Building a Franchise Empire from Your Home

These days, a number of franchisees can actually run their franchises from their homes. For example, Cruise Planner, Vanguard Cleaning Systems, Snap-on Tools, and Matco Tools are all franchises that aspiring franchisees can run from the comfort of their own homes. But working from home is easier said than done. There is no magical secret to successfully working from home. However, these three simple tips and tricks can help you boost productivity and put you on the road toward franchise success.

Set and keep regular office hours. Believe it or not, many people who work from home complain about working too much, not too little. That is because when you work from home, “work” hours and “home” hours tend to merge into one endless day. Your workday can feel never ending. That is why you need to set and keep regular office hours. You don’t have to follow a standard 9 to 5 schedule. Go with what works for you. The key is that during these set office hours, you need to be working — not mindlessly flicking through Facebook, not doing an extra load of laundry so that junior’s soccer uniform is clean for the big game, and not taking personal phone calls. Set a schedule and stick to it. If you waste your working hours, your professional life will inevitably spill over into your home life. Then when your son wants to play a game of catch after dinner or your partner wants to unwind with a glass of wine, you will inevitably be stuck in front of your laptop. Setting and keeping regular office hours requires self-discipline, but it is key to maintaining your sanity.

Dress to impress. Even if you don’t have an office to go to, you should still get up and get ready every morning. “Getting dressed makes the home office more like a real office, and tells and reminds everyone, especially you, that even though you may be sitting on the sofa reading, browsing the Web, or talking on the phone, that you are actually working,” explained Catherine Waldron, an education specialist with a language curriculum company. The bottom line? It might be tempting to manage your franchise in your pajamas, but it isn’t a good idea.

Maintain a designated work area. Last but not least, you need a designated work area. It doesn’t have to be an office, but you do need at least a corner dedicated to your work, somewhere were you can keep your files and paperwork without having to shove it aside when the family comes home. And make sure you have a comfortable office chair in your chosen workspace. “It may sound trivial, but it’s not — also buy yourself a comfortable business chair,” explained Frank Niles, the co-founder and partner of an executive counseling firm. “You’ll be more inclined to stay working. As a result, you’ll be more productive.”

Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

3 Ways to Make Yourself Memorable as a Small Business Owner

If you are a small business owner or franchisee, one of the keys to success is being memorable. How can you make yourself more memorable? Take a look at these three tips.

Network, network, network. There is no getting around it: Most successful entrepreneurs are master networkers. And no, they aren’t just good at meeting people. Basically, they know how to leverage relationships. “Networking and relationship building has been a way of life for me,” explained Billy Dec, CEO and founder of restaurant and entertainment development company Rockit Ranch Productions. “I never look at new or potential contacts for ‘immediate gratification’ nor do I try to fit them into a specific category. Rather, I spend time cultivating a relationship, knowing that if the time is right down the line they may be an important building block for my success or vice versa.”

Understand the value of authentic communication. People are much more apt to remember authentic conversations. That means you shouldn’t just look at contacts and evaluate what they can offer you. You need to think about what you can offer them. “Suggest a get-together to help them out with something they need, invite them to an event you think they’d be interested in attending,” Dec said. “In general, always be of value to others. Don’t think about what you can take.” Don’t just collect a business card. Take a notation about the when, why, and where you met. Follow up with the contact personally. If you take the time to genuinely remember someone, he or she is more apt to take the time to genuinely remember you.

Learn how to be a connector. Once you have mastered the art of networking, it’s time to learn how to connect. Connectors are good at putting their contacts in contact with one another. Helping to connect other people because it will benefit them, even though it won’t necessarily benefit you, is the key to being memorable. “If I was putting on a fashion show I would draw together contacts I’d met spanning different areas including designers, salons, models, liquor companies, and more,” Dec said. “This exposed everyone to new potential partners and consumers and ultimately allowed them to tap into my resources, so everyone benefited.”


Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him onTwitter for latest updates.

Jeff Sinelli: 3 Critical Questions to Ask Before You Franchise


Think you’re ready to start franchising your business? Not so fast. Franchising is a lucrative business model, and it can be an excellent way to expand your brand. But before you embark on the franchising journey, you need to make sure that you are fully prepared. Because if you are not careful, you can fail as a franchisor and possible put your business at risk too.

Jeff Sinelli of WhichWich fame recently discussed 3 important questions to ask yourself before franchising.  As a 3-time franchisor and current CEO of Which Wich, Sinelli knows what he is talking about.  Here are the 3 question he suggests asking before diving into the deep end of the franchising pool.

