An Interview With Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s CEO, Charles Watson

An Interview With Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s CEO, Charles Watson

By Gary Occhiogrosso
PHOTO COURTESY OF TROPICAL SMOOTHIE CAFE

CEO Shares His Story & Insights On Taking The Reins.
Amid all the pandemic news and stories of how the foodservice business is coping with the crisis, I thought I’d attempt to redirect our attention today, even if only for a short while. As a 35 year veteran of the restaurant and franchise industry, I have always been fascinated by the challenges, risks, rewards, and day to day “work” a CEO faces when first taking the helm of an ongoing franchise organization. Today’s post focus’ on that topic in an interview with Charles Watson, the CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café.

Mr. Watson was appointed the CEO position of Tropical Smoothie Cafe in December 2018. Since that time, he has led the company on its quest towards $1billion in sales by 2023. He’s no stranger to franchise development, nor is Charles Watson an outsider, having served four years as the company’s Chief Development Officer in addition to his prior role as VP of Franchise Development. He is directly responsible for selling more than 800 franchises.

As their franchise website states: “Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s menu boasts bold, flavorful smoothies with a healthy appeal, all made-to-order with quality ingredients. We find that real fruits, veggies, and juices just taste better.” The offerings have evolved over the years to include a menu of breakfast and lunch items beyond smoothies. From wraps to flatbreads to salads, Mr. Watson continues to solidly position Tropical Smoothie Cafe as a leader in the fast-casual, healthier lifestyle food category.

Gary Occhiogrosso: Tell us a little about your background before joining Tropical Smoothie?

Charles Watson: “Prior to joining Tropical Smoothie Cafe, I worked for several hotel and hospitality-centric companies, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels Group, US Franchise Systems, Inc. and Hospitality Real Estate Counselors. I joined Tropical Smoothie Cafe in 2010 as the Vice President of Franchise Development and, in 2016, became the Chief Development Officer, where I was responsible for all aspects of the development of the brand. In July 2018, I was named interim CEO, and then permanent in December 2018.”

Occhiogrosso: Please give our readers the “Elevator Pitch” for Tropical Smoothie Cafe?

Watson: “Tropical Smoothie Cafe is a national fast-casual cafe concept inspiring healthier lifestyles with more than 850 locations in 44 states. Beyond just smoothies, we serve better-for-you wraps, sandwiches, and flatbreads, and pride ourselves on living at the “intersection of taste, convenience, and hospitality.” In a highly competitive segment, we’re one of the fastest-growing quick-casual brands, opening 124 new locations in 2019 alone and singing 213 development agreements to open hundreds of businesses over the next few years.”

Occhiogrosso: What was the condition of the company before you were named CEO?

Watson: “We were in a good place! In 2018, when I was named CEO, we had more than 720 locations open nationwide. By year-end 2018 we opened 110 cafes and signed 191 new franchise agreements. Building off this momentum, in 2019, we celebrated the openings of our 750th and 800th locations, but taking over during such a monumental time for our brand certainly brought opportunities to improve. Each year, franchisees complete the Franchise Business Review to essentially grade us here at the Support Center on how we’re serving them. We gathered that feedback and used it to set goals and action plans for the company. Areas we wanted to attack immediately with our rapid growth were direct franchisee support as well as technology support and menu innovation. We set company-wide strategic imperatives around these issues immediately.”

Occhiogrosso: What were the one or two unique challenges that you faced upon taking over as CEO?

Watson: “As a first time CEO, learning to view the business from a thinking vs. a doing mentality was a challenge I faced. The success of our brand is about the talent and drive of our talented executives and Support Center team. It was not possible for me to get involved in every project – so I had to learn to let go and delegate. I would say that understanding the viewpoints and drivers of the different stakeholders I was serving was important. A presentation for a board is focused on very different things than a franchisee roadshow. Really trying to understand how to see the world through a different stakeholders’ eyes is something I still work on.”

Occhiogrosso: What was your plan for the first 90 days?

Watson: “I wanted to further instill a franchisee-first mentality. When our franchisees are successful, the brand is successful. When I became CEO, I launched a formal franchisee advisory council, known in our organization as the Tropical Franchisee Council (TFC). While we had always involved franchisees, I felt it needed to be formalized and more visible to our franchise system. In short, franchisees needed to know that there was a formal mechanism of their peers that was constantly feeding back to us at the Support Center. From there, we set up committees, reporting into our TFC, around the major parts of our business, and included more franchisees to provide feedback and work with us on further improving IT, Marketing, Design, and Construction, etc. It was important to me that we have franchisees themselves share their feedback and align on system initiatives and goals. In a franchise system, without broad franchisee buy-in, you cannot move as efficiently and effectively as is required in today’s business environment.”

Occhiogrosso: How is taking the reins of an existing company different than being part of a startup or a founder?

Watson: “I think when taking over any brand where you worked alongside your predecessor, there’s a certain level of pressure to continue carrying the torch, but also to make necessary changes to the brand to evolve with the changing economy and consumer trends. I was lucky enough to work with the founders of the business (and still do as they are board members) as well as work under our first CEO, who did an amazing job. Because 99% of Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s system is franchisee-owned and operated, it was my goal to maintain consistency for them and move the company forward in the right direction, with a lot of reverence and respect for the past. In my case, because I already had nearly a decade with Tropical Smoothie Cafe on the franchise development side, I had the unique advantage of personal relationships with our franchise community. We had a high level of mutual trust and respect for each other that existed before I assumed the role of CEO. I may have been, in fact, the person responsible for awarding them a franchise! My experience with the brand up to that point was beneficial because I was already very immersed in the operations and processes that had contributed to its success at that time. That created a kind of blueprint that served as the foundation for me to take the reins and lead the company the way I felt was best. Yes, I am putting my mark on the brand and culture, but I have been around long enough not to stray too far from the DNA of the brand.”

