Franchising: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

As I often do on the weekends, I was searching through my personal library seeking out a book or two that might provide me some inspiration for an article or report, and this weekend, I came across a business book that was published back in 1979. The book, “Free Yourself in a Business of Your Own” by Byron Lane, caught my eye for reasons I cannot really explain. Obviously, I’ve had it in my possession for many years, yet, never opened it again since I purchased it for $1.29 at Target. It must have been a clearance book as the cover price was $5.95. Anyway, I can’t even recall seeing it when I routinely search through my library. It’s like it suddenly jumped out front and center and said, “Hey, look here!”

Well, I decided to look through the book because the back cover stated, “This book is about freedom. Freedom from an 8 to 5 regimen. Freedom from dehumanizing democracies. Freedom from job boredom. Freedom from the lock-step culture. Freedom to do your work your way.” Hmmm… not much seems to have changed although lock-step culture is not one I’ve heard of before.

Right away, my thoughts turned to franchising and I began to think about what franchising was like back in 1979. Fortunately, I didn’t have to think very hard, as to my surprise, was a chapter on franchising! It’s placement was to present franchising strictly as an alternative to other forms of business ownership, and in a book with 174 pages, the franchising chapter comprised all of 3 pages. Yes, 3 pages!

Within these pages were a series of bullet points that I found very interesting and it made me wonder how much franchising had actually changed since 1979, and if the changes have improved franchising today. Read the bullet points below and you be the judge.

– While there are no federal laws governing franchising, most states have franchise laws. Get a copy of the law in your state and read it for degree of stringency and coverage. If it is a tough law and a franchising company qualifies to do business in your state, you have one measure of security.

– Don’t believe that acceptance of you by a franchiser means they have evaluated your ability to get the job done. Some franchisers would select a corpse if rigor mortis had not set in and if it clutched in its hand a certified check for the amount of the franchise fee. Do your own introspection and decide if you can handle the franchise.

– Do not deal with profit projections or average profits. Insist on actual financial statements from a cross-section of franchisees. Then, evaluate your expected return on investment.

– Get the financial statement of the parent company and evaluate its ability to provide the services it promises.

– Read the franchise contract. It should be simple, frank, and fair, with complete disclosure, not an instrument of repression. After you think it through with your head, listen to your gut and determine if the contract fits you.

– Finally, and perhaps most important of all, is evaluation of the franchiser’s management team. You should do this from two aspects – their management ability and their humanness. If the management does not measure up to good corporate standards, you will not get the profits you seek. You may turn out okay, but they can bring you down.

Well, it’s no wonder that many individuals had a distaste for franchising. I cringed at some of the statements implying unfairness and deceit, along with an apparent free-wheeling approach to franchising. On the other hand, some of the advice was sound and still applies today.

It’s obvious franchising has changed, and for the better. But, are some of the negatives that’s were stated (or implied) above, still actually cause for concern within franchise organizations today?

I wonder what future generations will think about franchising when they discover some of today’s books and articles on the subject?

Yes, you be the judge…

*By the way, the author is listed as having several advanced degrees in business and psychology, and was a professor at a leading California university. He is also credited with developing several successful companies including a multi-million dollar franchising chain!

Note: originally posted on this site 12/10.


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What Excites You About Working Within Franchising?

What an extraordinary time it is in franchising. Many of us are still riding high from the IFA Convention. Approximately 160 franchise professionals attended the Franchise Unconference last week in Utah. It is my understanding turnout at this week’s Franchise Finance Conference in Las Vegas was very good. And, in a few weeks many of us will be in Washington DC for the International Franchise Expo. That’s just a great deal of positive energy in a six-week period within franchising. Certainly, it’s exciting to be working in franchising as the economy continues to rebound.

Of course, it’s easy to be excited when there’s a load of positive energy at showcase events. Seeing long-time friends with similar interests and objectives adds to the excitement. It’s also relatively early in the year, and many are filled with New Year’s resolutions that have yet to be challenged. Optimism fuels excitement! But, let’s take a step back and look at the core of franchising. Let’s evaluate why we have decided to continue earning a living within franchising. Through the worst of economic times, with franchise sales bottoming out, why did we hang around instead of doing something else for a living? Sure, many will say there weren’t other jobs available. But, I truly believe there was more to it than that.

