Expand Your Brand Using Other People’s Money by Using Franchisor Strategies

Back many years ago, I met a fellow franchisor, he’d built a nice company with 250 franchisees which operated Kiosks in shopping malls – you know those carts in malls that sell various wares. What he did was make each Kiosk its own business, at first as “independent contractors” but later as Franchisees due to the Franchise Law rules. Each franchisee had to sign a two-year franchise agreement with non-automatic renewal, where the Franchisor could merely take over the business, location, as he already had the lease-space agreement with the malls, including the corporations that owned many malls around the country.

After two years, he stopped renewing franchise agreements, took control of all those little businesses, and then sold the whole thing and retired a very wealthy man. Unfortunately, many of the independent contractors, turned into Franchisees were forced out after building up their businesses and providing a substantial amount of goodwill. The franchisor’s concept was built by the blood, sweat and tears of all those individuals, who did make decent money in the meantime, but were then basically terminated when their franchise agreement term ended.

Recently, there is an interesting company in the “Handy Man” sector which has a franchise agreement that states it may unilaterally buy back the franchisee’s business at any time after 2-years of operating. In the Franchisor’s option to purchase there is a mathematical formula for valuation of the Franchisee’s business that negate the value of any “goodwill” and allows the Franchisee to choose if he will see at “Fair Market Value” of assets (used equipment, office furniture) or twice the earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITA).

Why would a Franchise Buyer buy a franchise like that? I suppose there might be a few situations where it makes sense for instance, the Franchisee just needs a couple of years of income and believes they can build up a good “book” of business, and if it starts to go South, the Franchisor may buy him/her out and they can move on, less risk? But what if the Franchisor chooses not to buy and the business fails? What if the business succeeds wildly and the Franchisee is forced to sell-out a thriving and growing business?

If you think about it, it is a brilliant strategy for a Franchisor, have others build your business, take all the risks, and if they succeed, you terminate their franchise agreement instead of renewal, and if they fail, you simply let them fail, then sell that territory to a new franchisee, until one succeeds and then you just keep winning and building on the backs of others. As a franchisee buyer it may be wise to recognize such strategies and be weary of them, unless it serves your temporary purpose of a short term business and solid temporary cash flow based on your abilities and the Franchisor’s model. Think on this.

Jobs You Can Do From Your Dorm Room

College students are going to head back to school soon and that means many of them will have to leave their summer jobs behind. While many students will try to find jobs on campus, others will try to stretch the money they saved during the summer. For those that want to make money, but don’t want to work on campus, working from a dorm room may be perfect. These telecommuting jobs are flexible to allow you to keep studying top priority while earning money.

Freelance Writing

Business owners want freelance writers to provide content for their websites. You can write for blogs on topics that interest you. All you have to do is find business owners in niches you like that need content for their sites.

You can find work on Elance, oDesk, and Craigslist. You may have to start working for a lower wage than others to gain experience and a reputation, but once you have that, you’ll be able to get higher paying work.

Data Entry

Many companies are outsourcing their data entry now because it keeps costs low. The data you must enter can be delivered to you via email, and then you’ll be granted access to their database. You will need to take the information sent to you and input it into the database. These jobs are paid by project or per hour depending on the company.

You can find jobs like this on Elance and oDesk, but you can also search large job sites such as Monster.com and Indeed.com for them.

Transcription

Transcription involves taking a recording and typing it out. Many doctors, lawyers, and other professionals need this service because they don’t have the time to convert their recordings to text. You’ll receive audio files via email or mail, and then you’ll have to type them. You can send the text file back via email, which makes it perfect for a college student working in a dorm room.

You can find these jobs on large job search sites because that’s where professionals usually post their needs for transcriptions. You can also work for transcription companies such as Aberdeen, AccuTran Global and Capital Typing.

Get Started Today

The best time to start looking for a job is now. The sooner you start looking, the more prepared you’ll be when you get to school. You’ll be able to learn the jobs you receive before you start classes too. Start with the sites mentioned here and then you can start exploring other options if you have the time.

High Performance Teams

How does your team perform? How do you rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is poor and 10 excellent? Is it massively successful constantly delivering way past all expectations? Is it full of positively minded people working together to achieve challenging business goals? Is it autonomous, responding effectively to challenges and opportunities large and small?

If the answer to these questions is “yes”, congratulations, you can score a 10 and don’t need to read any more of this article. In fact, as you are likely to have plenty of time for high yield activities, give me a call to discuss how your team got there.

Sadly, this isn’t the case for most of us. Your team may not be a “10” but I doubt if it’s a “1” either. Hopefully you are somewhere on the path and have the right attitudes, values and approach develop your team into a “10”.