Occhiogrosso: What challenges, if any, did you face in getting “buy-in” from the existing franchise community once you became CEO? Were any of the franchisees reluctant to follow the system or embrace a new direction?

Watson: “Like I said, I was very fortunate to have had already developed relationships with our franchise community prior to becoming CEO. My predecessor did a great job, so most of the hesitancy candidly was, “will this guy be as good, will we have the same amount of success?” Luckily in my first two years as CEO, we continued to expand the footprint of the brand, and increase brand awareness, drive profitability for our franchisees and drive our comp sales…. So that was helpful! The impact of the more formalized committees we have set up, and the close connection I have with TFC has gotten the system more comfortable with my style and thinking, and I believe, since trust is earned, I still have a long way to go, but am off to a good start. Without our franchisees, committees, and council, I simply could not do this job. Those franchisees are serving our guests on the front lines – I can’t run this business without their candid feedback.”

Occhiogrosso: How do you feel about franchise advisory councils? And was one in place already?

Watson: “I’m a huge advocate for franchise advisory councils, specifically when nearly 60% of all franchise agreements at Tropical Smoothie Cafe come from existing franchisees. The Tropical Franchisee Council (TFC) was established in 2018 and has been invaluable for our growth. “Relationships Rule” is one of our core values, and because of that, people are at the heart of our company. Our relationships are founded on trust and respect for the unique talents of our teams, franchisees, and vendors alike. We strive to continue to harness these relationships in this way and feel that this approach will continue to fuel our success. The TFC works hand-in-hand with Tropical Smoothie on all facets of the business from operations, IT, marketing, construction, and beyond, and their genuine feedback continues to establish the open communication we strive for, helping us to enhance our business model on an ongoing basis. This process only helps our individual franchisees and their bottom line, respectively.”

Occhiogrosso: What is the mission and goal of the company over the next few years?

Watson: “At Tropical Smoothie Cafe, it’s our mission to inspire a healthier lifestyle by serving amazing food and smoothies, with a bit of tropical fun. We want to be an escape for our consumers in this hectic world we live, and an incredible business model for our franchise partners It’s an exciting time to be a fast-casual concept within this segment, specifically as the market size of the juice and smoothie bars industry is expected to increase by 2.3% in 2020, reaching nearly $3 billion in revenue across the globe. We consider ourselves to be an approachable, healthier option for the average American, and our customer loyalty system-wide continues to climb. Our company sells about 200 franchises, opens over 120 cafes a year, and has more than 500 locations in the pipeline. As a brand, we strive for excellence in service and creating a culture of hospitality for our business no matter which location you visit, and this year we’re prioritizing them even further by enhancing pillars of our hospitality-centric culture and the technology we use to create convenience for our guests in order to reinforce our position as the leader in our segment. Over the next five years, our goals are to reach 1,500 cafes open across the U.S., with over 18% profitability for our franchisees on average volumes in excess of $1M, all with very high operational satisfaction for our guests. Our annual tactics are focused around delivering those results.”


Although I did not want to focus on COVID-19 in this interview, it is difficult to ignore its impact on the restaurant community as well as franchisees in general. So I was compelled to ask Mr. Watson his thoughts on the pandemic and the company’s response.

Occhiogrosso: During the current COVID-19 crisis, what steps have you taken to ensure that Tropical Smoothie Cafe supports the local community?

Watson: “When COVID-19 struck the restaurant landscape in mid-March, we closed all dining rooms and shifted our focus to drive-thru, curbside pickup, and delivery where available. Then we determined two focus areas, giving back to the community and prioritizing support for our franchisees. Some of our franchisees had the idea to donate smoothies to first responders and hospital workers in Atlanta. We loved the idea so much we launched a nationwide campaign to donate 100,000 smoothies across the country and the response has been incredible. Within the first day, several local franchisees jumped on board and donated more than 600 smoothies each, and the donations just kept growing from there. On April 16 we met our goal of 100,000 smoothies, but our franchisees haven’t stopped there, and the new challenge is to donate a total of one million smoothies by the end of May. Knowing that those essential workers are not only in the healthcare fields, we’ve also extended our giving to grocery store, warehouse and post office employees. We’re proud to report that as of today, we’ve donated more than 200,000 smoothies to these hometown heroes, and we’re not done yet! In support of National Nurses Appreciation Month in May, we have also pledged to donate $100,000 to the American Nurses Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund upon reaching our goal of giving away 1,000,000 smoothies.”Our franchisees are the heart of our brand, so we wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to help them stay afloat through the crisis. We decreased royalties and deployed hyper-local marketing strategies to drive business within a 1–to 2-mile radius of cafes. While our projected 2020 growth might take a step back due to the coronavirus, I believe our approach to navigating through this will help us emerge quickly once it passes.”

Occhiogrosso: What are some of the additional support initiatives you put in place for your franchise community during the pandemic?

Watson: “Our franchisees are the heart of our brand, so we wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to help them stay afloat through the crisis. We’ve implemented various franchisee support initiatives, including decreased royalties by 50%, ongoing support with PPP loans and real estate deferrals and abatements, rolling out curbside delivery systemwide, deployed hyper-local marketing strategies to drive business within a 1–2-mile radius of cafes, among many others. While our projected 2020 growth might take a step back due to the coronavirus, I believe our approach to navigating through this will help us emerge quickly once it passes.

Occhiogrosso: How do you see the company moving forward?

