Accessing Business Finance With No Property Backing

Accessing Business Finance With No Property Backing

There is no doubt that access to funds has been a major barrier to small business ownership for a long time, and over the fast few years the complex application requirements of the big banks have become more restrictive. Recently, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 1 in 3 Australians don’t own a home. The increasing volatility of the country’s property market means that home ownership is becoming increasingly unattainable, and further those who do own property are struggling as property values fluctuate.

Even though 60% of small business owners are looking for funds to grow their business, the concern of property backing is becoming an increasing challenge. This is where non-bank lenders and alternative finance providers can help. Whilst such lenders have always played an important role in bridging the gap between the offerings of traditional banks and the varied needs of small business owners, their role in Australia’s lending landscape is becoming more important than ever.

Non-bank lenders are experiencing a steep rise in adoption rates. Though many are unable to compete with traditional providers on interest rate, they offer a wealth of other benefits which appeal to small business borrowers. Quicker and simpler application processes, reduced paperwork, flexibility and transparency were among some of the favour characteristics of alternative lenders. However most notably, non-bank lenders willingness to secure against business assets rather than personal property assets has been a key differentiator.

Whilst banks are still resistant to offer business loans which don’t take personal property as security, the flexible funding options of non-bank funders are more aligned with the circumstance of many of Australia’s small business owners. Whilst it is likely that borrows will have to compromise on rate, studies found that this is not a major concern. A recent SME Growth index found that a hopping 91% of SMEs would be willing to pay a higher interest rate to avoid using their home as security. This percentage reflects the impact that Australia’s property market is having on business owners.

The key takeaway is that if you are not a homeowner, or you don’t want to risk your home as security, there are options out there to suit you. Whilst banks and traditional lenders are a staple of Australia’s lending landscape, small business owners should consider non-bank and alternative funding sources that may be a better fit for their business finance needs.

CSR in Franchising

CSR in Franchising

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an important part of an organisation’s activities and branding. Such activities are for the social, economic and environmental benefit of employees, customers, the wider community and the planet, and are being place higher on the priority list of many franchise executive teams. It is important for brands to be good corporate citizens and engaging in activities which are socially responsible and aligned with the brands values and beliefs is for the benefit of all involved.

Research conducted by YouGov Omnibus found that 87% of Australians strongly supported CSR, and the majority of consumer feel that businesses have a responsibility to ensure that their supply chains are ethical and sustainable. Further, it was found that consumers do take into consideration CSR when choosing a brand, especially actions such as supporting charity.

Throughout the franchise industry, there is no doubt that organisations are taking on the advice and doing their part to reduce their impact on the environment, support struggling communities and local charities.

On the environmental front, Chatime recently announced the ‘Project Happy Turtle’ campaign, part of their goal to be free of single-use plastic by 2020. This campaign is in response to feedback from their consumers, who would like to see brands becoming more environmentally conscious across the board. Chatime started small, swapping out their plastic straws for a paper alternative across their 125 locations. The next step is making the move to compostable cups and lids across their network.

Muffin Break has also taken initiative to reduce the impact of their business on the environment, partnering with Closed Loop through their Simply Cups program to encourage recycling of their disposable coffee cups. The installation of specialised coffee cup recycling bins will help reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill and is part of their broader efforts to remove all single-use plastics from their stores.

QSR franchise Zambrero have been leading the way in their actions as a good corporate citizen. Their annual Plate 4 Plate day aligns with World Food Day and involves thousands of volunteers packing meals to be sent to schools around the world. The initiative operates year-round and donates one meal to those in need for each meal purchased through the franchise. In 2019 over 450,000 meals were packed during the three-hour event, contributing to Zambrero’s goal to end world hunger by 2030.

Fundraising initiatives also play a large role in the CSR actions of Australian franchises, such as tyre retailers Birdgestone announcing a partnership with the Leukaemia Foundation. The ongoing initiative will see $2 for every Turanza Serenity Plus tyre sold donated to the charity. Plus Fitness has also just donated $70,000 to Beyond Blue, raised during their Lift Yourself Up initiative which saw $0 for ever new member in August donated to the charity.

