Thinking of expanding your business?

You’ve spent countless hours and many sleepless nights nurturing your infant business into an adult that can stand on its own two feet. Now you’re wondering whether it’s time for an addition to the family. But how, that is the question. Do you open a second brand and work towards a chain of businesses? Or do you let others in by franchising your idea?

Both franchising and turning your business into a chain offer a little bit of good and a little bit of bad. That said, which route you decide to take would mainly be determined by two factors:

  • How much control would you like to retain?
  • How much capital do you have available?

Let’s explore these further.

Factor 1: Control

In a chain of businesses, you remain the seat of power. You make the choices that decide how the business develops. You don’t have to consult anyone on which products or services to offer, who to employ, how to spend the business funds, or where to open your next branch.

The drawback is that even with good managers and staff in place, being the owner of a chain will demand a huge amount of time and effort from you. The danger is that you might find yourself spread too thin very quickly. This could harm the business in the long run.

A franchise differs in that you hand over most of the control to your franchisees. You do have control over who gets to call them a part of your brand, and issue rules to operate by, but ultimately your business is now the franchisee’s business. It’s their shop to run, nurture and grow, and you can’t tell them what to do like you would an employee.

The pro is that if you pick the right people, your brand flourishes without a lot of effort and time required from your side. You can concentrate on the brand as a whole and on making bigger business decisions. Strategies flow from here down to the franchisees. In essence, by letting you, you gain a lot.

Factor 2: Capital

Opening a second, third or fourth branch of your business means you need to put all the necessary capital forward. Do you or the business have sufficient funds available to do so? You don’t want to have to apply for too big a loan and darken the excitement of a new business with the shadow of debt hanging over your head. To help you decide whether this type of expansion can be done, consider the potential return on investment from each product or new market.

Franchising is very much the opposite of the scenario above. With franchising, you’re working with other people’s money. Relatively little of your own or the business’s money would be required to establish a string of franchises. The franchisee is responsible for much of the setup and running costs of their business.

Further considerations

A number of branches means more staff, more buildings, more stock – and more risk. In the case of a fire, theft or similar, all the risk lies with you. You would be responsible for all the replacements and all the costs.

Remember that growing your business is not a matter to take lightly. Things might be going smoothly now, but any form of growth is bound to open new challenges. For instances, you might be able to manage two or three delivery vehicles without much second thought. But if you were to have five or six delivery vehicles, the logistics involved are multiplied, to the point where fleet management becomes a serious matter to think about.

It’s not just bad news, though. Keep in mind that by heading up all the branches in your business, you can become familiar with all the markets being served. You can get to know your customers and their needs, and tailor each business to best serve those needs. This ultimately creates a better, more profitable business.

One final point to mull over when it comes to franchising is that a franchisee is likely to put much more into your brand than a manager. The franchisee feels like it’s their business, while the manager feels – and is – an employee. It’s very hard to instil the same sort of pride in an employee as in a business owner.

So as you see, it’s not a clear-cut case as to whether franchising or establishing a chain of businesses are best. It very much depends on what and how you want to run your business.

Keeping your business safe

There have been more than 500 mall robberies this year alone. Business owners have good reason to worry about keeping their companies safe.

What’s happened

According to the Consumer Good Council of South Africa, retail robberies have grown by 30 percent over the period April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 when compared to the previous financial year.

“Financial losses through these robberies grew 32 percent. These trends continued into this year, with retail robberies now reaching their highest recorded level,” says the council.

Graham Wright, head of the council’s consumer goods crime risk initiative, says: “The continued targeting of the retail sector by organised crime syndicates is of considerable concern to the industry.”

Cellphone and technology companies have often been the target of robbers. Police have found that the stolen cellphones have been transported to Nigeria and activated there.

Jewellery stores have also often been the target of crime. Increasingly, the choice of shops have appeared to be relatively random with a pet store robbed of its cash at Cape Town’s Cape Gate shopping mall in November.

Leigh Brown of the Consumer Goods Council’s Risk Initiative says more than R10-million in losses have been reported.

“We have seen gangs shifting their focus as cash companies and retailers improve the handling of money, with robbers focused more on commodities.”

What can you do

Business and police have agreed to work together to put an end to the scourge of mall robberies. They agreed to share all information – big and small – on shopping mall crime to improve prevention and response.

Business Against Crime South Africa and South African Police Service have developed a number of tips for business owners. These are:

*Keep the amount of cash stored at the premises to a minimum.

*Vary the time of day you go to the bank and do not make it obvious where you are going.

*When using private security, ensure the guards are properly vetted and rotated.

*Controlled entrances ensure the premises are not overcrowded and vehicle barriers prevent unwanted people from entering.

*Ensure two staff members are on duty at opening and closing times.

*Check the details of all staff members, obtain and verify their contact details, and ensure you have a copy of their ID books.

Make sure to cooperate with the businesses surrounding yours and the police. Communication is key in putting an end to these crimes.

HR: The job that makes you a super hero

To be in a position of being the Human Resource Officer, comes with an invisible cape. Your job is to help your fellow colleagues through any work related grievances they may have. If you’re the type of person to always look out for others, then this is the job for you.