Watson: “As you know, the restaurant industry has taken a huge hit. Although COVID-19 has directly impacted our business, some days being down more than 50 percent, we consider ourselves lucky to have a business model that allowed us to easily transition to grab-and-go, curbside, and delivery only. I think the biggest shift will take place for those restaurants that can’t be open right now. The guests who support local businesses in and around their communities are the ones we give the credit to because their loyalty to our cafes is what has ultimately maintained our ability to serve. Because of our amazing guests, our franchisees, and the communities they serve, including those on the front lines of this pandemic, we will get through this. As reopening guidelines are being determined, we plan to move forward with an abundance of caution.”

In conclusion, I believe the growth of Tropical Smoothie Cafe over the last two years demonstrates Mr. Watson’s steady leadership and a clear understanding of building on the momentum that has made the brand a leader in its category. In my experience, making franchisee success and profitability the priority is the key to the longevity of any franchised brand. The fact that nearly 60% of all new Tropical Smoothie Cafe units are opened by existing franchisees underscores the franchise owner’s satisfaction with the concept, the company, and it’s leadership. It’s almost all you need to know about the results of Mr. Watson’s work and commitment to the franchisees. Successfully taking the reins on an existing franchise company can be a daunting task, but in the case of Charles Watson, he continues, as their franchise website claims, to create waves for a brand that started on the beach.

About Charles Watson:

Charles Watson was named CEO in December 2018. In this role, he is responsible for the brand’s strategic vision and overall franchise performance. He was previously Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s Chief Development Officer since 2016, after serving as VP of Franchise Development since 2010. In these roles, Charles was responsible for all development of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe brand. A veteran hospitality professional, Charles has worked for several hospitality-related companies, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels Group, US Franchise Systems, Inc., and Hospitality Real Estate Counselors. Charles is a graduate of The Hotel School at Cornell University and also holds a Masters of Business Administration from The Terry School of Business at The University of Georgia.

The Human Resource: Engaging the workforce in a crisis

As business leaders, it is more critical now to demonstrate strong leadership values and ethics in how you treat your employees and how you create and maintain a life-work balance. That includes the safety and protection of the workforce while building sustainable processes and practices that enable you to continue providing your products and services to your customers and clients.

The Human Resource: Engaging the workforce in a crisis

WARREN COOK

By Warren Cook -President and co-founder of SymbianceHR

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted us all in ways that may take years or a lifetime to reflect upon and understand. As businesses begin to reopen and emerge from the shutdown, our workforce — the employees we value and need to succeed — are emerging from a stay at home lockdown that can be a traumatic experience.

The myriad challenges today include returning to a new normal work environment with changes to working conditions. Those changes include moving from remote locations back to the regular physical office and dealing with the stress of civil unrest, protests or riots, on top of a Covid-19 virus that has no cure, and the risk of death. They all combine to create a traumatic situation for many of the people in our community.

As business leaders, it is more critical now to demonstrate strong leadership values and ethics in how you treat your employees and how you create and maintain a life-work balance. That includes the safety and protection of the workforce while building sustainable processes and practices that enable you to continue providing your products and services to your customers and clients.

Three important considerations as we emerge from the stay-at-home lockdown to support your strategy for success.

Employees will have genuine, valid, and realistic fears and concerns when asked to return to a physical work location. Do not demonstrate a disrespectful attitude or communication style by “ordering” people to return to the work location. Instead, develop a communication strategy and alternative working conditions that allow these concerns to be addressed and resolved collaboratively. Treat all employees fairly and collaborate with them through an interactive process to determine how to achieve a win-win situation for the employee and the business.
The employer, as always, has a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for their employees. This means following all local, state, and federal guidelines and regulations to meet safety standards in the workplace. This includes but is not limited to social distancing, remote work when possible, disinfecting the worksite, monitoring the health of the staff, and communicating timely and honestly about positive test results in the workforce that require quarantine or migration back to remote working conditions to avoid the spread of the virus.
Establish policies to handle the new work processes and practices and provide training to all people leaders and the employees. Failure to communicate consistently, transparently, and timely with trust, respect and engagement could lead to employee relations issues that you don’t need right now on top of all the other challenges your business is facing.
Remember your obligations to keep certain matters confidential, to protect the rights of your employees, and to ensure their safety while under your management. The more effective you can be as leaders during this crisis, the more evident it will be that you become an employer of choice who treats people with dignity and respect, which leads to community approval and sustainable business success.

Wishing you all good health and safety during these challenging times.
===========================

About Warren Cook
Warren is the President and co-founder of SymbianceHR and provides strategic oversight for service delivery, business operations, and technical guidance on consulting engagements. He is a human resources subject matter expert with over 25 years of experience as a strategic human resources business partner, project manager, and people leader across private and public sectors organizations. Warren is responsible for the strategic planning of all client consulting engagements from initial needs assessment and compliance review through delivery of customized strategic solutions that meet the client’s business goals. He has a proven track record of providing executive coaching and guidance to business leaders and human resource professionals at all levels including the C-Suite of Fortune 100 companies. Warren is also the Chief Talent Officer and cofounder of SymbianceHiRe, a Symbiance company dedicated to providing direct placement talent acquisition services and temporary and contract staffing solutions to the business community. Warren holds a B.S. in Human Resource Management, an MBA in Project Management, and a M.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Warren is the author of “Applicant Interview Preparation – Practical Coaching for Today.”

