Franchising World April 2012
By: Zane Tankel
In a time when business owners are faced with heavy regulations from Washington and with an uncertain outcome to President Obama’s “Jobs Bill,” along with an uncertain outcome in November’s election, growing a franchise business and creating jobs is fraught with more obstacles than business owners have seen in some time.
With economic and political uncertainty looming overhead, it is essential to run a tight ship as a franchise owner and to maximize resources and opportunities to prosper in our current times.
The following tips can be considered at least as a partial roadmap for overcoming obstacles and maintaining a strong business despite the current landscape.
Maximize Guest Experience to Ensure Brand Loyalty
Now more than ever, when consumers are counting pennies and gravitating toward value spending, it is essential for every business to deliver on the promise of brand potential. Whether it’s an apparel boutique, a toy store or a restaurant, consumers will make their purchasing decision based on perceived value of the goods and overall experience with the venue. Superb customer service is always essential, but now more than ever, it can ensure that the client comes back and ultimately selects the brand.
Close Monitoring of Portion Control to Prevent Waste and Profit Loss
These are not economic times for waste. This is a business climate for maximizing resources and precision in the operation of our businesses. In the restaurant business, that means that the tightest scrutiny must be placed on accurate portion control in the meals served to guests. This is particularly true in a high-volume environment. There is so much potential for lax portion quality control and waste of food that it is critical to ensure that process and procedure are firmly in place and adherence is tight. The slightest deviation from planned portion control can add up quickly and result in waste and decreased profit.
Never Compromise on Quality: Pleasantly Surprise Customers at Every Turn
Customers come to expect a “norm” when it comes to the brands they choose on a daily basis for themselves and their families. The odds for generating repeat business are good if the brand delivers quality consistently. Even small gestures in this economic climate can improve the quality of your offering and result in an edge in an extremely competitive marketplace.
Hire With Precision and Art
In a highly competitive job market, many of the resumes a business owner receives are outstanding. However the resume is a one dimensional tool to determine if the candidate will be a good fit for the organization. An important indicator to consider is how competent people are if they can’t get along with their peers, direct reports or supervisors.
Interviews are more critical. Management-level candidates must survive an extra level of scrutiny. Batrus Hollweg, an international testing organization, offers ways to measure aptitude and to model potential success in our specific environment. There is an added expense to this testing but, it is well worth the investment.
Leverage Real Estate Opportunity
In troubled times, it is essential to revisit and potentially renegotiate the lease. There are deals to be had that might not have been priced appropriately the first time around. Also, look for new deals at more competitive rates.
Strong Retention Practices
Businesses are only as strong as the executives who run them and the support staff who keep them moving. It is important to create a stable, healthy environment that characterizes your business. It is also important to show employees that they are valued and offering perks to reward performance is a practice that still works.
Make the Most of Your Marketing Budget
A franchisee generally does not have a voice in how its marketing dollars are allocated by the parent franchisor. That’s why franchisees need to take an active role in the process. The one way to accomplish this is through participating in franchise councils.
Another strategy is to team up with vendors, from food suppliers to security firms, to come up with joint marketing campaigns. This cross-promotional strategy goes for other, more unrelated businesses too.
Splurge to Save
Capital expenditures are always painful, especially when the returns on those investments don’t come for months or years. However, there are ways to save a lot of money later by spending a little now and even green up your operation in the process. Such efforts to go green can include waterless urinals, LED lights and on-demand tankless hot water heaters.
Conquer Your Supply Chain
Franchisors have standards for approved vendors. Go beyond those standards and conduct separate audits of financial stability, delivery competencies and the like. Also, never put all your eggs, as they say, in one basket. If one vendor can’t deliver, make sure your organization has another, perhaps in a different location, lined up in a pinch.
Zane Tankel is president of Apple-Metro Inc., a company owning more than 30 Applebee’s restaurants in the New York City area. He can be reached at Comments@applemetro.com .