As a new franchise owner you are probably keenly aware that you face all the same challenges faced by any new small business owner. Here are four tips that can help you be a better leader as a first-time boss, right out of the gate.

First-Time Boss – 4 Leadership Tips for New Franchise Owners

At the end of the day, the success of your new franchise might come down to leadership more so than any other factor, so here are four important ways you can improve your leadership abilities.

If you have just opened up your first franchise business or you are considering franchise opportunities that will allow you to become a small business owner for the first time, you probably have a fairly long list of priorities to accomplish. One “to do” item that might not have made your list yet is improving your leadership abilities, but we would like to make the case for putting this priority high up on your list.

Is leadership really that important? The CEO Institute sums it up this way, “Leadership is the major factor that makes everything work together seamlessly; without leadership, all other business resources are ineffective.”

While we have all come across organizations (and most of us have even worked in some) that managed to carry on and even grow with poor leaders in place, it begs the question: How much more successful could those businesses have been with good leadership at the helm?

As a new franchise owner, you probably have thought about the type of leader you want to be, especially if you have worked in an organization with bad leadership before. Though you might have the best of intentions, the pressures of acting as a leader for the first time (especially in light of all the other challenges you will face as a business owner) might cause you to revert to some of the negative leadership styles you have seen demonstrated before.

First-Time Bosses – 4 Key Leadership Principles for Franchise Owners

Focus and Vision

“The leader’s singular job is to get results.” Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, writing on Harvard Business Review

There will be many, many situations and problems that arise in the life of a franchise business that have the power to distract franchise owners from the goals they need to remain focused on in order to run a successful business. When focus is lost, and key goals are no longer the focus of day to day priorities, organizational vision goes by the wayside too.

The Big Picture

“A leaderless organization is like an army without generals.” The Importance of Leadership in BusinessSmall Business Chronicle

Franchise employees aren’t foot soldiers, but the analogy is worth evaluation. Soldiers on the front line don’t usually have the big picture; they see only a small portion of the battlefield. They can only be successful with leadership that understands how to effectively deploy all of the units, weapons and strategies to achieve victories in individual battles; and ultimately, to ‘win the war.’

New franchise owners – even those that find themselves fulfilling ‘front line’ roles within the business as so often happens in the early days of any small business – must also maintain perspective relative to the big picture. You have to know how all the parts of your franchise business need to work together in order to achieve the short and long range goals you have for the organization.

Self-Awareness and Empathy

“When good leadership is in place in a company, it can be felt throughout the entire organization… Bad leadership can also be felt throughout the entire organization – only not in a good way.” Good Leaders Are Invaluable To A Company. Bad Leaders Will Destroy It. Forbes Magazine

In the early days of a franchise business, the franchise owner might be the only leader. As the business grows or new franchise opportunities open up and are added to the organization, more leaders will be put in place. Franchise owners must be aware not only of how their leadership style affects the organization, but must also be empathetic to how their employees are faring under the other leaders and managers in the organization. Leaving a bad leader in place anywhere in the franchise will be a drag on productivity and morale.

Doing Things Right vs. Doing the Right Thing

“A leader is someone who does the right thing, whereas a manager does things right. Or to put it another way, management is an occupation, leadership is a calling.” Importance of Developing Leadership SkillsBusinessDictionary.com

There is no final destination on the journey toward becoming a good leader; it’s a constant evolution. Don’t be afraid to ask trusted peers, friends, and even the people who work for you how you can improve as a leader, and make it safe for them to give you constructive feedback. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to move people out of leadership roles they are not ready or suited for. Don’t be afraid to recognize and reward staff members who step up inside or outside of their regular roles. Hire smart people who are good for your organizational culture, equip them to move and be ready to take a few chances on their recommendations.

As you grow your new franchise or open up new franchise locations, remember that you will constantly be given opportunities to learn new things about yourself and others that can make you a better leader. The more you risk changing yourself, the greater your potential reward.

You might also like: Sole Props – The Rise of Independent Workers in the US – Infographic

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Franchise point of sale equipment, card processing and cash advance financing:

One of the most important decisions you’ll make for your franchise is deciding on a franchise credit card processing solution. Our merchant services are transparent and competitive and seamlessly integrate point-of-sale equipment, loyalty marketing, gift cards and more, which can save you money, time and frustration. We also offer cash advance financing for franchisees who want to expand or need to meet a cash flow challenge in the short term.

Get a free, no-risk quote for franchise credit card processing or a cash advance: 

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Overcoming buyer objections can quickly turn into arguing, so it’s important to master persuasion skills and strategies in order to avoid turning off prospective customers by coming on too strong.