* * MasterMind Minutes * *

Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

MasterMind Minutes is the Webcast that shares expert business information in Minutes Not Hours. Each edition runs approximately 10 to 15 minutes and features an expert guest covering one question. The entire series is posted and updated several times a week on this page so you can binge watch back-to-back “episodes”. Three to five new editions are added each week so keep coming back to view the experts on an insightful topic that is sure to help you build, grow and run your business.

www.franchisegrowthsolutions.com

HOW TO EVALUATE A STARTUP OR EMERGING BRAND FRANCHISE WITH ONE OR NO FRANCHISEES?
Our Guest Today is: Ed Teixeira.
Ed has over 40 years of experience in the franchise industry and is the VP Franchise Development for FranchiseGrade.com a leading franchise market research firm. Ed is the author of Franchising from the Inside Out and The Franchise Buyers Manual and has spoken before the International Franchise Expo, Chinese Franchise Association in Shanghai, China and has lectured at the Stony Brook University Business School on Franchising.
Contact Ed at: https://www.franchisegrade.com/. 1-800-975-6101
Contact Gary at: [email protected]
Learn More About Franchising: https://www.franchisegrowthsolutions.com

WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS THINK ABOUT WITH RESPECT TO LIABILITY CONCERNING EMPLOYEES GETTING CORONAVIRUS AT THE WORKPLACE?
today’s guests are:
Joel Greenwald is the Founder and Managing Partner of Greenwald Doherty LLP, a national management-side employment law firm. Focusing on labor relations and employment law. AND Michael Einbinder is a founding Partner of Einbinder & Dunn. He is a participating member of the American Bar Association Forum on Franchising.
Contact Michael at: [email protected] – Contact Joel at:[email protected]

HOW A COMPANY CAN SUPPORT THE COMMUNITY, ITS EMPLOYEES AND ITS FRANCHISEES IN TIME OF CRISIS – Today’s guest is Hector Westerband. Hector is the Founder and CEO of ACAI EXPRESS. He has over 20 years in the hospitality industry. He was introduced to the amazing Acai Stone Fruit. It was there where he started his own Acai Food Truck Called Acai Express in 2013.development.
Acai Express: https://lnkd.in/eESYZ6U

WHAT ARE THE FRANCHISE BRANDS THAT ARE DOING WELL DURING AND WILL DO WELL AFTER THE PANDEMIC? – Today’s guest is Lance Graulich
Lance is the founder & CEO of ION Franchising, an industry leading franchise consulting and development group, that represents over 500 franchise brands & business opportunities within 90 categories. Lance helps prospective entrepreneurs find their perfect franchise for FREE.

ARE YOU OVERLOOKING POTENTIAL MONEY SAVING CHANGES IN THE FEDERAL TAX LAWS THAT WERE INCLUDED IN THE COVID STIMULUS BILLS? – Today’s guest is MICHAEL IANNUZZI
Michael Iannuzzi is a partner and co-leader in Citrin Copperman’s franchise practice providing a variety of services to a wide spectrum of clients within the franchise community.

GROWING YOUR FRANCHISE COMPANY POST COVID-19 – Today’s guest is Harold Kestenbaum.
Harold is a franchise attorney who has specialized in franchise law and other matters relating to franchising since 1977. https://youtu.be/OOCXqhGPA_U

WHY DO FRANCHISEES FAIL – Today’s guest is Tom Scarda, CFE, Founder & CEO of the Franchise Academy, Best selling author and Podcaster.

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MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
LEARN MORE HERE:
https://www.mattofranchise.com/

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HOW ARE BANKS RESPONDING TO LOANS FOR NEW BUSINESSES?
Today’s guest is Reginald Heard – Founder and CEO of Bankers One Capital.

HOW ARE YOU MARKETING AND GETTING THE WORD OUT THAT YOUR BUSINESS IS GETTING READY TO REOPEN? Laura Skulman, Director of Marketing and Events for B&D Burgers in Savannah Ga.

HOW FRANCHISORS ARE CREATING A DIGITAL STRATEGY AS THE ECONOMY OPENS UP – Today’s guest is Aubree Coderre, National Sales Manager at C-Squared Social

Stephen McCluskey Insurance Expert – Discussing what you can do if your Insurance Company is not paying business interruption insurance due to Covid 19 closure

Michael Einbinder – Founding Partner of Einbinder and Dunn, a Law firm focusing on the needs of franchisees and franchisors

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MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
LEARN MORE HERE:
https://www.mattofranchise.com/

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OPPORTUNITIES TO OPEN A RESTAURANT NOW! Today’s guest is David Simmonds – Commercial Rental Expert

MasterMind Minutes – One Question – One Expert Answer – Minutes Not Hours
Our guest today is Doug Smith… He is the Director of Sale for ROI Experts which is a digital marketing agency that works with restaurants around the world. ROI Experts generates trackable ROI using their unique ROI engine platform. Doug is 27 year veteran of the radio, sales and marketing. Visit their website at www.roiexperts.com‍

How Are You Handling Your Covid Financial Anxiety?

It is not worth the mental energy and distress to put pressure on yourself for what is out of your hands. Unproductive thoughts will put you on a never-ending cycle of “I have to figure it out, I have to figure it out.” That kind of spiraling activity just runs down your batteries.

Combating financial anxiety during a pandemic

Courtesy of BRANDPOINT
Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

(BPT) – In the face of a global pandemic, financial anxiety is an everyday reality. Concerns surrounding personal finances, businesses shutting down and market volatility have us navigating new waters, experiencing more acutely than ever before how our financial lives are intertwined with our mental health. Amanda Clayman, financial therapist and Prudential’s financial wellness advocate, works with people to better understand the emotional connection we have with money.

According to Clayman, financial stress, while it may be inevitable in these times, does not have to control our lives. Even in the midst of this crisis, we can practice good financial and mental health and grow in our ability to maintain calm.

How to ease your mind and overcome financial distress

Clayman offers the below tips on how to ease your mind and overcome your financial distress during the days of COVID-19.

