When You’re Green You’re Growing

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


When you’re green you’re growing. When you’re ripe you rot. – Ray Kroc

When owners talk about sales not being what they used to be, the quick question to ask is whether they are doing the same things that they used to in order to drive sales. It’s a simple question. If you are still doing what you have always done to drive sales and your profits aren’t what they used to be, then we need to find out what changed. It’s one of three things: Marketing Driver, Customer Tastes, or Message.


Marketing Driver

If you are “old school” and still using mailers to drive sales, the post office and the printing industry love you. Your customers are ignoring you since they read about sales at their favorite stores on their phones. The way you market didn’t change but your customer’s focus did. I still see people agonizing over whether to use TV and radio to get the word out about their brand. Why? Commercials are deleted with the tap of a button or ignored by changing the channel. You have to go where your customers are and they have a whole new home. Pewresearch.org states that 30% of the general population get their news from Facebook. That’s 30% of everyone!! Are you now getting the idea that a coupon postcard isn’t going to cut it?


Customer Tastes

If you have been in business for more than five years, then you have noticed that some of your best sellers when you opened are not selling nearly as well. Why? It’s because your customers are evolving. Do you speak with your customers or do you just sell to them? If you aren’t regularly asking your customers for their input on what they like, you are already in the process of going out of business. When you started, you were interested in what was driving your customers to buy from you and you wanted to give them what they were asking to buy. Somewhere along the timeline, you got lazy. What do you know about your customers? Are you doing tests with new products for good customers? Do you even know who your good customers are? Tracking sales from each customer is going to be more vital as you grow your business. Everything gets tracked online. Why aren’t you tracking things offline as well? Ask, learn, change and grow your business.



What does your message say about your business? There are great big businesses that fall down on message. Billion-dollar brands lose customers all the time because they aren’t connecting their message to what their customers want to hear, read, or see. The story you want to tell about your products or services is up to you to get across to customers. the tricky part is making the message relevant to the people you want giving you money. Is your message old, sloppy, or does it really explain why you want them as customers? Does it connect your product or service with the customer’s life? Is it an invitation to buy? Everyone wants to know they are invited to the party. Is that what your message does? Does your message have a call to action? I see marketing every day that is missing the call to action. What is it that you want people to do?

When you are green you’re growing. Are you green? Do you still actively look for customers or do you keep doing the same thing and expect the same results? Change happens with your input or without you. Embrace the change!


Bob Griffin
Chief Bulldog-in-Charge
Business Bulldog, LLC

Free Wi-fi

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

WiFi stands for “What I Find Interesting”

The internet revolution is over. The internet won. Of all the things that we thought would take over the world of business, the internet was not high on my list of things to make or break a business, but here we are. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the strategy ends at the wi-fi connection.

Your reputation on the internet, your webpage, your likeability, and your “tweetiness” will all show what kind of brand you are and whether people will spend money with you. Not once in my business classes in college did any professor explain that we needed to have a virtual presence and it needed to look really, really good.

But, here we are and all of us need to have a business plan for being seen by customers.

There are as many SEO Experts as there are websites and they all say the same thing – “You need to create a brand and announce it everywhere online.” That, my friends, is not going to happen unless you have a team dedicated to watching everything that anyone says about you and responds as well as adds great stories about your company every day.

I can save you time and money. The key to online success is to just be friendly. Earth-shattering isn’t it?

There are times when you should be talkative and there is the rest of the time. Those talkative times are when you have something great about your business that you want to announce to everyone. It adds value to your company to be new and fresh. Just adding noise to be seen every day is numbing and you will soon find your customers tuning you out.

If there is a new product, a place to find your coupon, or even an employee of the month, announce it and be proud. Business owners forget to bring something interesting to show and tell…yes, that is what the internet is. It’s a world-wide show and tell. The kid who brings a rock he found outside and doesn’t care more than to get talking to the class over with is forgettable. The kid who talks about getting a new puppy is excited and happy and someone to watch. Be the kid with the new puppy.