Why now? Choosing to franchise your business is just like any other major life choice — having kids, purchasing a house, choosing to get a graduate degree — there is a right and a wrong time for it. After all, if you had just lost your job, it probably wouldn’t be an ideal time to purchase a home. Think about why now is the right time to franchise. Do you have the necessary resources? Are you financially able to do so? Will you be able to make the necessary changes in your schedule to accommodate extra work? You need a clear and solid reason as to why now is a good time to start franchising. In other words, you need a clear understanding of your purpose, incentive, and sales as well the needs of your clientele.

Is there a line out the door? If there is no popular demand for your business, it probably isn’t a wise idea to jump into franchising. For the franchise model to be successful, the product or service your business offers needs to be lucrative. It needs to attract other entrepreneurs. If you are having trouble making ends meet, don’t expect others to want to jump onboard and adopt your business model. Jeff Sinelli, founder of the Dallas-based franchise Which Wich, explains that you really need a line of customers out the door before considering franchising. “If people are willing to wait for your service, in our instant gratification culture, your next responsibility is to evaluate the line. Are these returning customers? Are they asking questions about getting involved? These are signs that you may be on your way to a franchise”  said Sinelli.

Have you put in the time? It’s not all about product and popular demand. Franchising requires a significant amount of time and experience on the part of the franchisor. If you haven’t been in business for at least one year, you need to drop the idea of franchising. You absolutely need a bare minimum of one full year of company history, data, operations, systems, and sales records for a clear idea of how your company would operate in all four seasons. Without a history to provide data on the patterns and fluctuations in your company, there is no way that you can plan for the future.

From the outside, franchising might seem like an easy way to grow your business, but it’s not all that easy. If you can’t come up with clear, compelling answers to these three questions, you probably aren’t ready to franchise.


To learn more about Jeff Sinelli, please see this link:

Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

Auto Industry Boom Helps to Spur Franchise Industry Growth

There is good news in the franchise industry! Last month, the U.S. added an impressive 25,000 franchise jobs, according to the ADP National Franchise Report. That’s a pretty significant jump up from October, which saw 16,970 new franchises jobs added — an increase of almost 9,000 jobs. It also exceeds the 6-month average of 22,000. All in all, more jobs is good news for franchising. But what is driving this extra growth? Well, the franchise industry should sending its thanks to the auto industry.

“Franchise jobs added increased sharply in November to a level not seen for several months,” Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president of ADP Research Institute, explained in a recent statement. “Much of the rebound came from the auto parts and dealers segment, which added about 5,000 more jobs than in October.”

The auto industry’s performance has historically been unpredictable, but it appears a boom in the last month or so is helping to drive franchise industry growth. In October of 2014, auto parts and dealer franchises only added 630 franchise jobs across the U.S. Last month, however, that jumped up to a staggering 4,740.

Less surprisingly, the restaurant industry also helped to spur growth. Typically an engine behind growth in franchise jobs, the industry added roughly 11,820 jobs last month. In addition, the accommodations industry added about 1,820 jobs, the business services industry added 1,660, food retailers added 1,060, and the real estate industry added 420.

Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

How to Find the Perfect Franchise Location

businessman using binoculars

Location, location, location. As with any business when it comes to successfully running a single franchise or multiple franchises, location is a critical factor for success. It can make you or break you. So how can you find the perfect franchise location? Be sure to check out the following tips and tricks.

1. Know Thy Franchise.

In order to effectively choose your location you need to know your franchise concept inside and out. Who are your target customers? Where do they live? What drives traffic to the business? Do you need a highly visible location because you rely primarily on impulse sales? Are your customers coming to you or are you going to them? Remember, there is no universally “good” location; choosing an appropriate location is contingent upon the needs of your business. The perfect spot for one franchise might fail to meet even the most basic of needs of another.

2. Rent vs Traffic Flow (Rent vs Profit).

When it comes time to evaluate the actual rent you are going to pay at different locations, you really have to consider what you are going to get in return for your money in terms of customer volume, visibility, and profits. Sure, you can save a lot of money by renting a space out of the way or where the traffic flow is less. But what if you went a little on the high side with the location with the highest traffic flow? Chances are the higher priced rent will lead to more awareness, more customers, and larger profits. Never underestimate the benefit of visibility and traffic volume. Virtually every franchise business I know that opted to “go big” and risk it with higher rents and higher volumes were successful in their strategies. And most businesses that went with lower volume locations either struggled or saw much lower revenues. To evaluate demographics and site selection, consult services like Demographics Now orBuxton.

