Friday, August 29, 2008

5 Key Factors to Running a Successful Retail Franchise

We all come into contact with businesses every single day. Often we deal with businesses that are mediocre – There is nothing “wrong” with them but there is nothing terribly exciting about them either.

Occasionally we’ll be lucky enough to deal with a business that operates “text book style”. They are refreshing in their professionalism and service and when we come across businesses like this we should take the opportunity to use it as a benchmark for what we’d like our own business to measure up to.

Here are 5 key factors to make sure that your retail business measures up to the best!

1. Offer Exceptional Customer Service:
This should go without saying but so often companies forget that a polite “hello, how can I help you” or a professional and prompt dealing with a customer complaint can actually mean the difference between a repeat customer and one that goes over the road to the competition. Customer service isn’t just about big white smiles and being polite, it’s also about being efficient and going the extra mile for customers. A good example of “going the extra mile” is when a store calls one of their other branches trying to locate a particular product for a customer. In the case of exceptional service, the store would actually orchestrate the transfer of the product to the store closest to the customer and ensure that they received it!

Companies need to foster an environment where all employees have a thorough understanding of what good customer service is. This can be achieved through on-going training sessions of company policies and practical examples.

2. Make Sure that your Business is Well Stocked with Products
How can businesses operate without any stock? The answer is they can’t operate, well not for very long anyway! Investing in too little stock is such a common business mistake that it is surprising that so many people still do it. The downward spiral begins with the decision to invest a small amount in stock (be it lack of funds or fear of investing too much), customers then don’t feel as though they have enough choice, they can’t find the products they are looking for and any request for a product is met with “sorry, we are out of stock”. The shop then loses customers daily which also has a ripple effect because people tell their friends, yes, people talk! Sales drop, in fact they reach an all time low and the cycle repeats itself until the owner is forced to put a closing down sign on the door.

This kind of thing occurs around the world on a daily basis but the good news is that it can be avoided. The key is to invest a significant amount in stock and keep stock levels at an acceptable level. In doing so, businesses give their customers more choice and make more sales at the same time!

3. Keep With The Times
There are always a few stores that get stuck in a time warp and one wonders how they survive. Perhaps their most loyal customers get stuck in the time warp with them!?

Successful retail stores keep up to date with trends, technology and new products. They source different and unique products as well as those in demand by customers and the market in general. Magazines, customer surveys, international trends, blogs and industry websites are great ways for retail stores to keep up to date.

4. Train Your Staff Well
Training staff is an integral part of running a successful retail store. Customers don’t have time to wait at a checkout counter while new staff try and figure out the invoicing software. Staff need to know exactly where groups of products are placed, they need to be able to guide customers to the products they are looking for, give useful advice and be knowledgeable on products. Nothing makes a customer walk out of a shop faster than a sales person who doesn’t know what they are talking about.

5. Offer Seasonal Discounts and Loyalty Programs.
Customers like to feel special and enjoy being rewarded for spending money at a store they visit regularly. Loyalty programs can be implemented in both small and large stores with relative ease. Customers will not only feel as though they are benefitting from shopping at a store that offers an incentive program but they are also likely to become more loyal supporters of the store in the long-run.

Seasonal specials are a great way to clear old stock and to get more feet in the door. Customers might purchase “sale” items but they may very well buy higher priced items not on sale as well. Sales, specials and discounts should be planned for specific times/seasons during the year and marketing campaigns should be put in place to promote these events.

Transform your retail store into one that becomes the benchmark for others to aspire to. Integrate these points into your business policies, mission and vision statements, make them the foundation of your business and communicate them clearly to your staff. Make the decision and take the steps to be an exceptional business and you’ll never look back!

Author: Franchise Finder, Online Directory of Franchises and Business Opportunities in South Africa

Monday, August 25, 2008

Graffiti Removal Services Successfully Removes Largest Graffiti Tag

South African franchise Grafitti Removal Services (GRS) shows its muscle in helping to keep South Africa clean and Graffiti free. Vandals had sprayed a massive Graffiti tag under a bridge at the Riverhorse Valley Business Estate in full view to drivers on the N2 (Durban). Well Done guys!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Franchise Lingo

So what is the difference between a Franchise, Franchisor and a Franchisee? What is a Franchise Agreement? All this franchise lingo can get a bit confusing so here is an excerpt from our newly created glossary!