Also, find the right spot to talk. Facebook is not a great place to announce things any more. LinkedIn is only good for business to business. Twitter is even less great when you don’t have a lot of followers. So, what is the spot that your customers visit most? Ask them. A simple question to find out how they would like to hear from you. It could be an email, text, or mail. Whatever they want is what you use. Being everywhere is a waste of time and energy when your customers only listen is one spot.

Sorry to disappoint all the new marketing people who think they can make or break a business with their skills in using 140 characters or less. The key is being real and honest. When you don’t have something to talk about, it is OK to be quiet. When you are excited about your business, talk and show it. Simple.

Let me know what you are excited about in your business.

Bob Griffin
CEO and Chief-Bulldog-in-Charge

Franchise Even-handedness

Opened Book In Hand Stock Image  By phanlop88, published on 15 March 2013 Stock Image - image ID: 100147306

Franchise Even-handedness


In the world of franchising, there is no more damaging action than a side deal or special perks for a long-time franchisee from an executive in the franchise.  Every franchisor is thankful for the people who looked at the franchise and jumped in feet first on the recommendation of the founders and did well.

Thankfulness is one thing.  Being blind to putting that franchisee high up on a pedestal and not enforcing the rules evenhandedly is when real damage is done.

I could tell a million stories about deals that hit franchises hard because the founders wanted to show deference to a franchisee who has been in the system since the beginning or even just years longer than other franchisees.  I could also tell you stories, great stories, about franchisees who have been in a system for decades and still listen, learn, and help new franchisees out when they can.  Business is a choice.  How you treat your business is the split in the road.

Bulldog Rule for Business #9 You may not be the best person for the job goes right to the center of the problem.  You, as the leader of the franchise, may be the wrong person to be in charge because you are too close to the situation and can’t or won’t see the damage that you are causing to newer franchisees by being best buddies with the ones who helped start the brand.  We are all that way in some part of our lives.  As a leader, you affect more than just the relationship between yourself and franchisee.

  • If you can’t take bad news or even critical news about a franchisee you have known for a long time and deal with it like you would a new franchisee, then you are the problem.
  • If you “shoot the messengers” for the problems of the franchisees, then you are the problem.
  • If can’t see all franchisees as part of the chain and that they all need to follow the system the same way, then you are the problem.
  • If you can’t act the same with a franchisee who just joined as you do with a franchisee who has been in the system for a decade or more, then you are the problem.
  • If you would be sued for giving special treatment to a franchisee, then you are a BIG problem.

I have personally listened to franchise CEO’s give speeches about firing themselves if they were seen as the problem.  Funny thing about that is that they won’t step down and they won’t change their ways because they don’t see themselves as the problem.  So, the problem persists and the chain suffers.  If you have great employees leaving often, then you need to take a good hard look at things.

If I was interested in a franchise to invest in, I would spend my due diligence calling the newest franchisees, franchisees who have been in the system for a year, and a couple who have been in the chain for five or more years.  If I can’t get enough franchisees to call from the franchisor, then I wouldn’t buy in.

Questions to ask a franchisee who is new to a system would be:

  • Did you get what you were promised when you started?  Training, help with real estate, a person to call with questions, and more get promised by the development manager.  All of those items are needed to make you successful.  If you don’t get at least that much help, then sell fast and walk away from the franchise.  It is indicative of bigger problems that will grow over time.
  • A few months after opening, were you connected with a franchisee who has been in the system for years who can be a mentor?  Finding someone who has already been in the system and lived through the rough patch of starting out can make a big difference.
  • Is the mentor they paired you with someone who would remember what it was like when they started?  Build a business from scratch is a lot different than a business that has regular customers and strong base who know the brand.  I see this mistake more often than I like.  It is the “Big Brush Off” from the franchisor.  They figure that a franchisee who has been in the system for a while has the time and the desire to help other franchisees.  In fact, they may want to knock a new franchisee down to limit any competition.
  • Can you give feedback that gets a response?  I listen to franchisees.  It is how I am most effective in getting results.  If they don’t feel like anything is getting done to make changes to build the brand, franchisees become disgruntled and cause problems in order to be heard.  One way or another, franchisees will be heard.