Overcoming Buyer Objections – 6 Persuasion Strategies Could Help You Close more Sales

When it comes to your buyers, are you overcoming objections, or just arguing? If you cross the line, you are much more likely to lose buyers than convert them. Here are six persuasion strategies every sales and marketing pro should master in order to close more sales.

Not all buying cycles are created equal. For low cost or low risk goods and services, sellers may not need to do much more than make buyers aware of the opportunity to buy.

For B2B and high-priced retail sales and marketing professionals, however, the buying cycle is usually more complicated. If you find that it’s difficult to distinguish between the art of overcoming buyer objections and arguing over buyer’s concerns, it might help to take a closer look at these six strategies that present persuasion in a more scientific light.

Before someone becomes a customer who is always right, they are a buyer who probably doesn’t have all the facts. The job of sales and marketing is to identify the buyers who have needs that their products or services are best-suited to meet, desires most-likely to fulfill or problems most-likely to resolve. Once found, the next step in the buying cycle is educating the prospect and – if needed – overcoming objections.

You might also like: 73% of Consumers Would Pay More for Good Customer Service

When a buyer is not convinced that their objection is being adequately addressed or has a long list of objections, it’s easy for explanations to turn into arguments. Once the process takes on a negative feeling, a buyer will often walk away and it can become difficult to salvage the opportunity to make a sale. In some cases, unhappy buyers will even tell other people about their negative experience, and preclude the opportunity for other sales as well.

Master 6 Persuasion Strategies and Get Better at Overcoming Objections [Infographic]

1. Reciprocation

Reciprocation in business is the idea that customers often respond positively when – as a business – you do something they perceive as (a) positive and which lies (b) outside of their expectations. Studies show reciprocation works as a method of persuading others to take desired actions. For instance, when restaurant waitstaff included candy with the bill, on average:

  • Women left 21% higher tips
  • Men left 18% higher tips

2. Social Validation

Remember those times your parents asked this question: “If all your friends jumped off the top of a bridge, would you do it too?” when they wanted to encourage you to resist peer pressure? It turns out, you might! One social validation experiment attempted to determine how many people would follow suit when they saw someone else (or a group of people) looking up. They found that:

  • When passersby saw one person looking up, 4% of them looked up as well
  • When passersby saw 5 people looking up, 18% of them looked up as well
  • When passersby saw 15 people looking up, 40% of them looked up as well

3. Consistency

Some people will stick to their guns in order to appear consistent to others. For some people, even providing informal or tacit approval of an idea or commitment is enough to make them follow through. The infographic below note that one fund-raiser asked people to sign a petition of support two weeks below his event and the result was a whopping 100% increase of monetary contributions due to prior commitment.

4. Respect for Authority

Uniforms, suits and other trappings of authority can go a long way to inspiring trust and helping to persuade people to take action – even when that action could be perceived as illegal! A University of Texas-Austin study found that 350% more people were willing to follow a man crossing the street on a red light – when that man wore a suit and tie.

5. Liking

People like to accommodate people they like, plain and simple. Three statistics referenced in the infographic include three techniques that might make people like you better:

  • Compliments – A UNC (University of North Carolina) study found that both true and untrue compliments produced the same amount of liking
  • Cooperation – Like reciprocation, people may be more willing to take a desired action when they perceive that you are meeting them halfway
  • Congruence – People may prefer to do business with you when they identify personal interests that align or other similarities that exist between you

6. Scarcity

Get ‘em before they’re all gone! When quantities are limited, people are more likely to take action in order to avoid loss. Plus, when items are moving quickly or nearly sold out, people may perceive them as more desirable.

*Studies and Statistics Cited by The Science of Persuasion Infographic (Below)
Impact Learning Systems (a division of Miller Heiman)
Infographic - science of persuasion overcoming objections

Summertime salon marketing presents unique challenges as client schedules are disrupted with vacations, travel and school-age kids to entertain.

Increase engagement by meeting client needs with summery salon marketing promotions and perks.

The four P’s of traditional marketing are:

  • product (what you sell)
  • placement (vehicle for selling and positioning in the marketplace)
  • price (the cost of products)
  • promotions (sales and marketing, or how you attract and retain clients)

Defining these 4 P’s is marketing 101 for any business. You can take this same principle and apply it seasonally. For instance, last year we published an article on salon holiday marketing ideas that included four P’s unique to winter and holiday months. This time we’ll take a look at 4 more P’s of salon marketing, this time geared for the unique situations that clients find them in during the summer.

So what are the special circumstances that affect salon clients during summertime?