Empowerment is a key ingredient to the high performing team. If your team feels undervalued, lacking in authority and capability, frightened to make the slightest mistake it’s unlikely to be hitting the high notes. Perhaps there are some individuals that show real potential but others are negative and unproductive?

Are you creating the right conditions for success? Does the team have a clear understanding of what is required of them? Have you a vision of what success looks like? Are the goals you have set, or been set, shared and meaningful to all team members? Reward and fear motivation is common in business today. A common example is rewarding success with a bag of money and punishing failure with the sack. The trouble is we get used to this, we need more and more money to get the same level of motivation and become resilient to threats of the sack.

Internal motivation is far more lasting and effective. It needs more work, it needs you to really understand your people and what drives them. If you know this and use personal, meaningful goals your team will self-motivate. If you have linked their personal, meaningful goals to team and company goals you are well on the way to a successful team.

The whole team is raring to go, but have they the capability to execute? Are team members allowed to make decisions? Have you delegated effectively packaging the task with the necessary authority and resources? Effective delegation is important to team success and team growth. It is a wonderful growth tool for teams and individuals. It does, however need certain attitudes and process to succeed.

Flexibility is a good starting point. The way you do a task may not be the way a team member does. They can be innovative and bring unexpectedly good results given the opportunity. It’s worth letting people test out new ideas. Sometimes different is really good, just think of Amazon and Facebook.

How self-confident are you? Enough to release authority and responsibility to team members? Enough to heap praise publicly when they bring success? Lack of self-confidence and micromanagement are the enemy of productivity. Conquer them and you will become an indispensable profit and productivity generator both for yourself and your company.

Focus on results don’t strive for perfection. Perfect is no friend of productivity. Set standards that are right for the job and always be mindful of the Pareto principle. 80% of your results are going to come from 20% of activities. This means a lot of the work delegated will contribute relatively little to overall performance. It’s intelligent to accept less than perfect in relatively unimportant areas.

Taking credit for the work of others, not really listening to their ideas or working solo crush team morale and productivity. Some people believe effective leaders must always be in total control. They see this as the way “good bosses” should behave. Many bosses do behave this way but I question if they are good. It’s most certainly not the way a good leader behaves so, if that’s what you want to be I suggest you avoid this behaviour entirely.

Delegation develops employees into effective team members. Risk is inherent but you can balance it against the likely reward in terms of personal and team growth and overall performance. It’s also possible to limit risk by adopting a multi-level delegation process.

Tiffany is a bright, driven girl with her foot on the first rung of the marketing ladder. She is doing a great job creating very successful direct mail campaigns. She is eager for something new and looks like a good candidate for development. You have just the task and would like to delegate it to her. It’s running an event which will be a challenge for her but offers a great development opportunity.

A good first step is to her for an opinion. You might say “I’m thinking of doing things differently and wondered who you think might be able to handle this task, perhaps even you? This gives her the opportunity to express opinions but not feel forced to accept the task.

If Tiffany accepts, consider this approach. The first time the opportunity to run an event comes along you run it, let her watch you do it and ask questions. The second time let Tiffany do it with you assisting and helping out where needed. The third time she runs the event, but this time without your support unless absolutely needed, reporting at regular intervals. Subsequent times she always runs events unaided and only reports in exceptional circumstances.

One seemingly small point is very important for Tiffany’s confidence and status in the team. If she performs well, make the praise loud, long and public. If she needs coaching make it supportive, private and non-judgemental.

I hope this is useful to you and help you build your own high performance team.

Build A Business From Scratch

My passions have always been gardening and painting. The two seem to go together and this was born out when starting a business in landscaping. It was natural to paint a picture of the finished design in my head. This led me to undertake counseling for those who could not imagine what a garden should look like. My long-standing interest in the outdoors held me in good stead as my little fingers were always in dirt from the time I could toddle.

Once advertising started and my first consulting job came to me it led to other things. The lady was so impressed with what she was offered that she paid me $400 to draw a plan of it. This was something right up my ally.

Putting my imagination to work the plan was a great success and before long there were some 2-3 per week along with consulting jobs. The main requiring for doing something like this is confidence. If one shows that they know what they are talking about and can satisfy their client with quality work, then it has to be a success.

Of course my enterprising didn’t stop there. The main point of this article is that people need to step out of their comfort zone and use their hobbies and interests to build a business. They have to start from scratch to do it but if they have enough confidence and knowledge they will success.

Mistakes will happen and that is the learning curve one has to go through. Costs of consulting work doesn’t have to be over the top as there is no outlay to doing it. Start small and build up. For consulting my charge was $75 and that is more than affordable when most landscape designers might charge 10 times that much for the same advice.

