Though franchise businesses often benefit from marketing done by parent organizations, local franchise marketing strategies can enhance customer acquisition, engagement, relationships and loyalty even more.

A franchise parent company’s national marketing efforts may create significant brand awareness; however, the traits that local consumers look for in a business aren’t conveyed in national marketing, they can only be communicated at the local level. These local franchise marketing strategies can help you connect with local consumers on top of the marketing done at the national level by your franchise business’ parent company.

4 Local Franchise Marketing Strategies Enhance Parent Company Support

1. Local Word of Mouth Marketing for Franchise Businesses

Reviews are the new word of mouth; 9 out of ten consumers trust them as much as personal recommendations. Ensuring that your franchise location is getting reviews from local consumers on Yelp, Facebook, Google and similar review sites tells local residents that your location follows through on the promises made in the franchise’s national marketing campaigns.

Your franchise word of mouth marketing strategy can also be enhanced through your involvement in the community through give-back programs and by participating in local business networking, Chamber of Commerce and similar groups. If you have space to host a business or networking group, your franchise location could benefit even more by bringing likely customers and likely word of mouth referrers into your business on a regular basis.

2. Local Social Media Marketing for Franchise Businesses

Your franchise’s parent company may have national social media profile pages; however, that does little to help your franchise location connect with members of your local target market. If your parent company offers the opportunity to create branch pages, make sure that you are taking advantage of the opportunity.

Local residents may be aware of your franchise’s national brand, but that doesn’t mean they are aware of your location. Use the best practices that any small business would use on social networks for your franchise business location’s social media page, including hyper-local targeting of sponsored posts and ads.

3. Personal, Personalized Email Marketing for Franchise Businesses

Assuming your franchise organization doesn’t prohibit email marketing at the local level, your franchise business can use email marketing to put a personal spin on your franchise location, even for the most well-known of franchise brands. Using your email marketing to highlight team members, talk about community activities and tell local customer’s stories bring your location’s marketing down to the local level. Personalizing emails with offers and information specifically relevant to people who live in geographic area is another great way to put a personal touch on a national brand.

You may be able to use your point of sale credit card processing solution to collect customer emails at each transaction by offering to send a receipt via email (rather than print) or subscribing the customer up for future sales, discounts and loyalty programs.

4. Loyalty and Retention Marketing for Franchise Businesses

Loyalty and retention is another area that national brand marketing activities have little ability to influence, since it begins and ends with the customer experience. Likewise, your parent company may have a loyalty or rewards program, but if your franchise location is not actively promoting its use with local residents, its ability to influence your customers to come back or make personal referrals may render these programs completely ineffective.

Here, again, is where your payment transaction credit card processing equipment and software can help you grow. When customers receive loyalty rewards or points automatically every time they make a purchase, they perceive increased value in choosing to do business with you over other local competitors.

Strengthen Parent Company Marketing Activities with 4 Local Franchise Marketing Strategies

The International Franchise Association (IFA) Franchise Business Economic Outlook  projects another good year of economic growth for the franchise industry. The sectors growing the most among franchise businesses include:

  • personal services
  • lodging and accommodations
  • business services
  • quick-service restaurants
  • retail products and services
  • commercial and residential services

With an outlook for growth and the marketing support provided as an inherent benefit enjoyed by most franchise business owners, your franchise stands to benefit even more if you add local franchise marketing strategies to the mix, because local marketing gives members of your target audience what they say they want most in relationships with local businesses:

  • 86% – customer service, customer-focused
  • 84% – personal, intimate, human, face-to-face
  • 84% – knows the customer and their needs
  • 84% – easy to do business with
  • 83% – local, close by and convenient
  • 82% – reliable, consistent, there when you need them
  • 81% – owner-operated, committed, accountable

(Source: and Toluna, “Consumer and Small Business Perception Survey”)


Most of us have been in a position where we needed to come up with a good answer to tough questions we didn’t expect, only to find ourselves unprepared. Master these ten communication skills and you’ll be better able to come up with answers when you need them most.

Can you think on your feet when tough questions come your way?

