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As you begin your quest to learn more about business ownership, do your homework, and know the rules of the game.  When you are considering franchise opportunities, remember that the Federal Trade Commission has set forth many rules and guidelines that franchisors must follow to remain in compliance.

As a Franchise Recruiter for Outdoor Living Brands, I hear stories of interactions my candidates have had with other franchise opportunities.  Typically, when the first question I receive from a candidate is “How much money can I make”, I know they are either testing me and my credibility, or they may not have worked with ethical franchise professionals in the past. 

As per Federal Trade Commission rules, there is only one legal way to answer that question as a franchisor.  Franchisors may include an “earnings claim” in their Franchise Disclosure Document (or Unified Franchise Offering Circular), but must have the historical data required to verify the information being disclosed.  This “earnings claim” is found in the Franchise Disclosure Document as an “Item 19”. 

Most franchise concepts do not have an Item 19 in their Franchise Disclosure Document.  Perhaps the historical data isn’t available, the information does not put the franchise’s performance in a good light, or they are simply not comfortable providing that data up-front.  If you are looking at franchise concepts, and hear claims of “100% success rates” or “our franchisees make a lot of money”, etc., buyer beware – if you can not find this information documented, it may not be accurate.  Ask the franchise concept if their Franchise Disclosure Document contains and Item 19 – and if not, why?

Outdoor Living Brands currently works with franchise candidates of Archadeck, Mosquito Squad, and Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.  Each of these concepts offer an Item 19.

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As a Franchise Recruiter with Outdoor Living Brands, a common reason people give for looking at franchise opportunities is they want to have more time to do the things that are important to them.  Recently I had the pleasure of working with Kendra and John in their quest to take control of their future and their time.  Below is Kendra’s story.

 “My name is Kendra and I have worked in environmental engineering consulting for the past ten years.  My partner, John, is a civil engineer who works mainly in construction management.  As we started looking at our future together we focused on incorporating each of our individual goals into our goals as a couple.  While my goals were more family oriented and wanting to control my own time and career development, John has always wanted to own his own business.  We decided to start exploring different business opportunities and took a short seminar on franchises to learn more about them, thinking maybe 5 years down the road we would start something.  We started working with Entrepreneur’s Source and were put into contact with several different franchises.  Mosquito Squad was very interesting to me especially since one of my summer jobs in college was with the Baltimore County Department of Agriculture, Mosquito Control Division, driving one of the spray trucks around.  The more we learned about Mosquito Squad and Outdoor Living Brands the more we liked them.  Although we didn’t go into the process with any kind of expectations, or even thinking we were going to buy a franchise, the opportunity was so great that we couldn’t let it pass us by.  The investment level was very reasonable and we know Annapolis has lots of mosquitoes!

 We signed up in September, completed training in December, got our first customer in March and will be heading out to do our first spray next week.  The whole process has been great.  There is stress involved, but the people at Outdoor Living Brands do their best to help you in any way possible.  John and I both work our full time jobs and plan on hiring people to work at Mosquito Squad once we have enough customers.  Coming from a science background I have had to learn a lot about business, accounting and marketing.  It takes up almost all of our free time but we hope the reward will be worth it.  It has made us work together as a team and allowed us to experience the joys and pains together.  We are looking forward to a great season and our excitement about Mosquito Squad is the same now as it was on Confirmation Day.” 

Take control of a precious commodity, your time and your future.  Consider franchising as a way to facilitate reaching the goals you have set for yourself and your family.  Starting your own business is not the easiest of tasks, but with the help of a support team to pave the path, you could be on the way to success quicker than you may think.

“I’m waiting to see what happens with the economy.”  As a Franchise Recruiter for Outdoor Living Brands, this is a common reason people state for not starting their own business and taking control of their own destiny.  “I would love to be my own boss, but what if . . .” Step back for a moment and ask this question – “Am I looking for excuses or answers?”

