Leadership- the Five Bs

Leadership styles vary just as people do. Usually, the ways individuals lead are outgrowths of their personalities. Some are bombastic, some quiet and others are mix of many traits. However, there are ways to act as a leader that transcend all personality traits… the five Bs:

Be Yourself: In a time rife with phony smiles and chameleon-like changes because of the circumstances, stay authentic. Be true to yourself. It makes others feel like they know you and because of that, they want to help you be successful. And make sure you put the best part of yourself for your employees and customers to see.

Be an Immigrant: This means that when you arrive on new shores, you look at the landscape, including opportunities, with fresh eyes.  Everything is not only new, but exciting! You cannot wait to sink your teeth into what you’re about to face. You may even see potential that others miss.

Be Calm: Screaming does not work. If your customers or employees spend time wondering about what mood you’re in, not much gets done. Stay calm, steadfast and focused on the tasks on hand.

Be Accountable: This may be the toughest of all because this includes acknowledging when you make a mistake and few like to do that, yet we all admit we make them! If an error has been made with an employee’s pay, a customer’s order or a supplier’s shipment, ‘fess up and fix it. People know mistakes are made. It’s how mistakes get handled that separates the true leaders from the posers.

Be Questioning: Business owners often fall into a: The process is good because that’s the way it’s always been done or if it’s not broke, don’t fix it mentality. Question everything! If something has been around for a while chances are it could use some scrutiny.

If you can maintain the spirit of the five Bs, not only will you have set the foundation of good leadership but your company will flourish.

http://www.postalconnections.com/franchise-opportunities/

Franchising Over 50

Business myths are rife with stories about youthful entrepreneurs who concocted wild ideas while eating pizza in a tiny college dorm room, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars of VC capital and founded million dollar ventures. While this does happen, it is rare. The typical entrepreneur is a middle-aged professional who taps into a market need and uses his/her own savings to get into a venture like franchising, for example.

In fact, AARP’s (A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50 and older improve the quality of their lives) has done studies on self-employment and the over 50 population. Their research indicates that almost half of the self-employed population is over 50. What’s more about 33% of those first became self-employed at or past the age of 50.

The over 50 years proved to be the best time to start their own business for these people. For many of them, buying a franchise was the best way to do that. It’s a trend that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

Why? Well, many franchisees are retirees or downsized corporate soldiers who always wanted to own their own enterprise. With rising life expectancies, at 50, there are most likely many years of fruitful labor remaining in their lives.

Also, do not underestimate the power of mid-life reflection. It’s a time when people seek meaning in their lives. Working in a career that is not providing fulfillment can often be a springboard to considering a franchising opportunity.

A franchise can be attractive to this age group because it’s a fast way to get into business with a proven product or service. Coupled with a good support system, it can make entry into small business ownership franchising a less risky proposition.

Understanding and wanting to fill a business need comes from experience and experience comes with age. Hopefully, a little wisdom does also. Because owning a franchise can be a beautiful experience in this rich stage of life. http://www.postalconnections.com/franchise-opportunities/ 

The History of Postal Connections of America

Today, you know your Postal Connections of America (PCA) store as a one-stop shop for many useful items and services for businesses and consumers. The stores offer anywhere pack and ship, printing, copying, shredding, mailbox rentals, office supplies, computer rentals, notary services and much more. In addition, to maintain the local flavor of the stores and because so many are community driven, several stores offer other items. These have included stocking greeting cards, gifts, local craft merchandise and selling media like games and DVDs.

The History of Postal Connections of America

Postal Connections of America started in 1995, 21 years in business in 2016, an enduring accomplishment by any standards. The company originally built and furnished postal, packing and shipping stores for independent operators. The very next year, 1996, PCA started franchising by providing franchisees a support system for daily operations, marketing and preferred vendors.

In 2000, a holding company bought the franchisor as an adjunct to a collection of businesses, operating Postal Connections as a subsidiary. In 2002, the current owners, C. “Andy” Thompson and Fred Morache, joined Postal Connections as experienced managers to develop the franchise business.

New Franchisors

Andy and Fred ended up buying the franchise in 2007 and made it a privately held company dedicated to expanding franchise stores across the US. Their concept was to update the version of the original postal, shipping and business services concept they helped create at Mail Boxes Etc. which was based on providing community-oriented products and services, stellar customer service and competitive pricing.

