Wow. We’ve just had 3 1/2 days in the office with all of our Field Reps, strategising and discussing ideas and setting goals for the next 12-15 months. There were so many great ideas, and a renewed focus of what we need to do to be successful as a franchise company.
Yet for all of the many great ideas and new directions that we will be proposing for the near future, there was one overriding theme. How do we help our franchisees ‘find the money?’
We will have a renewed and strengthened focus, as a Franchise Support team, on ensuring that all of our franchisees know what they must do in order to get to their own desired profitability.
We want you - our franchisees - to understand what your targets need to be in order to realise your financial and lifestyle goals.
We want to know what those goals are so that we can actively and constructively help you achieve it.
We want you to be able to analyse your business and identify your performance gap, but more importantly, work out how to close it. And execute those plans.
We want you to be able to identify the areas of your business that you can change, and to do something about it.
We want you to be able to assess where your business is coming from and why. We want you to challenge your existing lead generation activities so that you can get more of it.
We want you to be able to benchmark yourself against other stores by collecting data in the same way.
In short, we want you to KNOW YOUR BUSINESS.
I have to thank a small group of SIGNARAMA franchisees in Sydney, led by Tony Murray from our Artarmon store, in helping to put together a model and program that will allow us to do this. The model is almost complete, and our Field Reps will be showing it to you all over the coming months.
Be prepared to get down and dirty with numbers.
We want you to make lots of money. We’re in this thing together, it’s the franchise partnership. I believe our most profitable days are ahead of us. Let me know how I can help.
OK so this one is a bit of a light-hearted diversion from my usual ramblings. But in the last few weeks I have found myself spending more time than is normal for a 35 year old man watching Dora the Explorer. Usually (but not exclusively) with my eldest daughter next to me.
It got me wondering: are Dora the Explorer’s parents actually a highly organised and extremely well financed Mexican drug cartel? Was I actually watching Underbelly 4 right before my eyes (only with much less - thank goodness - T&A).
Think about it. Dora’s parents never seem to work, yet they’re always giving her presents. I can think of a puppy, a slide and a present for her puppy in just the 10 or so episodes that I watch. Who’s doing all the shopping?
Also, consider this. Whenever you want to get to Dora’s house, you have to go:
The joint is secluded and tough for even an intrepid 7 year old explorer to find without help.
And since you mentioned the help, Sir, Dora’s “friends” (or shall we call them her parents “associates”) seem to be very well equipped to get her out of trouble. Whenever she needs to get across aforementioned river, Tico the Squirrel is always on hand to ferry her from danger in his speedboat. And Isa the Iguana has all manner of transportation available, and is always on call whenever Dora needs a ride. Who’s funding the purchase of all of these toys? You can be sure they weren’t just beneficiaries of KRudd’s stimulus spending.
But what about the Police? If Dora’s parents and friends are all involved in illegal narcotic trafficking, then why don’t we see more of the efforts of the Policia Mexicana? Well we do, but they just call him Swiper the Fox. See - it’s all making more sense now isn’t it?
Poor Swiper - demonised by the cartel when all he is trying to do is to curtail the activities of el Familia de los exploradores. Sometimes he wins, but even when he has a victory, someone else always pops up in their place. Swiper no swiping indeed.
I’ll go back to fight the good fight, and in the meantime, I hope I’ve forever changed the way you look at your kids’ favourite cartoon. I know it’s made the sub-dialogue in my head a hell of a lot more interesting.
Promise I’ll be normal again next post.
Let me preface what I’m about to say next by saying this first: I am not a political commentator and I’m not going to infuse my political views into this post, subliminally or otherwise. But we can’t escape the political landscape as it unfolds in front of us during this election campaign.
Much has been written (by people much smarter than me) about the lack of conviction being shown by the 2 major political parties. Flip-flopping, mind-changing, ‘real’ and ‘not real PM’s.’