Approximately eight months ago, in the LinkedIn Franchise Executives group, I asked, What Excites You About Working Within Franchising? and received over 50 responses. Let’s take a look…

John Teza, President at Janus Brands, responded “Empowering an individual to change their lives. No matter the intended change, be it in terms of income, lifestyle, or equity building, for many individuals, opening a business is a life changing experience. Playing a small part in that transformation is very rewarding.”

Lyndsey Jardine Wolfsmith, Business Coach at The Entrepreneur Source, exclaimed “Love your question Paul! I think franchising is fascinating…there are so many facets from developing a successful franchise model to helping clients understand the sheer breadth of options. When you are surrounded by all that variety, how can you not be excited!”

Even The Franchise King, Joel Libava, chimed in “I really enjoy moving folks away from corporate employment, so that they can have their shot at the American Dream. (Only if it makes sense to do so on a whole bunch of levels) I also enjoy providing an independent perspective on the state of franchising in a very gentle way.”

Many of the responses spoke about the satisfaction of putting people in business, helping them achieve the American Dream. And, despite what franchise professionals went through at the low point of the economic downturn, some only needed to be reminded of the passion behind franchising to get moving back in the right direction as evident by the following response…

Kevin Joiner, former, President at Crye-Leike Franchises, stated “Wow! Reading all of these positive comments re-energize me dramatically. I agree with many of the comments. I am the FORMER president of a Real Estate franchising company that operated primarily in the Southeastern U.S. Unfortunately, I was required to layoff my complete staff effective March 1, 2010 (as a cost-cutting, cost-savings measure) and turn over franchise system oversight to the founder and owner of the parent company. Having grown the organization from virtually nothing, into a $500 million dollar sales enterprise with approximately 50+ franchisees in six years, it was hard to take. However, I am expecting to hopefully regain momentum and move forward with another organization soon.”

Many ask how I would answer my own question…

“I’m excited to work within franchising because I get many chances to help franchise organizations succeed at all levels. I know that’s a lofty proposition, but it’s true. It’s what I’ve dedicated myself to as I have recovered from a near-catastrophic experience ten or so years ago as a once-successful multi-unit franchisee that took his eye off the ball and subsequently failed. Certainly, it would be easy to reflect upon what that experience did to me. But there are other things to consider as such experiences can effect entire franchise organizations. There could be collateral damage, and at times, a ripple affect.

Of course, I do what I do to earn a living and provide for my family. But I could do that in a host of different industries or business environments. Instead, I chose to put the bad experience aside and focus on how I can help others within franchising. Not only to avoid the mistakes I’ve made, but to focus on best practices that lend towards franchise success at levels.

With extensive experience and success in franchise marketing and development, and in training franchisees and franchise staff alike, gained in the various positions I have held for franchisors, I have focused my attention on making a difference in franchise organizations in these key areas. Sure, many know me from my almost incessant social media activity, but I’m just embracing what I believe to be a tremendous technology and communications tool that when utilized effectively and coupled with best practices, will contribute to franchise success at all levels.”

In case you haven’t noticed, it is also the same response when I’m asked, What is it that I do?


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CNBC and P&G… too cozy a relationship?

I find it curious that CNBC would post a clarification and edit an already aired documentary because a willing participant supposedly misspoke in making a misleading statement about franchise royalty calculations? If there was a misstatement it certainly was not one made by CNBC and therefore should not have warranted a correction by CNBC.

In addition, it also may be lost on viewers that the Mr. Clean Car Washes, Tide Dry Cleaners and Dunkin Donuts were beneficiaries of the documentary. And of course it is apparent that Mr. Clean Car Washes, Tide Dry Cleaners are both franchises sold by a subsidiary of Proctor & Gamble, what is not obvious is that Dunkin Donuts brand coffee is roasted and sold under license by Proctor & Gamble in grocery stores across the country and NBC owner of CNBC generates millions of dollars of advertising revenue from Proctor & Gamble.

Did CNBC edit this documentary to protect its advertising revenue from Proctor & Gamble? Did Proctor & Gamble exert undue pressure on NBC / CNBC to change the documentary? This kind of thing is unheard of.