  • Allow yourself to feel a sense of loss: These big market changes may throw a wrench in the vision you had for retirement or your 401K. This is a scary realization, and a sad one. It is natural to have an emotional response, so let those feelings come and acknowledge them as they do. By not bottling up those sensations you are better able to say goodbye to your former plans and move forward. Additionally, looking your feelings in the face and comparing them to the reality of the situation provides valuable perspective that is key in the healing process.
  • Embrace uncertainty as part of the plan: Concentrate on the here and now, and don’t think too far ahead. It is common to try to manage anxiety by making a plan, but that’s going to be challenging when the future feels so uncertain. Try telling yourself, “I’m going to make the best plan I can based on what I know now. Then I’m going to trust that I will figure out problems as they arise and ask for help when I need it.”
  • Let go of what you can’t control: It is not worth the mental energy and distress to put pressure on yourself for what is out of your hands. Unproductive thoughts will put you on a never-ending cycle of “I have to figure it out, I have to figure it out.” That kind of spiraling activity just runs down your batteries.
  • Be intentional, not impulsive: Anxiety floods your mind with fearful thoughts of worst-case scenarios, tricking you into believing immediate action is necessary to fix the problem. It may feel like you are making progress initially, but these are not emotionally grounded decisions and can lead to costly mistakes. What you need is space for perspective, to differentiate between internal feelings and external reality. Try stepping away from the computer or going for a walk before making big moves. Remind yourself that you are safe right here, right now.
  • Don’t be a hero: You don’t have to bear this weight alone. You may feel as if providing financial security is all up to you, especially if you’re a caretaker or your kids moved home to ride out the pandemic. But this is not an individual problem, it’s a collective one we can face together. So reach out — take care of each other and ask to be taken care of in return. In addition to sharing your feelings with family and friends, be in touch with creditors, landlords and service providers about your concerns. They may be able to offer a payment holiday, partial payment or interest-only payment.

Explore new types of self-care

One of the most important lessons in combating any anxiety is to remember that you will not feel this way forever. In the meantime, let’s use these moments to explore new forms of emotional and financial self-care. With thoughtful reflection, we can foster a relationship with money that promotes mental health in even the most challenging circumstances.

MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
LEARN MORE HERE:
https://www.mattofranchise.com/

How Small Businesses Can Boost Sales

Let’s face it, plenty of potential customers add items to their online shopping carts and never check out. While these “abandoned carts” seem challenging, they’re an opportunity.

How Small Businesses Can Boost Sales

By BrandPoint

(BPT) – With over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., it’s tough to stand out from the crowd. Successful small businesses turn first-time customers into repeat business, building momentum and growing sales.

How can you achieve this? Marketing. Finding effective, easy-to-execute marketing strategies can boost your business by helping you engage your customers while attracting new ones. Here are some proven ideas to help your business thrive:

Engage first-time customers

Show new shoppers that they matter. Send welcome emails and recommend products to complement what they bought. Offer special deals to keep them coming back.

Utilize positive customer reviews

Did you know over 60% of consumers read reviews before buying? Reviews can include ratings, testimonials, photos, videos and more.

Treat reviews as marketing gold, sharing them with customers and prospects to build trust and increase sales. You can generate and integrate them into your website, on social media and other marketing efforts.

Turn shopping carts into opportunities

Let’s face it, plenty of potential customers add items to their online shopping carts and never check out. While these “abandoned carts” seem challenging, they’re an opportunity.

An effective way to convert abandoned carts into sales is by drawing on the power of customer reviews. Adii Pienaar, vice president of commerce product strategy for the email marketing platform CM Commerce, says small businesses can change their fortunes with this approach.

“Our most successful small business customers don’t just send a reminder email to shoppers about items left in their carts,” said Pienaar. “They take it a step further and include positive reviews and ratings about that product with the follow-up, knowing how much importance buyers place on others’ experiences. By featuring personalized product reviews for abandoned cart items, there can be a recovery rate of 5-10%.”

Spark interest with special offers

Entice new and returning business by offering discounts, encouraging shoppers to give your business a try.

Also, if you don’t have one already, create a loyalty program for frequent shoppers, or a referral special for those inviting friends to your website or social media.

Personalization matters

Shoppers don’t want mass emails treating them like just another number. Small businesses that tailor emails based on each customer’s shopping experiences and interests are far more successful in driving sales.

Creating customized content may sound complex, but it all comes down to how you organize your customer list. For example, segment your customers by which products they’ve purchased, then use this information to inform them how to best use their products or remind them when it’s time to re-order.

Personalization really pays off when you incorporate dynamic content — information that changes based on a person’s interests — in promotional emails. Use a customer’s previous purchases and shopping interests to generate ideas on products to complement items they already bought. For example, recommend a similar flavor of cupcakes to ones they ordered before.

Get started

These proven marketing approaches can springboard your business to success. But, how do you get started?

Marketing has greatly evolved, with many new, easy-to-use tools. You don’t need to be a marketing expert, technical whiz or creative designer to use them.

For example, CM Commerce is an email marketing platform designed for small ecommerce businesses. It can easily create professional email campaigns to enhance and grow your business.

To help small business owners, CM Commerce features pre-built email marketing recipes for everything from welcome emails and newsletters to abandoned cart reminders and more. Business owners can follow these guidelines and put their email marketing plans in place with a single click.

“I always recommend small business owners invest in email marketing,” said Pienaar. “It’s a cost-effective way to establish your brand and regularly reach your customers and prospects. Most importantly, email marketing has the potential for huge returns and can truly make your business stand out.”

For more tips and ideas to grow your business, visit The Marketing Resources Hub.

MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
LEARN MORE HERE:
https://www.mattofranchise.com/

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5 Tips To Protect Your Network From Hackers When Staying At Home

“Cybercriminals are continuously looking for ways to exploit computer system vulnerabilities and home networks are popular targets because so many of our devices — phones, TVs, computers, even appliances — are connected to them,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance director of product management.

5 Tips To Protect Your Network From Hackers When Staying At Home

By BrandPoint

(BPT) – Being home 100% of the time has become the new norm for many Americans, as social distancing is implemented in communities across the country to slow the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic. Connected devices are being used virtually nonstop, as the homebound stream shows to binge watch and video chat with friends to help pass the time. Unfortunately, most residential computing networks aren’t regularly maintained and monitored to protect against security breaches. This presents hackers with a virtual playground of which to take advantage.

“Cybercriminals are continuously looking for ways to exploit computer system vulnerabilities and home networks are popular targets because so many of our devices — phones, TVs, computers, even appliances — are connected to them,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance director of product management. “Insurance companies like Mercury provide solutions to help financially protect homeowners and renters if they fall victim to a cyberattack. There are also steps they can take ahead of time to help prevent one from happening in the first place.”

Following are five tips to protect your home network — and the devices connected to it — from hackers.

  • Power down your devices. This disables the internet connection, cutting off access to any personal information stored on your computer, tablet or phone. Unattended machines are easy targets for hackers, especially if you’re asleep.
  • Secure your wireless network. Information accessed on an open network, including email passwords and sensitive bank information, is fair game for hackers. Don’t make their jobs easier — protect your Wi-Fi network with a strong password that’s difficult to guess. Wireless routers that are issued by cable providers are typically assigned a network name and password that’s easily located on a label on the device itself. These can be changed using your online account, so do this as soon as possible for added security.
  • Invest in anti-malware software. Malware — or malicious software — can be installed on your computer without your knowledge so hackers can damage your system, steal personal information or restrict your access to extort money from you. Anti-malware software helps protect against, detect and remove malware, stopping cybercriminals from doing further damage. Also, avoid downloading music or video files from suspicious websites, and clicking on links or email attachments in messages sent from unknown senders to help prevent malware from infiltrating your system.
  • Install recommended updates. Smartphone, computer, tablet and smart TV manufacturers, among other providers of connected devices, offer periodic software updates to protect against potential security breaches. Chances are, if an update is recommended, hackers have already discovered a way to access your personal property and information, so keep your software up-to-date. Set your devices to install auto-updates when possible.
  • Beware of phishing scams. Phishing scams aren’t new, but hackers continually use more sophisticated email — and even text messages — to trick people into providing their personal information. Once again, do not click on the links or attachments in messages from unknown senders.

Li suggests homeowners and renters consider adding Home Cyber Protection to their existing policies as an additional way to protect against hackers. “Even the most vigilant individuals can experience a cybersecurity breach,” said Li. “Having coverage to help recoup financial losses that are brought on by cyberextortion or stolen personal information can offer peace of mind during an otherwise stressful time.”

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End Of Article
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MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
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Beyond the Covid 19 Shutdown, Returning Workers will be Judging “Workplace Culture”

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MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
LEARN MORE HERE:
https://www.mattofranchise.com/

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Workplace talent drives success. It is not products, not marketing, not demand that ultimately make a company competitive. Don’t fall victim to fear and culture failures during these times. It will inhibit the future health and growth of your company.

Beyond The Covid19 Shutdown, Returning Workers will be Judging “Workplace Culture”

By Gary Occhiogrosso
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

As companies continue to evaluate their business in these challenging times, one of the areas many small business operators, and CEO’s of large companies, are investigating is workplace culture. As we ramp back up, many companies will be seeking employees. Many workers will be very focused on how companies treated their employees, vendors, and customers during the pandemic shutdown. Returning employees will also want to know that they, their work, and their ideas, make a difference. Make no mistake; the job market will be so robust that workers have the opportunity to pick and choose for whom they will work. Companies should take this time to revisit, and if necessary, reinvent their workplace culture if they intend to compete for the most qualified employees. Workplace talent drives success. It is not products, not marketing, not demand that ultimately make a company competitive. Don’t fall victim to fear and culture failures during these times. It will inhibit the future health and growth of your company.

Please review this article in the Harvard Business Review. It clearly and expertly advances the concept of workplace culture and how to improve your approach and practices to best advance your company in the upcoming turnaround.

Excerpt:

    Today’s workforce wants to know that they’re making a difference within their companies. While work cultures are unique to every organization, the foundation of what enables a culture to thrive is the extent to which employees are empowered to be engaged, feel valued, and be heard. This is where leadership comes in.

Read the entire article here at Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/04/build-a-culture-that-aligns-with-peoples-values?utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=social
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6 Key Points To Keep Your Restaurant Profitable In A Slow Down

Look for trends in your sales—for example, busy days and hours versus slower times and days. For instance, if Tuesday afternoons are consistently slow, then consider cutting back on your hourly staff for that period…

6 Key Points To Keep Your Restaurant Profitable In A Slow Down
by Gary Occhiogrosso – Managing Partner, Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC.
Photo by Gor Davtyan on Unsplash

In good times and not so good times, operating a profitable restaurant can be a daunting task. The high cost of rent, labor, and raw ingredients, often overlooked by guests seeking a fine dining experience at fast-food prices can make value perception and profitability difficult. Nonetheless, there are a few things every operator should be aware of, especially during tough economic times. Below I have listed six tips that when put into everyday practice, not only help save money and increase sales when times are lean but serve to maximize profits in better economic times.