It got me thinking back to a quote that a old boss of me used to say: “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
What exactly is it that YOU stand for? What are the things that people know about you to be completely irrefutable? Is it that Saturday mornings are family time, no matter what? You don’t drop your prices just because you’re asked to? Or you’ll support your footy club regardless of where they sit on the ladder?
Whatever it is for you, any time that you change your mind, flip-flop or get talked into something else, you damage your personal brand. People (aka clients and prospects) feel reassured by knowing what someone stands for. It’s how Apple is able to charge what it does for it’s products - because people know that they are buying creativity, innovation and top-quality products. You don’t need to succeed in a race to the bottom to stand for something.
Or else you’ll be falling for anything.
Almost all sales people have heard the expression that “we have two ears and one mouth - and we should use them in that proportion.”
Yet recently I have been finding myself stuck in endless meetings, or on endless phone calls, with someone new trying to sell me something different (and often after I have initiated the contact), who doesn’t bother to stop and ask me questions about what I’m looking for.
Promotional products expert David Blaise talks about “avoiding the data dump.” You know, not talking incessantly about everything that you do to the point where the customer is bored and not paying attention anymore.
Instead, ask the best questions. Be interested in how you can help the customer, not on what you can sell them. Find out what their pressure points are, not tell them what your pressure points are.
It’s a simple thing to do, but so many people that I see get it so wrong.
Try this - work on a ‘bank’ of 10-12 questions that you can use in any sales call to help establish rapport, show genuine interest and help determine the need of the potential customer in front of you.
After all, that’s how you differentiate yourself from the guy working out of his garage.
I was doing some analysis with one of my stores recently and showed him a chart of how his store’s sales have progressed over the almost 5 years that he has been in business. He looked at the chart and was amazed that his sales had been charted in such a way for all that time.
It got me thinking: how many franchisees would be able to provide something similar if I walked into their store today? If I rattled off questions about specific KPI data, would you be able to tell me within +/- 10%?
They always say that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” but an old boss of mine used to put it in another, more succinct way: KNOW-YOUR-BUSINESS.
So what sort of KPI’s should you know if I came in and asked you today. These are SOME of them:
What system do you have in place to measure any or all of these? How often are you looking at these reports? Do you even know WHERE to find these reports?
Finding this stuff out should take you 2 minutes every morning and should become habit-forming.
Our Field Reps (myself included) are going to start asking these questions on every visit we do and if you don’t know the answers, then we’re going to go find out.
I look forward to getting started soon.
I said I wouldn’t do it again this year, but once again, I’m hooked. Somehow The Biggest Loser timeslot fits right into that in-between moment when we’re getting our daughter ready for bed, and TBL is on in the background.
Channel 10 have taken last year’s concept of ‘The Alliance’ and really run with it in 2010, making it a cornerstone of the program. It got me to thinking - in business, who is in YOUR ‘Alliance?’
The olf franchise saying goes ‘you’re in business for yourself, but not BY yourself.’ And that’s true, but when all of us have our heads in our little holes getting our work done, we often don’t lean on one another like we should.
I had a great example just the other day of what can happen when the Alliance is built and then cultivated. On the same day, I had 2 of my stores call me and say that production was getting behind because the volume of work that they had on was getting too much for their staff.
We got in touch with another one of our most successful stores who - presto! - happened to have some spare capacity and lent some production staff to both stores to get them out of a tight spot. Simple alliances, built up with trust over time for everyone to benefit.
Within United Franchise Group we have an even bigger opportunity to build alliances - with our branding and event management expertise, we can become a business’ marketing and branding partner. For years we’ve called this ‘Starpoint Services’ but we’ve never driven it hard enough.
Next month on March 10th we are holding our first ever UFG Brand Alliance meeting in WA. Franchisees from ALL brands will be attending - SIGN*A*RAMA, EmbroidMe and Plan Ahead Events.
They’ll be challenged and asked to bring their questions with them - but leave their pride and egos at the door.
We’re intent on making WA the strongest Region for UFG around the world - because of our Alliances. Start working on yours today.
I was reminded recently that, as far as sales goes, new technologies (gadgets) don’t necessarily always mean that sales will get better. It just means they make your life easier.