A business concept that offers specific products or services and takes on a certain business identity. The business concept is usually repeated numerous times throughout an area by franchisees purchasing and running their own franchise in a specific area/s as determined by the developer of the concept (franchisor).

A franchisor is the developer and owner of a franchise concept. The franchisor is responsible for growing the franchise concept whether it be locally, internationally or both and for ensuring the consistency of the brand and service amongst the franchisees.

A franchisee is the owner of a particular franchise in a particular area/s. A franchisee buys a franchise from the franchisor and is responsible to run that franchise business in that area.

Franchise Agreement:
A document that contains the details of the franchise purchase and agreements between the franchisor and franchisee. It may contain information on initial fees, ongoing fees, obligations of both the franchisor and franchisee with regards to the start-up and running of the business, territorial/ area limitations, legal information and conditions as well as general information, rules and regulations.

Friday, August 8, 2008

New KZN Expo

Entrepreneurs don't forget to visit the new KZN expo at Durban Exhibition Centre on the 15th and 16th August 2008 (Friday and Saturday). You'll find franchise and business opportunities as well as finance providers and business equipment. So if you are an aspiring business owner, existing business owner, franchisee, franchisor or business executive, then this expo is not to be missed! Visit for more information.

5 Affordable Marketing Ideas

Promoting a new busines can be an expensive task but it doesn't have to be! With a little creativity and thought you can promote your business without having to spend a fortune. Here are a couple of ways to market your business on a shoestring.

1. Start a Business Blog. You may have heard the word but you may still be wondering what a “blog” actually is! A blog is basically an online communication platform where you can post articles, photos, ideas and thoughts as often as you like. Visitors to the site can then comment on what you have said and you can choose to review the comments before publishing them to the site. Essentially, blogs can be extremely powerful PR tools and a great way to communicate with both colleagues and clients. There are many free blogging platforms out there where you can create your blog and have it hosted for free! Try, WordPress, Blogger or LiveJournal. In order for your blog to be successful in promoting your business you need to ensure that you post regularly (at least once per week) and that you promote your blogs on blog directories or blog carnivals as they are often called.

2. Join a Networking Group . These clubs are a great way to meet people and network within your community. They usually take the form of monthly or weekly business breakfasts or lunches where you have the opportunity to tell others about your product and vice versa. Many networking groups also try and help you to better your business by teaching sound business principles as well as sharing ideas on marketing and business promotion.

3. Offer Freebies. Why not offer free talks or presentations at industry events. Get in touch with the event organizers and ask whether they can fit you into the event schedule as a speaker. Often, these people need speakers and if you can offer your services free of charge then you have a win-win situation. If you are an expert in your field then your knowledge and advice will be valued and appreciated by the attendees and you may find this a great way to get new clients.

4. Write Articles for Relevant Websites and Publications . Websites, community newspapers and magazines are always looking for fresh content to publish. Your article should be interesting and newsworthy otherwise it’ll never be published so ask friends and colleagues to read the article and get their feedback before submitting it. Also make sure that the spelling and grammar is correct and perhaps consider submitting a photo with the article as this may improve your chances of getting published. Always include an author by-line at the end of the article that includes your name as well as your contact details so that readers can contact you if necessary.

5. Send Out a Monthly Newsletter to Clients. It is important to remind your clients that your business is alive and well and ready to do business. Remind them about your product or service through an e-newsletter but make sure to also supply them with useful information that will be valuable to them. If you just punt your business and supply promotional messages, your e-newsletter will soon be seen as spam and will get deleted faster than you can say “Junk Mail”.

Send your newsletters out consistently ie. If you decide to send out newsletters every month then make sure that you do that. This type of business promotion will never work if you send out one newsletter and then another one a couple of months later and then another one a year later. You get the drift? Build up an email database of all the clients that you have ever dealt and keep the list up to date, adding new clients every month. Try and keep your newsletters short, simple and easy to read and you’ll find your subscriber base will grow and hopefully your clientele too!

With those affordable marketing ideas in mind, try and think of a few more ideas and start to implement them. Remember, it is all about thinking smart and promoting smart. You don’t always need to have an enormous budget to get your name out there!

Author: Franchise Finder, Online Directory of Franchises and Business Opportunities in South Africa