Who gives you your dreams?

We’re quickly approaching the end of summer. Today is what I like to refer to as a transitional Friday of both new beginnings and closing of doors. Many will be settling in to new routines as children are back to school and extracurricular activities begin. On the flip side, some will take advantage of closing the door on summer with a final trip to the beach or even a getaway for a few days before life accelerates once again.

The dog days of summer continue to show their teeth with excessive heat seemingly biting at us for the past three months. It’s been grueling to say the least. I chuckle as well as frown as I recall a recent meme I saw on Facebook. The caption read, God, I’m not sure what you’re baking, but it’s done!

For me, this weekend will be a celebration of my 65th birthday. I’ve never really looked forward to my birthday because it was at the end of summer. It was a lazy time of the year as youth sports had come to a halt and wouldn’t start up again until after Labor Day. As we were still on summer vacation break from school, I never had a birthday party at school. As my wife’s grandfather used to say, it’s just another day.

Last night as I was looking through some books, I came across a book given to me by one of my children. It was a gift for either my birthday or possibly for Christmas. The book, God’s Little Lessons for Dad is special to me. Not only because it was a gift, but also because of the stories about so many things we experience day in and day out. The stories are all lessons. Looking back, I regret not having picked it up more often and shared some of the stories with my children.

Anyway, today is a new beginning in that regard as I realize I’m looking at things a little differently today. Maybe it’s because 65 seems to be just such a milestone. I know, 65 is supposed to be the new 45 or whatever, but 65 is 65. I think back to when I was a teenager and 65 seemed so far off. 65 seemed so old.

Of late, as many do as we get older, I’ve started to reflect upon dreams. They have been more on my mind the past few weeks, again as summer and it’s heat have seemingly joined together as it has been just one long, long day. Boredom had set in and with it, a great deal of thought and reflection. As such, dreams settled in at the front of my thoughts.

So, is it ironic, coincidental that as I picked up this book last night and opened it, a story about dreams was right there in front of me? I’ve always been a firm believer that things happen for a reason. What really struck me was the chapter’s focus was Success with a story about Dreams.

Of course, I talk and write a lot about success and try to be as motivating as I can for the benefit of others. I often think I should have been more of a student and practiced what I’ve preached.

Maybe it’s just reflecting because of my birthday or maybe even more likely it’s because I’m feeling sorry for myself for not achieving all I would have liked to achieve. Sadly, I can’t recall any dreams that I may have had. Goals, yes. Dreams, no. I also can’t recall anyone ever telling me I could achieve whatever dream I had in mind. But, I could have told myself.

In any event, here I am today reading through this story about success and dreams and feel compelled to share it here today. Maybe I’m doing so more for me, but I do believe others will find it motivating and inspirational as I have found it to be.

Actually, the story has me looking at things a bit different this morning. I’m not too old to dream. I’m not too old to accomplish another goal. However, I do realize if it’s to be, it’s up to me!

I also realize that I’m not too old to inspire my children (they’re not too old to listen) as well as my grandchildren to dream and help them realize that if their success is to be, it will be up to them. But I do know they will all be great at whatever they put their mind to. I will make sure to remind and encourage them quite often.

Who gives you your dreams?

When Luciano Pavarotti was a little boy, he used to climb into his grandmother’s lap, and she would tell him, “You’re going to be great, you’ll see.” His grandmother’s dream for him, however, was to become a banker.

Pavarotti started out as a schoolteacher, singing infrequently at special events. His father chided him for being so timid, and challenged him to develop the full potential of his voice.

At age twenty-two, Pavarotti stopped teaching, and fully committed himself to singing. He sold insurance part-time while he took voice lessons.

Now that he’s one of the world’s leading vocalists, Pavarotti is happy to credit his voice teachers for his success. But he makes sure to add praise for his father and grandmother.

Alluding to his father, he says, “Studying voice was the turning point of my life. It’s a mistake to take the safe path in life.” Then he adds, with a twinkle in his eye, “My teachers groomed me. But no teacher told me I would become famous. Just my grandmother.”

Someone in your life has given you a spark of confidence so you can achieve your best. And someone will give your children that same spark. Could it be you?

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29;11

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Good or Bad, Culture is Contagious!

Despite messaging around customer satisfaction, it’s apparent from speaking with people on the inside of several local restaurants that it’s more lip service than truth. The individuals I spoke with were mostly front-of-the-house employees including servers, bartenders and assistant managers. Their perspectives were consistent and without even knowing each other.

I was told that although their organizations preached about delivering great customer experiences, financial objectives were more of a priority, even to the extent of adversely affecting the customer experience. In fact, several discussed staff meetings where the messaging from management was essentially that customers are problems. One told me that she was told at a recent meeting by a general manager that “we just have to deal with customers, yes them to death, and get them out the door.”

It’s interesting that of these restaurants, all are having significant labor issues – mostly a revolving door of front-of-the-house staff including assistant managers. All agreed that culture within their restaurants was terrible and, to no surprise, morale is always very low. Further, all indicated they’ve seen a great deal of conflict between the owners and managers, and also with vendors and suppliers.

Of course, I get it. Many independent restaurants are having a difficult time with quite a few continuing to hang on, although for some, it’s a week-to-week scenario. So, yes it’s understandable that financial objectives must be front and center.

However, will doing so, without any changes eventually cause the inevitable to occur? That’s more of a rhetorical question because I can’t imagine anyone not seeing the writing on the wall, including the restaurant owners. Yet, change is resisted. Even when it’s acknowledged by restaurant owners that change is necessary.