Ray Titus reminded me that while we now have email, Facebook, forums, videos, wesbites and the like, some irrefutable things about sales never change.
People buy from other people that they know and like. And while social networking sites make it a little easier for people to get to know your like and dislikes, what you do with your weekends and where you stand on Brangelina splitting up (for example), they don’t get to know the real you.
I read recently that 93% of all communication is non-verbal. Body language, facial expressions, pauses in speech. How do you communicate all of these things via email? Or how can you read your customer’s non-verbal communication via the same mediums?
It is as important now as it ever was to get face-to-face with people. Networking events, delivering estimates, direct marketing, will all assist in building relationships and getting prospects to know and like you.
We’ve got plenty of examples from within our franchise of people who do exactly that. Speak with Elizabeth or Graeme at EmbroidMe Claremont to find out how they create their brand advocates, or ask Rhod Webb at SIGNARAMA City North how he stays in touch with his valued customers on a regular basis.
The Corporate office is as guilty as anyone of this. We’ve relied too heavily on email communication and podcasts to get our message across. Expect that to change, as we get back to our grassroots and connect with you in your store and at our Owners Meetings around the country.
Getting back to face-to-face is not easier, but it will get you better results.
So UFG-ers, Australasian EXPO 2010 is less than 4 weeks away. While the Corporate guys are resembling ducks on a pond (calm on top, scrambling furiously below), have you started to put any plans together for this year’s event?
Or, to be more succinct:
Remember that any of our UFG Corporate staff can help put you in front of the people you need to speak to. Having trouble project managing across the country? Here’s Rhod Webb. Not winning many larger garment orders? Let me introduce you to Russell Hearnden. Looking at selling your business in 2-3 years and what are the steps to maximise your return? Let’s go find Murray Anderson.
You’ll only get out of EXPO what you are prepared to put in. Make a plan now, so that you come back from the Gold Coast in mid-February with plenty of unreal, actionable items that you can start on as soon as you get back to your desk.
I was just reminded recently of the quote by Henry Ford, who said (and I’m paraphrasing): “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
There was a time in marketing when manufacturers would make something, then work out how to sell it to the market. Over time that evolved into focus groups and market research - so that newer manufacturers would actually pay to find out what customers wanted, make it, then market it. Makes more sense, right?
However as technology moves at an ever-increasing speed, we have almost come full circle. No longer can we expect our customers to understand or comprehend the sheer array of product opportunities that are out there. This despite today’s consumer being the most educated and knowledgeable that the world has ever seen.
What’s my point?
There have been so many innovations in the signage and promotional apparel industries in the last few years that customers simply don’t know much about. You don’t expect a customer to walk into your SIGNARAMA showroom asking for advertising on the front of steps, do you?
You need to be proactive when it comes to identifying and marketing to those niche segments that you know would benefit from these new products and services.
EmbroidMe - go through the Yellow Pages/online/local Sport & Rec Centre to find all of the cycling clubs in your area. Develop a telemarketing approach to contact them and find out who makes the purchasing decisions for their track gear, and when. Then you can offer the new sublimation cycling jerseys.
SIGNARAMA - think of 10 of your existing customers that buy the same products from you on a regular basis. Or target 10 new customers that you know buy loads of the same types of products. Then introduce our new Company Stores option through ShopSIGNARAMA. No-one else in Australia can do this for them.
EmbroidMe - actively target 10 customers in your area that you know use promotional T-shirts (cafe’s, health food stores, restaurants) and present the decision-maker with a garment printed t-shirt with their logo and a catchy title on it (and your EME logo as well). How many people know they can get a digital image onto a minimum of 1 shirt?
SIGNARAMA - grab 5 VIP clients from your database who would benefit from a digital signage solution. Clubs, Law Courts, Restaurants, Car Dealerships, Real Estate. Get them thinking outside the square and show that you are different from the sign shop down the road.
Don’t wait for customers to come to you asking for faster horses. Identify what their needs might be and sell them Model-T’s instead.