Whether it comes from a critical customer, curious employee, audacious audience member, probing board chair, rude reporter, detail-oriented investor or another influential business stakeholder, not coming up with the most appropriate answer to tough questions can have negative consequences or derail an important initiative. Mastering these communication skills can help ensure that the next time tough questions get tossed your way, you’re ready to react.

Be Prepared to Answer Tough Questions by Mastering these 10 Skills

1. Learn how to listen.

Business leaders tend to do a lot of communicating, but that communication is often one-way. Listening attentively and openly, especially to tough questions that might put you on the defensive requires intent and discipline, and you may even need to practice:

  • Bring in an expert and hold a leadership workshop focused on improving listening skills
  • Increase solicitation of feedback from employees, customers and other stakeholders
  • Encourage healthy debate and constructive sharing of dissenting opinions

2. Get to the heart of the question.

The article talked about finding the trigger word in a sentence so that you can respond most appropriately. However, sometimes the question asked isn’t the real question. If you learn to identify the motivation or point of concern that underlies the question itself, you may be able to provide the most appropriate answer and keep an initiative, policy or other important issue on track. It will also help prevent people asking tough questions from steering you in a direction you don’t want to go.

3. Start with the shortest answer.

Often, a simple “yes,” “no,” or even an “I’m not certain yet” response, with no further explanation offered, is the best answer. If it does not suffice, you can also ask to table a question you aren’t ready to answer for another time or request to follow up with a group or individual privately.

4. Think diet-sized portions.

Knowing when to stop, rather than going on and on or belaboring a point can enhance the way colleagues and staff perceive you as a leader – and keep you out of trouble when rambling may lead to divulging information you didn’t mean to share. Imagine that your audience members are on a strict diet, and limit answer-portions to help them stay on track!

5. Turn negatives into positives.

If someone levels an accusation or criticism in the form of a question, rather than repeating it (which may actually sound like you’re stating it as a fact or giving credence to the criticism), reword the question so that it comes out in positive – or at least neutral – language.

6. Plan ahead.

On your own or with a trusted peer, think through the weak points of your position or your argument before you make that tough presentation, announcement or policy delivery. This can help you prepare for tough questions that might be lobbed your way, neutralize critics and increase staff buy in for new initiatives or policy changes.

7. Prepare visuals.

Especially when dealing with complex processes, the possibility of multiple outcomes or a variety of cause-and-effect scenarios, creating visuals which help people understand a process or conceptualize various outcomes can answer many of the questions people may have about your presentation before they are even asked.

8. Decide on a delivery system.

Whether you think in terms of writing a news article (who, what, when, were, why, and how), cost-and-benefit pairings, past-present-future timeline divisions or other systems, structuring your presentation and planning out answers to anticipated or controversial questions can help you strengthen your presentation and avoid diversions.

9. Create and maintain an FAQ database.

Create a data center which can be accessed by your audience members to house the questions that come up frequently and include positive version of potentially critical or negative questions that you’ve anticipated may arise. This can be an especially effective strategy when you will be giving a presentation to multiple audiences or you want to give people time to review information on their own before coming to a decision.

10. Last, but not least, don’t be perfect, be yourself.

Perfection is not a possibility. Be prepared, but be transparent and honest about what you do and don’t know. When you let go of the pursuit of perfection and strive, instead, to be the best, most honest ‘you’ that you can be, you have a better chance of winning over any audience you face.

You might also like: The Secret Life of Small Business Owners

When bills for monthly expenses and payroll are tallied up, even busy restaurants may lack the working capital needed to grow. Here are four ways you can improve restaurant cash flow and access the money you need to grow your business faster.

How to Calculate Restaurant Cash Flow and Finance Restaurant Growth

Your restaurant might be incredibly busy, but that does not necessarily mean that you have the cash flow you need to not only meet expenses but finance restaurant expansion. Find out how to calculate restaurant cash flow, figure out what you need to grow, and discover some ways that you can free up more working capital to make those dreams come true.

Closing out 2018, the restaurant industry just had it’s best year in 3 years, posting its highest sales since 2015. Spurred by increased demand, this might be the perfect time for you to consider ways that your restaurant can generate more revenue, be expanded or be replicated by adding new locations.

