Franchise Guru Blog

FRANCHISE FOR COVID BUSINESS SUCCESS

Since the start of COVID, which technically began in March 2020, franchise success stories continue to emerge. It is clear that a new category of business description emerged that I call “pandemic-proof.” I used to think that a really solid concept was recession-proof and Amazon resistant, but that clearly isn’t enough.

As a business owner of both franchise and independent opportunities, I immediately felt the pain of the pandemic. One of my investments is a character company, providing on-site entertainment for business and family parties. Anyone holding an in-person event these days? Another past investment was in five locations of Great Clips, a haircare franchise. Again, doors closed. Another one of my companies was deemed “Essential” by the US Government, but Illinois and Wisconsin disagreed and our employees were prevented from working. I know PPP, PPE, and EIDL inside and out!

So where is the Silver Lining?

Now that most municipalities have reopened for business, there are amazing success stories emerging. If you want sexy and hot, get ready. You’ll have to rejigger your thinking to “making money” is sexy.

Here are some of the industries that were already stable and are growing, or growing substantially, during this pandemic:
• Cost Savings for cash-strapped people, like expense reduction of utilities; insulating houses and windows
• Insurance Claims: think Mother Nature storm-related roof, siding or gutter damage; trees down; water damage, etc.
• Human Testing: it used to be random drug testing for work, now it’s COVID testing and antibodies
• Tutoring and Enrichment: young and older, now that in-person education and activities have gone virtual
• Pet care and pet supplies: a lot of dogs were adopted during COVID!
• Junk Removal, Moving, and Storage: for people who cleaned house, or had to downsize
• Home Renovation and Repair: plumbing, electric, HVAC, window treatment, carpeting/flooring
• Outsourcing labor: back-office support has gone virtual; contract and temporary jobs are up.
• Fitness: have you gained the COVID-19? Virtual classes are very effective and memberships are stable.

I run a monthly Franchise Business Owner Networking group that shares best practices. Now that we have moved into a Zoom Economy, I am fascinated to hear how technology has changed the business landscape, how comfortable these owners are leveraging virtual meetings to connect with new and existing customers, and how some of them may not need to go back to in-person meetings in order to remain successful. My owners talk about their Month Over Month, or Year Over Year, growth numbers. When I heard 700-800% year over year gains, I jumped for joy!

It is clear that COVID has NOT disrupted every business, but has strengthened many.

Curious to learn more? #taketheleap

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IS BUSINESS OWNERSHIP WITHIN REACH IN A POST-COVID WORLD?

As states are opening up as COVID subsides, and the riots and looting have stopped in most places, we have greater personal freedom and confidence to venture out and interact.  During lock-down, with periods of great inactivity, potential business owners spent a lot of time on the internet researching Plan B.  Plan B was defined by key-word searches for Business Ownership, Franchise Ownership, Starting A Business.  Initially there was a lot of caution, but there is a huge increase in “taking control” right now!

Franchise companies have demonstrated their ability to pivot, by creating innovative solutions for their franchise owners to satisfy consumer demand while addressing concern over infection/exposure.  There’s nothing like a Pandemic to challenge the old way of doing things and create new-and-improved adaptations.  The reality is that Franchise Companies are doing a much better job of identifying and migrating into the “new normal” than entrepreneurs can.  The reason for that is INFRASTRUCTURE. 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOING SOLO AND ALIGNING WITH A WINNING TEAM

Being an entrepreneur is exciting as you forge a path in a new direction, but it takes a toll you.  You have to handle all aspects of your business in the beginning, and react to bad news, plug the holes, find more suppliers or new customers, and adapt at every turning point just how you do business.  I work with a lot of these entrepreneurs through my Angel Investment Portfolio, and they can tell you the challenges their businesses face today.  Just three months ago, the economy was showing no sign of slowing down.  All business owners are trying to pivot into something that withstands COVID19.  This is a world-wide challenge, and I am sorry to see my solo friends struggling. 