  1. Sun and surf

Clients may be spending more time outdoors during warm summer months in the sunlight with longer days as well as taking vacations to sunny destinations, swimming in pools, lakes and rivers, and more. Increased exposure to the great outdoors can impact their hair, scalp, skin, nails, etc.

  1. Schedules

Varying schedules due to vacations, family and friends who might be coming to town vacationing themselves, kids who would normally be in school being home, and other factors can impact the ability of salon clients to adhere to established appointment times and pre-booked appointments.

  1. Special occasions

Summer is often host to special occasions, including family and class reunions, weddings, anniversaries, and so on. Any one of these events can result in a client wanting to book an appointment so they will look their best.

  1. Significant changes

Summer is peak moving season, in part because many people with kids want to move during the summer to be ready for a new school year. More than 40 million Americans move annually, and more than half of those moves occur between May and September (Allied Movers). Not only does this mean that new prospective clients could be moving to your area every summer, you might also be losing clients and need to replace them to keep your book of business steady. In addition, new residents may be changing jobs and desiring a new, improved look to give them more confidence in landing a new position.

With that in mind, let’s talk about 4 P’s of summertime salon marketing that can help salon owners, salon suite lessees and booth renters attract new salon clients and build your book of business.

4 P’s of Salon Summertime Marketing for Salon Owners, Salon Suites and Booth Renters

  1. Prove it

You don’t want to lose a good client just because they need to change their appointment due to special situations that commonly occur during the summer. If your clients truly are #1 with in your book, prove it!

Send an email and SMS text marketing message to clients reassuring them that if they need to make a change in a pre-booked or standing appointment this summer, you’re ready to help them find a time that works for them. List any open time slots and invite them to reply back with an RSVP or request for appointment change.

If a client does contact you to reschedule an appointment, be accommodating. Don’t make the client feel as though they have done something wrong; instead, reassure them that they are important to you and look for a way to accommodate their scheduling needs. The client should never feel like you are the more important person in the relationship!

  1. Provide Recommendations

The environmental factors that impact client’s hair, skin, nails, scalp, etc., during summertime months mean opportunities for your salon to sell more services and salon retail. Use social media and email marketing to make recommendations to clients and personalize recommendations of add-on services and salon retail products during consultations.

  1. Promote Packages

The special occasions in your clients’ lives represent services that can help you build your book of business and make a name for yourself when it comes to party looks, wedding parties, mother of the bride and bridal looks, formal occasion looks for class reunions, and more.

Likewise, with kids going back to school in August and September, back to school haircuts and other services present a prime promotional opportunity for your salon, salon suite or for you as a professional booth renter.

New client packages, job-seeker makeovers and other special offers can also help you attract prospective clients among those who have moved during the summer and are new to your area.

  1. Perks

A lot of stylists and beauty professionals give small client thank you gifts during the holidays. Why not repeat this for your best clients during the summer, with a summer-themed client gift or free-with-purchase incentive item? In addition, and especially if summer months bring any kind of slowdown to your salon, consider extending extra perks in return for new client referrals. You can also reinforce interest in your summer-specific promotions and personalized recommendations with free or specially-priced add-ons, VIP pricing and other client perks.

Why over pay for Salon POS – salon point of sale solution or equipment? We would be happy to provide you with a free, no-obligation quote for salon credit card processing solutions including salon POS equipment and salon loyalty marketing, or financing options with a salon cash advance:

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A UK survey of 2,173 British women aged 18-30 found that one in four were more likely to cheat on a romantic partner than their hairstylist. Here are six secrets to customer loyalty you can learn from the best salons and hairdressers.

Life is full of trials and tribulations… but eventually you find a stylist you like.”

So it seems, as 26 percent of the women who participated in a survey commissioned by babtac.com (British Association of Beauty Therapists and Cosmetology), indicated they were more likely to stray romantically than stray from their favorite hair stylist or colorist.

89 percent of the women surveyed said they would remain loyal to a good hairdresser. It is fascinating, really. Given that even the smallest towns usually have at least one (if not several) hair salons and bigger cities have thousands of salons, salon suites and hairdressers women can choose from, why is it that women see hairdressers and colorists services not as readily-available commodities, but as uniquely valuable and practically irreplaceable?

It is a particularly interesting question in light of the fact that customer loyalty (at least for purposes of the survey) is tied to individual beauty professionals, not just the salons they work in. How are these stylists and colorists (who could be working as booth renters or salon or salon suite owners or employees) establishing such strong brand perceptions with their client base?

We came up with a list of six brand perceptions that hairdressers and colorists who have a loyal client base have established, and which can be replicated by other businesses, consultants and service professionals.

6 Brand Perceptions that Inspire Customer Loyalty

Cheating – leaving for another provider – is a risky proposition.