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Social Media… A Jungle for Franchising?

Franchising is no stranger to change. The industry adapted well to the internet when it integrated its then traditional marketing at tradeshows with development of elaborate websites. Next, the industry adapted again as it integrated its marketing efforts and web presence with franchise consultants and brokers through a multitude of franchise portals.

Well, as Bob Dylan once wrote, “…the times they are a changing.” Much has been written and spoken about weeding through the many tire-kickers experienced on the internet, shuffling from one portal to the next with the same non-objective to “see what’s out there.” The franchise industry has literally seen thousands of these leads with no purpose, no chance of ever presenting a franchise opportunity.

Instead of trying to catch fish in a wide open ocean, why not direct your attention to the fish in a lake, pond or even, a barrel? That’s correct, a barrel! In searching for qualified franchise candidates, we, as an industry, need to locate the barrels of candidates that exist in the market today. How do we accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task? We need to embrace new technology and integrate the same with traditional efforts. Specifically, Social Media and all it has to offer.

Social Media is truly extraordinary, consisting of many different aspects beyond the familiar LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. There are wikis, webinars, blogs and podcasts, just to name a few. But there are others as well. To the many, the thought of stepping foot into this jungle is daunting, and therefore, the journey continues to be delayed. So, as the old adage of how one could eat an entire elephant (of course, one bite at a time), it’s necessary to take small bites out of the Social Media elephant and step through the jungle carefully, one step at a time – using all the tools at our disposal to reach our destination… our objective.

The following is a discussion on a blog by Michelle Bonat originally posted in 2008 but still very relevant today. Michelle discusses taking small steps towards integrating Social Media Marketing with classic (traditional) marketing programs.

Babysteps…How to integrate social media with traditional marketing programs

Social media marketing is most effective when it is an integrated part of your overall marketing efforts. But how do you jump into social media when you already have some really effective classic marketing programs in play? Here are a few ways you can babystep into the world of social media by leveraging the good stuff you already have.

1) Maintain a single consistent marketing strategy through classic and social media marketing.

Your goals, objectives and messages should be consistent across all of your marketing. Sounds simple, but unless you define and enforce this it won’t happen.

The good news here is that you don’t have to re-figure this all out just for social media. It is really just taking your existing marketing platform and extending it.

2) Extend your reach – Reach out to your influencers in ways that they like to communicate.

Use your existing marketing knowledge about who influences your product’s purchasing decisions, and use social media tools to create a discussion with them where they hang out.

Some specific examples: Are your influencers kids? Get on the social networks catering to the younger set. IT buyers? Figure out which bloggers are influencing this community. Mobile sales professionals? Deliver content in a mobile enabled way, such as Twitter.

3) Invite your customers into the process.

While you are planning your next product, refining your messaging, or even launching a marketing campaign, figure out a way to get your customers involved whenever possible as early as possible. When you do this they feel that they have been heard, feel more engaged and valued, which results in a tighter connection with your company and product. It also gives you the benefit of upfront input. A product that people actually want? Described in a manner that speaks to them? Wonderful!

A good way to on-ramp this customer involvement include online communities (public or private, even a public group on an existing social network). You can even ask them to deliver their thoughts in video form by way of a contest – “describe what our product means to you”.

4) Turn an online forum into a social media hub.

Make people feel more at home by adding profile information and allowing the posting of pictures (or pointers to a picture posting service like Flickr).

Recognize that you have to give to get. Start a genuine conversation with your audience by having company employees contribute to the forums in their own words. For example, instead of just asking for feature enhancements suggestions, tell them what direction you are headed and, if possible, the timing for these enhancements (without giving away too much info). Then ask them their opinion.

Try these few tips to help ease into a social media program that leverages your existing marketing – and you will soon be on your way!

Note: This post was revised from earlier post on this site, “Web 2.0 – A Jungle for Franchise Development” (Mar 2009)


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Exclusive Mobile Marketing Program for Franchise Organizations

Are your franchisees struggling for new customers, or to get more business from their existing customers, in today’s difficult economic environment

Do your franchisees complain that they can’t afford to advertise to get more customers?