Norma Holt has knowledge that enables her to understand many issues. Political, social and behavioral problems are usually on her list for discussion as well as anything to do with the Spirit of the Universe and reincarnation, which she experienced. She is happy to hear from any of her readers.

Best Expense Management Solution By Thinking Outside The Box

This is how not to handle expense management in your business. Whilst a substantial part of managing expenses can be compartmentalized into how people make claims, and how those claims are processed, there are times when you’d benefit from thinking outside the box.

To illustrate the point, I’m going to look at telephones, the way your business uses them, and the way changing that can be part of an expense management strategy. Many years ago, in another life, I asked a senior manager how much he spent on line rental and calls for the fax machines in his business. He didn’t know, and asked his secretary to being in the relevant invoices.

She appeared carrying two large ring binders. Looking at them, he asked her for just the fax machine invoices. She pointed at the binders. “Those are the fax machine invoices,” she said.

He had no idea at the scale of the costs involved, and we immediately set about reducing them. And there’s the lesson: Show me any cost you’re not controlling, and I’ll show you an unnecessary expense.

Of course, fax machines are consigned to history with quill pens and carbon paper, but let’s stick with telephones; we still use those. Here are some areas in which you might be spending too much for mobiles, (and here’s the important part) without being aware of it.

1. Data roaming: Set up a company policy that it should be turned off except for short periods to allow emails to be delivered or sent, rather than being on 24/7. Data roaming charges can be high, and can mount significantly if you have a large number of employees travelling

2. Use one company: Don’t have a series of providers. Restricting services to just one allows you to negotiate better deals for new handsets and connectivity

3. Go for VOIP: For office phones there are lots of ways to use the internet to make calls, giving the traditional desktop phone a new lease of life. VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and means there’s no need to have a traditional phone contract, so long as you have good broadband connectivity. Providers of phone systems like this will usually deal with you on a rolling monthly contract, and their systems are extremely, so you can add or subtract handsets almost at will.

4. Be careful with perks. If employees are able to use company phones for personal use (and we’re back to mobiles here), then that permission should be restricted. OK, make short personal calls, but talking for hours to an aunt in Australia, or streaming a box set to a hotel room in Berlin could soon set you back a considerable – and unwelcome – amount.

5. Don’t leave legacies. When an employee leaves the company, make sure to cancel or transfer their part of the phone number, and don’t toss the handset into the back of a drawer. Re-use it, or send it for recycling _ once you’ve cleared any company data from it.

More than just number reduction

Consider the benefits that come alongside mobile phone use, and blurring the distinction between company and private life. When you’ve automated your expenses by implementing a solution based on business expense management software using an app, everyone’s going to need a phone so they can use your system.

Allowing an employee to make personal calls, to that agreed cost limit, might have a payback in loyalty. It might mean they’re more amenable to taking a work-related call out of hours, as part of a bit of give and take – but make sure that you track the benefit so that all the necessary tax is paid. There’s no future in saving money by cheating the taxman.

Applying this kind of thinking to all aspects of your business can make a significant difference to your bottom line, and be a useful ally to your business expense management software.

What to Remember When Choosing Office Chairs

Posture is very important because it allows our spine to be aligned properly. When there is a problem with our posture a lot of things can happen. Poor posture may cause misalignment of the spinal cord which in turn can lead to several problems like osteoporosis, headache, stiff neck, back pains, and it can even lower down confidence. This is why it is important to carefully practice good posture and use tools that will allow you to have continuous good posture. For instance, choice of seat is important to ensure you maintain good posture practice.

If you work in an office, you’ll most probably be seated the whole day except for the occasional bathroom break or during your lunch break. If this is the case, you need to ensure you have a good seat so you are seated comfortably all throughout the day. An orthopaedic office chair will definitely help your back during the long hours in the office as it is specially designed to meet your postural needs. This chair has the right measurement to ensure you are not just maintaining the right posture but you are comfortable at work as well.

Good orthopaedic office chairs are usually 16 to 21 inches from the floor. Making sure of this height is essential because this allows your feet to be planted firmly flat on the floor. There should be 2 to 4 inches space between your knees and the back of your chair when you sit down. This allows free movement and comfort. It is essential to always be comfortable while sitting down the whole day so you will not experience any body pains and you can complete your tasks without discomfort.