Franchisees are encouraged to add new services and hard-to-find products unique to the community. The Postal Connections staff and area franchisees dedicate themselves to assisting and guiding franchisees to grow their shops.

We love this business!

Note: All stores do not provide all services. Contact the store in your area to inquire about a particular product or service.

Potential Franchisees and the Franchise Disclosure Document

One big advantage that occurs within the potential franchisee’s due diligence timeframe is that the franchisor is required by law to provide what is called a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) during the pre-sales disclosure process. (Note: This used to be called a Uniform Franchise Offering Circular.)

This document is required to be submitted to potential franchisees by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Franchise Rule. This rule gets into the specifics of FDD disclosure obligations including when (at least 14 days prior to any contract signing) the franchisor has to provide the document.

The FDD contains the following valuable information:

  • Franchisor information like how long they have been in business and likely competition
  • Key person business experience
  • Any litigation history that has occurred with the franchisor
  • Any information on if the franchisor ever filed for bankruptcy
  • The franchise fee and other fees and expenses the franchisee will have to pay such as advertising costs, monthly royalties and training expenses
  • The training and assistance program used by the franchisor
  • Your estimated initial investment and obligations to the business
  • Financing arrangements
  • Franchisor obligations
  • Territory, trademarks, patents, copyrights and other proprietary information
  • Restrictions on any goods or services you can offer
  • Renewal, termination, repurchase, modification, transfer of the franchise and the dispute resolution process
  • Financial information about the franchisor including financial statements
  • A list of franchise outlets

This is not a comprehensive list but it provides the majority of what you will receive with the FDD. The FTC site at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/franchise/faq1.shtm provides more information on the disclosure obligations of the franchisor.

Franchising Service and Advertising

Simply understood, customer service is the value added during a transaction. This is especially important when the product is a commodity. It’s about the extra value a customer gets when they buy a product readily available in many other places.

Successful service franchisees have figured this out and are overcoming economic issues and competition. They know people like to have a healthy dose of value added in commercial relationships.

Consider these stories:

  • A Play Station System got snatched from a doorstep. Although, Amazon was not responsible, the retailer sent a replacement, didn’t charge for shipping and got it there in time for Christmas.
  • A security staff member at Nordstrom’s noticed a customer crawling on the floor looking for a diamond that had fallen out of her wedding ring. The staff member recruited a small team to help her search. They found the gem while picking through the dirt and debris picked up from the vacuum cleaner
  • A woman ordered six pairs of shoes from Zappos to test after undergoing medical treatment that left her feet sensitive. Her mother called to receive instructions on how to send back the shoes that didn’t work. Two days later the daughter received a get well flower bouquet. Then, her, her mother and sister were also upgraded to “Zappos VIP Members.”

As service guru Tom Peters writes in Beyond Close to the Customer:

  • Service is about turning adversaries into partners
  • Service is soft and low tech – about attitude, listening, perception and empathy
  • Service is about delight, not satisfaction

Service differentiates your business so allow your passion for it to stand out.

Advertising

According to a recent study in Ad-ology, when a business continues to advertise, especially in tough times, consumers see this as a sign of commitment to their enterprise.

It’s not only good for consumers, it’s good for businesses to advertise because:

Your message is more likely to get noticed and your business is more likely to be remembered when businesses start advertising again.

In fact, tough times are an incredible opportunity to build market share. Studies through recessionary periods in all decades (only three shown here because of space) showed:

1990s: Jif and Kraft Salad dressing grew sales by 57% and 70% respectively by advertising during a recession. (MarketSense Research Study)

1980s: Sales of aggressively advertising firms during the recession grew 275% over those who didn’t. (McGraw Hill Research Study)

1970s: Companies who advertise and market hard can not only maintain but increase their revenues during a recession and subsequent years. (American Business Press Study)

Throughout the Great Depression and all recessions, Proctor and Gamble practiced a philosophy of not reducing advertising budgets even while their competitors cut ad buys. It’s not a coincidence that the company progressed during each of these economic downturns to become the giant it is.

Franchising 2016- More Projections

From 2010 to 2015 franchising has seen nothing but strong growth. Consider these two statistics:

– The economic production of franchise establishments has increased from $699 billion to $892 million.