Of the women surveyed, 49 percent agreed that a good hairdresser was harder to find than a good (romantic) partner. This is the marketing principle of scarcity. While there might be many hairdressers, the perception is there are not many good ones. Therefore, once you have found a good hairdresser, it’s risky to leave.

When it comes to customer loyalty, relationships are a two-way street.

82 percent of respondents said they felt it was very important to have a good relationship with their stylist. As opposed to a feeling of customer entitlement, where the onus of the relationship rests mostly (or completely) on the business, these women feel invested in the relationships themselves.

The business truly understands – and meets – the customer’s need.

Emma Roberts, Marketing Executive of BABTAC, put it this way, “Discovering a good relationship with a hairdresser who understands their clients’ needs is like gold dust, so it’s understandable that we don’t want to upset the balance we have with our stylist.” Getting to this point of fully understanding and meeting the client’s need, visit after visit, doesn’t happen by accident.

Stylists provide consultative services to their clients and work diligently to get from client-expressed wishes to the results they want, even when that means interpreting vague concepts about the appearance they want to achieve or the need to overcome challenges to get there (damaged hair, prior services, etc.)

The business is in it for the long haul.

In terms of getting a client all the way to the look-style-length-color they wanted, hair styling and coloring is rarely a one-and-done proposition. It might take months and several visits to get the client the results they are looking for.

Hairdressers build a file on each and every client, including a record of past services, client preferences, client desires, and a plan for how to get the client from where they are now to where they want to be. They send a clear message to their clients that they are in it for the long haul and committed to helping the client achieve their goals. Customer loyalty is a reflection of the business investment in making it a long term proposition.

They can put absolute trust in the business.

An iconic Clairol hair color marketing campaign ran with the tagline, “Does she…or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” A girl’s natural hair color is not the only secret that hairdressers are privy to; the salon is traditionally an environment where a woman can share her troubles and triumphs, and even her secrets, without fear of betrayal.

Over time, a stylist runs the gamut with a client, delivering services that make the client feel their best and look their best through – and despite – the ups and downs life is throwing at them. It’s a place where clients can confess their sins (like the time they cut their own bangs or how they save money by cutting their children’s hair at home) without fear of judgment or reprisal. They get empathy and understanding, without lectures or instructions about what they are doing wrong.

Their services cannot be replicated.

Returning to the question of why women do not perceive hair services as commodities, hairdressers with loyal clients have established the brand perception that their services cannot be replicated. Their clients believe that they have innate talent or skills that cannot be taught, and so cannot be replicated elsewhere. This may be the toughest brand perception for a business to establish; delivering a client experience and results that customers cannot get anywhere else to drive customer loyalty.

You might also like:  4 Ps of Loyalty Marketing that Make Our Customers Love Us

A while back the Great Clips salon franchise celebrated a decade-long winning streak – 40 straight quarters of growth. Find out how to grow like Great Clips and turn your salon or salon suite into a chain – or even a salon franchise.

Strategies for Growing a Salon or Salon Suite into a Chain or Salon Franchise

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that “Great Clips executives and franchisees on Tuesday celebrated a decade-long winning streak that they reached by the closest of shaves.” You may not be able to replicate the success of Great Clips, an organization of 3,600 salon franchise locations with a continuous string of 40 straight quarters of growth over 10 years. But if you want to see your salon or salon suite evolving into chain or franchise business opportunity over the next 10 years, these three strategies can help.

Take-Aways from Great Clips Fast-Paced Growth Clip

Growing a salon or salon suite – whether you want to make it more profitable or expand new salon locations – or even going from booth renter to salon owner, takes time, money, talent and strategy. In 7 Take-Aways From Great Clips’ 40 Quarters of Growth we find a list of several strategies that helped propel Great Clips to hit this growth milestone, including:

  • A strong core of corporate marketing, branding and advertising at the heart of the franchise
  • Focus – relentless pursuit of a clearly-defined target market
  • Locations well-suited for their business model
  • A client-centric approach based on their “ideal client types”
  • Strong buy-in from salon franchise owners and managers
  • Big picture connection, education and support for all managers and salon store owners via corporate conventions, which are held every two years; and
  • Tracking of important benchmarks, goals, analytics and results

Even if your salon’s business model is far removed from that of Great Clips’, the same principles apply when it comes to marketing, branding, finding and engaging your target markets, getting staff buy in and setting measurable goals (and actually measuring progress against them). We found three key areas, in particular, where salon owners simply cannot cut corners if they want to grow and expand their salon to new locations or develop their own salon franchise business model.