No matter whether it is a donation of time, money or resources, businesses within the franchise industry are becoming more involved as corporate citizens. Launching initiatives, both one off and ongoing to mitigate their impact on the environment or support communities and groups in need is becoming more and more common.

The Role of the Franchisor in Social Media

The Role of the Franchisor in Social Media

Facebook alone has over 500 million active users spending over 700 billion minutes per month on the site, social media is one of the first places customers go to when looking for a product or service. If a business does not have an online presence, it does not exist in the consumers eyes. Research shows, consumers are becoming increasingly impatient and expect responses from social media within 30 minutes. It is vital to the success of a business that they have a current and relevant social media strategy.

There are so many benefits of having a social media presence, including:

  1. Search Engine Rankings
  2. Data Tracking
  3. Real Time Results
  4. Brand Recognition
  5. Localisation

Franchises are in a unique position when it comes to social media due to the nature of their business structure. Franchises are independently owned and operated, but still need to establish a  consistent, solid recognisable brand that builds trust, and much like a website, their social media is a representation of their brand.

Franchise agreements generally include a social media policy. It is essential that all marketing materials remain consistent, a strong strategy will lead to a cohesive brand voice.

If franchisors fail to include a social media policy, and do not regulate what is posted, the brand will have many unrelated voices, this will cause the brand identity to become murky and unclear, which is less than desirable.

So how do franchisors control social media across multiple owners and locations? Here’s our guide on setting up your own social media guidelines:

Franchisors: How to set social media guidelines

Before social media was invented and as significant as it is today, franchisees had been following brand standards for many years, and were confident with the process of having all marketing material approved of before it went to print. However now with the prevalence of social media it can be difficult for franchisors to manage, without their brand voice becoming inconsistent. The social media guidelines should not be a list of what not to do, rather a list of what they should do. Remember that most franchisees are not experts in social media, so be sure to make your guidelines and advice clear and helpful.

Visuals

Visuals are the most important element for brand recognition, the guide should include clear information on how to use the following: Font, Colour, Logos and Images. Franchisees have access to millions of photos on Google, which opens up the possibility of copyright infringement, as well as poor quality images which could be damaging to the brands efforts. Franchisors should provide franchisees with access to a digital image library containing approved photos.

Language

In order to create a consistent brand, the appropriate language and tone of voice should be identified (Casual, comedic or formal for example). The tone of voice is also used to address questions, complaints and reviews should also be identified. Keeping all the same tone of voice across all franchises is key to establishing a unified brand.

About

Static information found in the ‘About Section’ of each platform, should be standardised and consistent across all pages. This will help customers identify it as a legitimate brand.

Reporting

In order to keep an eye, and maintain consistency across all franchises regular scheduled check ins should occur. This is an opportunity for the franchisor to monitor the progress of the franchise, as well as monitor their social media to ensure it is staying within the guidelines. It is also an opportunity for them to provide encouragement and offer feedback.

Purpose

The purpose of each platform should be identified, and the activities expected on the page should be clearly described.

Eg. Instagram is for posting high quality photos, and posting short snippets of day to day activity in their stories function.

Customer Engagement 

Lastly, the guide should contain how franchisees are expected to engage with customers online. Outlining what comments they reply to, how to answer reviews and general day to day engagement with customers.

Finding The Right Staff For Your Franchise

Finding The Right Staff For Your Franchise

Employee performance is key to the overall success of a business, finding the right employee for your business can be challenging. The right employee can contribute positively to the work environment and can increase productivity, hiring the wrong employee can be very costly. So how do you find the perfect fit?

Before you even start looking for your ideal candidate, you need to develop a plan, this plan should cover the role, finances and how you will you go about recruiting a new staff member. Conduct an analysis to identify what skills are required of the role, collect information about the duties, responsibilities, outcomes and work environment. Prioritise what your team needs and look for traits that are complementary to this. This analysis is fundamental to developing the ‘Job Description’. By clearly defining the role, and what it encompasses, this allows the perfect Job Description to be written.

The Job Description should be as clear and specific as possible, using precise language to attract the right candidates. The description clearly identifies the tasks required, so any prospective candidates can determine if the role is suitable for them and understand what is expected.

The Job Advertisement should be explicit about the type of person the company is looking for. In the advertisement include 3-4 traits of the ideal candidate, selling points of the job, and outline any key tasks and training that will be offered. To avoid being flooded with generic applications, the Job Advertisement should be posted wherever it will reach the most suitable audience.