On the flip side, solid franchise concepts have a leadership team in place to assure that each and every franchise owner receives innovative solutions, remains viable, understands new delivery methods and tests new revenue streams, and doesn’t have to do it all him/herself.  There is a fabric, a network of owners, some who are experiencing exactly the same thing, and others who seem insulated.  They have the benefit of sharing their experiences, asking each other for best practices, maintaining a quality experience for consumers of that brand. 

There are a lot of uncertainties, but what most business owners want to be sure about is that they will survive and thrive.  That their business is recession-resistant, or perhaps deemed to be an “essential” product or service.  Franchising is full of essential businesses, but how do you find them?  Leverage the experience of someone like me, with 30 years of investing and business success.  What’s more, I am not talking about food!

SO WHAT IS GOING TO STAND THE TEST OF TIME?

Essential is anything that must be done, or there will be dire consequences.  Think about your home, yard, and car, then add Mother Nature and Human Forgetfulness (and your home-owner’s policy): physical damage from storms, water leaks, HVAC that doesn’t work, locks that need to be unlocked.  These are B2C (Business to Consumer) services, and every home owner knows they need these services.  But equally essential are B2B (Business to Business) services that enable a small business to be recognized, liked, followed.  Services like marketing, social media messaging, back-office support… anything that allows the business owner to focus on the business, not just IN the business.

Everyday that we live with COVID19, reengagement brings new opportunities to be part of the rebuilding of our economy.  Consumers are spending money, and consumers are demanding better options to protect their health.  Wouldn’t it be fun to be a successful business owner, starting now?

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THE STAGGERING PERSONAL COST of Safer-At-Home on the Corporate Executive

The unemployment numbers, and claims for financial assistance, are through the roof.  The staggering number of claims across the US is greater than ever, as companies are reorganizing to figure out how many key employees they need to retain, and what future personnel demand will look like in “the new normal.”  Some executives are being called back to work, but not to the office routine they were in command of, and comfortable and familiar with.

Has COVID19 and the economic slow-down impacted your job? 

Have you found yourself going a bit stir crazy, suffering from isolation and The Inertia Coma that goes with it?  Maybe you’re easily agitated because you are working from home while balancing the demands of being a full-time parent, teacher/educator, spouse, and employee.  Paychecks are compromised, time outdoors is limited, and the transmission of the virus is still very uncertain.

Every day I talk to really talented high energy, productive, successful people who want access to personal control over their lives and daily decisions.  Corporate Refugees, those who have lost their job permanently, are antsy to be useful, to do something meaningful and relevant.  Corporate Executives, those who are working full-time, are looking to regain balance, but it is a new kind of Work/Life Balance now that office and kids are sharing the same space.  Many are considering their Return To Corporate Office options, while the collaboration found while working for a big company isn’t what it used to be.

My heart goes out to both types of executives.  Most don’t realize it, but Corporate America has changed.  Downsizing is commonplace, and outsourcing for talent is on the rise in our new Zoom Economy.  While they believe they are a Valuable Employee, their Boss looks at them more like a Free Agent.  Like a professional athlete, a Corporate Professional can be traded, or swapped out.  People don’t get hired forever; they get hired to serve a purpose.  And once that purpose is achieved, the employer replaces them, probably for someone with more current skills and ideas, or someone less expensive.

Why not be self-employed, and a Free Agent for real? 

Owning your own business seems like a pipe dream for many.  Discovering a new way to offer a product or service takes vision and entrepreneurial spirit.  But owning a franchise is like being a vital part of a big company, the difference is that YOU CAN NEVER BE FIRED again.  Instead of following the playbook in exchange for a paycheck, why not execute a business playbook that has already been tested and perfected, and you get to keep the fruits of your labor? 

These is the most resounding complaints that I hear I work my butt off for my boss, and to keep my job, but I don’t get the credit I deserve.  I don’t get the pay I deserve.  I don’t get the freedom I need to pivot for my customer to experience a better outcome.  I want control.  Owning a franchise checks all of these boxes!  And especially if that franchise offers a product or service that is deemed “essential” by today’s standards.

