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Customer Service, Communication and Health Care Hit the Bottom Line

Franchising’s high-achieving multi-unit franchisees share views on key topics of the day.

QUESTION:  What issue has the greatest impact on your company’s bottom line?

BARTON: “The foundation to the success of the business is building and maintaining a strong base of guests. Although my business has proven to stay strong through this challenging economy, attention must be paid to not only attracting new customers, but more importantly, maintaining our existing customer base. To accomplish this, my team first focuses on seeing that our guests are extremely satisfied not only with their hair services, but with the level of customer service received. From a friendly greeting when they walk in, to providing the products and services they desire, they must feel our sincere appreciation for their business. I personally feel making our guests feel welcome and comfortable during their visit to our salons will most likely have them return again and again.

“I also employ customer loyalty programs. After purchasing a set number of hair care services, my locations offer free and discounted Fantastic Sams’ hair care products, as well as discounts for services on their next visit. These programs, coupled with local and national advertising efforts, ensure we are doing all we can to combat my bottom line concerns for my business. So far, it seems to be working and I hope it continues to work for years to come.”

Martha Barton owns and operates four Fantastic Sams’ hair salons in Riverside, Calif. She can be reached at mbarton@fantasticsams.com.

SCHAFFER: “Having grown up in the janitorial industry, working in the family business since the age of 13, I [Jeff] know how important it is to have a very hands-on organization with those involved in this business to maintain and improve the bottom line. In the years of experience in the commercial cleaning industry, having a high-level of communication standards is vital. As owners of Anago in three cities, it could be easy for goals and priorities to get sidelined and off track quickly if strong communication systems are not established.

“To combat that and protect our bottom line, we’ve established communication systems across our company that work for us, our employees and franchisees. With all our travel between the Anago location offices, it’s imperative we set up systems covering communications for our organization to follow our clients and make sure franchisees are taking care of them correctly. And, because of our unconventional work hours and overnight commercial cleaning duties, presenting each employee and franchisee with this layout gives them the peace of mind to know how to handle any situation and better prepares them to provide unmatched service to customer clients. Being systemized in this regard will definitely result in a strong bottom line and successful business operation for many years to come.”

Jeff and Chastity Schaffer, owners of Anago JFS Franchise Group, are multi-master franchisees of Anago Cleaning Systems, a commercial cleaning franchise. Their three offices are located in Virginia Beach, Va. and Middleburg Heights and Worthington, Ohio. The Schaffers can be reached at jeff@anagojfs.com.

UMPHREY: “One of the major concerns affecting the bottom line for all small businesses across the country, including my business, is the Affordable Care Act. Under the Obama administration, small-business owners are already beginning to cap their workforce at 50 employees or are being forced to keep workers under 30 hours per week (a full-time workweek as defined by the act) to avoid potential fines by the start of 2014.

“This new legislation is preventing economic development because rather than encouraging employers to grow their businesses, the law is hindering franchise industry growth in an already challenging economy. Employers now have to compensate for additional costs incurred from the new law, such as charging higher premiums for health care coverage or decreasing the level of benefits offered to employees.

“The franchise industry has also been faced with other major issues affecting development, including access to credit from lenders that in recent years have been hesitant to offer small-business loans. Our country’s lawmakers should be continuing to focus their efforts on access to capital so that we can create more jobs instead of creating more worries for small-business owners.

“As a multi-unit operator of nearly 60 Jiffy Lube service centers, I built my success on taking risks, hard work and dedication. Ultimately, the plan may offer workers some form of health care, but it won’t help if these individuals cannot find a full-time job to pay their bills.”

Kirk Umphrey of Lube Management, Inc. operates 60 Jiffy Lube service centers in Utah, Oregon and Washington. He can be reached at
kirku@lubemgt.com.

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