Does your corporate staff have a difficult time getting franchisees to read important emails or updates on the company Intranet?

Does your franchise development staff need additional methods of generating leads for prospective franchisees?

Would you like an easy-to-use, high ROI, low-cost way to solve these problems?

If so, please continue reading because Mobile Marketing is the answer!

Studies have shown that mobile marketing has the highest ROI of any direct marketing medium, are read by 97% of recipients within 15 minutes, and because 84% of consumers keep their cell phone within 10 feet of them at all times, mobile messages have an AVERAGE response rate of 15%.

Strategic Partnership Benefits Franchise Industry

And we can help your franchise organization take advantage of this incredible marketing medium through a new strategic partnership between franchisEssentials and Strategic Growth Concepts, who recently entered into an agreement to become a Certified Solutions Provider for a leading Mobile Marketing services firm.

Because of franchisEssentials Integrated Franchise Marketing initiatives, we have requested and received authorization from our strategic partner and the Mobile Marketing services firm to offer a special Franchise Incentive Program for franchise organizations interested in taking advantage of the benefits of Mobile Marketing.

FREE Mobile Marketing Account

For a limited time only, we’re offering franchisors a FREE mobile marketing account for the corporate office that achieves a minimum percentage of franchisees signing up to participate in the program individually. And the FREE corporate account remains in force as long as the franchise system maintains the minimum percentage of franchisees also participating in the program! And we’ll help sign them up!

This means that your franchisees can begin sending unlimited text messages for as little as $25 per month, and the corporate office can begin sending them for FREE! Since text messages are typically read within 15 minutes and have an exceptional ROI, franchisees can start increasing revenue immediately, and you can start generating franchisee leads, marketing on a chain-wide basis, and communicating more effectively with your current franchisees!

Franchise Organizations Are Using Mobile Marketing

Click the links below to learn how several franchise organizations are using Mobile Marketing, and the successful results they’re experiencing:

Little Caesar’s Mobile Campaign Nets 62% Opt-in

Popeye’s Mobile Campaign Garners 54% Opt-in

Mobile Marketing Ideas from National Brands

Learn More About Our Special Offer and New Mobile Club

If you would like to learn more about Mobile Marketing and to take advantage of this special offer, please TEXT the word FRANCHISE to 244326. This will opt your organization in to franchisEssentials Mobile Club, and notify us to schedule a FREE demonstration for your organization.

Members of our Mobile Club will be eligible for future special offers, and will receive weekly tips on using Mobile Marketing to benefit your business. If you prefer not to join the Mobile Club but would still like to receive the FREE demonstration, contact us by email at paulsegreto@FMDpro.com. Please be sure to mention keyword FRANCHISE.


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What Do Franchises and Franchising Experts Do On Social Media?

franchisenote-logoHere’s an article that was posted on Franchise Note on October 2, 2009, by Business Blogger and Webpreneur, Ivan Widjaya. Thank you, Ivan, for including some very flattering comments about my social media activity within franchising.

What Do Franchises and Franchise Experts Do On Social Media?
by Ivan Widjaya

Franchises are getting along well with social media. Although I cannot present you with analytical data and stats, I can see that franchises are taking benefit from the social media, in term of brand awareness and franchise information (including promos, events, polls, etc.) Eventually, all of those will be translated into more customers and revenue.

With various strategies, plans and purposes, it’s enlightening to learn and observe what franchising people are doing in major social media. Let’s do our brief exploration in three social media behemoths – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Franchising on Facebook

Facebook offers franchises and franchise experts opportunities to build and engage network that will buzz your franchise businesses and services, creating a strong awareness on the Net that could very well get franchises more business.

Let’s take the people I connect with (a.k.a. friends) from Franchise Note’s Facebook account.

As for franchises, I consider WingZone Franchise as one of the better franchisors’ account on Facebook (WingZone also has other Web 2.0 presence, namely Twitter, MySpace and YouTube.) It is full of interesting updates, giving us the example of what franchises can do with Facebook.

For example, WingZone post a notification of free chicken wings in a certain area of operation – Of course, this will create buzz, as well as brand awareness, and eventually send people to Wing’s store to get some free wings (and buy some other stuffs.)

