Multi-unit Ownership: Is it Right For You?

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There are many reasons to consider multi-unit ownership and especially in today’s business environment when many prime locations are becoming available by the day. Single and multi-unit franchisees seeking to capitalize on these opportunities may or may not be right to expand their business by adding locations unless they’re effectively prepared to do so to ensure success.

Typically, expansion is the result of an opportunity or challenge that presents itself – an empty building, a fellow franchisee going out of business and even a competitor expanding into the local market. Unfortunately, many fail transitioning from single unit operations to multi-unit as well as expansion from one market to another or even from one side of town to the opposite side of town.

The key to multi-unit success is being prepared, developing a plan and most importantly, answering very important questions with honest responses. Listed below are some of those questions:

Why does multi-unit ownership excite you? What does a day-in-the-life of a multi-unit operator entail? What do you hope to achieve thru multi-unit ownership? What is your long-term vision with multi-unit ownership? What skills are required for successful multi-unit ownership? Would you consider your current operation a success?

How important are systems to a multi-unit operation? Will you operate two businesses or one enterprise? How will your responsibilities change in a multi-unit operation? Do you enjoy managing people? Do you delegate well? How important is record-keeping to a multi-unit operation? How important is accountability to short and long-term success?

Is bigger really better (and easier)? Is it truly perception or reality? Does one plus one equal two, three, one, or zero? Beyond financial benefits, how does economy of scale present additional advantages?

How important is location to your long-term vision? Why is location of the second or next store or restaurant critically important to a multi-unit operation? Is there really economy of scale in marketing and public relations for a multi-unit operation? What will be necessary to capitalize on economy of scale possibilities?

Can your decision stand the test of time? How do you know when you’re ready to further explore multi-unit ownership? What steps must be taken to get from thought to reality? How must you prepare for multi-unit ownership?

What happens if the second or next location fails? What happens if the first or other location(s) is/are adversely affected by the new location(s)? What happens when you want to retire or move on? Does this complicate your exit strategy goals?

How will multi-unit ownership affect your personal life? Understanding risks involved, are you willing to proceed? Are you comfortable with being an entrepreneur as opposed to just a business owner? Are you considering multi-unit for the right reasons? Are you (truly) committed to move forward? Do you NEED to do this now? Do you REALLY NEED to do this now? AND… do you truly love what you’ve been doing up to this point?

Upon honestly answering these questions you’ll have a snapshot of things you may need to put into place and/or improve upon along with a better idea of whether or not multi-unit ownership is right for you.

Note: Franchisors should require franchisees requesting multi-unit ownership to answer these questions and utilize the responses as part of their approval process.

Change… Because Failure is not an Option

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Like a ship at sea, a business should make directional changes in a long, sweeping manner. Conversely, although abrupt change in direction may create havoc, it may be deemed necessary by the captain and navigation team to avoid what may not be apparently visible on the surface to others on the ship, but is evident nonetheless through compilation of data and viewing radar. In any event, well thought-out plans, including contingency plans must be in place and acted upon to arrive safely at a specific destination within a certain time frame, and with available resources.

However, what happens when seas are rough, or when a storm is approaching, or when an engine shuts down? It’s then the captain’s responsibility to crew and passengers, and to the ship’s stakeholders to make any and all necessary changes to ensure all interests are protected. Thereafter, when the ship is safely docked, management must review the events that took place and explore options to ensure the same problems don’t reoccur. Management must identify ways to improve performance by developing strategy and executing on tactical plans to accomplish objectives at all required intervals – short, mid and long-term.

Change requires thought and planning. As does operating a successful business. As change occurs, many within the business are exposed to decisions that on the surface appear to be “drastic or severe” and are not understood and/or agreed upon. However, what is typically not realized are areas of weakness and vulnerability that must be addressed and with the utmost sense of urgency. In many cases there are common denominators across multiple areas of the business. Most will be directly attributable to reduction in sales. Some will adversely affect profitability.

Unfortunately, financial concerns are back and now even more so than during the economic downturn of 2008-2012. But, as was the case back then, deficiencies, previously overshadowed by high sales levels are standing out once again like sore thumbs. Accepting these facts while realizing limitations and shortcomings is vitally important, but knowing what and how to improve [and change] is required. Being proactive and acting now is paramount!

Change what needs to be changed. Prioritize changes that will make the most immediate impact. Grow into the changes that aren’t urgent. But, do it all within the time frame where challenges present themselves as survival may be dependent upon the same. Change, as unpopular as it might be, is necessary to recover AND to move forward. To this end, hard decisions must be made – with absolute conviction and without delay for the good of the business and ultimately, for all within the business. Yes, change is difficult. But so is failure, and failure is not an option!

Entrepreneurship: Ideas and the Courage (Nerve) to See Them Through

“I always thought you needed to be innovative, original, to be an entrepreneur. Now I have a different perception. Entrepreneurs are the ones that make things happen. (That) takes focus, diligence, discipline, flexibility and perseverance. They can take an innovative idea and make it impactful. … successful entrepreneurs are also ones who take challenges in stride, adapt and adjust plans to accommodate whatever problems do come up.”

Steve Blank launched the Lean Startup movement. His work has changed how startups are built, how entrepreneurship is taught and how existing companies and the U.S. government innovate.

Read more…

Entrepreneurs Who Create Startup Businesses Have to Be Crazy

People who start companies are, without a doubt, just a little bit crazy. And people who start more than one company? Deranged lunatics — all of them! Why? Because it’s insanely hard! You’re signing up for a ridiculous amount of work. Your startup journey will be the wildest ride of your life.

Read more…

Poker or Chess?

Do you plan your business strategy like you’re playing chess or poker? But, before you answer, consider the following…

“Industry executives and analysts often mistakenly talk about strategy as if it were some kind of chess match. But in chess, you have just two opponents, each with identical resources, and with luck playing a minimal role. The real world is much more like a poker game, with multiple players trying to make the best of whatever hand fortune has dealt them. In industry, Bill Gates owns the table until someone proves otherwise.”

– Deep thoughts by David Moschella

Is Courage a Necessary Trait for Success?

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We never really hear enough about courage. The courage to take a risk, to stretch limits, to push forward, to go beyond, to keep moving… to make things happen regardless of the challenges in front of us.

Think about the early-day pioneers crossing the Midwest when they first caught a glimpse of the Rocky Mountains and stared at them getting bigger and bigger as they approached over a few days. What unbelievable courage they must’ve had to continue not only towards the mountains, but up into them and through them, often having to go north or south for awhile to keep making progress forward, and despite the elements of weather and resulting hardships. They believed in their dreams and as a result of their relentless courage, their goals were achieved.

The Cowardly Lion’s Thoughts on Courage

In his most famous song, the Lion muses on what it would be like if he had ​any courage (not realizing he already has plenty):

Cowardly Lion: [singing]
I’m afraid there’s no denyin’
I’m just a dandy-lion
A fate I don’t deserve
I’m sure I could show my prowess
Be a lion, not a mouse
If I only had the nerve.