– The number of franchise establishments has increased from 740,098 in 2010 to 795,932 in 2015.

2016 Projections

The International Franchising Association (IFA) projects continuing growth in its Franchise Business Economic Outlook for 2016 prepared by IHS Economics. It’s expected that the number of franchise establishments will grow by 1.7% this year: 

– Franchise output will increase by 5.0%.

– Employment by franchises will continue to remain strong with 3.1% growth.

– The six-year period from 2011 to 2016 (projected) realized a 2.7% growth which is 0.5% higher than all businesses economy-wide.

     A driver of this expansion will be the expectation that business spending will grow in 2016, boosting franchises that provide business services. In fact, business services franchises are projected to rank first in the growth in establishments and are tied for second in employment growth with a 3.3% gain.

Fast food and table service restaurants are also expected to expand nicely throughout 2016.

What this Means to a Prospective Franchisee

Franchising comes with built in advantages most prominent of which is that most mistakes have been bled out of the enterprise for prospective franchise owners. The business system a franchisee works with offers proven business concepts. This means in each of the main business disciplines like finance, marketing, sales and operations all of the processes and procedures have been refined to reflect what exactly is needed to make a successful business.

For example, in marketing, a franchisor will be able to explain to its franchisee what marketing works best (the internet, trade journals, industry shows, etc.) for the business. If the franchisee focuses efforts in those areas, odds are, they will pay off if executed well.

Another built in advantage is if franchisees struggle, they can turn to a support network that includes others that have faced and conquered the same issues. The accelerated learning curve very much works in favor of success for all franchisees.

The fact that the franchise industry as a whole is performing well for the US economy is a positive factor for the prospective franchisee to consider during the due diligence process. Simply put, it means the franchising concept works and is a viable way to make a living and in the process, possibly help others make a living as well.

Take Care of Your Franchise with a Good NAP

 

You want to list your local franchise in every directory you can find. Before you do, the first step is to determine your local business information which is called your NAP (name, address and phone). This should be used the exact same way in each local listing.

A consistent NAP online will help you rank in local search. You want many quality websites, including local listing directories, to display your NAP the way you want it to be.

Name – How is your franchise name written? Is it PCA Store 225 or Postal Connections, Mechanicsburg? Determine the name of your business based on how many customers will search for you using it. Keep it simple and use one name for everything.  

Search for your business name online and see how Google views it. If Google sees your business name a certain way, you might want to consider using that as your brand name online.

Address – How will you write your address? For example, will you use “Avenue” or “Ave”? This may sound nitpicky but you need your address to display consistently across the internet.  

See how Google lists your business address. Consider using that as your model. If Google currently sees you at “4500 West Irving Park Road” and you’re ok with that, use that address everywhere online, website included.  

Phone – Some local business listings require that a local phone number be used rather than an 800 number. Select one main number for your local business information.

Local Business Rankings

Appropriate listings make it easy for Google to identify your local business. In fact, it is the primary method they use to rank local businesses in Google + Local.  This is important because about 40-50% of mobile search and 20% of PC-based search is related to location and local information. That’s why it is critical to claim, update, and improve all online information about your business. Otherwise, you might struggle to be found in search results.

Claim It

Many local businesses are still unaware that they can claim and optimize every local listing that their business is entitled to. This includes claiming on sites like: 

Claim these and get on all of your local directories with a consistent NAP today!

What Does Customer Relationship Management Mean to You?

We Build Relationships Concept

Customer Relationship Management or CRM means software developed to store and manage your customer, prospect, leads, business partners and business contacts information. CRM is generally tied to large companies, though software including Zoho CRM , TeamSupport, Pipedrive, Prophet and more claim to work well for smaller companies.

The advent of CRM solutions means that consumers expect companies, no matter what size, to understand the relationship they want and meet those desires. Consumers expect any brand to meet their expectations although, many companies do not.  Often, companies are good at capturing data like gender, age, income and maybe even matching customers with purchasing information. Companies like this may think of customers as resources to upsell or cross sell to rather than as individuals seeking meaningful interactions.

Customer Relationships

B to C companies often blunder when relating to customers. They may treat those seeking a simple exchange of money for goods or services like a friend and interact with a customer wanting to be treated like a friend as a transaction.