The interview stage of the hiring process is one of the most important steps, connecting the employer with the candidate. From the employers perspective, it is an opportunity to accurately assess competency, motivation, capabilities, achievement and fit. It also gives insight into the candidates personality. During this stage it is important to identify if the candidates ambitions and career goals align with the advertised position. Before an interview, candidates should be prescreened, credentials and applications should be reviewed and screened against job description to ensure a good match.

The interview is a powerful factor in hiring an employee, good questions help to separate desirable candidates from average candidates. During the interview, the interviewer should use a systematic approach, using checklists and scripted questions to avoid bias.

Don’t hire immediately after one interview, remember that you are in a relationship with your employee for a long time, so you need to make sure they are a good long-term fit your company. Take your time to analyse, and even conduct a second interview in a different environment if necessary.

After hiring employee it is important they feel cared for and welcomed. Conduct regular check ins with your new employee to monitor their progress and how they are performing in their role.

The key to a successful business is the team of employees conducting the daily operations. Employees directly relate to sales, so it is key to build the best team possible. Finding the right employee to fill a role can be a difficult process, however it can do wonders for an organisation.

Why The Fitness Franchise Sector Continues To Grow

Why The Fitness Franchise Sector Continues To Grow

Australians are becoming increasingly aware of their health and wellbeing, opting to spend their money on goods and services that help improve their lifestyle. With the rising cost of health insurance, Australians are being driven to focus on their fitness as a preventative method and see it as an important step in their overall health care.

The Australian fitness industry currently has over 4,200 fitness businesses, generating annual revenues of $2.2 billion, and experiencing a growth of 5.3% each year. Fitness franchising in Australia has undergone considerable changes in the past 5 years, and will continue to expand and diversify in the future. The emergence of budget 24 hour gyms is driving an increase in fitness franchises across the country, boosting membership numbers and stimulating industry growth through their affordable and accessible offering.

The industry is experiencing a surge, and as a result related products aer seeing an increase in popularity. The advancements in wearable technology has been a contributing factor to the rise fitness based businesses. Smart watches and Fitbits deliver personalised biometric statistics directly to the wearers phone, motivating them to monitor their activity and improve their fitness. Devices with streaming capabilities allow exercise programs and educational tools to be easily accessible, consumers are able to download programs and stream videos of workouts from their devices. This has made exercise more convenient, and motivates individual to maintain and actively use their gym membership.

The rise in popularity of gyms and fitness franchises means businesses within this category are looking to gain a competitive edge, by changing the way they operate and expanding their offerings. In order to achieve this, the market is seeing more boutique and niche gyms are opening their doors.

Originating in Australia, F45 has found franchise success across the globe. With 1300 F45’s across 33 countries, they are proof of the growing success fitness franchises are experiencing. Opening a fitness franchise can be a rewarding experience, with many advantages to adopting the franchise model. Particularly within the fitness sector, the high potential profits and low barriers to entry make this an attractive option.

Franchisors are making it increasingly easier for incoming franchisees to get their business up and running. They can provide in house design, real estate assistance, marketing plans, accounting systems and simplified access to finance. Gaining access to funds is a common barrier to growth for many small businesses, franchises included. However, many franchisors within the fitness industry are eliminating these barriers by opting to gain accreditation with one or more lenders. The ability for potential new business owners to have streamlined access to finance is fuelling industry growth and allowing for the rapid expansion of many fitness franchise networks.

With innovative ideas hitting the market every day, and existing businesses investing in new technology in order to add value to their members experience we don’t expect to see Australia’s fitness industry slowing down any time soon.