They protect you

You don’t have to be a surgeon to save someone’s life. A human resource officer plays a major part in the wellbeing of an employee. It’s their job to ensure the employer treats his employee fairly and see to it that compensation is due in the right regard. They are your personal lawyers in the work place and have your best interest at heart. An individual session with a worker who has concerns about discrimination issues requires careful listening and empathy especially if it deals with ethical concerns.

They will keep an eye on you

The human resource officer is also responsible for the hiring and performance management of the employee. Should  their performance level drop, the HR has the right to intervene and bring it to the employee’s attention or take the necessary legal steps to ensure good performance levels are maintained. Finding out the details about potential issues can help the HR find a solution to the problem at an early stage. If an employee feels singled out, the HR will then explain that company policies apply to everyone equally. Usually the HR will include the employee’s line manger to discuss any issues that may arise, and then a follow up meeting is usually scheduled.

You can trust them

They are well capable of following through with the obligatory steps to put the employee first, because they have been trained to do so in their human resource management courses, so be sure to trust them. They are put in that position for the best interest of the worker. You can also feel comfortable enough to have open communication with them and speak about any work grievances you may face. They also see to it that there are developing methods in place to manage the workforce and the company expenses; this would include negotiating health care benefits and better rates for employees.

Human Resources MBA.net reiterates the point that, “A Human Resources Manager usually has superior communication skills, and they are helpful in facilitating interaction among staff and managers.”

An HR officer’s normal day may start by, “advising a customer service team on improving telephone skills. Courtesy and patience are qualities that favourably influence customers, and a representative can make a good impression by using them. Making notes to follow up on improvements is usually the last step in advisory meetings.”

The role of the HR in an organisation is very important. We can view them as the oil that keeps the mechanisms from jamming.

When your clients aren’t paying you

Your business is running smoothly, everything is in check, but there’s one problem – your clients aren’t paying up. If you’re the type of person who finds it difficult to confront people, this one could be an excruciating task. If you have a small to medium size business, you most likely know your clients and have built a good relationship with them. Which is why asking for your money could bring fear of losing that client or worse, not getting your money back at all.

You could go the legal route, get a lawyer involved, and possibly lose a client in the process. Or you could try debit order collections. Should your client be in a position not to make a payment, your first step should be to sign them up for a debit order payment. By doing this you are assigning the debit order to be the middle man between you and the client. You’re probably thinking that all you need to do is work out the sum of money that should be deducted from their account each month. Not so. As a matter of fact you need a legal document drawn up explaining the rules of payment. This is only to legally protect yourself and your client. The document should include the consequences of what could happen if your client should deny payment or have no reasonable explanation for payment. You could also require a 50% non-refundable deposit, just in case they decide to pull out at the last minute.

James Odo suggested on About.com, “Have background information on your clients. A few principles can really help… Every potential client will fall within three categories: The serious ones, the sceptical, and those who will merely waste your precious time. Devise a means of handling each category. I hope you’ll get through and still have your money in the end. Try to find out about your client’s system, status, and associates to gain knowledge of whom you are dealing with before you go too far into business with them. Everyone wants to make profit either legitimately, or by not paying for services rendered.”

If you have the means of going about checking the background of your clients, then it should be a great idea. However, it could prove to be a challenge. If you follow correct procedure, you will have the law on your side to protect your rights as the supplier. Maintaining a good relationship with your client is not only beneficial to your business, but also contributes to the growth in all aspects of your company. Therefore it’s important to uphold a good client relationship, as well as sourcing a secure fixed payment solution.

 

Changes in PR in recent years

Public relations, the art of managing the spread of information between an individual or a business and the public, has been through many changes in recent years.

The biggest changes are due to the increase in popularity of social media. The basics taught in public relations or events management courses over the years have stayed the same but there have been changes to just how these professionals go about their daily jobs.

An article on Entrepreneur highlighted some of the biggest shifts in recent years. These were:

 1. Data driven

The most effective PR campaigns use data to guide their strategies.

 2. Changes in pitching

Reporters get scores of pitches into their inbox every day. No longer can you afford to send out a mass mail to everyone. Pitches need to be personalised or you’ll risk being called out and publicly shamed.

3. Numbers are everything

Measurements and analytics are playing a big role in showing clients the importance of PR. Press clippings no longer mean much. Today’s PR pro needs to have the facts and figures behind what they do at their disposal to ensure clients are on board with their proposals.

 4. Know who the influencers are

It is no longer just the media who influence what people think and feel about people, products and business. Digital influencers and people who are well connected on social media can be of benefit for your brand. people trust other people and a recommendation from a trusted person can be immensely beneficial.

 5. Reading is essential

This is one important part of working in PR which doesn’t change. It is essential that a PR take time to read daily. This is how you’ll be able to really understand an industry, stay up to date on the ins and outs and have the knowledge needed to backup your work.

 6. Telling the story

This is the most simple but important part of PR work. If you aren’t able to get the correct message across, your campaign won’t be successful. PR pros are increasingly responsible for content creation so make sure your team produces the most compelling copy, images and multimedia.

Concludes Entrepreneur: “Ultimately, as you can see, PR has undergone a tremendous amount of change over the past decade. While PR can’t solve every problem, it is certainly one of the most important functions a company can leverage to win market share and mindshare in an ever-more noisy world.”