3 Keys for Growing a Salon or Salon Suite into a Chain or Salon Franchise

Don’t Skimp on Salon Branding

Developing a strong salon brand is about more than choosing a font and a logo. Your brand isn’t constrained to its visual identity!

At its core, your brand is the set of perceptions that exist in a client’s mind relative to your salon. Each time a client visits your salon, calls for an appointment, visits your salon website or interacts with you or any member of your staff, their perception about your brand is affected positively or negatively.

Some of the aspects of the client experience that impact whether your clients perceive your salon’s brand in the way you most want them to include:

  • salon web site look, feel and apps (online booking, click to call, map and directions, ability to choose the right products and order products online, photos or app for choosing a new look, etc.)
  • the way you present your salon and your services on social networks
  • on-hold, after hours and live phone greetings
  • flexibility and availability if clients need to reschedule
  • quality of services
  • type and quality of retail products
  • waiting area, service area, back bar and shampoo area, restrooms, etc.
  • location of your salon and exterior / approach areas
  • email and text updates and reminders – and more
  • payment or credit card processing – end of client visit experience
  • rewards and loyalty marketing done after the sale

When you consider that each and every client touch point has the ability to impact how they feel about the brand of your salon and how they feel about doing business with you or recommending your services to their friends, loved ones and colleagues, it becomes pretty clear that you must think through how each of these touch points can be engineered to create a positive experience.

Don’t Skimp on Strategic Planning

Many small businesses – including many salons – don’t have a strategic plan. As a result, much effort is spent experimenting with various programs, marketing ideas, events and advertisements; often, with little or nothing to show for it.

Your strategic plan should look like a road map to help you get from where you are now to where you want to be next year, in three years, five years or even ten years down the road. The picture of where your salon or salon suite is now includes the opportunities that you feel offer the best chance to grow, especially if you want to open a new salon or salon suite location, grow into a chain or turn your concept into a salon franchise.

If you don’t have a strategic plan, start small. Working with your leadership team or trusted peers, answer these five questions:

  • Where are we now? (number of locations, number of stylists, revenue, number of clients, retail sales to service ratio, new clients per month, client turnover, employee turnover)
  • Why do we exist? (mission statement, identification of typical and/or “ideal” client types and target audience to be served)
  • Where do we want to grow in 12 months – 36 months – 60 months? (vision statement + how much should the “Where are we now?” numbers grow?)
  • How will we get where we want to grow? (marketing channels to be added, salon financing needed, and/or business and marketing tactics to be used to get the desired growth outlined in the previous question)
  • How will we know when we get there? (how will progress be measured, how often will results be assessed, and who is accountable?

Don’t Skimp on People

Most business owners will tell you their employees set their organization apart – and this is true, but it’s important to remember that having the wrong people in place or having people in place that are not engaged or bought in to your salon’s plan for growth will have a negative impact. As you work toward adding new salon or salon suite locations, or developing your concept for growth as a business franchise, be just as strategic when it comes to the organization culture you want to create in the process.

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If working capital is all that stands between you and your dream of expanding your salon to a second location or a salon chain, or turning your salon’s concept into a salon franchise business model, we can help!

We offer salon business loans, advances and equipment financing that can be used for growing a salon whether that means adding new services, financing salon equipment, building out a salon or opening a new location. While banks usually say no when it comes to salon financing if you or your business has a low credit score or credit problems, bad credit won’t automatically disqualify you from getting salon financing using a business (ACH) or merchant cash advance salon financing program.

In addition, we offer some of the lowest salon card processing rates in the US, and we can help demystify credit card processing fees for you. Even if you just want to compare your current payment processing solution to see if you could be saving money by changing merchant services providers, we would be happy to give you a free, no-obligation quote.

Get a quote for salon payment processing or salon cash advance:

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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: Web.com and Toluna, “Consumer and Small Business Perception Survey”)

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Customer chargebacks send a signal that something didn’t go quite right. What you learn from failed transactions could help you turn today’s chargebacks into tomorrow’s sales, depending on how you respond.

Customer Chargebacks Shouldn’t Be the End of the Story

No retail or wholesale distributor looks forward to customer refund requests; however, momentary customer dissatisfaction doesn’t need to be the end of the story. You have an opportunity to do better next time, make things right, go the extra mile and otherwise turn frowns upside down, when you take the time to discover the root of your chargebacks and respond the right way.

Inspired by a Chargebacks911 whitepaper titled Understanding the Sources of Chargebacks, here are four strategies that can help you improve your refund policies and implement post-chargeback marketing tactics. The marketing work you do after a failed customer transaction can help you avoid a bad review and renew customer goodwill toward your brand.