Does fortune truly favor the brave?  Entrepreneurs thrive on challenge and seek the positive attributes of any situation.  Consider the businesses that were started during a recession or depression that have thrived . . . Hewlett-Packard, Sports Illustrated, CNN,  GE, IHOP, Microsoft, Burger King, Fed Ex, MTV, Hyatt Corp, the list goes on and on.  New opportunities are born each day, even during tough economic times, but only those “brave” enough to view the economic situation as a positive will make that first step toward owning their own business.

 All businesses face challenges.  One challenge that has caused many companies to fail is the lack of planning.  We hear of companies that were lax in their spending, controls, systems, analysis, and structuring.  With companies having to “tighten their belts” many people are caught in the pinch.  When you start a business or are nurturing it through the infancy stage, your attention to detail and the key systems of your business is exceptionally strong.

Whether you are looking for a job or starting a business, you will face challenges.  Now add the ability to utilize many years of experience in developing, implementing, and monitoring systems to your arsenal.  Perhaps you are thinking “I don’t have many years of experience, and little or no exposure to those things.”  Franchising allows you the ability to have that experience and knowledge at your finger tips.    Put your determination, abilities, and drive to work for you.  Consider franchising as a way to start your own business.

Mary and Rich Crawford are the owners of the Mosquito Squad in Norfolk-Chesapeake VA. They are in their first season right now and we asked Mary “Why did you go with us?”

Mosquito Squad was the answer for me for many reasons.  First and foremost, I have three young children who are so important to me so I was looking for a great balance between being a Mom and having a career.  Mosquito Squad allows me to be my own boss and set my own schedule so I can be at home when my children get home from school.  I love the challenge and thrill of starting up my own business and trying to get as many customers as I can.  When I need help, I simply call “the mother ship” and they are always responsive and helpful.  It is comforting to know you have excellent support behind you!  I can’t say enough good things about everyone associated with Mosquito Squad.  We ( all the franchise owners)  have a great time together but more importantly, we are there for each other and actually do call each other for suggestions and help.  It is a great organization to be a part of,  Couldn’t be happier.

Mary Crawford

Mary’s Blog

When Scott Anderson was looking for a way to grow his business, and leverage his existing customer base, he opted to pursue a franchise opportunity.  On January 11, 2010, Scott inquired about an Outdoor Living Brands franchise opportunity.  Scott and his father, Keith, had worked hard to build a successful business in the Augusta, Georgia area.  

Scott and Keith began the process of investigating a franchise opportunity in mid January, 2010.  Keith attended a Confirmation Day in early February, the Franchise Agreement was executed on February 18th and the business was launched in March, 2010. 

Below is Scott’s story in his own words.

“My name is Scott Anderson, I purchased the Mosquito Squad franchise in Augusta, Georgia in February.  My father and I currently own a Landscape Design/Build and Management firm.  We felt like Mosquito Squad would be a great complimentary business for a few different reasons.   

1.  It is a great way to sale additional services.   

2.  It offers a great service to our customers.  Our customers spend large money on projects in their yard so they can enjoy the yard.  Pests such as Mosquitoes can make for undesirable evenings in a back yard.  We felt like Mosquito Squad was a nice solution to our customer’s problems. 

Though we have not started spraying as of yet, I recently finished my training and I am working on my marketing strategy and I am very optimistic.  Mosquito Squad has given me the tools to start this new business.  I feel that it will be a great success.” 

When business owners have worked diligently to grow their customer base, build a referral network, and have provided excellent customer service and begin looking for a way to leverage their experience, franchising can be the best way to achieve their growth objectives.  Utilizing a proven system allows you the opportunity to add a service with a team of professionals assisting with getting up the learning curve while you focus on your business.

Remember the time when your goal was to land a job working for a large corporation?  You would be set for life, retire young, and have awesome benefits.  Do you still believe that is the correct goal or path?  Are you confident your job is secure and the corporation is “solidy and healthy”?