What personal cost are you experiencing by staying in the “security” of the Corporate Realm?  When do you want to become a real free agent and break free? Now?!  Let’s talk.



 

 

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Impending Recession, Uncertainty, And Why Franchise Ownership Is A Sound Investment Decision

The economy is always in flux, and the impact of a recession is as important to understand as the relief you experience during an uptick. The last few years have shown exceptional growth in jobs, savings, and investment returns. Since Labor Day of this year, there has been an increasing sense of doom, like a damp wool blanket is about to be thrown on your sunny day. The Media has been cranking out reports that a recession is drawing near, which actually holds as much promise as it does fear.

I witnessed firsthand the PTSD symptoms of the 2008-2011 recession, and many U.S. citizens today are expecting the next one to be the same. That recession was an epic failure, but also unique in many ways. Talk to a good Economist about the characteristics that created the , and you will realize that no two were equally devastating, nor universally impactful. In fact, this chart is a strong visual summary indicating the swelling surge of economic rebounds following those recessions.

 

Source: https://www.capitalgroup.com/apac/capitalideas/article/guide-to-recessions.html 

Create An Investment And Exit Plan
As an Entrepreneur, as well as an Early-Stage and Franchise Investor, I recommend that you take a broad swath of real information and start to create an investment and exit plan that takes advantage of spending patterns before, during, and after a recession. After all, there will always be an economic shiver; you just need to know how to capitalize on it. People eat, fix their cars and homes, and especially find ways to enhance their self-image and outward appearance in both up and down economic cycles.

Find Your Inner Winner And Free Up Valuable Billable Hours

Recessions create competition that just gets stronger, so it is only natural that humans turn inward and find their Inner Winner. When the times get tough, the tough get going. They take care of their minds and bodies to improve themselves, and wisely pay other people to do chores that free up billable hours.  I worked with an alpha female during the 1980s recession, and she was blatantly unapologetic about having a maid clean her apartment so that she could work six more hours a month to build her commission base, and to audit graduate-level classes to become financially conversational with high net-worth individuals. Talk about money well spent!

Protect Yourself With A Recession-Resistant Plan

As the next recession draws near, let’s have a frank conversation about leveraging your Inner Winner to succeed as a franchise business owner with a recession-resistant investment plan. We will focus on total authenticity, so that you can follow an industry standard you can completely embrace, and still maintain your own standards. I exercise radical empathy, to understand and solve your financial goals by caring about your most essential outcomes with a proven, successful business model.

Consider this – franchising is the best of both worlds – business start-up with guardrails. The franchise has seen it all through different markets and has the proven systems and processes in place to help you weather every economic storm.

Want a little more information on how Franchise ownership could change your life? Download my free ebook.

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Give Yourself the Gift of Time this Holiday Season with Semi-Absentee Franchising

It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to start planning for the business year ahead. So many distractions, though, with visiting family and friends, running to crowded stores to find gifts, or planning a holiday party for your business.

Regardless of those distractions, this is the time when I see people eager to set goals and pursue business ventures in the year ahead. A primary goal, and theme, that has emerged is that people want to have more flexibility, and a higher quality of life, to spend more time with family and friends without having to make any type of financial sacrifice.

When consulting with multi-unit franchisees and investment groups, I like to make sure the term “semi-absentee franchise” is mentioned as an option. A franchise of this nature is one that is set up to have a manager in place from the time the business is opened, meaning the franchisee doesn’t have to be a full-time owner/operator.

By hiring “industry insiders” to run the daily business operations, the business owner can roll a franchise into their portfolio and diversify, and engage in a meaningful role without the magnitude of responsibility overseeing day-to-day operations.

However, to reap the benefits of a semi-absentee franchise, you need to find the right fit for your portfolio – it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Many concepts thrive under semi-absentee ownership while some concepts are most profitable with owners who are actively engaged in all operational aspects of the business on a full-time basis.