Many will argue that the cost of change is prohibitive under current circumstances albeit without even trying to understand what change would entail and available options. After all, we’re not referring to high-cost items like remodeling, new equipment, additional staff, etc. Instead, we’re referring to changes in attitude, and ultimately a change in culture.

I firmly believe the resistance is due to owners and senior managers believing they’re not the problem or even a small part of the problem. Unfortunately, we know culture must start from the top and trickle down through the organization and onto the customer. Yet, I see time after time restaurant owners refusing to listen, and ultimately refusing, not only to change but that change is even necessary.

When asked about how they’re going to survive, I typically hear, I just don’t know! Their plan, if we can call it a plan is to manage the business day-by-day and according to cash flow. Again, I understand all too well, cash is king. But again, as things are mentioned that could be done without incurring hard costs, there is strong resistance. It’s almost to the point of hunkering down to protect their decision – or indecision – and to just keep doing what they’ve been doing.

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It’s extremely sad to read headline after headline of restaurants closing. Some have been around for many years and now their doors are being shuttered. I think of the owners, many who have been in the restaurant business all their lives. I think about the employees and their families and how a restaurant closing will affect them.

The future of the restaurant industry also comes to mind. Will the displaced employees continue working in the restaurant industry? How about the ripple effect for food and liquor suppliers, property owners and management companies, equipment manufacturers and a multitude of vendors that provide goods and services to restaurants that the non-restaurant person might not even know about, and there are many.

So, what’s the answer? What is the solution? Personally, I think it’s very simple and especially when I look at restaurants that are doing well.

Yesterday, I met with a client, a long-time restaurant industry veteran and current owner of two restaurants. We spoke about industry-wide problems – rising food costs, labor shortages, frequency of customer visits, and more.

He looked me in the eyes when I asked about labor problems and said, “I don’t have any labor problems. I have challenges at times, but not problems.” He went on that he has a great culture that is based upon open, transparent communications. He indicated that he has found that by doing so, his staff is committed to something he commands each and every day – delivering great customer experiences.

As well, they’re committed to watching costs, to controlling waste, to helping other servers or cooks, to do an extra task or two, and to immediately communicate back to him any issues in order that they may be addressed in real-time.

He has frequent get-togethers and holiday events with his entire team. Their birthdays and anniversaries are recognized, as is exceptional service to the organization. Most of his employees have been with him over two years with a number of them approaching ten years which goes back to day one of his first restaurant.

And, these restaurants are profitable. Sure, there were some issues as lockdowns were mandated but he was open to suggestions and was quick to adapt and make the changes necessary to get through challenging times. The restaurants not only survived, they actually thrived and are continuing to thrive. We actually discussed expansion possibilities.

Why? How is this all possible? I firmly believe it all has to do with culture. When walking in the door at either restaurant you can feel a great vibe. People, customers and employees alike love being there. Everyone, and I mean everyone is in sync.

The smiles are contagious. The culture is contagious! Conversely, in organizations with a poor culture, the frowns are contagious and yes, a poor culture is as well.

Resources For Your Organization

If you’re interested in learning more about Acceler8Success Group services or are interested in having our recent series, Preparing for War: You vs. Recession presented to your organization, either as a webinar, workshop or conference break-out session, please click HERE for more information. Our services and programs can be tailored to your business model, product, service offering and industry segment.

The future may be a bit bumpy for some, more so for others. Having resources at your disposal is important. Knowing who to turn to and when to turn to for guidance and help is also important. So, if you hit a wall, for whatever reason, please feel free to reach out to me for assistance or even if you just need someone to talk to. Please do not hesitate. You can reach me on LinkedIn, by email to Paul@Acceler8Success.com, and by phone or text at (832) 797-9851.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

How is the phone being answered at your business? Do you [really] know?

Being able to understand what customers are experiencing from their perspective is quite valuable to today’s business owner and especially, to restaurant owners. Maybe even more so in light of workforce challenges, it’s imperative the customer experience be handled with kid gloves. So much hinges on the customer experience and especially what is often a first touch-point in the experience – the telephone.

Even for repeat customers, each visit is a new experience. It’s another opportunity to make a first impression, to showcase your business, to reinforce, whether subliminally or otherwise, in a customer’s mind they’re making the right decision (maybe once again) to frequent your business. If the initial contact is via the phone, it is the foundation of that particular visit, and essentially it is a first impression.

As part of our coaching & consulting services for restaurants, we include what I refer to as a “No-hassle” Mystery Shopping. This soft, no-hassle approach shops the restaurant with the goal of determining how the phone is answered and whether “simple” questions are answered in a courteous, professional manner. That’s it. Nothing more regardless of the responses.

Calls are not recorded, specifics are not written down, and no staff names are taken as the objective is purely focused on professionalism and responsiveness from the customer’s perspective. Based upon the results of the initial shopping, a subsequent round of shopping is conducted, but only if the initial shopping reveals major deficiencies AND after some customer experience training.

The goal of the mystery shopping is to identify inefficiencies in a normal setting with very typical questions a customer would ask. Certainly, it’s not to trick the person answering the phone. It’s not to chastise or embarrass anyone. It’s an opportunity for improvement, but that only occurs as the team embraces the results as opposed to being on the defensive. It’s essential to maintain that portion of a right culture.

“No-hassle” Mystery Shopping Project

Let’s take a look at the results of one of our no-hassle mystery shopping projects conducted for a small hospitality group.