As for franchising experts, I consider Paul Segreto’s Facebook account to be interesting. He is using a mixture of updates, ranging from personal updates (e.g. posting a video about a dog helping one of his canine friends in need) to professional updates (e.g. informing about his another webinar series in October.)

Franchising on Twitter

Twitter is the fastest growing social media that is predicted to exceed Facebook in popularity. The appeal is on the 140-character ‘tweet’ that allow Twitter users – Including those in franchising – to share info quickly.

From my Twitter account, I usually follow those that I know, was recommended or think they are interesting. I read those I follow (for franchising topic, I recommend Joel Libava’s) for several times in a day (in fact, I check and re-check my Twitter account dozens of times a day.) The updates are basically a comment with a link to the source or reference (and yes, about 50 to 60 percent of the tweets I received are either for Internet marketing purposes or promotional efforts.)

If I can’t seem to follow the updates I like, I read franchising updates in the form of Twitter’s search widget from Franchise Note sidebar (somewhere in FranchiseNote.com’s right column.)

Similar to Facebook, but in 140 characters or less, Twitter updates you with short blurbs (That’s why Twitter is called a micro-blogging platform) of those you follow. It’s nice to see those franchises and franchise experts are having a chit-chat, allowing you to see a hint of their focus, vision and characters.

Franchising on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is pretty similar to Facebook, but to highlight, the ability to present a resume-like profile page and endorse your contact is what making LinkedIn stands out. Professional recommendations are powerful tools in getting you the buzz and new clients, especially if you are providing professional advices (i.e. franchise consultant)

If you are into franchising (or at least, want to learn about franchising) I suggest you to join one of the LinkedIn group for franchises, Franchise Networking (more than 2,800 members), where you can read articles and follow/participate in discussions on franchising topic.

You can learn more about the background of the franchise owners and experts you know or follow from the profile page – Take Paul Segreto’s profile as an example: You can learn that he attended college at Wagner College and 12 people have recommended him so far. If you are interested in his services, reading his profile page is pretty much giving you an idea or two why he is one of the authoritative voices in US franchising.

And yes, reading through Paul’s LinkedIn profile makes what’s inside my LinkedIn profile looks insignificant.

Any thoughts to share? Please share yours by commenting to this article.

Franchising & Entrepreneurship: The Debate Continues…

franchisingRecently, I posted the article “Are Franchisees Entrepreneurs?” and received plenty of comments defending both sides of the equation. Some seemed to justify their current status as a franchisee as being entrepreneurial while others were emphatic that entrepreneurs are too independent to be franchisees. Franchisors, yes! But definitely not franchisees.

Last week on Franchise Direct the following article, “Entrepreneurship vs Franchising” was posted, and the debate continues…

Entrepreneurship vs Franchising
By Donald Cranford
as posted on Franchise Direct (July 7, 2009)

Given the state of the economy, it’s perhaps a good time to reconsider some of the myths of entrepreneurship to see whether the small business dream holds the same allure it once did. Certainly the days where all you needed to get investment in an internet business was a quirky idea are gone the way of the buffalo. If anything, the death of this kind of entrepreneurship makes the best possible case for franchising.

Some of these thoughts came to us after reading a highly interesting piece in the Harvard Business Review by Walter Kuemmerle, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School in Boston. Although he was writing in 2002, most of the points Kuemmerle makes are still relevant in 2009, if not more so.

entrepreneurshipIn his piece, Kuemmerle seeks to outline the various risks and challenges that a prospective entrepreneur will have to take on to truly succeed. Kuemmerle wants to force business-people to look in the mirror and ask themselves: is this really the model I want to follow to achieve my personal business dreams? The converse to his questions are: is franchising a better business model?

Kuemmerle outlines two entrepreneurship risks/questions that we hadn’t even considered:

Are you comfortable stretching the rules?
Are you prepared to make powerful enemies?

The former is particularly compelling argument against entrepreneurship. Those first two or three years of getting a business going involve taking huge financial risks, and in many cases, hounding off creditors, juggling debt on personal credit cards and even leveraging your family home in order to keep the business afloat. This is a reality that most entrepreneurs simply accept, but it brings great risk and peril to your home life, especially in this recession. But as Kuemmerle says, most success stories for start-up’s he knows include the use of outrageous tactics. Or Kuemmerle later asks: “Do you have the stomach for subterfuge?”