Do You Know How to Calculate Restaurant Cash Flow?

At its most basic level, restaurant cash flow equals cash inflows minus cash outflows. When calculating restaurant cash flow, include inflows such as:

  • money (cash, credit or debit card payments) received from customers
  • money received from selling assets
  • money obtained from financing sources (such as a restaurant line of credit or restaurant cash advance)

And outflows, such as:

  • outgoing payments for supplies, payroll, services and other costs of doing business
  • money used to buy assets, make repairs, replace equipment or furnishings, etc.
  • costs of food and beverage ingredients
  • rent, lease or mortgage payments
  • insurance
  • utilities – and so on

As you begin to add up all of the ways that money goes out, it’s easy to understand why even a busy and successful restaurant could have a problem coming up with ‘extra’ working capital needed to fund growth after expenses have been met each month. In a perfect world, a restaurant would have more money coming in from customer sales than needs to go out each month to meet expenses and obligations. These net profits could be invested in capital expenditures, set aside for a rainy day, or placed into a savings or investment fund for use in the future, when growth opportunities arise.

But the world isn’t always perfect! So here are four ways a restaurant can improve cash flow in order to identify working capital needed for growth initiatives – or even just to make ends meet.

4 Ways to Improve Restaurant Cash Flow and Grow More Quickly

Consolidate Buying for Negotiated Discounts

Many suppliers and vendors offer discounts based on volume. If you are able to consolidate purchases so that you can buy in bulk, or buy a variety of items from one or a couple of suppliers, you may have the opportunity to take advantage of discounts, or negotiate with them for a special discount just for your restaurant.

Source Multiple Vendors

Whether it’s the cleaning service that comes when your restaurant is closed or the supplier that brings food and beverage ingredients to your restaurant, it’s wise to source multiple vendors and plan to review contracts on a periodic basis. Low pricing is important, but you should also consider the added value of suppliers that exceed expectations or provide great service, because sometimes these considerations outweigh discounts offered by other companies.

Establish a Restaurant Line of Credit

Thanks to our partnership with Sharp Capital, we do offer restaurant cash advances. The working capital you unlock can provide you with additional purchasing power, the ability to cover unexpected expenses, or give you the ability to take advantage of emerging growth opportunities without having to wait while you are trying to line up financing.

Increase Efficiencies

Many restaurant chains use time-limited offers and loyalty rewards as part of their marketing strategy. These types of marketing tactics can make it easier for you to influence (and predict) customer demand. In turn, you can also improve accuracy for predictions for staffing, inventory, food and drink ingredients, supplies, etc., that will be needed to meet demand at certain times.


Thinking about a Restaurant Cash Advance or Equipment Financing?

We offer restaurant financing programs that can give you access to working capital that you can use to grow your restaurant or resolve short term restaurant cash flow challenges. There is no cost to apply, no obligation to accept, and we would be happy to work with you to help you determine which financing option would be best for your restaurant.

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With hundreds – if not thousands – of restaurants to choose from in any given urban area it might be tempting to believe that innovative restaurant ideas are hard to come by. Here are ten innovative restaurant indeas that offer proof that the best – and most innovative – restaurant ideas may be yet to come.

10 Innovative Restaurant Ideas Provide Inspiration for the Hospitality Industry

Pizza in a bowl. Spaghetti that can be eaten on the go. Sub sandwiches turned into salads – nearly any popular food or drink can be reimagined into a new form and served up in a new, buzz-worthy way.

Inspiration: NYC’s Spaghetti Incident, which serves up spaghetti in containers that are ready to go on the road.

2. Different strokes for different folks.

Innovative restaurant ideas aren’t just about menu items. Extend exclusive hours or offers to loyalty club members, seniors, singles or those defined by other differentiators. Draw up separate menus customized to specialty diner preferences; i.e., whole menus just for vegetarians, people with gluten allergies, dieters, etc., so they don’t have to look longingly at things they cannot have.