The objective was to shop two restaurants within the group. One restaurant would be considered upscale dining. The other is more of a restaurant & bar fun place. Both are located in a town that is known for a big-name university. Both establishments are well-known and stay quite busy. Both are considered as “go-to” places for locals and visitors alike.

Let’s refer to the upscale dining establishment as The Lodge on the Square and the fun place as The Lion’s Den.

The Mystery Shopping was conducted over a six-week period. Times varied from just before opening to just before closing including typically busy and slow times. At times, two calls were made back to back, but never more than that; in a couple of cases a second call occurred as the first call was being handled.

A total of 83 calls were made. 37 to The Lodge on the Square and 46 to The Lion’s Den.

Callers identified themselves as being a person familiar with the restaurant, a parent of a new student, a student visiting town for first time, a person in town on business, a local person with family coming into town, a current patron celebrating a special event, etc.

Simple Questions

  • restaurant hours – what time do you open or close?
  • brunch – what days do you offer brunch, hours, able to order from regular menu, can you accommodate a large party of 10?
  • location – where are you located?
  • children – do you have a children’s menu?
  • reservations – do I need to make a reservation for dinner, for brunch?
  • specials – do you have any specials today?
  • dietary – do you offer any gluten-free or vegan items?
  • wait time – is there currently a wait for a table?

The Results

The Lodge on the Square

  • 37 calls were answered. (2 calls were not answered despite being open for business.)
  • In general, calls were answered in a professional manner.
  • Calls made Friday & Saturday evening tended to be answered after several rings as opposed to other times when they were answered on the first or second ring.
  • When callers were politely asked to hold on, it seemed to be the norm to wait for an acknowledgment before doing so. Hold times were typically quick.
  • A handful of callers sensed abrupt responses, but only during what appeared to be busy times. Abrupt, but not quite rude.

The Lion’s Den

  • 46 calls were answered.
  • In general, calls were answered in a courteous, friendly and fun manner.
  • Most calls were answered promptly.
  • There appeared to be a tendency to put callers on hold and without waiting for acknowledgement. Hold times varied. A few for an extended period.
  • Responses tended to be short and curt, yet on point. 

Observations & Comparisons

The Lodge on the Square

  • Without a doubt, callers felt like they were calling a high-end restaurant.
  • Responses were articulate and customer focused, and to the point. Mostly, the responses seemed to encourage customer response.

The Lion’s Den

  • Calls were answered as might be expected from a more laid-back restaurant.
  • Responses were conversational – like speaking with friends. Yet not really customer focused. 

Learning Experiences

Responding to phone inquiries is an opportunity to create (or recreate) a positively memorable first impression.

It’s an opportunity to engage with the customer in such a way that it becomes personal. For instance, after providing directions to the restaurant, asking what time the customer expects to arrive AND telling the customer your name and mentioning to them to ask for you when they arrive.

It’s a similar opportunity when responding to inquiries for hours of operation and wait times. It creates a subliminal obligation and commitment on the customer’s part. It creates a relationship with a person along with the restaurant. If done throughout the customer experience, a customer might say, let’s go see Brandy & John at The Lion’s Den tonight. It builds long-term relationships.

Regardless of what may be going on when a phone rings, the call should be answered as if nothing else is happening. Smiling is conveyed to the caller via tone of voice and an engaging conversation. As well, a frown or sense of frustration can also be conveyed.

Maintaining a phone log goes a long way to determining how much business may be missed, necessary staffing for peak times, and for follow-up. It can also point directly to things that could be improved. For instance, location inquiries could possibly be alleviated with added verbiage on Google or on social media.

All calls should be answered in the same manner; Good evening, thank you for calling The Lodge on the Square, I’m Rachel, How may I help you? Doing so creates a great initial impression for the restaurant and the customer experience. As well, phone calls should end with, Again, thank you for calling The Lodge on the Square, I’m glad I was able to help you this evening – or I’m looking forward to helping you when you arrive. I’m Rachel. Please ask for me when you get here.

Great Hates by Customers (per USA Today survey)

  • Being put on hold – 23%
  • Poor screening – 11%
  • Call waiting – 11%
  • Mouth noises – 9%
  • Not paying attention; distracted – 8%
  • Voice mail – 7%
  • Bad attitude; rude – 7%
  • Disconnected; hang up abruptly – 7%
  • Other – 11%

Last, but certainly not least…

  • A telephone call is an integral part of the customer experience.
  • A telephone call is the first step (or another step) toward satisfying the customer and establishing a longer-term relationship (repeat business, referrals, catering, events, etc.)
  • A telephone call can make or break whether the experience is positively memorable, or if there’s even a chance to deliver an experience.
  • A telephone call is typically not considered in a restaurant’s business plan, operations manual and even in training, but should be. Same is true for most any business.

Although this particular project was focused on restaurants, mystery shopping can be conducted for any type of consumer-facing businesses. I always suggest starting out with a hassle-free approach. Then, based upon the results, conduct training and/or a subsequent shopping that focuses on the identified inefficiencies and specific goals that may be brought to light as a result of the initial shopping.

Mystery shopping is not only relegated to the telephone. They can be very instrumental in identifying inefficiencies in text messaging and social media, as well. Of course, mystery shopping works quite well in-person. But what we have found are a plethora of logistical challenges for projects beyond telephone mystery shopping including that it’s just not possible to match the frequency that can be done as in mystery shopping by phone.