He also points out the fact that having a truly successful start-up often means brushing up against powerful enemies. Kuemmerle adds three other points about the need to be flexible, decisive and incredibly patient to make it as entrepreneur.

Now while all of these skills are generally needed to run a strong small business, the fact is the franchising model eliminates many of the risks and indeed dangers that are part and parcel of launching a start-up. With a franchise, you have a proven business plan and a source of support and knowledge from the franchisor. Some entrepreneurs may disagree with the concept of a franchise fee, but really it is nominal compared to some of the outrageous leaps involved in entrepreneurship. It’s a time for hedging your bets and as Kummerle concludes:

“Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, and even those who have the right stuff find the path to success much rougher, and usually, much longer than they had anticipated.”

Note: Another interesting article surrounding franchising and entrepreneurship was also recently posted on franchisEssentials, “Startups: Do We Really Need Them?”

We’re looking for your comments and insight:

Are Franchisees Entrepreneurs?
Startups: Do We Really Need Them?

Talking PR, Franchising & Social Media with Arment Dietrich CEO, Gini Dietrich

PR Adapt or DieAs we do quite often, Gini Dietrich, CEO at Arment Dietrich PR, and I, communicate on Twitter, on Facebook, by email and by phone, about a multitude of things, both business and personal. Sure, we banter and kid a great deal along the way. But when the discussion turns to franchising, communications and social media, the kidding quickly subsides, and the conversation turns serious. Okay, not completely serious, because we’re both smart-asses. But serious to the point that we’re anxious to share our ideas with each other, and determine ways to share them with our franchise clients and the franchise community.

Recently, I turned one of our discussions into an informal interview, and asked Gini to share some of her thoughts, so I could share the same with the franchisEssentials readers. Always being shy and not wanting to be in the limelight (yeah, right!), Gini fired off her responses without hesitation, further demonstrating her passion, and conviction in her thoughts. I just loved her response when asked about the future of public relations, as we know it today. Well, decide for yourself as you read some of the Q & A below.

Paul: “How important is a communications strategy to franchise organizations today?”

Gini: “It’s not at all important. Ha! Just kidding. To use one of my favorite quotes by NPS senior news analyst Daniel Schorr, “If you don’t exist in the media, for all practical purposes, you don’t exist.” But in today’s age of digital technology, it’s not just the traditional media strategy that a franchise needs to have. I love the case study of the companies that made it through the Great Depression. Know what they all had in common? They didn’t cut their communication. In fact, they increased it. And the companies that did that then are still around today while their competitors, who cut their communication budgets, went out of business. Like Daniel Schorr says, if you’re not communicating, how will your customers know you exist now and into the future?”

Paul: “Is it important for local franchisees to have a communications strategy in place or is it sufficient to only have it at the franchisor level?”

Gini: “I’m a HUGE proponent of local franchisees having a strategy in place that is complementary to what the franchisor is doing. Consider most reporters won’t cover your business unless there is a local angle. Most local baseball teams are sponsored by local businesses. The Mayor won’t show up to your ribbon cutting if you’re not giving back to the community. Add into the mix social media and you know that people buy from people and want to have a relationship with the people they do business with…not the company or the brand. The person who buys your product or service in his/her community, wants to have a relationship with the person running that entity, not the corporate monster.”

Paul: “Is public relations, as we have known it over the years, changing to adapt to a more “connected” society?”

Gini: “There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not public relations, as an industry, is dying. Most PR people (as evidenced by a recent IABC poll) deny it’s happening and are content with doing their jobs as they’ve always known them. I contend social media is changing the way we communicate and PR, as we know it, is dying. Regardless of PR professionals thinking social media affects the way they do their jobs, someone has to own it – be it marketing, PR, or advertising. I’d rather jump on it now and own it. After all, social media is about developing and fostering relationships with customers, stakeholders, employees, influencers, and individuals. Traditional PR is about developing and fostering relationships with media and influencers. Makes sense to me that it fit in with PR.”

Paul: “What role do you see social media playing within the franchise community?”