The most important thing to ensure when choosing and orthopaedic chair is its lumbar support quality. This will allow not only comfort but ensure you lumbar area will not be stressed since it will be supporting your upper body weight the whole day while you are seated. Adding support and comfort to lumbar area will prevent any postural problems and discomfort. Strain on your spinal cord may also cause slipped disk or dislocation which can be very painful and will cause greater problems when it impedes veins in the spinal column. It helps if there is good cushion on the chair for maximum comfort. Foams too soft are not ideal. Having a firm padding made up of breathable cloth can be comfortable at the same time while ensuring good postural alignment.

What You Can Learn From My Summer Vacation

‘Remember in our youth the standard return-to-school “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay? This summer has given me several lessons that have value for you today.

The story begins with a local police officer knocking on my door at 9:00 one night, asking me about my brother, Billy. Of course, you know what happens next–I find out that Billy died in a motorcycle accident a few hours earlier. He was 57, divorced, with no children. He was a floor layer, a regular ordinary guy. Like you and your team members.

First lesson: we are in a business of relationships. Don’t let corporate purchasing and hard bid tactics make you forget this. While price is part of the purchase consideration, the quality of your work and the relationships you foster with your clients, customers, and co-workers are paramount. I first realized this as word about Billy spread through the grapevine and I received numerous calls, emails, and cards of condolence from across the country. These were unexpected and much appreciated.

I saw it again at his wake. Having worked his trade in the New York area for over 30 years, my brother was well-known. On that Memorial Day weekend, we were visited by many of his associates. Not just tile guys, but the Foreman from the Laborers, and a superintendent from a General Contractor, to name a few. There were even guys who had worked with our father in the business-and some even remembered when I had helped out on a few jobs, way back when! Connections between people-that’s what it’s about.

Next lesson: how is your health? Construction is hard work, yeah. But it isn’t a substitute for quality exercise and eating. Billy wasn’t in bad shape, but he wasn’t in good shape, either. He loved to eat; cooking was his hobby. He didn’t exercise. And he had coronary artery disease. In fact, he may have had a health crisis that triggered the crash. We don’t know for sure. But we do know that he was not taking care of himself and now, he’s gone. Are you taking care of yourself? (If not for yourself, then for those who love you.)

“Divorced with no kids” sounds like an easy estate to deal with, right? Well, it would be if

  1. there had been a will (there wasn’t)
  2. there had been up-to-date beneficiaries on his life insurance policy (his ex-wife is still listed, although that wasn’t his wish; he just “never got around to” changing beneficiaries even though they’d been divorced for several years), and
  3. all his records had been kept in one place (not even close).

Looking through files and folders is never easy, but having to weed through pay stubs from 1986 makes the process even harder. I realized that my finances and directives are in a similar state of disorganization. I am currently creating what I call the Red Envelope, where all of that information is being placed to make the process easier for whoever needs to deal with it. We need to do this for the benefit of those around us. If you are a business owner or the head of a household, this becomes even more important.

By now, you may be fed up with my personal ramblings. But remember what my brother did for a living. He was a regular guy, he was just like you and the guys who work for you and with you. I am hoping you can learn from him so your team is better off.

Isn’t It Time to Wake-Up?

People (at all ages), often say things like, “you made me feel this way”, etc. It just simply isn’t true. Only you decide how you’re going to feel. No one has that power over you.

You get to decide whether or not to react or respond to someone/something. Not the other way around. Now, if you notice you constantly feel bad around someone, you will want to look at why that is. Are you needing to work on setting boundaries with others, is there another reason why this is persisting, or does this person have a negative energy about them and it’s time to take control of who you’re surround yourself with? In any event, it is still your decision on how you react. I remember being told this by someone years ago when I was first entering the self-development arena. I got it intellectually, but didn’t really “get it” on a deeper level. This involves a lot of inner work, and it starts with taking responsibility for every single thing happening in your life.

It amazes me when people complain about not getting the results in their life. You are your only problem. If you aren’t getting what you want externally, something is off internally. What is happening on the outside of you is a direct result of your thinking. Always. Regardless if it’s negative or positive. You need to look inside. Who are you being or not being? What type of thinking is causing you to stay stuck? Do you believe you have to struggle or think the potential clients you are talking to just aren’t ready to take action? You are fooling yourself. This is your subconscious trying to keep you stuck. It has a positive intention, which is to keep you where you feel safe. Growing a business involves risk and putting yourself out there. This can be scary and to the subconscious it’s not a safe zone.

In order to figure out where your thinking is off, you will need to look. If you are speaking to your ideal client and they decide not to move forward with your service, the problem is you. Something is going wrong in the sales conversation. It is likely that you’re stopping yourself from asking those tougher questions because you care too much what they think of you. However, if you don’t ask those tougher questions, they will not see that they need your help and that you’re the one to provide the help.