Resources For Your Organization

If you’re interested in learning more about Acceler8Success Group services or are interested in having our recent series, Preparing for War: You vs. Recession presented to your organization, either as a webinar, workshop or conference break-out session, please click HERE for more information. Our services and programs can be tailored to your business model, product, service offering and industry segment.

The future may be a bit bumpy for some, more so for others. Having resources at your disposal is important. Knowing who to turn to and when to turn to for guidance and help is also important. So, if you hit a wall, for whatever reason, please feel free to reach out to me for assistance or even if you just need someone to talk to. Please do not hesitate. You can reach me on LinkedIn, by email to Paul@Acceler8Success.com, and by phone or text at (832) 797-9851.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Communications is Key to Business Success… and Survival!

A significant part of my day is spent talking with business owners. Whether small independent business owners or restaurant operators or franchisees or freelancers, I’m alarmed at the state-of-mind of many of them. It’s more than mental health as the culprit. Although, their mental health is certainly at risk.

What’s being conveyed to me is not a sense of loneliness, hopelessness or despair. More so, what’s being shared are concerns about just not knowing what to do to keep their business afloat. They’ve thrown money at their business. They’ve cut their own salaries. All to keep the business moving along.

They’ve tried to run their business with just-in-time inventory to keep cash flow positive. They’ve increased wages for staff to retain not only the best, but even the worst of employees. They’ve worked extra hours in any position that needed to be filled. They’ve enlisted spouses and their children to help where and when possible.

To say sacrifices have been made is an understatement of biblical proportions. But were these sacrifices necessary? Were the decisions to implement the action items listed above necessary, or were the decisions essentially just knee-jerk reactions? Are the actions being taken effective for the long-term or just filling gaps until the next one widens?

Of course, this can all be debated for hours on end. Especially, as the actions being taken could certainly each be looked at as being reasonable, practical and the right things to do at the particular time of need. Therein, I believe lies a problem. The actions being taken are often reactive, and in the moment.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if the utilities are scheduled for disconnection today or an insurance termination is looming or if two key employees’ last day is tomorrow, sure, quick decisions are necessary. Actually, quick decisions are definitely better than procrastination or indecisiveness.

But have decisions been looked at from both sides of the coin? Meaning, are there options, or a potential partial solution? Or, are the decisions just being made by one person with one perspective without nary a thought something else could or should be considered?

Again, we can debate this for hours but I firmly believe what’s being missed is dedicating the time to think through the what ifs, strategize and plan for possible situations, and to include stakeholders in the discussions. After all, open, transparent communications is a cornerstone of a strong culture within an organization and a strong culture goes a long way toward business success, and in this case, business survival.

Transparency in communications is essential as it lends to creating a decision-making process built upon different perspectives and from different points of view. This is in lieu of a business owner keeping the problems bottled up and then making decisions without so much as a thought to looking at the problems from different angles. After all, stakeholders will be affected, as well. So, they should be included.

With stakeholders involved in discussing and resolving problems, they’re buying into the solutions and as is human nature, will work harder toward the action plan goals. Essentially, they’ve bought in because they were allowed to participate. They may view their opinions as having value, and see some solutions or parts thereof, ones that may have been based upon their input.

They will also be appreciative of being part of the solution as opposed to ending up as a victim of the problems. And if there is a negative outcome, they’ll at least feel like they were consulted and may be willing to “participate” in more drastic action steps. They certainly will not feel like it’s not their problem and turn their back on the business owner.

This Henry Ford quote is one of the best I’ve ever read about teamwork. I believe it’s a true statement. With this quote in mind, think about this simple example. Ten people in a boat rowing together. The more in sync they are, the faster and straighter the boat will travel. Out of sync and the boat can actually spin in circles and out of control.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Sunday Night Motivation & Inspiration

In the past, Sundays at Acceler8Success Cafe consisted of a weekly review with links to each day’s article from the preceding week. Considering that each article from day one is already listed at Acceler8Success Cafe, I feel it’s redundant and of little value to post a weekly review with links to the same articles.

My thoughts were confirmed as I asked a number of subscribers their opinions of the weekly review and whether a different direction should be taken for a Sunday article. They agreed to a change in direction and most thought some type of motivational or inspirational messaging would be of value, as well as complement the level of content being delivered each day at Acceler8Success Cafe. It was agreed that Sunday nights would be perfect as many do try to spend some time preparing for the week ahead.

As such, I’m excited to announce that the recurring article, Sunday Night Motivation & Inspiration will be published by 8 PM every Sunday evening at Acceler8Success Cafe beginning Sunday, August 21st. My goal is to provide a positive foundation for the week ahead as an extension of my commitment to helping current and aspiring entrepreneurs achieve and accelerate their success.

As we move forward, I’ll look forward to your comments and suggestions. In fact, they’re always greatly appreciated!

Have a great week. Make it happen. Make it count!

Why do entrepreneurs get depressed? Answers needed for both YOU & ME!

The topic of depression and entrepreneurs is one that is being discussed more and more. It was especially the case through the pandemic and again now through challenging times. However, make no mistake about it, the issue has been prevalent for quite some time. Unfortunately, as the topic focuses on depression AND entrepreneurs, it’s not as mainstream an issue as it should be. Is it due to depression being diluted by adding entrepreneurs to the mix?