3. What Happened to the Previous Tenant.

In the case of existing infrastructure, it’s a good idea to check and see what business was in your space before. If it was a similar business, then it may be time to consider a new location. Or at least consider why they failed. You don’t want to make the same mistake as the last guy. How many times have you seen restaurants fail in the same spot year after year? Sometimes a business can fail due to infrastructure issues. Maybe the site has problems with plumbing, bugs or rodents, bad tenants next door. Be sure to consider if any of those factors might affect you too.

4. Parking.

Let’s face it, parking is always an issue, and most times a headache. So the question is… does the location have adequate parking? And, are there other tenants that might be hijacking all your spots? A perfect example of this parking lot hijacking phenomenon exists right here in Austin. There is a very popular quick service taco stand here that completely congests the parking lots at all their locations. So much so that that other vendors have no spots whatsoever despite signs such as “This spot reserved for Ace Cleaners” or “No Taco Parking in These Spots.” If your lot does have issues, do customers have access to convenient parking nearby? Considering overflow street parking is always an option and good idea. If parking is a problem, customers might just go elsewhere for your products and services.

5. Street Access.

The ease in which people can actually reach your franchise is another huge factor that can be easily overlooked. If your customers cannot easily access your locations both ways in traffic, you might be limiting your success. For example, some streets have large medians or stop lights that may prevent entry into your facility. So be mindful of traffic flow and any obstacles.

6. Signage.

Signage is always a big deal so be sure that your franchise location has clearly visible signage from the street. Be sure that there are no bushy trees or buildings obstructing the view of your signage from primary traffic arteries.

7. Other Tenants.

What about other tenants in the same strip mall or general area? Are the other tenants nearby respectable and in-line with your brand or clientele? Or will they interfere or contaminate your franchise’s brand or image? Don’t just assume that a site would make a good location. Do some analysis. Remember, in typical suburban and urban shopping centers you will likely be sharing space with other tenants so it is important you understand who these other tenants are and how they will (or will not) affect your business. Depending on your demographics, it can sometimes be beneficial to position your business near a major store, such as major department store, Starbucks, or a grocery store, as this can help to attract traffic and drive sales. However, you do want to be careful not place your franchise too close to a competitor.

8. Proximity to Your Other Locations.

If you already have one or more franchise locations open you may want to consider carefully the geo-position of your next location. Commonly, single-unit owners will try to “canvas” a city with their second location and place it quite a distance from their original location. They often do this in hopes of raising awareness of brand across the city. From my experience, this is generally a bad idea. Why? With locations spread all over town it makes it harder to take advantage of marketing campaigns, harder to deliver inventory to your stores, harder to fix things that break, harder to swap employees between stores, and more difficult to manage in general. If you are the owner operator, be prepared to rack up some serious miles on your car. A better approach is to pick the best location nearest your current location that doesn’t cannibalize sales. This will save you and your team tons of commute time, allow you to cross-staff employees, quickly hotshot inventory and fix repairs as well as greatly improve impact of marketing efforts.

9. Infrastructure and Landlord.

  Be sure to check out the building very carefully as well as the landlord too. Consult with an independent building inspector so you get an honest assessment on the lease space. Talk with other tenants to see if there are any problems with the building or landlord. You can usually get a sense of the situation by talking to other existing tenants.

10. Consult With Your Attorney.

Before signing the lease and closing the deal, consult your attorney. Yes, you do want to sweat over the details of the lease. In fact, you want to sweat over each and every detail of the lease. A professional can keep an eye out for the details you simply just do not think of. For example, they can help to make sure that there are extensions on the lease and can also help to include provisions to lower your rent should a major tenant in the shopping center close or relocate. Be sure to have an exclusive clause to prevent a competitor from moving in next door too. Sometimes a franchisor can be a great asset in the lease negotiation process. Many franchisors will actually undertake lease negotiations themselves for franchisees. But just remember, it’s your name on the lease so be sure to have all your ducks in a row when it comes down to the final lease agreement.

Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.


The Ins and Outs of Food Truck Franchises

Food Trailer

Kogi food truck, Los Angeles, California

Food trucks: it’s the latest trend in the restaurant franchise business. From Manhattan to Venice Beach, these highly mobile, highly efficient restaurants are cropping up all over the United States, attracting investment bankers and surfers alike. Most major US cities have seen a dramatic increase in food trucks over the course of last few years and roughly one quarter of Americans have reported eating food truck cuisine. All in all, this presents an incredibly lucrative business model; the trucks boast low overhead costs and the ability to serve many customers, very quickly, which means big profit margins. Even large established chains such as Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Jack-in-the-Box, In and Out, and FatBurger are experimenting with food trucks, mainly as marketing or promotional assets. So, if you are considering taking a plunge into the food truck franchise business, here are the things to consider.