When it comes to long-term financial planning and wealth building, it’s crucial to ensure your investment strategy is setting you up for success. You should work with a consultant who acknowledges the risks of going into business, can guide you to find answers that make you feel completely informed and comfortable with your decision, and who aligns with you as a strategic, long-term partner.

Those interested in franchise opportunities don’t necessarily need to be actively involved with running the business. Give yourself the gift of time this holiday season, and consider semi-absentee franchises for your diversification strategy.

Ready to take the first step toward making your dreams of business ownership a reality? Contact me to set up an initial appointment.

Happy Holidays!

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The One Simple Secret to Helping Life Partners Become Successful Business Partners

Meg Schmitz couples franchising

As a Franchise Consultant, I help people take the leap into successful business decisions. We all have principles that guide our work, and my First Principle is that I need to have the partner/spouse involved in the research process from the very beginning. While I can only guess about how financially impactful decisions are made at your house, I very rarely hear a spouse say they do not want to be included in the decision about business ownership. And you can’t be part of a decision if you are not part of the discussion.

I am reminded of the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”

So much truth to those seven words.

Everything’s better when you do it together
From the time I began my business consulting gig, I have maintained a daily commitment to keep three things at the forefront of your business decision:

  1. your wife
  2. your life
  3. and your money.

(Pardon the rhyme, as women are increasingly driving the ownership decision)

I take it as a personal challenge to make certain you and your partner both thoroughly research each brand to understand what your roles and responsibilities are, and then make appropriate decisions relative to protecting your family relationships and the time you value spending together.

I learned the hard way…
When I was much younger, I was married to a man who had a dream to quit his job and own a business. He went to a Franchise Expo in Chicago, met with a number of companies there, and came to a conclusion: we would invest in a haircare concept because everyone needs a haircut. Cha-ching!

The problem was that our money was held in a joint account. It was not WE, but HE, who was making a decision that created a disconnect for ME. While I was definitely interested in making more money, I was not keen about a business that operated seven days a week and required constant staffing efforts.

Although we got started together, he wanted to throw in the towel about six months after our Grand Opening. Why? We were financially bleeding to death while being held hostage by a manager unable to retain stylists. I was angry about the time, the money, and the disruption to our lifestyle.

…how to do it the right way
Turning around that first Great Clips location required a few things:

  1. Stop thinking that we “knew better” and start following the franchise’s existing, proven system, including marketing and staffing
  2. Honestly assess employee behavior and weed out those who were not customer
    service-oriented
  3. Create a culture that nourished and encouraged better attendance and productivity
  4. Listen to customer feedback about both negative and positive experiences

Once those four things were addressed, I was astonished at how rapidly revenue grew. When the employee culture pivoted into one where the stylists trusted each other, their “deliverable” to the customer improved, and that changed our client and employee retention numbers. That is a recipe for success!

Confidence to turn around a poorly performing business became confidence to open and more locations. The fact that I had found the world’s best manager (and future business partner) meant that I could focus on Big Picture Growth and Expansion while she focused on employee-specific results.

As your business consultant, I first get to know you through conversations about your work history and skill-set preferences, as well as your household dynamics. We collectively discuss your short and long-term goals to understand how this business will add to your happiness and financial well-being. In preserving your primary relationship, we address division of labor as well as covering household expenses.

The Moral of the Story? Joint decisions are important
The current hiring economy is robust, but if you consider owning a business instead, your role must be mutually defined for household continuity. You may want (need) to keep an income generating job while getting the business launched. Perhaps you are out of work and looking for a business to fill the voids in your professional life while living off savings until the business generates real income. In either scenario, you can see how important it is to be aligned with your spouse in the decision, because this is first an investment in the future, with financial rewards increasing with each passing year.

If you and your partner are interested in exploring owning a business together, let’s chat!

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Meg Schmitz

Hello, I’m Meg Schmitz

I’ve helped hundreds of people just like you become franchise owners. I’m your entrepreneurial matchmaker, helping you achieve your goals of business ownership, financial security, and peace of mind.

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