Seasoned franchise owners and representatives offer advice to those just starting out on the quest to build something spectacular from their own franchise opportunity.
Business failure rates and, particularly franchise failure rates may give you a knot in your stomach if you are opening your first franchise, but failure is only destined for passive franchisees that lean solely on the brand and not at all on the hard work from which success sprouts. That isn’t you. Your reality is bright and unlimited because you are resolute, intelligent and wouldn’t want anyone else’s hands but your own sunk deeply into the molding and shaping of what will be your franchise success story. By the time you sign your franchise agreement, your franchisor will have proven itself to be worthy of your investment and your work ethic will merge with a system of operations and support simply unavailable to typical business owners. Many “newbie” entrepreneurs feel trepidation about leaving the illusion of job security for business ownership, but you are in a position to rise up, align with a proven system and never let statistics or happenstance be the authors of your destiny.
Experts in business and people with many years of impressive entrepreneurship under their belts will tell you that it’s not uncommon for those new to owning a business to put a lot of weight on the first year they are in business, so much so that they can jump the gun and close shop if they don’t see profit within that early period. This is self-sabotage and a common misfortune of those who go forward into business alone, without mentors and advisors such as is available to franchise owners. It is perfectly normal to need more than a year to taste your first real sense of noteworthy income, so do not panic at the year mark, but maintain your excitement about marketing your franchise in some of the many ways your franchisor has demonstrated excellent results over the years.
Greg Duffey, co-owner of Minuteman Press in Norwalk, CT, along with his business partner, Joe Brenneis, are in a position to give new entrepreneurs a forecast of what fantastic things could be possible if they maintain dedication and excitement every day to the task of growing their business. Greg explains, “Joe and I had a plan when we bought this franchise. Bring professional quality printing only thought attainable in the large commercial shops to Minuteman Press of Norwalk, a small quick printer. We wanted people to have the impression that we knew what we were doing and they could trust us. Visually, this had to start with the look of the shop. We are in our 3rd location (grew out of the other 2) and it is the best looking shop yet. It is important that our clients take us seriously and that our employees feel good about the shop they are in. It’s tough to have a positive attitude when you are physically surrounded by disorganization and a lack of cleanliness. We wanted to give the impression to everyone that sets foot in our door, that we are serious about what we do, and we will do the best we can to help you. We wanted everyone to at least feel that we care about them coming in and care about what we provide going out. The look of the shop sets the tone for all that enter and work here. As they say, you only get one first impression.”
Your future as a franchise owner is strengthened by a strong start…
The truth is that launching any business can be nerve-wracking, but more small businesses are succeeding rather than failing in their first year according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Prepare to be conservative with your money, measure your growth and adapt as the situation calls for it, ideally, with the guidance of strong mentors able to help you make critical decisions. You were wise enough to lock-in such mentorship by signing your franchise agreement. If you were very careful to select an industry leader, the value for your investment should include things such as assistance obtaining financing, a royalty cap, outstanding training and on-site set-up with local support. With advantages such as those, panic calms down and excitement has room to increase which means enthusiastic marketing and a greater response from your target audience.
Rich Panowitz, Area Manager in Houston for Minuteman Press International, offers an example of what it is like for new franchise owners to approach their first day with the best preparation money can buy – from award-winning training to on-site assistance during set-up. From there, Minuteman Press franchise owners are assured that expertly-skilled representatives of the corporation will have their backs when it comes to support on a variety of levels. Rich reflects on the many “first days” and beyond for which he has faithfully supported owners in his region, sharing, “Boy, those first days as a franchise owner are exciting and demanding, but worth it. You’ve got a lot going on! Once a franchise owner returns from our award-winning, two week training program in New York, the store set up begins and our regional support personal is on-site right along with them. We know how much is going on and we are with you.”
Minuteman Press franchise complaints do not get off the ground when they are blanketed with high praise from superior support thanks to professionals such as Rich. He continues, “As an Area Manager invested in the vital support role I provide, I like to pull the owners aside and explain how the first couple of weeks are going to go. Open communication is key. If an owner has questions, I encourage them to ask. I’ll review what needs to be done in order to get the doors open, happy to help the owner increase the odds that everything is done properly.”
Count on figures, not assumptions to measure progress
Even though you choose to invest in the proven efficacy of the franchise model, all new business owners should expect that resources will be tight in the beginning so your cash and your time must be spent wisely. You will work harder than any highly-paid, white collar executive, but the results of the work you belong to you as the head-honcho instead of just an employee. As you work to build your new reality, you should stay away from making assumptions about your early growth and rely instead on measurable data. It is normal to feel intimidated by analytics, especially today when there is almost too much data that can be collected with various software applications, not all of which is actually helpful.
You need to have just a few key metrics to watch that will help you keep track of your business continually. As it is important to always know where your time and money are going, it is equally important to maintain a clean client database and keep track of your website and foot traffic to know what marketing strategies are working and which need some adjustments. Well-established franchisors have taken the time to develop truly effective marketing strategies as well as proprietary software that provides clean, pertinent data that is just what you need to be vigilant as the owner of a business and caretaker of its growth.
Networking is an active way to embrace the excitement of opening your franchise
If you have a little “nervous-newbie” energy after the grand opening of your franchise, channel it into meeting new people because anyone you meet can be a potential client, source of insider information or solid ally within the community. The more you reach out, perhaps through involvement in business clubs, the more chances you will have to promote your business and build a reputation as a local industry expert over time. The more people you get to know, the better it is for your franchise.
Finally, take solace in the break you’ve given yourself through signing that sweet franchise agreement. Thanks to your own wisdom in doing so, there is little need for panic as you are not tasked with creating a product or service and hope that people will come clamoring for whatever that would be. Instead, your franchisor has set you up with, if you were very selective, products and services that have demonstrated continual demand, so your goal can be, first, to save the day for your clients and become their trusted partner.
Be excited. Take that excitement out into the community and let it permeate all of your interactions. As your local fame grows, so will your customer base and, if you keep them happy by faithfully satisfying their needs, so will your bottom line.