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How your franchise can benefit from a little more conversation

Written by Jane Maudsley on Wednesday, 14 February 2018. Posted in Franchise Diaries

Having pledged to improve both herself and her business, Little Voices’ founder kicked off 2018 by doing everything in her power to get things done. And the secret was to start talking

How your franchise can benefit from a little more conversation

I was driving to work one morning when the radio told me it was the day by which most people have failed to stick to their new year’s resolutions. The media always tells us by the middle of January that 80% of these goals have already been broken. No matter if you’ve set out to improve your business, health or fitness, you are seemingly conditioned to break them. Well, I believe we all have a choice whether we make or break them and I for one have zero intention of not reaching my goals.

And I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you why it’s so important for me. If things do not get done now then my, my daughter’s and the company’s future are at risk of not being as great as they could be. By being mindful of this fact, I kicked off 2018 focused on reaching both my own and the business’s targets. And checking the score today, I’m amazed about how much has already been achieved. Even more thrilling, I’ve managed to tick off several things that had been on my list to achieve for a long time.

But amazed and shocked as I was at the amount that had been accomplished, it’s hardly a secret what tactics enabled me to reach these goals: persistence and consistency. I’ve been repeating those buzzwords in my head every morning, noon and night.

Moreover, I’ve also combined this mindset with being alcohol-free. Having decided to go off the booze in October, I can already see the positive effects it has in my daily life. Put that together with my effort to exercise daily and I’ve got myself a wicked knockout combo. Focusing more on my health has given me the energy, focus and clarity to help me get things done, fit loads more into each day and ultimately keep the business’s future safe.

Nevertheless, ensuring that I had the best possible attitude and energy was only the first step to sticking to my new year’s resolutions for Little Voices. Let me explain: growth only happens when profits increase. To achieve this you have to nurture new customer relationships, seek out fresh revenue streams and ensure that current customers remain loyal fans. The key to achieving all these things can be summed up in one word: communication.

However, recognising this means facing the dilemma of using either verbal or written communication. Ask yourself which is the strongest form of communication that will help you cover the most ground with your customers. Hands down I believe that talking with people is the best of the two. Don’t be afraid of chatting with people over the phone or, even better, face to face. So many people shy away from picking up that handset or talking in person with customers and the people in their business. But really it shouldn’t be something to dread.

Think of it as trying to make a friend, a best friend even. Do you avoid ringing your best buddy? Do you avoid going for a coffee with them or do you get excited by the prospect of finding out all about them and what’s happened since the last time you spoke? Do you look forward to sharing what you’ve been doing and what you’ve planned? Do you ask for their thoughts, help and suggestions?

If you do, then you should do the same thing in your business. Talk, ask questions, find out how they are, what they’re up to and tell them about your thoughts and goals for the business. Ask about any niggles they might have and how you could improve. Find solutions. If you do that, you’ll be amazed about just how enlightening it is. Moreover, if you have that relationship with them you'll always have the opportunity to ask for their help in finding more fabulous people like them. As a matter of fact, the better help you give them, the more likely they are to talk about you with their friends in a positive way.

Importantly, you cannot cover this kind of ground with the written word. It’s not as personal as speaking with someone. It’s not as real. How often do you write a letter or email to a best friend? How does that compare with the number of times you ring or meet up with them?

So I've achieved my goals by picking up the phone and talking to the people that matter the most in my franchise, as well as by pulling down barriers between me and other companies that could help my business. And thanks to my new energy and focus, I’ve been able to consistently keep it up. Stepping out of your comfort zone every day and pushing the boundaries to do the stuff that makes those goals come to fruition is the key.

I recognise that some people don’t want to speak and that’s fine. But the majority love to chew the fat and therefore it’s important to listen and act on what they say. That’s why I’m actively listening and speaking to make our network the strongest it can be.

For instance, I recently spoke with Kathryn Delaney, franchisee for Little Voices in the Cheshire. She said people need to talk more. For one, it’s important to grow the business by word of mouth. Realising this was the single biggest game changer for Kathryn in the last 12 months, ensuring she could take her business to the next level. Listening to her customers has helped her business grow and get lots of referrals.

But she also shared her fears about losing her voice as the franchise grows. This was a useful insight for me, empowering me to take steps to ensure that our franchisees still feel listened to as we continue to shape our future and grow together.

As I sat with other franchisees I started to mention this approach of becoming friends with customers by communicating verbally and not hiding behind social media, newsletters and emails. And just like for Kathryn, the results of doing that have been outstanding. This text that I received from our north-east franchisee,  Jenni Evans, sums it up: “Jane you are a genius. We called all of our parents: they are happy to bring a friend to Little Voices, loved getting feedback from us and loved sharing with us how confident their children are thanks to us. Phoning more parents on Monday.”

I’m not a genius: I just think that talking is better than typing. Given that this has enabled me to achieve my goals, I encourage you to persistently and consistently do the same this month. Trust me, you will love the results.

About the Author

Jane Maudsley

Jane Maudsley

Maudsley is founder and managing director of Little Voices, a national performing arts organisation that nurtures talent and builds confidence through drama and singing; it’s something she knows a lot about as a former opera singer. Out of the office, Maudsley enjoys being mother to her young daughter, walking, running, cooking, learning and reading.

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