Gini: “I love, love, love what Tasti D-Lite is doing with social media. I use this example all the time. They have a store in the Empire State Building. Whenever someone tweets that they are in or near the Empire State Building, @tastidlite sends them an offer to come into the store. In some cases, they offer a free frozen dessert. In others, a discount. This has helped them build in-store profitability, loyal customers, and their intensely passionate following. This is SO EASY to do at the franchisee level. This is just one example of how social media helps build a franchisee following. Get out there and try it. It works!”

Social Media ROI: Is It Worth The Effort?

Many of our readers and clients have asked about quantifying social media results and determining a return on investement. The following article by Julie Keyser-Squires, APR provides a great perspective of the subject along with some suggestions that can be utilized in various franchise businesses. Ultimately, social media can improve the bottom line for franchisors and franchisees, alike.

Franchisors, Owners, Operators: Questions You Always Wanted to Ask | By Julie Keyser-Squires, APR
as posted June 3, 2009 on HospitalityNet.org

If you are a franchisor, owner or operator, you may be asking these four questions about social media:

ROI1.What is the ROI of social marketing?
2.How aggressively do we want to play on the social media front?
3.Is it enough for the brand to communicate on behalf of hotels or do franchisees want their hotels to provide individual promotions and unique offerings?
4.What kind of manpower does it take to stay in touch with “followers”? Can hotels feasibly dedicate the resources individually, or should the responsibility be with a brand marketing and eBusiness effort?

Here are the answers, with a focus on social media sites Twitter and Facebook. First, however, would you consider one more question that could jump start your participation in social media:

“How did you create your revenue management strategy and processes?”

1.What is the ROI on your revenue management program?
2.How aggressively do you deploy it?
3.Is it owned at the brand level, the property level, or both?
4.What are the manpower commitments? 100% to 25% of one — or more – person’s time?

Revenue management and marketing are two sides of the same coin. Both are integral to every area of the enterprise; each requires internal consensus and a cultural shift; and both can positively impact top line revenue. You might be able to leverage an earlier learning curve as you consider these questions about your social media involvement.

1. What is the ROI of social media (or “Want a cheap hotel? Just give up the bed.”)

In social marketing, is Return on Investment becoming Return on Engagement? Possibly. Although among franchisors, owners and operators it is still in the early adoption phase, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and luxury resort The Rancho Bernardo Inn already realize measurable success.

•Since engaging in social media in 1Q ’09, visits to the Kimpton website have increased 500 percent and 600 percent (year over year) from its Facebook fan page and Twitter, respectively. Look for the goldfish icon.

· General Manager John Gates (@GMGoneMad on Twitter) at the luxury destination resort Rancho Bernardo Inn realizes two to three responses per offering of his pop up specials on Twitter, including the Inn’s exciting “Survivor Packages” below:

o Posted 8:50 AM May 15th . “Check out our new “Survivor” Package: Just $219 per night,including deluxe accommodations and breakfast for 2. Stay tuned for details…”

o And eight posts later with each “tweet” shaving $20 to $30 off the rate:

o Posted 7:30 PM May 15th. “My FINAL offer: Stay for $19 without breakfast, honor bar, A/C, heat, pillows, sheets, lights, linens, toiletries or bed!”

· Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is on both Twitter and Facebook to create a greater awareness and understanding of its brand.

A quick search on Twitter.com reveals that companies like Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, Choice Hotels International, Inc., Hilton Hotels Corporation, Best Western International, Inc., and InterContinental Hotels Group are starting to have a presence as well.

2. How aggressively do we want to play on the social media front?

•Depends on your business. A personality driven sales approach like Kimpton’s, which is not a hard sell, may be a good fit.
•• Consider a balance between exploring social marketing venues and executing on your existing marketing and Internet public relations plan.

3. Is it enough for the brand to communicate on behalf of hotels or do franchisees want their hotels to provide individual promotions and unique offerings?

•Both.
•Facebook lets individual hotels share tips about their cities and local promotions.
•On Facebook, people post interesting content three to four times a week, which is manageable for most hotels (Twitter posts can stream into Facebook, too, which lets you repurpose content.).
•Twitter, where the norm is three posts per day, could be a better fit for corporate communications teams, although many properties are on Twitter as well.
•Franchisors, owners and operators that allow any employee to start a Twitter account might consider instituting corporate social computing guidelines. IBM’s social marketing guide is a good example and may be modified [http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html].