Be Mindful Of Your Payroll
Payroll is the one thing in your operation that you have total control over. You determine it, and no one or anything else has a hand in the result. Knowing how to manage payroll is an essential element to success in the restaurant business.
Controlling labor during a slow business period can be tricky. If your businesses’ survival is dependent upon the need to terminate personnel, then managing the schedule of your hourly employees as well as your key people in a compassionate way must be your top priority. You’ll need to delicately balance the limiting of hours among your best employees. Whenever possible, spread the cutbacks out amongst as many team members as possible. That way you can lessen the impact to any one team member.
Be mindful that if you schedule less labor than you need, your restaurant may end up giving poor guest service. That will negatively impact the guest experience as well as your Social Media reviews. On the other hand, if you over-schedule your labor as a percentage of sales, then you’ll be out of line with acceptable budgets and typically lose money.
Look for trends in your sales—for example, busy days and hours versus slower times and days. For instance, if Tuesday afternoons are consistently slow, then consider cutting back on your hourly staff for that period. If you employ a salaried manager, have that person substitute in a station position. Labor is the most critical line item on your P&L. Oversee it, adjust it each day based on projected sales. Remember, unlike food inventory, which allows you to store it (in many cases) for another day, labor, once spent, is gone forever.

Engineer Your Menu To Reflect Current Goals
Sometimes bigger isn’t better. A smaller, more focused menu is often more profitable than the “be everything to everyone approach.” During a recession or slow season, use your menu to attract new customers as well as enticing your regular customers to visit more often. Adjust your menu by offering items that have more appeal in a budget-conscious climate. Understanding what guests want, what they can afford, and what you wish to sell them is a critical piece to menu engineering.
Also, position your lower food cost items in a prominent spot on your menu. That way, you can offer your guests lower-cost menu items and still make a profit.
And although it goes without saying, don’t forget to conduct a weekly inventory. Monitoring your food cost will help you manage cash flow most efficiently and accurately.

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MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
LEARN MORE HERE:
https://www.mattofranchise.com/

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Stay In Front Of Your Customers
The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is never is more accurate than in a recession or slow period. You may not want to run your full Radio/TV or Print campaign. However, now is not the time to cut advertising to zero. Instead, increase your paid social media and your paid Google ads. Post photographs of guests in your restaurant, delicious-looking food items, and creative, fun graphics to entice and remind your guests how much they enjoy your restaurant and what you have to offer.
In addition, utilize the database you’ve collected of customer’s email addresses and mobile telephone numbers. You can use this data to send your customers special offers via email blasts and text messaging. Be proactive!

Promote Value, Not Price
During a recession or other tough times, offer your guests real value, not discounts. It is my opinion that you should never attach the price of the menu item to the item itself, for example, selling a hamburger for $1.00. Discounting your products creates a considerable problem for future sales of those items when you move them back to full price. Lowering the price of a menu item creates a product/price value perception, which may negatively impact the customer’s perception of value at a later date. Guests will connect the cost of the menu item to its overall value, now and in the future. Cutting prices for the sake of attracting customers or keeping up with a competitor is never the answer.
Instead, create reasons and additional “occasions to use” your restaurant in your guest’s mind. Then the guest will associate a discounted price with a particular promotion or event. For example, ladies’ night, or seniors day, or it could be the anniversary of the restaurant, and you’re rolling back prices, or National “whatever” Day. Whichever the case, offer real value by promoting events and Limited Time Offers (LTO’s) as a reason to create the “frequency of visit.” This method is also useful for attracting new guests or guests that haven’t visited your restaurant in a while.

Paying Attention To The Details Saves Money
Pennies add up! Keep a watchful eye on expenses. Monitor electricity and water usage, napkins, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and other items that often go unnoticed until you see the cost on your P&L. Be mindful and control those costs each day. Make your staff aware of things like shutting off lights, turning off water faucets, and how many paper towels they may be used to clean a counter. Get your team members “woke” to the idea and actual cost of everything in the restaurant.

One Final Note
Good times follow bad times, and bad times follow good times. Nothing is forever, so learn how to manage a restaurant through a rough patch you’ll be in a better position to maximize your profits when times are good.

MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
LEARN MORE HERE:
https://www.mattofranchise.com/

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Lead Generation, Franchise Sales and Reality

This approach is terrible not only because you have empty spots in your pipeline but also because an ebb and flow in the advertising plan sometimes may cause the “brand” to disappear for awhile and send the franchise buyers a less than confidence inspired massage. For a start-up or emerging brand, this is the equivalent of a jet airliner “pumping the brakes” to save fuel while attempting to “take off.” It usually leaves a mess at the end of the runway.

Lead Generation, Franchise Sales and Reality
By Gary Occhiogrosso – Managing PartnerFranchise Growth Solutions, LLC.
Photo by Kees Streefkerk on Unsplash

The best way to get results in franchise lead generation is to remember that NOTHING works a lot, but everything works a little. What does that mean? It means for a start-up or an emerging brand (under 50 units), you need to try various lead sources to test which “streams” bring in the type of leads at the rate necessary to make your sales plan.

Look at all the factors in the game
Cost Per Lead and Cost Per Acquisition are only two KPI’s to look at when monitoring your program and its results. It is not as straightforward or revealing to limit your decision based on “how much did I spend and how many units did I sell.” The Reality is; it takes numerous elements to gain success. Such as time to build your pipeline (5-8 months), consistent follow up by a competent, highly trained, and relentless sales staff. As well as accepting the reality of the selling cycle
(about 120 to 180 days) and a realistic lead generation budget to pursue a professional and sustainable franchising recruiting effort. Your brand will NOT “sell itself.”