You see, the reason is due to the misunderstanding, or better said, the lack of understanding when referring to entrepreneurs. It must be understood that when referring to entrepreneurs the reference must also include small business owners, restaurateurs, and a very large number of individuals that only “eat what they kill”. Meaning, being solely responsible for generating their own income. If they don’t earn it (kill it), they don’t eat!

Also fitting the bill are sole practitioners including professional services providers; attorneys, CPA’s as well as the increasing number of coaches. Add to this, real estate agents, insurance agents, stock brokers and essentially, anyone whose position is 100% performance-based. And let’s not forget investor entrepreneurs – stock market, real estate, etc. Essentially, we’re referring to all whose livelihood is based on commissions or return-on-investment income.

Maybe even better said, we’re referring to all whose income is not derived from a regular paycheck. All who need to think and plan long-term, as well as short-term to ensure regular cash flow. All who must ensure there are cash and/or credit reserves for periods when cash flow slows to a trickle – or even to an abrupt stop for unforeseen or unexpected reasons that are totally out of their control. All who wear many hats just to survive, and if all things align just right, possibly they can thrive.

Ultimately, what causes depression is stress, and entrepreneurship, in any of categories listed above is chock full of stress. Compounding it further is the customer/client variable. From expectations to deadlines to less than acceptable personalities, all must be effectively managed by the entrepreneur. An additional factor is the strategizing and decision-making necessary to juggle it all.

An article in Inc. Magazine, Why Entrepreneurship Involves Depression (And How To Overcome It) lists other “potential” reasons why entrepreneurs get depressed as follows:

  • Empty successes
  • Naturally being prone to high levels of anxiety
  • Difficulty not feeling in control
  • Large numbers of investor rejections
  • Stress and long working hours leading to burnout
  • Being sabotaged by partners, staff or investors
  • Being fired from your own company
  • Struggles gaining and maintaining traction

The article states that the depression can be moderate and fleeting. Or it can be personally bankrupting and lead to a deep dive into bad habits, homelessness, and may take many years to recover from. Some don’t at all.

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Further, the article indicates that entrepreneurs are:

  • 2x more likely to suffer from depression
  • 6x more likely to have ADHD
  • 3x more likely to struggle with addiction
  • 11x more likely to receive a bipolar diagnosis

From my perspective, a major concern today is how entrepreneurs, a class of individuals that are considered to be the ones to lead our country through recovery, will be able to do so with so many mental health issues prevalent in their lives. More so, during a time of economic uncertainty.

As I wrapped up my recent series, Preparing for War: You vs. Recession, I asked the question, how will your mental health hold up during challenging times?

Always looking to be proactive in providing solutions to problems, I feel it’s necessary to also recognize there are problems and identify them as such. It’s imperative to ensure they’re front and center and not ignored.

I despise the proverbial “head in the sand” approach. Yet, as much as I despise it, I need to be better at practicing what I preach. To that end, please understand that as I share my insight and perspective, I do so from personal real-time thoughts and emotions. So, when I point to YOU, I’m also pointing to ME.

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Here’s an excerpt from the last segment of the series, Preparing for War: You vs. Recession.

I’d like to focus on YOU. That means, YOU the entrepreneur, the founder, the business owner, the leader, the CEO or whomever is charged with business performance and ultimately, the business succeeding according to defined goals. Especially in challenging times, how do we ensure that YOU perform at the highest level possible without stressing out and/or burning out?

At Acceler8Success Cafe, we’ve spent a great deal of time discussing mental health awareness and especially as it relates to entrepreneurship, business ownership, and leadership. Articles I’ve previously shared here about Mental Health are appropriate to share for this final segment of the series.

In late-May as Mental Health Awareness Month was coming to an end; I shared the following:

Certainly, the past couple of years has had us facing many uncertainties which, quite frankly took us on an emotional roller coaster. Mostly, the driving force has been fear. I’ve realized my own fear once I was able to admit being scared. Hey, at my age and the fact I’m not in good shape, I must be realistic. So, I’ve worked through my fear and in doing so, maybe I can overcome it. As fear is such a strong emotion that easily grips the soul, it will take time and patience to overcome such a grip.

Little by little I look forward to continuing to pry it away as fear is replaced by courage gained from confidence that fear is just a challenge to be conquered. The great thing is that some of the challenges don’t have to be tackled alone. Instead, collaborative efforts aligned with common goals truly exemplify the phrase, ‘strength in numbers’ and it’s that strength that ultimately conquers fear. Easier said than done? Possibly, but the alternative is being overwhelmed by fear and that, I’ve recognized is not living.

Read the complete article HERE.

I’ll leave you with this to ponder as I reflect upon the same…

Why, with all the challenges listed above driving ridiculous levels of stress, do individuals decide that entrepreneurship is for them – and their chosen path for their livelihood, to support and provide for their families, and to achieve long-term goals for their later years?

And, why is entrepreneurship so popular – so damn popular that despite just the known obstacles, caution is thrown to the wind?

In upcoming articles at Acceler8Success Cafe, I hope to answer these questions while also presenting solutions and resources that may help both YOU & ME!

Together we can make it happen. Together we can make it count. Have a great day!

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Quotes: A second voice that echoes our thoughts, beliefs & claims.

If you spend even a short amount of time on social media you’re bound to come across a quote or two. I’m sure we could divide quotes into quite a few categories but to me, it’s really just three categories. Quotes that either motivate me, inspire me, or those that spur my emotions.

Mind you, I’m not referring to memes. I’m talking about quotes from influential and famous people, from movies, books, and the like, and from individuals that actually write inspiring words and place them on beautiful images.