Each day I spend a good deal of time interviewing potential business owners as a Franchise Recruiter for Outdoor Living Brands.  I hear many stories of how people feel they were mislead or mistreated by Corporate America.  Promises made were not kept, they were swept up in the “downsizing” or even some ethically questionable behavior has been experienced. 

Many clients come to me scorned and bitter.  “Had I have known” is a common phrase.  Is this the time for you step back, take a long look in the mirror and ask the question – “Do I really know what is happening on the corporate level?”  Perhaps the time is right for you to start making the decisions.  What decisions you may ask – the ones that will impact your future and your business.  Ultimately, you are one responsible for your and your family’s destiny.

I am currently working with a client who told me “I have always been making these same types of decisions, been held accountable for them, but haven’t really reaped the rewards for my great track record.”  This is one of the reasons he has turned to franchising as an option.  There are many franchise opportunities out there, and finding the right option for you will require some due diligence on your part.  Utilize your talents and strengths and put them to work for you.  If you are considering leaving Corporate America behind and taking control of your own destiny, consider franchising as an option.

Getting customers to plunk down cash or credit cards remains a painfully slow process in this struggling economy. And that’s precisely why it’s important–and always will be–to lure potential buyers with promotions. In fact, coming up with attractive promotions has become a bigger deal than ever.

When done correctly, promotions get customers out of a holding pattern by giving them an incentive to take action before a limited-time offer expires.

1. Target your effort
Promotions can spur purchases by established customers, reel in new customers, draw customers from competitors, get current customers to buy differently, and stimulate business during slow periods. But rarely can one promotion accomplish all of those objectives at once. As a result, you must decide which of the following is most important so that you can target your effort:

  • Do you want customers to purchase more frequently, buy in greater volume, or   be attracted to new or different offerings?
  • Do you want to lure new customers into your business?
  • Do you want lapsed customers to give your business another try?
  • Do you want to boost business during slow hours, weekdays or particular seasons?

After carefully and thoughtfully defining the audience and the change you want your promotion to inspire, ask yourself this question: If you offer a time-limited incentive, is it likely that the customers you’ve targeted will respond? If so, continue to the next step.

2. Plan your incentive
A well-thought-out, properly targeted promotion prompts customers to take action by offering one of these incentives:

  • Price savings, including discounts, coupons or added value offers
  • Samples or trial offers to provide a low-risk way to try new products or services
  • Events or experiences to generate crowds, enthusiasm, sales, publicity

As you decide on your incentive, keep these facts in mind:

Price offers must be strong enough to compel, but reasonable enough to keep your business out of red ink.

Coupons always make a comeback in penny-pincher markets, which means they’re hugely popular these days. Even young consumers and affluent shoppers–groups that traditionally shun coupons–are using them, boosting the typical 1 to 2 percent redemption rate by nearly 20 percent.

Samples work in all lines of business to let customers try before buying. The key is to sample products that are so great they’ll win raves and repeat business.

  • Online-based businesses need to promote free samples prominently in an effort to attract links, visitors, site registrations and publicity.
  • Retailers can turn sampling into promotional events. Think of Costco on weekends.
  • Service businesses would do well to give away mini versions of their offerings. For example, five-minute shoulder massages or one-hour home decorating consultations.

Events and experiences draw customers for celebrations, product launches, special appearances or presentations, and other activities that combine entertainment with brand and product presentations.

3. Know what you want to achieve
Promotions work especially well when consumers are in need of a jolt to take buying action. Just be clear about what you want to achieve.

By knowing the potential bottom-line impact of your promotion, you’ll have the information you need to allocate a promotion budget, dedicate staff time and invest the energy necessary to host a strong promotion that will deliver business-boosting results over the time period it covers.

Typically with most franchise concepts, such as Outdoor Living Brands, the marketing and branding support to create these types of promotions is at your fingertips

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