The Reality is that consistency in lead flow is also essential. I have seen many start-ups and emerging brands take a hiccup approach to franchise lead generation. This approach is terrible not only because you have empty spots in your pipeline but also because an ebb and flow in the advertising plan sometimes may cause the “brand” to disappear for a while and send the franchise buyers a less than confidence inspired massage. For a start-up or emerging brand, this is the equivalent of a jet airliner “pumping the brakes” to save fuel while attempting to “take off.” It usually leaves a mess at the end of the runway.

Royalties will make you the King or Queen
For me, the most important thing for a start-up or emerging brand to remember is the “value” of your franchisee over the lifetime of the franchise agreement. The Reality is; if you calculate the royalty return over that period, you will see the real reward of consistent lead generation and awarding a franchise. Calculate your Royalties on your AUV’s by the number of years you expect your franchisee to be in business, and it’s obvious. Do the math. Keep that in mind, and you won’t think the “Cost Per Acquisition” is too high unless you are attempting to “fund” your new franchise company from the upfront franchise fee collected. Funding your growth solely with the Initial Franchise Fees is never a good idea.

You should be in the franchising business for the royalties and the eventual exit, not the franchise fee. News Flash, focusing on the collection of Franchise Fees doesn’t work and often puts not only the franchisor in jeopardy of failure but also the franchisee. When you focus on the franchisee’s success, you will build a better organization, better equipped to support your franchisee. Successful franchisees paying long term, residual income from ROYALTIES is the way to BUILD YOUR BUSINESS.

A bigger “kiss” at the end
The Reality is; the sale of franchise companies (especially to Private Equity firms) have proven time and time again, that multiples paid on Royalty driven EBITDA at exit are more significant than the multiple typically offered on EBITDA derived from company operations. That’s because it’s scalable at a faster pace and with a lower cost.

Building a franchise business as a Franchisor requires a great concept, a comprehensive system, manuals and training, proven results, capital, planning and patience. If you remove any one of these components the journey may be an endless winding road with no clear direction.Talk to us to get started.

For more information, visit our YouTube channel and watch the videos titled:
“Using Digital to Sell More Franchises.”
“Private Equity and Franchising.”
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy6HZTtVYfsO9o8fBFMnZww

Contact us at [email protected]
Explore our entire website: www.franchisegrowthsolutions.com

It’s Harvest Time – Tips On Selling Your Franchised Business

You have used the franchise system, brand, and people to build your business. Don’t be afraid to use them to exit.
They have a critical interest in a successful transition. Use them to help you close the deal.

In today’s post, Tom Spadea, Founder and Partner in Spadea-Lignana Franchise Law shares his thoughts on the best way to sell your existing franchise business. As you might imagine there are steps that you need to be aware of while moving through this process. Working with your franchisor is just one way to expedite and ensure a smooth transition. Selling your business is a big decision. If you’ve worked with the end in mind then it should be a payoff, not an act of desperation. The payoff after years of smart work should be reflected in the multiple paid on EBITDA from an eager buyer who sees value. One thing I’ll remind you; Buyers want “potential” but they don’t often actually pay for it. Smart buyers will pay based on a specific set of guidelines to determine “valuation” or “enterprise value” which directly equate to selling price and price paid. This article explores best practices and tips when selling your franchise.

Franchise Attorney

Where Do I Start if I Want to Sell My Franchise or Buy an Existing Franchise?
By Tom Spadea – Spadea Lignana Franchise Law

If you have made the decision that now is the time to exit a franchise, you need to accomplish three critical things before placing your business on the market. If you are interested in buying an existing franchise, it’s also important to understand these three factors because it can affect how you move forward.

1. Discuss Future Plans
First, you should discuss with your franchisor what your plans are. All franchise relationships eventually come to an end. You are probably not the first and won’t be the last franchisee to exit the system. You have used the franchise system, brand, and people to build your business. Don’t be afraid to use them to exit. They have a critical interest in a successful transition. Use them to help you close the deal. If you have a specific reason why you think telling the franchisor will compromise your exit, then you should discuss that with your franchise attorney. If you don’t have an attorney that you are comfortable working with, please give us a call for a free initial consultation at 215-544-2452.

2. Gather Documentation
Second, you need to gather documentation and clean up any inconsistencies, errors or omissions in your paperwork. The list is extensive and you can never have too much documentation. Buyers will take lack of documentation or documentation they have to fight to get as a sign of trouble and it will break down the trust between you. Not only will it potentially affect your value, it will cause unnecessary delays.

In a small business transaction, the trust between the buyer and seller is critical. Without trust, the deal will not happen. The way you can build trust is by having all the documents readily available for any buyer who is serious about making an offer. You need to tell a story to the buyer, and that story has to be validated by documentation.

Read the entire article here: https://www.spadealaw.com/franchise-law/buying-or-selling-an-existing-franchise

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About Tom Spadea
Tom Spadea spent more than 15 years in corporate and entrepreneurial positions before completing law school at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. His undergraduate degree is in finance from Marquette University, where he graduated Cum Laude. Tom is a Certified Franchise Executive (CFE), a non-legal designation earned from the International Franchise Association. He has also been named a “Legal Eagle” by Franchise Times, a distinguished award recognizing Tom as a leader among his peers in franchising.

Tom is the founding member of the Philadelphia Franchise Association and is the current President and Chairman. The Philadelphia Franchise Association holds quarterly networking and educational meetings, bringing together franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers.
Read more about Tom here: https://www.spadealaw.com/attorney-profiles/tom-spadea
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If you’re considering selling your business or buying a business contact Franchise Growth Solutions.
We can help you sell you business quickly and at the highest possible price.
Contact: [email protected] and visit: www.franchisegrowthsolutions.com. We can help!