4 Ways to Respond to Customer Chargebacks

1. You Made a Mistake – Now What?

20-40 percent of customer chargebacks are attributed to merchant error. Whether the cause is internal process or human error, chargebacks will happen when what the customer receives isn’t what they ordered or wanted. Here’s what to do (and not to do):

Don’t inflate customer dissatisfaction by making them feel like they are on trial. If you made a mistake, own up to it and apologize. The less combative your return process is, the more likely the customer is to accept an exchange for the item they originally wanted.

If you’ve already owned up to your mistake, apologized and tried to make things right but the customer still demands a refund, give it, but don’t give up. Allow for a cooling off period then reach out to the customer later on with a special offer. If they take you up on it, make sure you get it right!

2. Your Customer Says They Didn’t Make the Purchase – Now What?

1-10 percent of chargebacks are attributed to criminal fraud. While criminal fraud is a reality, it’s worth noting that there are times customers mistakenly think their credit or debit cards were used inappropriately when in fact they were not. This commonly occurs when a spouse or family member uses a credit card without telling the card owner, the card owner forgets about making a purchase or when the merchant name on the credit card statement doesn’t match the business name.

Make sure your card processing company lists your business name properly on customer transactions. If you believe a refund is being requested in error, follow card processor and bank dispute policies appropriately. Sometimes you’ll have to agree to the refund, but there may be instances where you simply need to clear up misunderstandings. Reach out to your customer and ask whether this is the case. Most will be appreciative that you caught the mistake and feel reassured that their card hasn’t been compromised.

3. Your Customer Has Buyer’s Remorse – Now What?

Buyer’s remorse is a common – but serious – problem for merchants, one that can even produce emotional and physical discomfort in buyers who feel like they made a mistake; such as: anxiety, nausea or breaking out in a cold sweat. It’s such a big deal that there are even laws and regulations in some industries (real estate, auto sales, etc.) where buyers have a specified amount of time to change their mind.

If you believe buyer’s remorse is at the root of a customer refund request, see if they’ll share their concerns with you so that you can reassure them or somehow mitigate their discomfort. If not, and you make a refund, reassure them that you value their business and hope they’ll consider doing business with you when they’re ready. Make it a point to reach out to them at some point in the future to see if they are ready to make the purchase they weren’t quite ready to make before.

4. Your Customer is a Serial Returner – Now What?

There are people who routinely make purchases for the emotional satisfaction it produces knowing that they will return them almost immediately. There’s even a name for them: Returnaholics. There are even a few who buy items to use for a specific purpose or event and then return them. These serial returners might not mean any harm, but chargebacks cost your business in many ways (time, accounting, restocking, re-marketing, etc.) beyond the refund.

Serial returners may need to be educated or encouraged to change their behavior. In some instances, the behavior is so costly to your business that they might need to be encouraged to shop elsewhere. As in the case of any type of business, there are some customers who aren’t good for your business.

Your response to a buyer’s refund request can set the stage for future business transactions; one in which the customer rewards your leniency by purchasing even more and telling their friends how great you were to do business with. Make sure you have a plan for processing customer chargebacks that leaves the door open for tomorrow’s sales.

As much as you might be tempted to say “no cell phones in the salon,” this approach could offend and backfire with clients. Here are some ideas for salon cell phone policy that take client preferences, marketing and your salon’s atmosphere into account.

Just Say No to a No Cell Phone Policy in the Salon

Ideas for a Salon Cell Phone Policy

Most of your clients are using their cell phones for everything from calling, texting and emailing to dealing with important work matters and posting on social media platforms. Some people don’t seem to do anything without posting about it on Facebook and Instagram.

While a client’s unwillingness to disconnect during an appointment might be annoying for a stylist, you can actually use it to your advantage.

If you move forward with a salon cell phone policy that mandates client cell phone use in the salon, there’s a good chance that you could offend many of your clients.

We recently came across a social media update where salon owners were weighing in on whether banning cell phone use in the salon is a good idea. One of the salon owners wrote,

“My salon, my business, my rules! Clients aren’t allowed to use cell phones in my salon!”

Our first thought was, “Wow, that’s a great idea if you want all of your clients to be grumpy old men who hate technology!”

It’s simply not practical to assume that a policy banning the use of cell phones in the salon creates the environment that every client wants during their appointment. Nor is a salon cell phone policy that prohibits the use of  phones compassionate, especially when your clientele includes busy working professionals who need to remain available to co-workers or customers, parents that need to check in with kids, or whose friends or loved ones might need to contact them in case of emergency. Indeed, many of your clients may not feel that you have the right to tell them whether they can use technology in your salon since they are paying for your services, not signing up for a phone-free environment.

