Posted on Jun 22, 2011
Growing a Franchise Business: Specific Advice from 3 Successful Franchisees
Back in the day when I used to own a UPS Store franchise, I always looked forward to receiving the quarterly list of the Top 200 stores nationwide. I often wondered what these top franchisees were doing differently that helped them gain so much more business than the average UPS Store franchise. But for one reason or another, I never found the time or the opportunity to reach out to these successful owners.
So when I started The Franchise Chatter Blog, I wanted to focus on doing interviews with successful franchisees across different industries to see if they share certain things in common and to learn the specific steps they’ve taken to reach their current level of success. Here are a few highlights from some of my favourite interviews to date.
Mark Stevens, Anytime Fitness (Tupelo, Mississippi; East Tupelo, MS; Meridian, MS; Starkville, MS; Florence, Alabama; and Muscle Shoals, AL):
The first thing that sets the stage for everything else is the location. It’s not that you must have the best location possible — which is sometimes more expensive than it is worth — but you need to have a good location at a fair rental price. You also have to consider the neighboring businesses and how much traffic they bring in.
Second is getting the right people in place and setting up their compensation so that they succeed as you succeed. We have a great franchise and good systems in place, but having the wrong people or having good people in the wrong place will still hurt your business and cause you to miss good opportunities. We are now much quicker to get rid of staff members that aren’t working out. We are also quicker to compensate those who perform well — at first with bonuses until we see the consistency that justifies a raise.
Third, we try to take good care of our customers and focus on their needs. Our sales approach is actually more focused on finding out what the customers want and need than on trying to sell them what we have to offer. We also try to take good care of them after they join. This usually results in referrals, which really is the best form of advertising.
Vince Cvijanovic, SIGNARAMA (Greensboro, North Carolina and Winston-Salem, NC):
We focus on building our brand in our market. We have highly visible signage at both our showrooms. All of our vehicles are completely wrapped with our brand name and corporate colors. We have eight salespeople on staff who are very active in our local markets and active in leads and networking groups. And we have a very strong web presence.
We hire the best people. We have nearly seventy employees now and among our staff, we have a combined 400+ years of sign experience which allows us to tackle nearly any challenge that comes our way.
We support our community through our Signs of Support program. We donate or discount signage worth over $30,000 to qualifying charities and non-profits in our local community each of the last 2 years — and of course we plan to continue going forward.
Darien Fischer, Dogtopia (Highlands Ranch, Colorado):
The first thing we’ve done is to offer each customer’s dog its first day of daycare free. It gives them an opportunity to check us out and make sure they feel comfortable leaving their dog with us without any obligation on their end. It also allows us to have time with their dog to make sure daycare in a pack/group setting is the right fit for their dog. “First day free” shows our customers that we are confident in our services and that they will come back for many more visits.
The second thing we have done is to really try to get to know our customers and their dogs personally. Getting to know our customers by name, telling them about what their dog did at daycare, and asking them how their day has gone, has really gone a long way for us.
Getting into this kind of business, of course, you focus on dogs because that is the nature of the business, but owners are just as important. Prior to starting our business, I was a little shy about meeting and talking to new people but, now, I am the opposite. It is really interesting talking to our customers and finding out about them. Once your customers know you and your staff, they feel a lot more comfortable leaving their dog with you.
The Franchise Chatter Blog is a leading franchise industry blog specializing in franchise reviews and interviews with top executives and franchisees of the world’s best franchise companies. FH has partnered with The Franchise Chatter Blog to share their great content with our audience. To read more exclusive interviews, please visit www.franchisechatter.com.
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