Inspiration: Nando’s Peri-Peri s in Chicago, whose owner treats the people who live and work nearby as their top priority, giving them a chance to experience each of their restaurants in the days before each location’s grand opening.

3. Digital Kiosks and Table POS Displays

Walk into a small town American diner and you’re likely to see an old-fashioned dessert case where pastries and pies sit on display, waiting to be bought or ordered. Technology makes it possible for any restaurant to create a virtual display case on kiosks or tabletop POS where patrons could see everything and anything on the menu including photos, chef’s notes and real diner reviews.

Inspiration: Rhode Island-based Chelo’s Hometown Bar and Grille has a virtual pie case that gives diners a mouth-watering peek at the desserts that are fresh right now.

4. Indulgence Themed Restaurants

Providing truly unique experiences may be the ultimate in innovative restaurant ideas. Arby’s off-the-menu “Meat Mountain” made the news when viral buzz let carnivorous diners know they could order a sandwich that included every meat sold in the chain’s sandwiches all on one incredible sandwich. Restaurants that devote themselves to simple ideas and single concepts could win over meat lovers, veggie lovers, fruit lovers, dessert lovers, and others who only have one thing on their minds.

Inspiration: Another innovative Chicago restaurant, RPM Steak repurposes butchering trimmings to make meaty rubs to brush onto steaks in lieu of butter.

5. Mood Menus

Keeping with the idea of themed-restaurants in this list of innovative ideas, establishments could devote themselves to menus that offer pick-me-ups for people feeling the blues, passion-inspiring foods for love birds, foods that pacify for people who are angry or calming choices for people who feel anxious or overly enthused.

Inspiration: Bespoke Oysters in Washington DC, which classifies itself as “passion food hospitality.”

6. Wait-less Restaurants

Diners might want service to slow down – not speed up – in restaurants that offer food for the brain as well as the body. There are countless ways that you could add activities and games to the menu. Supply paper and crayons by way of butcher-paper-covered tables like they do at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Print out word searches or crossword puzzles. Provide patrons with short stories or poems to read while they wait. Hold digital trivia contests where diners can compete with the computer, staff, others at their table or against other tables in the restaurant.

Inspiration: The walls of the Plum Bar in Oakland, CA  are lined with pages taken from real poetry books, chosen by the owner and staff. The Ampersand at Kinmont in Chicago, a 600-foot private event space whose walls are – literally – a ready canvas for guests as they are completely covered in chalkboard.

7. Two of a Kind Menus

Go the extra mile in making recommendations so that if a patron is ordering a cheese burger, they will know it’s perfect pairings for drinks, sides, appetizers and desserts. Think of it as an upscale way to mimic the ‘combo’ upsell done every day, all day long in the fast food industry.

Inspiration: Scrumptious drink and dessert pairings offered up at Gamlin Whiskey House in St. Louis, MO.

8. Designated Dining

Choose a new charity to benefit each month of the year, or choose a handful and let diners decide where  a portion of their evenings’ spend will go. Highlight local causes which are likely to be near and dear to your target market’s hearts. This will be great fodder for PR, social media and email marketing, giving diners one more reason to choose your restaurant. Keep a tally on website and digital display so patrons feel good every time they walk through the door.

Inspiration: Seattle’s Saltys Waterfront Seafood and Grill donates thousands of dollars every year to more than 300 local charities with their gift cards for auctions and fund raisers. The idea of dining out for charity is such a natural fit that the National Restaurant Association (NRA) has even listed a set of tips for restaurants that want to choose the right local charities for their give-back programs.

9. Key Takeaways

Left-overs don’t have to be the only momento a diner takes away from your restaurant and innovative restaurant ideas aren’t just about what happens at your place of business. This about what you could give diners in the form of a small gift, gift card or some other takeaway that keeps your restaurant top of mind long after the visit is over.

Inspiration: Jax Café in Minneapolis, which prints personalized matchbooks on-site for guests.

10. Crowdsourced LTO

Give your patrons the ability to vote up drinks, appetizers, entrees and desserts they want to see on the menu next month. Require email or mobile phone number for voting so that you can notify them when their voted-on items get added to the menu and extend a special offer for them to return to thank them for voting.

