Don’t consign history to the dustbin, as it plays a huge part in planning for the future says James Thomas, commercial manager at the award-winning Swindon-based company D&T which specialises in accountancy and business advice.
Henry Ford may have once remarked that ‘history is bunk’ but please don’t take his words literally.
Far be it for me to say that the man who built, developed and turned the Ford Motor Company into one of the most successful organisations in the world is talking rubbish.
But I’m not certain he actually suggested we should forget about the past completely. I think he was simply explaining about ‘living in the present,’ which is always a key ingredient for all entrepreneurs.
For me, it is important to use history to help plan for the future, by making the most of the information you have at your disposal.
Every business owner needs to have a vision when preparing and building for the future, but to be successful it is vital to analyse all the information you have at your disposal – which means keeping one eye on the past.
Even if your business is barely a year old, and this applies to franchisors and franchisees alike, you still have 12 months of valuable data to work with.
If your company has been operating for five, 10 or 20 years, you are in an even better position to make full use of these facts.
What To Look For In Data
Search for seasonal trends and let the numbers do the talking, rather than having some vague feeling about what you think may have happened last year.
Gut feeling and instincts can often be important in life but only if supported by hard facts.
So how do you go about making the most of the information your company has acquired and built up over weeks, months and years?
Even the least obvious franchise model is likely to experience seasonal peaks and troughs, and the key to success is to understand and plan for these recurrent variations.
It is crucial you have up to date accounts, which can be analysed to see if there is any indication of patterns which may be replicated going forward.
By carefully researching and checking facts, it can reveal surprising insights, all of which will assist you at the planning stage and help you understand where your business needs to be by certain key dates or milestones.
Summer Time Marketing Important
I’ve usually found being in possession of the relevant data is vital for making best use of the summer months which, for many companies, is the most important period of the business year.
This is when certain franchises make the vast majority of their income, ultimately defining whether they have had a successful year or not.
You need to know when to unleash your strategic marketing campaigns, as well as implementing seasonal staff recruitment drives, so that you successfully cater for holiday cover, which will help maximise sales during these very important few months. Visibility and concise business planning is key.
Use important dates in the calendar to help anchor marketing campaigns. I used to be part of the operations team for Safeclean, a leading UK carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise.
Now you may think Safeclean is not the most obvious contender for regular seasonal marketing promotions! But you’d be wrong to assume this.
As it happened, we had great success with our ‘Get Ready For Your Summer Party’ and ‘Spring Clean’ campaigns.
So with a little imagination, any franchise can use a seasonal marketing message to push their products and services.
New product launches can also be timed to take advantage of seasonal themes. Similarly, tie-ins with summer community or sporting events can often give franchises the edge over their rivals and competitors.
It helps them get noticed where and when they need to be seen. It really all comes down to planning, allowing you to make hay while the sun shines.
Recruitment & Training
Generally, staff recruitment trends tend to peak in the spring, because this is the time when new budgets are usually agreed, at the start of the new financial year.
Franchisee recruitment often follows a similar pattern. By analysing and understanding recruitment patterns, it is possible to arrange recruitment pushes at the appropriate time of year.
Training for both new and existing franchisees can be arranged to coincide with quieter periods, thus freeing up the busiest months for day-to-day sales work.
How Seasons Affect Business
Seasons can affect businesses negatively too. It is worth looking at how holiday traffic might affect your business or how staff holidays can reduce resources at key times.
Sometimes encouraging a flexible approach can result in franchisees opening for business earlier than usual, or even later than normal, to avoid peak traffic times, all with the aim of increasing productivity.
Similarly, holidays may reduce staff cover but students may be able to provide temporary assistance for a variety of basic tasks.
Hopefully, this will reduce anxiety over whether the workforce is suitably robust enough to cope with spikes in business.
Summer is often the time when franchisors organise their conferences. This is the moment when they aim to motivate and reward their franchisees, and say ‘thanks’ to those who have excelled during the previous 12 months.
It is a time to offer advice and illustrate best practice, while helping franchisees grow and succeed.
However, an alternative might be to arrange your conference shortly after the end of the business year in early April.
The approach of a ‘new year’ and a ‘new strategy’ – ahead of summer trading – is the perfect time to ensure the team is motivated and ready to face the busiest weeks in the calendar.
The British Franchise Association (BFA) annual awards night is held at the end of June.
Winning a trophy, as well as being nominated, is motivating for franchisees and usually provides a boost for their business.
However, planning and entering the awards occurs much earlier in the year. If you haven’t been nominated for an award this year, then sit down and think what changes may be needed in order for your business to be recognised as a market leader in 12 months’ time.
Being an integral part of the BFA awards’ night could really kick-start your summer trading in 2020.
Regardless, whether your franchised business is seasonal or not, keep a keen eye on your accounts, particularly your breakeven point, as this will mean you have a firm grip on what you need to achieve this summer.
Be clear about your unique selling points, try some seasonal promotional campaigns, and understand the level of resources required to cope with peak periods.
Only then can you be fully confident that your franchise will shine brightly, along with the sun, during summer.