I want to say that I have personally witnessed changes at the top of a franchise that have made the culture in the franchise grow.  But, I can’t.  There are so few times when changes to the way franchisees are treated that I have not seen it work or work well.  It happens but it usually takes a complete gutting of the executive team.  It doesn’t need to happen that way, but the power structure of a franchise is what makes it tough.  Why would a CEO change how he/she treats franchisees if it didn’t personally affect him/ her?  No one under the CEO will tell, so nothing changes for the better.

Step back, look at things as if you weren’t in charge, and give yourself the advice you would give someone who is sledding down a slippery slope thinking its a fun ride.  Rides end.  Being at the bottom is a tough climb back to the top when you could have stepped back sooner and made things right.

Bob Griffin – Chief Bulldog-in-Charge

Top 10 Myths of Franchising

Every workday I am struck by the number of people who fight against the system (franchise) they bought. It’s like balling up all the money you worked so hard to earn and rolling it down the street. If you did roll it down the street, you’d at least be able to know you weren’t on the hook for thousands more because of all the contracts you sign when you buy a franchise. On second thought, forget rolling your money down the street. Tie it to fireworks and blow it up. It’s more spectacular and your crummy neighbors won’t be bothering you for more money.

The ability to lose common sense when it comes to making money is amazingly fast. From the time you sign the Franchise Agreement to the time when you want to change things breaks the sound barrier. Why buy something you want to tear apart and not use correctly? It’s like buying a car and then taking it apart to make a skateboard. Just following the system that made you want to buy in the first place.

Here are is my top 10 myths of franchising that I have seen in my years as a consultant. If the guy selling you a franchise mentions more than one of these, even in passing, he is probably an OK guy to buy from. The best franchises try to discourage you a little from buying.

Top 10 Myths about Franchising

  1. I can buy a franchise and let it make money.
  2. Hiring a manager will take care of most of the work.
  3. I manage people in my day job.I can handle a few hourly/contract workers.
  4. I have a Masters/ PHD/ Doctorate in Accounting, Marketing, Management, etc. This will be easy.
  5. I can teach the franchisor a thing or two with all my knowledge and skills.
  6. I can buy a poorly run store and turn it around for a profit.
  7. I can jump in and sell out fast.
  8. I can buy a franchise for my wife, son, daughter, etc to give them a career.
  9. No one can teach me anything I don’t already know about business.
  10. I like the product so I will be the best marketing person for my franchise.

Do any of these myths sound familiar? We all want to see the best in the things we do. It is human nature. It is also human nature not to want to fail, but we seem to set that fear aside in the “knuckle-headed view” that you can buy a franchise, open the doors, and make huge amounts of money without doing any heavy lifting. You have to work at whatever business you buy.

Hard work, building on success, building a business for yourself first, and many more lessons are hard learned when you get in business the right way. Why start out on the wrong path?

I ask the classes that I guest lecture what kind of businesses they want to buy. Not one, so far, has said they want to buy into an existing franchise. Some of them have mentioned wanting to start a franchise but none want to buy a business with a track record and a reputation. Absolutely none of them have mentioned the work that goes into being a business owner.

Ask anyone how much money they think they will earn in the first year in business and they will gush with profit margins that would make Bill Gates blush. The misunderstanding about the cost of doing business – more than money – is where most people fail to be honest in business.

Take my list my happy franchise friends! Pass it around to anyone interested and especially those who are blind with new business bliss. Don’t follow the myths.

Bob Griffin – CEO

Twitter: @BusinessBulldog
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