Quotes can open our eyes and minds to understand truths and acknowledge things we might otherwise have missed. They let us see life from another, wider perspective, and in this sense, they expand our mind and awareness.

A quote can spur us to reflect as they may be applicable to a specific task or event occurring in our lives right at that time. Reading quotes can improve how we feel and change our mood for the better. Often a quote can offer inspiration for the day or week, and inspire us when our normal motivation has lapsed.

Quotes can act as reminders to focus us toward a specific goal or plan of action. Either as a short sentence or as several sentences, quotes are typically easy to memorize. As such, we can refer to them often and as we may be so inclined, share with others at appropriate times.

Inspirational quotes can remind us to see our mistakes and setbacks as great learning opportunities, and provide comfort that there is nothing that we can’t learn from. Rather than living in the past and recycling old news, we gain support to move past our regrets and learn from them.

Another reason we love inspirational quotes? They affirm what we already know (or think we know) about ourselves. One of the greatest human motivations is our desire to be able to both fit into categories or types of people, and to feel like we’re in good company (and, often, limited company) once we’re there.

Interestingly, scientific research has shown that motivational quotes make us feel the same as actually accomplishing something. If that is correct, then that could be a very, very, very bad thing.

Quotes, especially on social media can be quite distracting as there are just so many that are shared every day. I do value the ones where the person sharing the quote actually shares their own thoughts about the quote.

A good quote can be the heart of a compelling article, an interesting story, or a compelling speech. As such, good quotes help to tell a story and enhance the credibility of a press release, news story or speech.

Words that are crafted well can leave a lasting impact on us, while similar words presented by us can leave a lasting impression on others.

11 Reasons to Read Positive & Motivational Quotes

  1. Motivational quotes motivate, inspire and encourage.
  2. Motivational quotes energize and prompt you to take action.
  3. Positive quotes create optimism and hope.
  4. Motivational quotes give insight and wisdom.
  5. Motivational quotes offer hope.
  6. Positive quotes bring light and happiness into our day.
  7. Motivational quotes teach.
  8. Motivational quotes open the mind to see life in a wider perspective.
  9. Motivational quotes are mood changers.
  10. Positive quotes inspire you to adopt positive thinking and take positive action.
  11. Reading motivational quotes does not require effort.

*Credit to Remez Sasson, author of the blog post, Motivational Positive Quotes – 11 Reasons to Read Them at SuccessConsciouness.com.

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Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

A Franchisee Mindset: Do you have it?

photo credit: Authority Brands

Owning a small business was once the exclusive domain of the risk-takers of the business world. The true entrepreneur had a distinct flair for creativity, innovation, and vision. This individual knew how to operate outside-the-box and how to make things happen.

Many times, there was little choice as from an early age he would be responsible for shaping his future and for making it on his own. Formal education was usually limited and often just a far-fetched dream. Corporate life was not even an option. Besides, he couldn’t be told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

Changing With the Times

Well, times have changed. These days, people change jobs more often than in the past. A new job—or even career—is the norm rather than the exception. An advanced degree isn’t necessarily a fast track to success. Many professionals seek work-life balance.

Money is no longer the sole source of gratification. So many people who want to control their own destinies are increasingly choosing small-business ownership, as opposed to leaving their futures in the hands of Corporate America.

Weighing the Options

This is where the road gets tricky: There are many ways to go out on your own. You can start your own venture and assume total risk, or you can limit your risk by investing in a franchise and be in business for yourself but not by yourself.

Many potential franchise business owners ask themselves, “Can I achieve my goals and objectives as part of a franchise system?” “Do I have what it takes to be a franchisee?” “Am I willing to follow and adhere to a franchisor’s business system?”

These questions are usually easy to answer. Beyond realizing the viability of a franchise brand, as addressed in due diligence of the franchise concept itself, the answers lie in understanding the mindset required to be a franchisee. A franchise is almost definitely not the right choice for a business maverick or renegade.

Certainly, there is an important place in business for these unique innovators—without them we wouldn’t know Apple or Dell Computers. Even McDonald’s, as probably the greatest franchise of all time, which stormed through the country under the leadership and direction of a true maverick, Ray Kroc.

But even he would not have been successful without franchisees who were required to strictly follow McDonald’s system without fail. No questions asked and no room for negotiation. Does that sound like you? Then you may have a franchise mindset, after all.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Assistance & Resources

If you’re looking to replace a job, diversify your income, and/or control your own destiny during these challenging times of economic uncertainty, it is a good idea to explore business ownership, provided it’s the right fit for you.

Whether exploring a franchise opportunity or acquiring an existing business, We can help you find the franchise or business that’s right for you. We’ll even assist you in securing funding for your new venture.

Please reach out to Acceler8Success Founder, Paul Segreto on LinkedIn, via email to paul@acceler8success.com.or text or call him at (832) 797-9851.

Learn more at Acceler8Success.com and OwnABizness.com.

3 Questions to Help Determine if Franchising is Right for You

Among twenty-five or so Google Alerts I have set including ones for each of our clients, as well as for words and phrases relevant to services we offer, I also have a Google Alert for my name. As is often the case, I have seen articles referencing articles I have written along with interviews that I have given, quotes from one of my webinars or workshops, and even from guest appearances on one of my podcasts. It is very flattering.