Look at the results you’re getting/not getting and determine if you’re where you want to be. If they’re in line with your vision, then awesome! If not, take a hard look at your thinking. No one is to blame but you.

Those are some common themes that I see preventing business owners from moving forward. Running a business involves a commitment to doing whatever it takes to succeed. Are you willing to take responsibility for your life / actions / results? Once you do this, you will be amazed at what starts to happen.

What You Need To Know About App Notifications

Notifications rank amid the most widespread features in mobile apps. Whatever they may concern – a message or a comment in a social network, an update of an app, an announcement or a reminder – notifications are made to bring useful information to users in a convenient way. However, these seemingly simple parts of your software require as much thinking as anything else, especially in terms of the message you want to send. After all, if you pay less attention to tinier things, it’s much easier to make them bad.

What’s In A Notification?

Apple divides notifications into local and push (remote) ones. The difference has been very clearly set by Apple:

– Local notifications are scheduled by an application and delivered on the same device.
– Push notifications, also known as remote notifications, are sent by your server to the Apple Push Notification service, which pushes the notification to devices.

Aside from alerts and banners, notifications include sounds and badges, as exemplified by iOS. This is what’s visible to users. Badge numbers usually indicate a number of specific things (upcoming events, unread messages, or updates /files to download). An app can also specify a short distinct sound to alert the user.

Functional Notifications: Right Time, Right Place

Local notifications are delivered to users when the app runs in the foreground. They are often used for asking users to rate the app and write a review, offering rewards, offering to download and install a new update, as well as offering to show new features afterwards. All this works for encouragement of users, for the sake of rich experience.

Push notifications involve interactions with the server, and they are usually delivered to users when the app runs in the background. While local notifications engage users, push notifications draw users back to the app.

In a nutshell, quality of the message defines its success. Both push and local ones are widely used in mobile marketing. And it’s quite easy to keep in mind the following things that will help your notifications be healthy.

Notifications In Marketing: How Not To Overdo

Notifications are made to draw users’ attention. But for the same reason they get overused, since any app owner can find so much to inform users of. But notifications in marketing must mean effective dialogue and clear answers to their questions, not mobile spamming. Let your users decide whether they want to receive anything, how they will receive it, and which topics would be relevant for them.

– Abusive apps are generally hated – irrelevant and interruption notifications are treated by many as eye-offenders, and are hated as much as irrelevant ad banners with striking colors. While users love the value that’s given by apps, they hate everything valueless.

– Content and frequency of notifications matter. The less personalized these notifications are, the more annoying they will seem to users. Different users find value in different information and different message. Then they can decide whether to open the app or dismiss the notification.

– Timely notifications mean success. The schedule of notifications must be properly written, with adjustments to time zones. They can be recurring – daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

– It is always recommended to take notice that push notifications, requiring Internet access, drain the smartphone battery – another good reason for not to overdo it.

The rule here is turn to the right people with the right offer and be moderate at that. Unfortunately, each of us must have encountered at least one app where this rule is broken to a certain extent. Instead of location-aware and relevant offers, news, and reminders, users can simply get a perfect anti-engagement tool, which will be abandoned.

Office Design for Improving Productivity

Sometimes, adding chalkboards and whiteboards can seem handy, but there is more than you can do to improve your office space. Here are just a few office design tips to help improve your overall productivity.

1. Idea Storage

One of the worst things that can happen for creative people is that they have a great idea but do not have anywhere to write it down, and they lose it. There is also the chance that you will end up doing a huge amount of research on a topic that you are not going to use. Whiteboards and notebooks are a great option for writing your ideas down, so you can continue to work on your main task for the day.

2. Remove the Clutter

It is important that you are regularly cleaning your office. Clutter comes from your creative mind working, but it can make focusing and getting your work done difficult. You should make sure that you have enough storage for all your items and that you have access to your most used objects.

3. Bring in Some Nature

We are biological creatures, so we should be spending some amount of time outside every single day. However, being inside all the time has a huge effect on our work. While it would be nice to spend a lot of time outside, for most jobs, this is not really possible. If you cannot take your work outside, why not bring nature to you? Try opening the shades and letting fresh air. This could help you feel more energized and help you get more done. Plants can also be a great option to add to your office, you just have to remember to water it.

4. Table and Chairs

We have all experienced having to sit at a table and having to consistently having to readjust to be comfortable, so we could focus on our work. This is why you should take the time to find a desk and chair that both fits your body and the way that you sit. This can take some adjusting to if you are working on an office where you do not have control over when items are ordered. If you are working at home, try to sit in chairs that you are thinking about buying for around 30 minutes to find out if they are comfortable for you.