Todd Weiss C.F.A. – Franchise/Business Consultant & Life Coach

Franchise Consulting, Franchise Brokerage, Entrepreneur

Todd Weiss

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Archive for April, 2010

Differentiate Your Message – A Little Something Extra

I recently read a blog post written by Barry Moltz that was featured on Liz Strauss’ blog.  You can read it by clicking here.  I am a big fan of Liz and her passion in promoting good dialogue throughout the blogosphere.  In the spirit of continuing the discussion, I wanted to talk more about Barry’s points as they’re critical in helping businesses create brand value and customer loyalty.

In Barry’s article, he emphasizes that a company’s mission and brand go beyond the typical, “we provide a great product and great customer service”. In today’s economy, especially with the growing presence of social media, people are looking for more.  If you’re attempt to create value is simply offering “a great product or service” you’re lumping yourself with everyone else and message fails to resonate.  Everybody says they offer a great product or service. Frankly, that should be a GIVEN, and there’s no need to say it.  Barry’s article provides a great example of an effective mission statement.

Nick’s Pizza & Pub, a local restaurant in Chicago’s mission reads:

“Our dedicated family provides this community an unforgettable place; to connect with your family and friends, to have fun and to feel at home”.

This is a great example of how a company can differentiate itself and build loyalty.  Note there’s no mention of product or service.  Nick’s restaurant provides a warm atmosphere for people to connect, have fun and enjoy a great meal.  The message is clear, different and demonstrates value.  This is what today’s captive customer is seeking.  I’ve never been to Nick’s, but I’ll be sure to visit next time I’m in Chicago.

There are other creative ways a company can provide value in their message.  If there’s one thing social media has taught us, valuable content resonates.  Humor is a great form a value and an effective way to connect with customers.  Have you ever heard of Blendtec or the Blender Guy?  If not, click here to watch this video.  You’ll get a good laugh.  In this instance, this company uses humor to create brand visibility.  They went totally outside the box and created tremendous visibility for a product that is pretty ordinary.  While I am not in the market for a new blender, my next one will definitely be a Blendtec.

In today’s market it’s imperative that companies dig a little deeper when trying to create brand value.  The advent of social media has placed significance on providing people with content of value.  To remain competitive, today’s businesses need to provide a little something extra.  This is the essence of building a successful brand and enhancing customer loyalty.

Guest Post – There is a Place Beyond Great Customer Service’s

This post written by Barry Moltz and was shared on Liz Strauss’ blog.  I think it provides great insight into the importance of customer service and wanted to share it.

Customer Service is job number one. We have heard this rallying cry within companies forever. Ironically, few of them have been able to implement it. The level of service that most businesses offer is pathetic.

However, this has been changing. With the advent of social media, customer service is now the new marketing. It has become the only sustainable competitive advantage and the current way to keep loyal customers. Advertising and company directed public relations can no longer control the conversation on what people are saying about your company and products. Small businesses have turned to social media tools to monitor what is being said about them and to get involved in that conversation. There are many well known examples of companies that are good at this such as Southwest Airlines, Peachtree, and Lands End.

However, there is now a place beyond great customer service that can even bind the loyalty your customers even more closely to your business. That place is called community.

If you look at the mission or purpose of most companies, it inevitably talks about providing a great product and excellent customer service. For example, Domino’s Pizza’s mission is

“Exceptional People On A Mission To Be The Best Pizza Delivery Company In The World’. This is part of Domino’s ‘Vision and Guiding Principles’ including these statements:

* ‘We Demand Integrity

* Our People Come First.

* We Take Great Care Of Our Customers.

* We Make Perfect 10 Pizzas Every Day.

* We Operate With Smart Hustle and Positive Energy”


However, the starting point for any small business owner is to have a great product, people and service. In order to be successful today, the owner needs to go much further.

Nick Sarillo has been running his pizza restaurants, Nick’s Pizza and Pub in the suburbs of Chicago for over 15 years. When Nick started, he wanted to have a purpose to his small business beyond offering a great product with great service. So, Nick created “Pizza on Purpose”. The mission statement that he came up with 15 years ago for his restaurants was:

“Our Dedicated Family Provides This Community an unforgettable Place; to Connect with your Family and Friends, to Have Fun and to Feel at Home”.

Notice that his mission statement does not talk about having great food or friendly people to serve the customer. Nick set out to use his restaurants to create a community where people can connect. Isn’t this the goal that we have for our social media business efforts? Nick put this in practice 15 years ago. His restaurants now support over 40 organizations in his community through fund raisers.

Nick’s small business gives something beyond great customer service. He offers a community for his customers and a way for them to connect with each other. When they are at Nick’s, they feel good about themselves, their community and his business. As a result, there is no longer a dividing line between his company and his customers. With his business, Nick has created a community which just happens to be a pizza restaurant. This is similar to Zappos, where they are not a company that sells just shoes, but a company that delivers great service regardless of their product.

There is no way to create more loyal fans than for them to be part of your community and have them raving about you. Forget creative marketing. Forget great customer service. Go to the place called community and your business will have its most sustainable competitive advantage: The raving loyalty of its customers.