More so, it’s eye-opening when the alert references something from 3-5-10 years ago. I’m always interested to see if my thoughts back then are in line with my thoughts today. I ponder whether my thoughts are consistent in how to approach things like social media, entrepreneurship and franchising. Really interesting is to see how my thoughts may have changed, to which I think about reasons why.

Recently, I was alerted once again. This time the alert referenced an article from eight years ago! Again, I was flattered when I clicked on the link and saw that it went to the blog on the Great Clips website.

I immediately thought back to see if I could recall writing an article or post for this great franchisor. After all, I had done so over the years for many franchisors and franchise organizations including Liberty TaxMonkey BiznessScooter’s JungleGuidant Financial, and International Franchise Association, just to name a few. So, it wouldn’t have been odd if I had written one for Great Clips.

Well, I hadn’t written this particular article for Great Clips, but I was flattered nonetheless as the article referenced an article that I had written for Entrepreneur.com. I was pleased to read that my thoughts shared back then are consistent with my thoughts of today.

Thank you to Great Clips and to the author, Beth Nilssen for thinking enough of my thoughts to share with their franchise candidate audience. I’m happy to share today it at Acceler8Success Cafe!

Is Franchising Right for You by Beth Nilssen

I came across an interesting article on Entrepreneur.com the other day that presented three key questions to consider when thinking about joining a franchised company or opening an independent business. Now, of course, there are more than just a few questions to think about, but I think the article did a good job of presenting three, basic and vital questions:

Do you understand every aspect of the business or do you thrive in one area?

The author of the article on Entrepreneur.com, Paul Segreto, points out that entrepreneurs looking to start a business from scratch really need to be well-versed in all areas of a business to ensure success. It’s important to have experience in marketing, recruiting, accounting, business operations, human resources, etc. 

On the flip side, franchisees don’t necessarily need to be an expert in all these areas because they can receive help from their corporate support system. At Great Clips, franchisees have access to marketing experts, business analysts and education staff to help them learn how to run their salon and train their staff. They also have a support system of franchisees who’ve “been there, done that” and can offer help and advice.

Are you an expert at making a name for yourself or would you like to be associated with an already strong brand?

Segreto points out that buying a franchise means that you inherit the reputation of the brand as well as customers—this shows the importance of doing research on public perceptions of any brand you are considering joining. A strong, recognized brand can have an immediate positive impact on your business, but a negative perception can do some serious damage. 

An entrepreneur starting from scratch has the unique opportunity of building and forming their own brand. This is a positive because you get to make the brand what it is, and the experiences you offer your customers will shape your brand perception. However, negatively, you’ll be starting as a small fish in a big pond, and it may be tough at the start to attract customers and establish a loyal customer base.

Are you the kind of person who likes to go it alone or do you appreciate a sense of community?

This is another great question from Segreto. In a franchise, you are a big community that needs to be united and work together to create a positive and enduring brand across all locations—this is not always an easy task. You also need to be able to follow a system. So, if you’re a free spirit or want to recreate the wheel, franchising may not be the right fit for you.

As always, we’re here to help you answer and talk through any questions you may have about franchising. Leave your questions in the comments below or fill out a request for information form and we’d be happy to discuss.

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Thank you Beth Nilssen. I hope that there was a candidate or two who had read the article that ended up buying a Great Clips franchise as it truly is an outstanding franchise organization. Here’s to your continued success.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Growing Your Business into a Franchise

As questions continue to be asked about franchising a business, I’m sharing today an article that had been written for The Small Business ExpoBrian Horowitz, a writer and content strategist specializing in business, technology and health interviewed Franchise Bible author, Rick GrossmanFranchise Scale founder, Dennis Mulgannon, and myself. The interview was conducted in mid-2021.

6 Essential Steps to Take to Grow Your Business into a Franchise

Small businesses face difficult decisions on whether to stay a mom-and-pop shop or expand into a franchise. Whether you are the WaveMax laundromat, the Flying Locksmiths or Shake Shack, which started as a hot dog stand in New York City, it’s hard to tell which company will become a successful franchise and which businesses will remain stand-alone mom-and-pop shops. 

If you are looking to grow your business into a franchise, here are some expert tips on how to proceed. 

Start in Nonregistration States

The Federal Trade Commission handles registration for franchises. Because it takes weeks or months to get registered, businesses should start growing in nonregistration states, said Rick Grossmann, author of Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Franchise Bible.” That will save the business money and the hassle of going through processes. However, if you are based in a registration state and plan to sell in your state, you must register. 

Paul Segreto, president and CEO of Franchise Foundry and founder of Acceler8Success Group, noted that 13 states are considered registration states, including New York, California and Illinois. Check with your state for the latest rules regarding franchise registration. Some rules have been relaxed following the COVID-19 pandemic

Hire a Franchise Attorney and a Franchising Coach

In addition to turning to a franchise coach, business owners should hire a qualified franchise attorney rather than a “business-only” attorney, Grossmann advised. 

“They have to be a franchise specialist,” he said. Grossmann suggested that franchising is too specialized to turn to a lawyer that is not handling franchise law all day long. 

When considering whether to become a franchise, look for a franchising coach that can take you through the process. For example, Franchise Bible Coach works with mom-and-pop shops as they go through evaluation, which leads to a three- to six-month project to launch them into franchising, Grossmann said. Services such as Franchise Bible Coach, Franchise Foundry and Franchise Scale coach executives on what they need to know to grow a business into a franchise. Franchise coaches also help write your operations manual and marketing plan while your franchise attorney is drafting your franchise disclosure documents. 