Inspiration: Dallas’s Kitchen LTO, a permanent pop-up restaurant which features a new menu, chef and décor every 6 months.


Get a free, no obligation quote for new or replacement restaurant point-of-sale equipment, restaurant merchant services, payment processing rates or restaurant loyalty and gift card programs.

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You can use the three core goals of financial management to determine which business ideas are most likely to help your business grow.

Hit 3 Goals with All Your Financial Management Strategies for the Win

Few entrepreneurs suffer from a lack of ideas, but knowing which ones should get the green light isn’t always apparent. Pursuing the wrong financial management strategies can result in wasted business resources, slowing or even stalling your business growth.

It’s important for every business owner to choose goals and values by which they can measure new ideas and initiatives, to be sure they will contribute to company growth. The three core goals of financial management can do just that. You may be surprised when you realize that these three core goals are about a lot more than just managing finances, demonstrating clearly how inter-dependent seemingly disparate business ideas really are.

Use these 3 Financial Management Strategies to Guide All Your Business Decisions

1. Will It Maximize Profits

It doesn’t take long for most new business owners to realize that more sales don’t always equate to more profits, and profit it what a business needs to reinvest in itself and grow more quickly. You should take the time to calculate profit relative to your business as a whole, and to each of the individual products and services you sell so that you understand:

  1. Gross profit margin (Formula: sales – cost of goods sold / sales)
  2. Operating profit margin (Formula: EBIT / sales)
  3. Net profit margin (Formula: net profits after taxes / sales)

Gross profit margin reveals the amount of profit your company earns after the cost of goods sold is deducted. The cost of goods sold might include the money paid to a manufacturer or distributor, cost of raw ingredients, cost of marketing and advertising, staff-related expenses and any other inputs. This shows how efficiently your company is using labor and supplies relative to the amount sold.

Operating profit margin compares earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) to sales. High operating profits is an indication that the company is getting a good return on the cost of goods sold; conversely, low profits might indicate a need to reduce input costs or manage operations more efficiently.

Net profit margin shows what the company has after everyone has been paid, including the government. Net profits are ultimately the money your business has to invest toward growth, since all other revenues are eclipsed by the cost of goods sold and taxes.

Though many business owners think they have to increase prices in order to maximize profits, price isn’t the only factor contributing to profitability, as the formulas above illustrate. In fact, sometimes raising prices is the wrong way to maximize profits, if a price increase makes your business less competitive and you lose volume of sales which, at a lower price, actually result in the maximum profit your business can earn on a given item.

2. Will It Minimize Costs

It’s obvious from our discussion of cost of goods sold that minimizing business expenses can have a positive impact on your profit margins. The lower the cost of inputs and operating expenses needed to produce sales, the more money is left as gross profit (and ultimately net profit). However, just as raising prices isn’t always the best way to maximize profits, lowering costs isn’t always the best decision for your business.

For instance, what if you change suppliers based on your costs for the raw ingredients you need to produce one of the items your company sales, but your new supplier provides faulty or sub-standard quality materials? You may have temporarily decreased the cost of goods sold but may have increased expenses and reduced profits in the long term as your business has to handle returns, exchanges, customer complaints, bad reviews and customer defections.

As you can see, what seems to be the most obvious answer isn’t always the most accurate one. Let’s say you need to free up working capital in order to buy inventory and equipment to launch a new product or service. On the face of it, the ‘cheapest’ way to pay for the growth initiative seems to be to wait until you have the money saved up; however, this could be a costly decision. Competitors may outmaneuver you or new rivals could emerge and establish themselves in the market while you wait on the sidelines. In the long run, taking potential sales and profits into account, the less costly decision might actually be to take advantage of a merchant cash advance or business line of credit to grow more quickly.

3. Will It Maximize Market Share

Formula: Company sales / total sales in its industry (by geography, if applicable) over a certain period of time; in other words, of the sales possible during a given time period, what percentage did your business earn?

So far we have talked a lot about areas pertaining to finance and accounting; however, marketing concerns affect each of these three goals as well, and is obviously relevant to maximizing market share. Marketing (price, product, promotion, and distribution) decisions affect the cost of goods sold as well as company costs.

