By Scott Farkas, owner of Valpak of Omaha
Growth. It’s a topic I’ve been focused on over the last few weeks.
My wife, Mimi Rogers, and I are the owners of Valpak of Omaha, and right now our brand is involved in a contest called The Dough to Grow Award. We’re awarding one business with $10,000 to grow their business (Yes, shameless plug, I know… but while I’m at it, if you own a franchise or know of a business owner that could use the cash, check it out: www.doughtogrowaward.com).
When I think about what I’ve learned from owning and growing a franchise over the last eight years, I realized that I’ve learned a lot, like:
1. Be ready for the unexpected
You’ll get training and support from your franchisor but know that growth (or lack thereof) is often dependent on things you won’t have any control over like market conditions or natural disasters. For me, it’s football. When Nebraska wins, people are upbeat and they want to buy. When they lose, no one wants to spend money on advertising. I had no idea that I would make that connection when I first opened!
2. Manage your own expectations like you manage your customers’ expectations
Start right now about thinking about whether or not your desired growth trajectory is realistic. Prepare for challenges and know that you’re going to have good periods and slow periods.
3. Depend on the network of franchisees
A good franchisor will give the basics of what you need. But, you’ll need to count on your fellow franchisees too. I am involved in a network of 170 other franchisees that do what I do. We talk all the time to brainstorm ideas and share solutions so we can avoid stepping in the muck like others have done. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t talk to another owner. A franchise network is different and better than a trade association because these are other business owners with the same brand, the same products and services It makes our network stronger.
4. It always comes down to numbers
It doesn’t matter if you are selling air ducts or pizzas. Growth comes from knowing how many people you have to reach – and then doing it. If you call on enough people, you’ll see results.
5. Business is pretty simple
You’re going to get caught up in the minutia, like looking at your books over and over to find some new solution. In reality, you need to focus on the things that create revenue. Start writing down what you are doing every day. It’ll knock you on your butt when you see how much time you’re spending doing things that do not generate revenue.
6. Don’t expand too fast. Slow and steady is good
Within 10 months of opening my business, we doubled our mailing area. We should have done that gradually because we couldn’t handle the rapid growth. So, in the early days, focus on customer acquisition, maintain what you are selling, and if you are burning through customers, figure out why (by following my first and last point).
7. Mistakes are inevitable. Don’t be afraid of them
You’re going to lose customers. When you do, ask them point blank what you could have done differently. I’ve learned that once you know that there was a mistake, you can fix it. And customers are going to love you for trying to fix a mistake. But, most people are afraid to ask customers and look at that mistake in the eye. That fear prevents growth.
So, what questions do you have about planning and managing growth?
For more information about how to nominate your business or a friend’s business for the Dough to Grow Award, check out www.DoughtoGrowAward.com.
Keep up with all national direct marketing news and advice at the Valpak Business Advisor Blog.
(Scott Farkas and his wife, Mimi Rogers, are the owners of Valpak of Omaha. Check out their blog and get more information at www.valpak.com/omaha.)
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