A no cell phone policy isn’t good marketing, either. Your salon could grow more quickly and engage followers online by taking before and after photos for your website and social media. Your salon marketing could benefit even more when you encourage your clients to check in via wifi, share photos of your work, leave reviews and otherwise make public endorsements of your brand on social media and review sites.

Ideas for a Salon Cell Phone Policy

In particular, you should encourage clients to use their cell phones in the salon so that you take full advantage of social media for your brand. There are stylists on Instagram with hundreds of thousands of followers who are showing off their work each and every day, like Los Angeles-based Kristen Ess, the owner and co-founder of thebeautydepartment.com and Chrissy Rasmussen, the owner of Habit Salon in Arizona.

Just Say Yes to a Salon Cell Phone Policy that Helps You Grow Your Business

It is likely that many of your clients already post photos of their fresh manicures and hair styles to social media. Ask them if you can post a photo of their beautiful new look on Instagram and Facebook (and tag them so that your updates are visible to their networks). If they are posting your work on social networks ask them to tag your salon’s accounts in their own posts.

Social media can take having a portfolio to a higher and more competitive level. If you are an owner, create Facebook and Instagram accounts for your salon and ask clients to check in to your salon on Facebook and leave feedback. Also, ask them to tag your salon in posts regarding their experience. Yes, you may occasionally receive feedback that is not positive but most of the time you will probably see posts from happy clients who want to show off their new ‘do or recommend you or your salon to their friends.

While a salon owner should set guidelines for staff use of cell phones in the salon, stylists, too can help attract clients if they are encouraged to snap before and after shots of their work and post it to their own networks, tagging both your salon account and their client’s account in order to extend post reach.

If a client’s use of a cell phone is genuinely interfering with your ability to provide their service, politely explain how it’s affecting your work and ask whether they can wait until you’ve finished to use their cell phone. Remember to err on the side of compassion for your clients, realizing that things can come up without notice and using their phone might be a necessity.

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Interested? Contact us at 888-580-2234 or complete the form below for a free, no-hassle quote on any of our salon business solutions.

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Across the US, salon and spa professionals already leafing through manufacturer and salon product distributor holiday catalogs asking the question, what are the salon holiday marketing ideas I need to sell through promotions?

Salon Holiday Marketing Ideas: The 4 P’s of Holiday Marketing for Salons and Spas

These four P’s of salon holiday marketing can help you build business for your salon or spa not just during the holidays, but well into the new year, too.

Across the US, salon and spa professionals already leafing through manufacturer and salon product distributor holiday catalogs may also be asking themselves: How can I build business this holiday season? These four P’s of salon marketing — written just for the holiday marketing season — can help you build business for your salon or spa not just during the holidays, but well into the new year, too.

For some people, September simply means the end of summer and start of the school year. But for salon and spa pros, it also hails the beginning of the salon holiday marketing season. Salon product manufacturers and distributors have already printed up brochures with salon holiday promotions, so now is the ideal time to plan for the upcoming holiday season!

Traditional marketing talks about the “4 P’s of marketing” which include product, price, promotion and placement (or distribution). We came up with 4 P-words of our own and you can use these four salon holiday marketing P’s to build business in the spa or salon during the upcoming holiday season.

The 4 P’s of Salon Holiday Marketing for Salon Owners, Hairdressers and Beauty Pros

1. Piggy-back.

In nearly every city in the US during the holidays, seasonal events abound. From community choirs and plays, to school choirs, orchestras and plays, to private recitals, to church plays and nativity scenes – there are likely scores of events going on in your community during the upcoming holiday season. Piggy-back your salon or spa services onto these types of events:

  • Create on-the-road services and prepare theater members, choir singers and instrumentalists for their plays and concerts
  • Create concert-prep promotions for makeup and hair styling before events
  • Work with church groups to enhance players in musicals, dramas or nativity scenes

2. Post.

On your website, email newsletter and social media updates, post pictures, step by steps and service and product shopping lists featuring celebrity and holiday hair, makeup and nail “looks.”

3. Position.

Position your spa or salon gift cards as true gifts during the salon holiday marketing season by packaging them along with accessories, gift baskets and other items which can easily be given as gifts during the holiday season. Expand your retail beyond traditional salon products so that it’s easier for your clients to envision your retail center as a gift resource with closely related items such as hair accessories, jewelry, custom apparel or bags or other personal gift-ware.

4. Pre-book.

You will be doing your clients a favor if you get them to pre-book their appointments from now, through the busy holiday season and into the New Year. While you are booking their regular appointments, don’t forget to ask about special events they plan to attend or participate in during the holiday season. It may well be that they would appreciate having you prepare their hair, makeup or nails before-hand and there may very well be special salon products you could recommend to keep their looks intact during events.