Food trucks are serving much more than hot dogs.

If you’re imagining food trucks serving up cheap, fast food eats, think again. Take Farhad Assari, for example. This former investment banker has taken his love of food to the streets, literally. His Sâuçá brand is committed to delivering high quality, gourmet food. In 2010, Sâuçá won the Great Emerging Franchise Challenge. And Assari’s commitment to high-end food isn’t unique. From NYC’s Red Hook Lobster Truck to Los Angele’s Kogi BBQ to Austin’s East Side King, food trucks are serving up premium, gourmet cuisine.

Restaurants are working hard to boost their mobile presence.

The food truck trend is simply a reflection of this shift towards more mobile food. More than ever, people are crunched for time. Workers don’t have time to battle traffic or fight restaurant crowds on their lunch breaks and hungry people in general simply aren’t keen on waiting in lines. Enter the mobile food truck, which can deliver food fresh, onsite, and on time. And in spite of the many predictions that the market bubble would pop, it hasn’t. In the past several years, the food truck market has seen sustained levels of growth, from New York City to St. Louis to Orlando. Some estimates contend that there are now over 50,000 food trucks roaming US streets.

Food trucks are a bargain.

In comparison to other kinds of start-ups, food trucks are much less expensive; startup costs are low, as are maintenance costs. Furthermore, food trucks can also easily relocate. With a little market research, it’s easy to see where the demand is high. Food trucks can easily go to where the customers are, from college campuses to military bases to fairs and carnivals. With mobility comes flexibility. And when it comes to expanding your franchise to multiple locations, it’s much easier to have multiple trucks than stores.

But Wait…

It’s not quite as easy as it sounds.  Although food trucks may entice foodies on the go, food trucks can sometimes find themselves on the recieving end of complaints and ill-will from local restaurants.  Some local restaurant owners argue that food trucks steal customers and undercut prices due to low overhead. Then there is the stringent food service permit process, parking permit fees, long permit issue wait times, and health inspection requirements which can be tricky to navigate inside the tight confines of a food truck.  Then comes the social media and marketing challenges.  Since many food trucks are not in the same area everyday, there is a critical need need for communication channels that alert customers to food truck locale.

The Future

All in all, the jury is still out on the true viability of food truck franchising, but the trend is on the upswing and food trucks are definitely on the move.


this is an interesting article…

Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him onTwitter for latest updates.


Which Pizza Toppings Could Boost Your Franchise’s Sales?

Lobster? Hot Italian sausage? Prosciutto with ricotta cheese? These might not be the most traditional pizza toppings out there, but believe it or not, according to a recent study by global marketing company Affinnova, these kinds of innovative topping offerings could actually help pizza franchises boost sales.

Affinnova surveyed customers’ preferences for nearly an infinite number of pizza possibilities, tracking preferences for dozens of cheeses, sauces, crusts, and topping possibilities and combinations. All in all, the study produced more than 2.5 billion potential pizza concept combinations. The optimized pizzas were then tested against in-market specialty pizzas.

Why all of this hype about flavors? “Marketers invest millions of dollars and months of development creating great tasting food products, but taste really doesn’t matter if you can’t drive trial purchases,” Affinnova President and CEO Waleed Al-Atraqchi recently said in a statement. “To drive trial purchases, a new product must first create an expectation of a great tasting flavor – or an anticipated taste – with the consumer.”

Ultimately, the Affinnova study found that “consumer perceptions of flavors are highly flexible; flavors which at first sound uninteresting become more tempting when combined with other ingredients.” This flexibility can power breakthrough products as well as drive growth. “Products with aggressive flavors can create enough differentiation to attract new consumers,” the study noted. The fascinating Affinnova report indicates that intense flavor combinations can actually help to boost incremental sales without taking sales away from existing products. For example, the study suggests adding a lobster, prosciutto, and spicy Italian sausage pizza to Papa John’s menu would boost the company’s sales by creating new interest and drawing new demand.

Furthermore, novelty is also a key factor when it comes to consumer perception of a flavor. “Consumers are intrigued by flavors that are not widely ingrained in their local heritage,” the study explained. The idea is that these kind of novel flavor combinations attract consumer attention.

The study does prove an interesting point: Consumers like wacky flavor combinations. This point goes well beyond just the pizza franchise industry. From Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco to KFC’s Chicken Corsage to Boston Pizza’s Pizza Cake, seemingly bizarre combinations are generating brand hype and social media frenzy. Now is the time to mix up the options in the food industry.

Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.