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Barry Moltz is a Author & Speaker who loves technology and writes about service and small business at Barry J. Moltz You’ll find him on Twitter as @barrymolt

The Importance of Keeping an Open Mind When Looking for The Right Franchise

Tips As You Start to Explore

In recent discussions we emphasized the importance of formulating both a financial and lifestyle strategy before researching specific franchises.  Once you have a strategy is in place, you can start exploring specific industries of interest.   This is the fun part of the process.  There are a lot of options available as franchising has become an increasing popular method of business ownership.  When we work with clients, we always stress the importance of keeping an open mind.   Don’t worry about needing experience.  Especially if it’s a business you feel passionate about.

Don’t Worry About Experience

The beauty of franchising is you’re purchasing a system.  The franchisor has created a model that works and can be replicated.  Don’t avoid exploring concepts because you lack experience.  Most franchisors actually prefer franchisees that have little experience in their specific industry.  The reason is candidates without experience are more coach-able and likely to follow their system. The franchisor has a vested interest in your success.   They provide you training and support necessary to learn the business to be successful.  This is the main benefit to owning a franchise.   By purchasing a proven business model your chances for failure are significantly reduced.

What Type of Owner is a Franchise Looking For?

Different concepts require different business skills.  That’s why it’s important to assess both your strengths and weaknesses before researching specific franchises.  The good news is there is something available to just about anyone.  Sales and management experience is a plus but not always required.  Generally speaking, the ideal franchise owner is someone who is organized, coach-able, and customer service oriented.

Keep an Open Mind

Don’t avoid exploring concepts out of fear of competition.  This can be is a form of self-sabotage.  If there is no competition, there is likely no market for that business.  You also don’t want to eliminate businesses because they lack pizzazz.  Some of the best franchises are in basic industries and can be very profitable.  If the model works, and you would enjoy it your chances of success increase significantly.

A Word of Caution

Clients often ask us what franchise is “hot” right now.  If your counsel mentions the term “hot”, run away…..quickly.   Looking for the “hot” concept is a recipe for disaster.   Instead, try looking for a business with a proven track record.  We like to see franchises in their business a minimum of 10 years, with 20 plus locations.  It’s also nice to see and “Item 19” in the FDD* providing some color on the financial performance.   Please note these are general guidelines not rules.  You don’t necessarily want to avoid newer concepts because they lack a track record.  If you are passionate about the concept and are comfortable with the model it could be a great opportunity.

Keep it Simple

Exploring new business opportunities should be fun.  It’s a chance to learn different business models to see what is best suited for you.  Be patient and keep an open mind.  Don’t limit your options due to lack of experience or fear of competition.  Target concepts where the business makes sense.  Keep things simple, the most successful businesses are more likely to be easy to explain and may not be exciting.  Avoid trendy or “hot” concepts, as what starts out “hot: can quickly tuner “cold”.  Ask a lot of questions to both the franchisor and existing franchisees.  This is the exciting part of the process….have fun.

*Franchise Disclosure Document

Better To Be Well Rested Than Well Tested

I wanted to share a simple technique I use to help get me through the day.  Let me start by saying I love my business.  As a Franchise Consultant, I get the opportunity to change people’s lives for the better.  Each day I wake up early full of anticipation. I can’t wait to get to my desk to start working.  The challenge for me was maintaining that energy throughout the day.  Then I found simple solution – take a nap.

A mid day power nap can really enhance productivity.  I find that 25 to 30 minutes can give me 3 to 4 hours of extra boost so critical to my business. The New York Times wrote an interesting piece on the benefits of a good nap.

Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison & Napoleon Bonaparte and countless others considered a nap to be an integral part of their day.  Considering their achievements, they must know what they are doing.  The article notes that the human body is programmed to become tired in the early afternoon.  An afternoon siesta is still common in some parts of the world.  A quick power nap addresses the mid-day fatigue and really improves concentration on productivity.  I am not going to go into the science, the only thing I can say is it works.

While I am early riser most of the early to middle part of my day is spent planning and coordinating.  The bulk of new business development is done in the late afternoon to early evening when new candidates are available to speak.   I noticed my typically business day has downtime right after lunch.  I used to work through the lull but found the most productive use of my time was to get some rest.   While it may not be practical for everyone, if you have the opportunity, I recommend taking full advantage of it.

Qualities of the Ideal Franchisee

I wanted to write a quick informational post on three important qualities of successful franchisees. The first thing I look for is coach-ability.  The best franchisees are open minded, willing to listen and learn.  When you own a franchise you become part of a family.  Franchisors seek candidates who are willing and able to be coached.

Another important quality is being comfortable working with people.  A great franchisee is personable and approachable.  Someone people want to be around.  People are the lifeblood of a successful business.  The best franchisees are friendly and easy to talk to.   A major factor to your success is providing good service to customers and managing employees.

The third quality is a willingness to follow the system.  When you buy a franchise, you’re awarded the right to operate someone else’s business model.   If you try to recreate the process, the probability of success significantly diminishes.  The best franchise owners learn the system and follow it closely.

There are several other qualities in the ideal franchises candidate.  The three we discussed is just the starting point.  Some concepts require specific skills in addition to the three qualities we’ve mentioned.  The good news is if you are coach-able, personable and willing to following a system, there’s a franchise model out there for you.