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2015: Prepare for the worst and hope for the best

By Eric Parker 

We are all returning from a well deserved break and ready to face the challenges and rewards that 2015 offers.

Our top 8 franchise predictions for 2015 are:-

1. Tough times require tough people

“When the times get tough, the tough get going!”

There is a little doubt that trading conditions will be tough due to the following reasons:-

  • Slower economic growth
  • High / increased unemployment
  • Electricity outages
  • Political uncertainty / labour unrest

So in these difficult times you need an aggressive strategy. Some tactics to employ included:-

  • Added value offers and aggressive marketing
  • Increased customer service
  • Trained, motivated staff
  • Work closely with your suppliers who will also be under pressure
  • Cut back on unnecessary expenditure
  • Monitor your competitors

2. The strongest will survive

You need to outsmart and out service your competition. The weakest competitors will fall by the wayside in difficult times.

2015 may offer you some acquisition opportunities as your competitors battle. Look for new market opportunities and ensure you are the best in your class!

2015 is not a time for complacency and franchises need to continue to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions.

3. Work smart

Analyse your business like never before. Make sure you are optimising every element of your business and make quick corrections.

Some areas that are important are:-

  • Sales – Are you maximising sales, especially to existing customers?
  • Cash flow – Make sure that you and franchisees watch cash flow
  • Purchasing – Are you getting the best deal from suppliers to benefit the whole franchise network?
  • Gross margins – Are franchisees achieving the benchmark gross profit margin? If not, this should be investigated
  • Disproportionate prices – Loss leader and other price strategies could have an impact on sales
  • Staff performance – It’s important to watch staff performance and morale. Training remains critical
  • Space utilisation – SA retailers have a reputation for wasting space and retail space is expensive. Ensure that store design maximises the available space
  • Cost saving ideas – Look for ways to save cost that will not impact on quality and value of your offering
  • Product mix / slow moving items – Now is the time to review your product mix and reduce or cut non-performing line items
  • Optimum stock levels – Franchisees should not be carrying excess stock
  • Asset utilisation – Make sure that equipment is well maintained and used

4. Q.S.V. will win on the street

Quality

Service

Value

Many really successful brands have been built on these 3 values and in difficult times they become even more important. If you do nothing else make these 3 elements your thrust in 2015. Don’t be tempted to cut back on service, quality or value because your competitors probably will – with terrible results.

5. Consumers will be more demanding

Consumers will have less expendible income, spend less, but be more demanding with their limited expenditure.

Consumers will do more homework and research before they part with their limited resources. Make sure your website is state of the art so that they can find pertinent information quickly.

Word of mouth will be very important – make sure your customers are satisfied fans of your brand as they will be more inclined to pass on the good news.

6. Prices will come under Pressure

Customers will look for value but remember value does not just mean the cheapest.

Make sure your product is priced fairly but then use your marketing to inform customers why your offering is the best value for money available!

7. Don’t cut back on marketing – just make sure it is more aggressive

In difficult times the temptation is always to cut back on marketing – this is so wrong. Difficult times need additional marketing which is more aggressive e.g. promotional type marketing – measure and set goals for your marketing e.g. increase customer count from ____________ to ____________

Hope your competitors cut back their marketing as this will offer you a unique opportunity to own the consumer’s mind.

8. Your staff are your front line. Train and motivate them

Your staff are the engine room of your company – They pick up negative vibes and are probably under financial stress.

Ensure them that their jobs are secure and work with them to motivate them – a good idea will be to come up with a 2015 theme e.g. “We will win the war together”.

Incentivise good performance and don’t cut back on training.

Finally Franchising

If you have never franchised your business it may be a good time to consider it. An owner operator will outperform an employee by at least 30%. You can develop your business with limited capital risk and not need to worry about petty cash, stock control, telephones etc.

Talk to us, we would love to discuss the advantages and disadvantages with you.

If you have franchisees they need special and increased support in 2015. They need to implement the aspects we have covered in this article and special motivation to keep going in difficult times – again we would be prepared to discuss the way we can help implement this!

All the best for 2015 and hope we work together to make it a bumper year