disabilities annually, recently opened a Papa Murphy’s pizza franchise near the charity’s base in Oklahoma City.

Customarily, national franchise brands have been contracted solely with individuals, but that is certainly changing. According to the recent NY Times article, more than a dozen national chains since last May have sent representatives “to explore franchising opportunities with nonprofit groups in SourceAmerica, a network of 1,300 organizations serving the disabled, at its annual meeting in San Antonio.”

Do nonprofits own a franchise in your area? We would love to hear your comments on this franchise trend!

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Guest Blog: Top 3 Franchises of 2014

Upside Group Consulting is this week’s featured blog post! Upside Group provides step-by-step coaching and consulting to franchisors seeking to increase franchise units sold by developing a solid branding platform. This week, as our guest bloggers, they talk about their top 3 franchise picks for 2014.

The Top 3 Franchises of 2014

From fitness to frozen yogurt, the franchise industry has always reflected the ever-popular trends that permeate the business world. And while some concepts seem to last longer than others, it should come as no surprise that it can be hard for many business owners to decipher which trend is lasting versus which is simply fleeting.

While unfortunately, there’s no foolproof plan, there is a way to test the franchise waters: by looking to this year’s most successful franchises businesses. Selected from the Entrepreneur 2014 Franchise 500, here is a list of three of the year’s top franchises – and just what exactly you can learn from them:

1. Anytime Fitness: Anytime Fitness combines access with affordability to appeal to both customers and employees alike. From New Year’s resolutions to a multitude of 24-hour locations, gyms like Anytime Fitness successfully capitalize on the growing trends of health and convenience.

2. Hampton Hotels: Coming in at number two, Hampton Hotels places an impressive emphasis on fostering a franchisee support system. With ongoing support offered through use of newsletters, meetings, and security procedures, in addition to a multitude of marketing support, Hampton Hotels works hard in every aspect of its business plan to promote franchisee success.

3. Subway: Since 1965, the successful sandwich shop has transformed itself into a powerhouse thanks to an emphasis on solid marketing. By taking advantage of a wide variety of different tactics – from spokespeople to healthy living initiatives – Subway combines the ease and convenience of a fast food establishment with the attractiveness of an on-the-go lifestyle.

Whether your franchise has been growing steadily for years or you’re just beginning to consider the idea of expanding, by looking to this year’s top franchise businesses, you can take away a series of important lessons that can help you find success – from management to marketing.

Learn more from 2014’s top three franchises by contacting an experienced franchise consultant at Upside Group today.

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Setting New Year Resolutions For Your Business

I read a great article last week on Forbes, here. It got me thinking… we often set personal goals for the new year (which is great – January is a good time to reflect on the year’s past and prepare and set goals for the year to come,) but not so often, perhaps, do we set goals for our businesses.

The author in the Forbes article, Drew, mentions great overarching goals like following a content marketing plan, utilizing apps that can make life easier, and showing customer appreciation. The ways you go about fulfilling your goals is obviously entirely up to you. I have found in my personal experience with New Year’s resolutions that it is easier to break goals down into more detailed “mini-goals”, so to speak.

For example, if your business goal is “to have a greater social media presence in 2014”, it may be easier to make your resolution something a bit more tangible – “We will post 200 Facebook statuses this year” or tweets, or Instagram pictures, or blog posts or… you get the point. Having a more specific goal, in this case a specific number you will reach, will probably help you better keep track of that progress and feel success at the end of this year when you reach your goal.

What are your business goals in 2014? Share them in the comments below!

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