Blow are examples of three firms that used CRM data, yet made relationship mistakes:

·       A loyal on-line retail customer was frustrated by a policy of requiring signatures for home deliveries occurring while she worked. Managers were not flexible to her concerns and one blew it by offering her a $200 gift card. She promptly canceled a $7,000 order.

·       A plus-size clothing store repositioned itself to be more relevant to younger, thinner customers only to find themselves alienating established customers who felt disrespected and betrayed.

·       A dedicated customer of a grocery delivery startup sent in suggestions to fix operational glitches. However, the only responses he received were promotional emails urging him to order more frequently. The customer cut back his patronage believing the company did not want a relationship on his terms.

29 Customer Types

One research firm identified 29 distinct types of buyer-company relationships which is more eye-opening and more valuable than demographics. For example, there is the customer that likes the basic exchange. They seek product / service dependability and don’t want to think too much about it. Another is the customer wanting recognition as a business partner. These types want to work with the company long term to solve problems. The buddy customer wants an interaction but doesn’t want to be tied into a close relationship that limits freedom.

It’s up to the business owner to figure out which type matches the customer by developing “relational radar” to hone in on customer signals and then deal with them accordingly.

Fred franchises Postal Connections of America stores: http://www.postalconnections.com/

Growth forecast concept up

Franchise Forecast 2016

The International Franchise Association’s (IFA) state of the industry report for 2016 suggests a positive outlook for the franchise industry.

Growth forecast concept up

The report, compiled by IHS Economics, a well-known forecasting firm, projects that the franchise sector will outperform the overall economy next year by posting a 5.1% gain against a projected US gross domestic product increase of 3.1%.

Out of the 10 major franchise sectors IHS tracks, the following six will see the most growth:

         Personal Services: This includes businesses such as spas, childcare, tutoring, hair salons and specialty niches like learning-to-paint franchises. The growth is tied to the growing disposable income of the aging population.

         Lodging: With travel increasing because of the improving economy, many of the major hotel and motel chain franchises are expanding across the US.

         Business Services: Business services including tax franchises, staffing companies and pack and ship stores are also in a growth mode fueled in part because of the increasing number of self-employed workers who do not operate out of offices.

         Fast-Service Restaurants: Consumers are looking for better quality food served quickly. Franchises in this sector include Panera Bread and many of the fast food chains. This category is responsible for 40% of franchise employment and has 20% of all franchisees.

         Retail Products and Services: Stores including 7-Eleven, Pearle Vision and GNC are all niche stores that are posed for more growth in 2016 because of the country’s economic growth.

         Residential and Commercial Services: Along with the increase in business in general, places that service businesses like Service-Master will also grow.

2016 appears to be another good year for the franchise sector. Along with the built-in advantages of the franchise system, franchising might be the right choice for many aspiring entrepreneurs.

Why Sign Up as a Franchisee

Joining a franchise system might be the best thing for you if you want to be a business owner but not from scratch. A franchise might work if you:

  • Are drawn by the security of having an already-branded business with proven services or products.
  • Like the idea of an operation that has already done the hard trial and error work of establishing business operations and building a demonstrated support system.
  • Are comfortable with following franchise guidelines.
  • Already have or can get the franchise fee and startup costs.
  • Are willing to part with some of what you make in the form of monthly royalties, advertising fees and other costs.
  • Know it will take a lot of work and are willing to do it.

                                                  But Beware of These Franchises

If you’re considering a franchise and are performing your due diligence, be cautious of franchises that:

  • Do not offer a proven business concept coupled with a successful operational system.
  • Lack brand recognition.
  • Have a history of litigation or continual strife with franchisees.
  • Offer minimal startup help and little ongoing training and suppo
  • Offer minimal startup help and little ongoing training and support.
  • Advertise very little if at all.
  • Balk at territory exclusivity
  • Are reluctant to give you a list of former and current franchisees.
  • Use franchise fees to pay for selling new franchises.
  • Obligate you to purchase services, inventory or supplies from their approved vendors (or the franchise itself) at inflated prices.

No matter what, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney that specializes in franchising to help you see it all the way through.

Offer minimal startup help and little ongoing training and support.