4. What kind of manpower does it take to stay in touch with “followers”? Can hotels feasibly dedicate the resources individually, or should the responsibility be with a brand marketing and eBusiness effort?

•Consider carving resources out of your existing communications — or revenue management — team.
•During the learning curve, maintaining a presence on Facebook and Twitter can take from 15 to 30% of one person’s time for a brand the size of Kimpton. Tools like TweetDeck, which let you categorize the people you follow on Twitter, can streamline tracking “followers.”
•Some brands, like Fairmont, have a different individual dedicated to each social media touch point. Team members can spend from 30 to 50% of their time on social media and the remainder on traditional marketing.

If you are a franchisor, owner or operator, you may be guiding your team to tighten the relationship between revenue management and marketing. You know that promotions which include precisely targeted incentives can drive incremental revenue to the top line; social media gives you tools to serve them up in engaging ways.

Julie Keyser-Squires, APR, and CFO, vice president of Softscribe Inc., is passionate about using technology to connect people and ideas. You can give her a shout at Julie@softscribeinc.com, on twitter @Juliesquires, make a comment on her business blog, “First Light, and sign up for her free quarterly video email snack at www.marketingsnacks.com.

Will the Economic Stimulus Bill Create New Franchise Opportunities?

The following article was written by Guest Author, Ray Haliber. By accessing his franchise website at www.azfranchises.com, you’ll find Ray offers a resource for entrepreneurs to find and research franchise opportunities for sale from A to Z. Ray has ten years’ experience as a small business broker in Arizona. His small business site may be previewed at www.azbop.comfinancialaid-photo.

Will the Economic Stimulus Bill Create New Franchise Opportunities?
as submitted by Ray Haliber

With the recent passing of the huge economic stimulus package there has been some speculation about whether some of its provisions will create or spur the development of new franchise business opportunities in certain industries like health care or renewable energy. The obvious question is whether major government incentives and investments in these 2 highlighted industry sectors will create sustainable franchise business models after the initial boost from the stimulus spending bill plays out.

In my opinion the answer is that this is a very realistic development given the scope of the stimulus bill and some of stated new policies of the current administration regarding health care and energy. In fact, potential small business opportunities emerging from the stimulus bill are becoming more obvious, (particularly in renewable energy) and appear to have a very good chance to create some viable franchising opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Heath Care: According to what I have read, the economic stimulus package includes nearly $20 billion dollars to help digitize or computerize health and medical records in the United States. I would think this could present some serious potential opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs because obviously private companies will become involved in providing services for this enormous and long term project.

Even with the recent news that Sam’s Club and Dell intend to enter this market by selling software to digitize medical records doesn’t mean there will not be plenty of other niche opportunities and markets available to develop and service. According to recent stats only about 17% of doctors offices are currently digitizing medical records. And with nearly 800,000 active physicians in the United States, many with small to medium size practices, their will undoubtedly be opportunities for smaller players to develop business franchising models that can service business opportunities that emerge from this program.

Renewable Energy: From what I have read and heard nearly $60 billion of the $790 billion stimulus bill will be spent on alternative and clean energy projects and other environmental related projects and research. This includes billions of dollars for greening government buildings, weatherizing homes and businesses, and providing significant tax credits and grants to help fund and subsidize renewable energy applications across the board.

Surely this type of massive government investment will almost certainly spawn a number of new franchising concepts to service the emerging business and consumer needs that will be created by this commitment. This would conceivably include the development of solar power related service franchises that would provide installation of photovoltaic panels for residential and commercial applications. Or green consulting franchises that would provide expertise to commercial businesses on how to “go green” or conserve energy. Or maybe new home improvement related franchise businesses will emerge that specializes in weatherization and residential energy efficiency.

In summary it’s going to be an interesting time to see how the franchising industry will adapt and ultimately capitalize on the potential business opportunities and new markets that will be created and supported by the stimulus bill spending. My guess is that it should ultimately produce some viable and profitable franchise companies that may someday become familiar household names and brands.