“Attorneys are an important part of the process, but you really need a franchise mentor,” said Dennis Mulgannon, founder and principal of Franchise Scale. “That is somebody that’s guiding and building out the infrastructure of a franchise system to be able to support nationwide growth or regional growth, depending on what the goals and the aspirations are of the founders.” 

As a franchise mentor, Mulgannon gets pitched four or five times a month from businesses looking to grow. 

“When I launch a new brand, I play stealth CEO, meaning they generally don’t have that experience in the franchise space, they’re experienced at whatever business they’re in, and they’re really good at it, or I wouldn’t be talking to him,” Mulgannon said. 

Build Franchise Businesses That Are Repeatable

The entrepreneur should also have a duplicable business that can succeed almost anywhere and have a need to help people in other communities, Grossmann said. There also should be a need for the company’s product or service.

“The system has to be transferable; it has to be relatable,” said Segreto, who has worked with hundreds of franchises. “It has to be able to be implemented and deployed just like the original business.”

Repeating the business in just one other location will not be enough, according to Segreto. He recommends a “hub-and-spoke” philosophy in which a franchisor opens a few locations around the main location. 

If you use Atlanta as the main location, you can set up other locations within four hours of that city, including additional franchises in Atlanta as well as in Nashville, Montgomery, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, Segreto said. 

“You’re always going to have that central one in the core part of town, and then you’re going to spoke out,” Segreto said. He suggests moving toward saturation in a particular market before branching out to other areas. Saturating a single area with franchises also helps the supply chain, particularly for food chains, Segreto noted. 

Establish a Culture-to-Growth Philosophy

Businesses looking to become a franchise should have a “culture-to-growth philosophy,” according to Segreto. 

“You have to have the right individuals on your team, and then as franchisees come on board, you have to make sure that the culture is such that you’re not treating them like employees,” Segreto said. “You’re treating them like investors in your business.”

Segreto cites Jersey Mike’s Subs in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, as a franchise with a “tremendous culture-to-growth philosophy.” He says the franchise’s owner, Peter Cancro, is always giving back to charity. Cancro is also known to put an apron on and get behind the counter to help out, according to Segreto.

“There are not enough of them like that,” Segreto said. 

As part of the “culture-to-growth philosophy,” businesses need to have “positively memorable experiences” for all stakeholders involved, Segreto said. 

“If you don’t have that type of mentality and mindset, franchising is not for you,” he said. 

A culture-to-growth philosophy incorporates people skills and having the skills to manage workers from diverse backgrounds, Mulgannon noted. 

Prioritize Branding for Your Business

To have a business that can become a franchise, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and see if the business is branded correctly when you walk in the door, Segreto said. 

Consider the social media, online branding and online PR that you will need to grow your business, he advised. 

Businesses should have a modern appearance with clean branding, Segreto added. Avoid handwritten signs on the walls or windows or the appearance that furniture or counters have been built by hand. Digital signage and the uniforms that employees wear are elements that make a business look like a franchise, according to Segreto. Consider how employees throughout franchises like Best Buy or Verizon are dressed in similar attire.

“Create a marketing plan that’s customized and tailored toward people that will resonate with your brand, not just a shotgun approach,” Grossmann said. “If you’re a physical therapist and you’re going to target physical therapists, you should have a marketing plan that specifically targets physical therapists. 

Consider the Financial Cost of Building a Franchise

Many companies fail to take into account the financial requirements of building a business model. Franchisors must have a certain net worth and exceptional credit. To build a small business into a franchise, a franchisor should have at least $150,000 for franchising costs, according to Segreto. Those financial resources will go toward developing a franchise disclosure document, obtaining trademarks, drafting manuals and hiring people. 

The real income for franchisors will come in ongoing royalties, and the franchise fee will be a “wash,” according to Segreto. 

Success in growing into a franchise comes down to leadership, according to Grossmann. 

“I’ve seen mediocre businesses with great leadership thrive, and I’ve seen really great concepts with lousy leadership fail,” Grossmann said. To grow your small shop into a winning franchise, ensure that your leaders have strong management skills and seek input from franchise coaches as needed.

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Learn More About Franchising Your Business

Below are links to Acceler8Success Cafe articles about franchising an independent business or brand. If you’re considering doing so, even just thinking about it, I highly recommend you learn all you can about the process and what it takes to become a successful franchisor. Do you due diligence much like franchise candidates will do when exploring a franchise opportunity.

Is Franchising the Right Way to Grow Your Restaurant Business?

Is Franchising the Right Way to Grow Your Restaurant Business? (Part 2)

Emerging Franchise Brands: Controlled Growth is Key to Initial Success

8 Key Focus Areas of Successful Franchise Leadership

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count.

Assistance & Resources

The future may be a bit bumpy for some, more so for others. Knowing who to turn to and when to turn to for guidance and help is important. Having resources at your disposal is also important. So, if you hit a wall, for whatever reason, please feel free to reach out to me for assistance or even if you just need someone to talk to. Please do not hesitate. You can reach me via a LinkedIn message, by email to Paul@Acceler8Success.com, and by phone or text at (832) 797-9851. Learn more about Acceler8Success Group at Acceler8Success.com.

Bring the Preparing for War: You vs. Recession Series to Your Organization

If you’re interested in having this series presented to your organization, either as a webinar, workshop or conference break-out session, please click HERE for more information. The program can be tailored to your business model, product, service offering and industry segment. It has been resonating quite well with franchise and restaurant brands.