Friday, March 16, 2007

The uprise of franchises in South Africa

It seems that more people are choosing the franchise option when starting out in business than ever before. With statistics showing a 49% rise in the number of franchises available over the last two years, it is evident that the promise of a proven low cost model for creating the business of your dreams is an attractive one.

Do remember that many franchises may not be the promised land it pretends to be and strong due diligence supported by good market research and a few conversations with other franchise holders and customers is a must before you sign on the dotted line.

A few basic questions to ask here are as follows:
1) Who are the shareholders of the franchiser?

2) Who are the officers and directors of the franchiser?

3) What is the business experience of the franchiser's directors and officers?

4) Have any of the franchiser's directors, officers or shareholders gone bankrupt or convicted of any criminal offense in the last 7 years?

5) How many years has the franchiser been operating?

6) How many years has it been offering franchises?

7) How many franchises does the franchiser have?

8) How many units are corporately owned?

9) What is the franchiser's financial condition? Have you received its most recent audited financial statements? Is the franchiser a member of FASA?

For further help on what to look for in a franchise look at the SABusinessHub guide to franchising in South Africa here and for details on the relevant research click here

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Radio interviews - how to get them

This week I offer my thoughts on radio interviews as a marketing strategy for small business and more specifically, how to get an interview with your business. Radio interviews is a great way to get free exposure for your business and many of you may have heard members of the SABusinessHub team on various radio stations in recent times. This weeks business tip forms part of our Make March Marketing Month campaign aimed at creating a relentless demand for your product or service in 2007.

Getting on the radio can be a great tactical move as part of your overall publicity effort, but you do need to have a story idea or an angle to present on a particular topic. Selling yourself as a guest on a talk show is a great way to raise your profile and if your subject relates to a topic that is currently in the news your chances of getting on is clearly improved.
The media is hungry for business stories. But sometimes it seems that the business community doesn't’t blow its trumpet often enough.

If you get the opportunity to talk about your business in the press or media, it’s important to get it right. Getting on the radio can be a great tactical move as part of your overall publicity effort. We offer some easy steps to get you on air.

Do your homework
You need to know exactly which radio shows you want to target and why. Before rushing into getting an interview, answer the following questions:

Which radio show will be interested in me/my product/service?Who are the audience that I want to speak to? Why will the radio show host want me as a guest?Are there any current news issues that I can align my interview with?Do I have a special offer or piece of new news that I can offer?Do I have any contacts that can assist me with gaining an interview?Which interviews have I heard that was similar to mine?Which other questions should I be asking myself here?
Nothing kills your chances better that approaching a talk show with an idea that doesn't’t resemble the style and content of the show. If you know what type of topics the program focuses on you can tailor your pitch, and raise the chances of an appearance.

Be news worthy
Getting yourself onto a radio program is like any other sales call; you don’t want to ring a potential prospect at their busiest time. It’s much better to find out when they normally take calls. If your subject relates to a topic that is currently in the news your chances of getting on are clearly improved – so ride a news wave. If you can demonstrate past experience in speaking engagements, lecturing, etc., the producer is more likely to take a shot at your appearance. If there’s anyone who can provide a testimonial, your credibility will be enhanced.

Be prepared
Prepare yourself for the conversation with the producer of the show you want to target. Try your approach on someone you know. If you can’t get their interest, there is a good chance your idea will fall flat with a producer. Some experts recommend sending a pitch letter first and then following up a day or two later. This can work, but if you speak to the show’s producer directly, you will be able to sell the idea at that point, as well as demonstrate your ability to engage an audience. Remember that you’re selling, so the more excited you are about your project the more likely someone else will be sold on it.

Always follow up on interviews. Add a unique code or e-mail address if you are able to. This will help you in tracking the response from the specific interview.

Always keep in contact with the host or organiser of the show to ensure that he/she thinks of you in the future when opportunities present itself. You may be more likely to get an interview or article publishes in the future if the first one went well or if you have build a good relationship with this person.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Idea of the week: Key storage and delivery service

You know you see a great idea when want to kick yourself for not having thought of it yourself. I doubt of there is anyone amongst us who have not endured the frustration of locking your keys in your car or losing keys at an most inopportune time.

I found this great service advertised in an in-flight magazine recently. A US Based firm that takes the headache out of losing or forgetting your keys.

For a modest annual fee, NewYourKey keeps copies of keys in a secure storage facility and can deliver them right away if customers find themselves locked out. Keys lost in a nightclub at four in the morning? No problem! NewYourKey will deliver spare keys within an hour any time of day or night, wherever a customer happens to be.

Setting up an account is easy. NewYourKey comes to the customer with its mobile key lab, so copies of keys can be made on the spot if spare sets aren't unavailable. Customers must present positive photo identification. For added security, profiles include just name, password and photo, so no address is linked to any set of keys in the facility.

Three levels of service are available, with prices beginning at just R350 per year for key storage and R200.00 for each delivery. Additional charges apply for customers who wish to store more than two sets of keys or who’d like to authorize a third party to receive copies when necessary. Commercial accounts also are available.

NewYourKey, which was launched just a few months ago, is a great example of a business idea built around the type of favor you might ask a close friend, neighbor or doorman. It’s a life hack that should appeal to both busy professionals and notorious scatterbrains, who will be more than happy to pay for the convenience and peace of mind.

Upside: Apart from not ever having to worry about losing your own keys again this service is unique, will have a fairly low start-up cost and is very easily franchiseable. Plus the age old business model of collecting a monthly subscription fee remains a winner.

Downside: Security will be a key issue in South Africa and customers will want to be assured that their keys are safe and not reachable by unsavory characters. This should not be to much of a problem given the right system.

Verdict: As a I said before - I can't believe I didn't think of it. A business idea ripe for the taking.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Weekly humor: Intaxication?

A local student magazine recently asked students to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of impressing a member of the opposite sex.

5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.