Running a successful business can be hard work and you might feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But if you’ve suddenly found yourself with a bit more time, or want to really improve your business, here are four essential things you should squeeze in to become a more successful franchisee.
Keeping a successful franchise running can be a pretty mammoth task. As a business owner, it’s up to you to sort out everything from stock to accounting to marketing (or at least delegate responsibility). When you’re keeping a thousand plates spinning, it’s understandable that some tasks just don’t make it onto the to-do list. However, if you really want to build a successful franchise that is running at 100%, you will need to make time for those essential jobs that always get missed.
Whether you’re struggling with time management, delegation or simply motivation, there are ways to make sure every essential task gets the attention it deserves. In this article, we look at four things you should really be making time for, and how you can squeeze them into your schedule.
Finding the time
It can be really tricky to get through the absolute essentials, so you’re probably terrified at the thought of extra work. But there’s an art to being an effective business owner. You might need to brush up on your soft skills like time management, or work out how to develop a better work-life balance. Mastering the art of delegation and letting skilled staff handle the day-to-day running of your business can also free up your time to focus on important matters you just never get round to.
These tasks are also great things to pick up if you’re going through a quieter period. They can keep your staff busy and fill your days until business picks up again.
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1. Employee development
You’ve built a great team of employees that are running your business well. As far as you’re concerned, all you need to do is leave them to do their jobs. But you could be making a fatal mistake if you don’t offer any kind of employee development opportunities. It’s all too easy for business owners to mistake a lack of negative feedback as a sign everything is rosy, despite unhappiness that’s bubbling under the surface.
Even if your team doesn’t voice it, they’d probably appreciate the chance to learn new skills or take on more responsibility. Many employees are too shy to approach their employer, but a lack of opportunities within a role is one of the most common reasons for leaving a job. If you make time for employee training and development, you’ll reap the rewards.
Not only will your team have more knowledge (meaning they can fill in when others are away or take on more responsibility) but they’ll be happier and more committed to their jobs. You could also streamline your workforce and save money by giving your existing staff more skills, rather than recruiting a new team member. We’ve written a guide on how to develop an effective employee development plan, so check it out if you need more tips.
2. Informal audits
Whether your franchisor carries out annual audits across the franchisee network or not, getting into the habit of regularly auditing yourself will keep your business at the top of its game. Technically, you can’t really ‘audit’ your own business – a proper audit requires an impartial, external auditor to assess your business, whether they’re looking at one area (such as finances or supply chain) or your operation as a whole. However, making an audit-style assessment an essential annual task could make your business even better.
Some franchisors do carry out franchisee audits every year, which are designed to keep operational, financial and brand compliance levels high. If this applies to you, it’s likely you dread this event. But by making time for an informal assessment before the auditors arrive, you can make sure your business is in the best shape possible and impress your franchisor.
Check your stock levels, remind staff of best practice rules, give them an incentive for great performance (like an employee of the month scheme) and make sure you’ve accurately reported your finances well before any deadlines. It will save you scrambling around for the right paperwork and stop your franchise performing poorly when the auditors actually arrive.
If you’re a lucky franchisee who doesn’t have to endure an audit, you should still get into the habit of regularly checking the way you and your staff run the franchise. It will make sure nothing slips through the net that could negatively affect your business and keep you at the top of your game.
3. Creating a marketing plan
When business is booming, the last thing on your mind is finding more clients. But if you neglect your new business strategy and fail to line up plenty of work, every area of your business will be affected by a sudden quiet spell. Putting in place a robust new business plan and keeping plenty of leads in your pipeline will protect your business’ future.
Build dedicated time into each week to look at your marketing and new business strategy. If you’re just relying on customers spreading the word, you need to do more. Do you have a plan about how you can raise your franchise’s profile? Does your franchisor offer additional marketing support that you’re not taking advantage of? Are you regularly posting on your website or social media to keep your brand in people’s minds?
Don’t worry if you have no experience in marketing or finding clients. It’s an area your franchisor should offer plenty of support in and may even completely cover for you. But if not, check out our eight essential marketing strategies to get some inspiration on how you can raise your brand’s profile and generate new business more sustainably.
4. Cash flow forecasting
We’ve previously discussed the importance of cash flow forecasting in our common business pain points article, but it really can’t be overstated. Taking the time to plan out how much cash is coming in and going out could keep your business healthy, particularly if a quiet period looks like it’s heading your way. Planning out how you’re going to pay your bills, or working out a way to cover outgoings ahead of time, will stop you defaulting on payments and scrambling for cash. You can take sensible steps, like taking out a business loan or selling liquid assets, to stop yourself getting into debt.
On the other side, cash flow forecasting can help you identify a good time to make big investments. Let’s say you’re thinking about buying an expensive piece of equipment. Planning out your expected income and outgoings will show you if you’re enjoying a particularly profitable month and help you time your purchase well. If you genuinely don’t have the time or the know-how, your accountant can help you put together a simple cash flow forecast, or you could use software designed to simplify the process.
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Sweat the small stuff
It’s not easy being a franchisee or business owner, so don’t beat yourself up if you let small tasks slip from time to time. However, if you can invest even a little bit of time (or budget) into the things listed above, you will reap the benefits. Even more importantly, your business will be healthier overall and more likely to withstand external challenges that you can never specifically prepare for.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©