It’s worth noting that of all the reasons cited by entrepreneurs whose startups failed, poor marketing was actually the biggest reason startups failed. Yet for many business owners, marketing seems an afterthought; a topic they quickly try to master when projections don’t match up with results after opening their business or launching new product lines.

Maximizing market share is one of the core goals of financial management strategies for an obvious reason; more customers and less sales lost to competitors creates more opportunity to realize a profit. In addition, more sales often translate into lower cost of goods sold as inventory can be ordered in larger quantities at a lower price.

Not every entrepreneur comes pre-programmed with good startup ideas. Some have the dream but don’t know what to build. Here are five resources that could help you decide what kind of business to start.

Good startup ideas are everywhere – if you know where to look

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You Can Identify Good Startup Ideas From Gaps, Evolution and Failures

1. Consumer Trends and Forecasts

Research, studies and articles sharing stats on consumer and business trends and forecasts are available for nearly every industry. This type of data can help you identify emerging markets which are forming in response to:

  • Demographic and population changes  
  • New or advancing technology
  • Changing consumer preferences or generational preferences

Census data and data analysis can give you insight into population and demographic changes. You can also find similar data available in the real estate industry as well as reports about housing, jobs and similar content. This content can tell you where to look for up and coming markets that are not yet saturated with businesses like the one you envision.

Technology changes pervade virtually every industry. Trade and industry organizations publish information about new and emerging technology all the time. CB Insights published an amazing infographic noting that there are more than 150 Startups whose innovations are transforming brick-and-mortar retail.

We see this every day in our industry. Innovations in merchant services, payment processing, virtual, mobile and brick-and-mortar point-of-sale, gift cards and loyalty programs are constant. Knowing which to implement, and implementing technology effectively is one of the ways we add value so our clients can create competitive advantages and compete to win in their marketplace.

2. Education

What do you know? Your areas of expertise and experience could translate into a business where you teach others, test products, write technical specs, provide expert reviews, etc. This could be especially rewarding if you are able to identify an area of expertise that really lights you up, where you can invest not only knowledge but passion to educate others.

3. Under-served Markets or Market Segments

In most industries, there are lots of medium-to-large players already on the field. The good news for you as an entrepreneur is that good startup ideas can still translate into success, because those big players are all competing for the same customers or buyers. By identifying markets or sub-market niche audiences who are being underserved (or aren’t being served at all), you can carve out a target audience that few direct competitors will be going after.

4. Ideas other Entrepreneurs Threw Away – or Failed At

Even good startup ideas can fail, for a variety of reasons.  CB Insight’s latest data as to the top 10-ish reasons that even good startup ideas fail includes:

  • 42% – Inadequate market need
  • 29% – Inadequate funding
  • 23% – Inept team
  • 19% – Inability to compete
  • 18% – Pricing / cost issues
  • 17% – User un-friendly
  • 17% – Inadequate business model
  • 14% – Inadequate marketing
  • 14% – Poor customer care
  • 13% – (Tie) Poor market timing, lost focus, unhappy investors)

Looking at that list, note that none of the respondents said their idea wasn’t good. In every case, startup failure is attributed to poor execution, not poor ideas. Bad timing for one entrepreneur might make an idea perfectly timed for you. Changes in the market might mean that an idea that wasn’t sustainable last year is now viable. Accurately projecting costs (and setting pricing), ensuring funding, building a sound business model or assembling a competent team could enable you to succeed with good startup ideas that others were unable to accomplish.

5. Pain Points

Underserved markets point to gaps in the marketplace. Pain in the customer or buying journey show you where a better business model could mean a competitive advantage. Your own pain points as a consumer or in business could even show you where to start. Additionally, you can look at social media and online reviews to see where companies are failing to deliver product or service quality, or the quality of experience the customer expects.

Good startup ideas deserve good payment processing solutions:

If you’d like to learn more about how you can save money on payment processing or use point-of-sale and other merchant services technology to your competitive advantage, let us know! Complete the form below and we’ll be in touch.

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