With a little creative thinking, you can build business during the holiday season in the salon and spa that lasts well into the New Year, becoming the basis for your salon marketing strategies moving forward.

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How long has it been since you evaluated the cost and effectiveness of your salon’s point of sale (salon POS) solution or equipment? We would be happy to provide you with a free, no-obligation quote for salon credit card processing solutions including salon POS equipment and salon loyalty marketing, or financing options with a salon cash advance:

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Startup Darwinism says that as new startups get funded, others go the way of the do-do bird. Here are five keys for growing a startup to make sure your new business survives.

5 Ways to Overcome Startup Darwinism and Turn Your Startup into a Success Story

An interesting report suggests that as more and more startups get funding, more will have to die. While we are not so sure that it’s a zero sum game, we have five tips for growing a startup to help you strengthen your new business.

A day seldom passes that business media sites don’t announce the launch of a new startup or the demise of others. Happily for entrepreneurs today, there are many private and public investors standing at the ready to provide funding for a wide variety of different types of promising new startups.

Lest you think that startup failure is something that only happens to other entrepreneurs, consider these words from Forbes contributor Neil Patel cofounder of some little startups you might have heard of called Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics.  In an article titled 90% Of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need To Know About The 10%, Patel says, “Nine out of ten startups will fail. This is a hard and bleak truth, but one that you’d do well to meditate on. Entrepreneurs may even want to write their failure post-mortem before they launch their business.”  Bleak, indeed.

If startup funding were enough to ensure success, the failure rate would be much lower. So given adequate funding and – presumably – a business plan worth pursuing, why is it that so many startups fail?  The short answer is: Burn.

Burn refers to the speed at which a startup exhausts its resources. Most startups that fail do so because they burn through their resources faster than they replenish them through sales or additional capital put in by investors. Even fast-growing startups can suffer from burn, when high sales still do not translate into adequate cash flow.

So what is a growth-seeking startup to do? 

5 Keys to Growing a Startup Without the Burn

  1. Stay focused.

Before a startup actually starts up, entrepreneurs are burning the midnight oil. Working with intensity and single-minded focus, they are building the business model, writing the marketing plan and selling their idea to investors.  Once the startup actually launches, and there are a thousand different directions the startup could grow, it’s easy to lose focus and try to move in too many directions at once. Stay focused; work the business plan you sold to investors.

  1. Plan for contingencies.

The road to success is rarely a straight line or a smooth road. Your business plan should have contingencies and triggers built in that will prompt you to shore up areas that are slipping, reduce expenses, expand marketing – whatever the best course correction for the situation. Without contingency plans based on thinking through possible scenarios, when trouble strikes you might not have enough time to come up with a solution on the fly.

  1. Milk your cash cow.

Most businesses, and even most startups, don’t come out of the gate offering just one product or service. Before you open your doors or launch your ecommerce site, you should have a good idea of which products or services are likely to be your cash cows, your most popular entry points for customers, and your most profit-generating offers. These are the products and services that you should spend most of your time and resources in promoting during the startup phase to be sure that you get your business off the ground.  Save pet projects and harder-sells for later on in the game.

  1. Set Aside Money for Marketing

You know you need money for equipment, inventory, staffing and a long list of other items, but if you don’t purposefully set aside money for marketing your startup you may find that you build it and no one comes – because no one knows about your business! Some of the marketing costs you may want to plan for include:

  • Point of sale (POS) merchant services with loyalty and rewards programs built in
  • Direct mailer or door hanger campaign in targeted neighborhoods
  • An attractive website that produces conversions (sales, reservations, bookings, form submission for lead generation, etc.
  • A “soft opening” to spark interest in your business, get early reviews and test your staffing and systems
  • A PR event such as getting local celebrities to try your products or services, or attend your soft open or launch
  • YouTube reviews
  • Videos that explain your products/services, include early testimonials, etc.
  • Social media account set up, sponsored posts, paid ads and boosted events
  • Email marketing – and so on

The more interest you can generate in your business before the doors even open, the faster you can go from launch to profits sufficient to sustain and grow your business.

  1. Don’t go it alone.

Many entrepreneurs are independent by nature. They have had dreams and ideas that they had to pursue on their own, they’ve had to write their own plans, build their own websites, design their own business cards and clean their own bathrooms. They are used to going it alone. Before you launch your startup, get a mentor on board who has business (and preferably startup) experience who can give you good advice and help you shorten the learning curve when it comes to business tasks like bookkeeping and accounting, taxes, marketing, merchant services, human resources and more. The less time you have to spend on administrative tasks and busy work, the more you have to focus on activities that will grow your startup more quickly.