Tips for First Time Franchisees

Tips for First Time Franchisees

Opening up your own business is an exciting and daunting time, new business owners often feel  overwhelmed at the thought of navigating their way through the countless paperwork, legal documents and contracts. Opening up a new franchise should be an exciting and enjoyable time, to make sure your experience goes smoothly, we’ve compiled a few tips for first time franchisee owners to help you get up and running:

Do your homework

The very first and most important thing you can do before venturing into a new business, is research! You need to do your due diligence to ensure you are making informed decisions before entering into any business contracts. Start by researching how owning and operating a franchise works, and all that is involved with it. You may or may not already have a franchise in mind, either way you should research and find brands that align with your personal values and goals. It is essential you thoroughly research and ask key questions of franchisors. Questions should include:

  • Criteria for accepting new franchisees
  • Initial funds required to open
  • Ongoing fees
  • Companies financial history and current situation
  • Level of initial and ongoing support and resources
  • Expectations of franchise owners

Learn from the ground up

To make a great leader you must have a deep understanding and empathy for your staff experience. Spend a day walking in the shoes of your employees, get involved early and learn how your franchise works from the ground up. You will need to understand the inner workings and processes of your business, so you can run the day to day operation. By working on the ‘front line’ it will give you valuable insights into how your business actually operates, and allows you to test if your systems are working properly.

Seek Guidance & Consult the Experts

Ask the experts, and talk to the people who have experience in the industry. Many people are happy to talk about their experiences and offer advice. This is one of the greatest tools you can utilise before opening your franchise. Start by speaking to people and asking about their experiences and they will offload some valuable insights and knowledge. As well as speaking to experienced franchisees, you will need to seek professional advice. Find yourself a good team of professionals (tax experts, lawyers, advertising agencies etc) to help create a foundation for your business.

Follow your Franchisors Systems

You have chosen to open a franchise, a tried and tested formula with proven success, so it makes sense for you to follow the systems your franchise has in place. Take advantage of all the resources and materials the franchisor provides, making it easier for you to become established and grow your business.

Learn the Basics of Running a Business

For many people who are new to owning businesses, or feel a little nervous they will often opt for a franchise because it is already a proven model, with most things already set up ready to go, minimising their need for business management. If new franchisees rely on this, they will not succeed in their business. It is vital that you learn and understand the basics of running a business. Take the time to learn how the franchise operates, but also take the time to research how businesses work so you can reach the full potential of your new franchise.

The Importance of Local Area Marketing to Franchisee Success

The Importance of Local Area Marketing to Franchisee Success

Consumers are becoming more aware of the blatant mass marketing advertisements they are exposed to everyday. Part of buying into a franchise, is buying the brand and large scale presence that comes with it. Franchisors will generally use nation-wide, generic campaigns and encourage franchisees to use this, as well as material from the marketing kits they supply, to promote their brand. Often, this isn’t the most effective way for franchisees to penetrate local markets, they need to ensure they are also adopting a Local Area Marketing (LAM) strategy, in conjunction with the national campaigns to ensure they are reaching in their communities and maximising their potential.

So what exactly is Local Area Marketing? It is a type of marketing that identifies, designs and implements a range of marketing initiatives that specifically target potential customers a businesses local community. It is a highly effective way of targeting potential customers based on geographic segmentation, and creating local awareness and loyalty. LAM often provides strong return on investment, as it allows franchisees to tailor the overarching brand communications, and adapt the messaging to suit their local audience. Because franchisees often live in the community they are targeting, they have a unique insight into how to best customise marketing communications for that area.

Often for franchisees the prospect of undertaking a LAM campaign can be overwhelming, and they may feel they lack capability and confidence in this area. More often than not, small business owners don’t have a background in marketing, so this is where franchisors can step in to offer resources and advice. This is a win for both parties, as it provides the franchisor some insight into the LAM actions of the franchisee, and the business owner is able to to the overall brand communications and drive an increased presence on a macro and micro level. Ultimately, LAM empowers franchisees to engage local prospects and convert them into customers.

 

Benefits Include: 

  • Highly targeted communications to micro audience segments
  • Build customer loyalty at individual location
  • Contribute to positive brand image
  • Increased reach, engagement and awareness of your parent brand
  • Provides franchisees with a level of control over their businesses image

 

Examples of LAM

  • Sponsorship – support community events, clubs and teams
  • Cross promotion – engage with other local businesses
  • Public relations – communicate through local newspaper and radio
  • Digital – use social media accounts to reach the community

Driving Long-term Success In Your Business

Driving Long-term Success In Your Business

Achieving sustainable success is amongst one of the biggest challenges business owners face, it is well known that the key to a successful business is sustainable growth. But how many business owners actually know how to foster and create sustainable growth to drive long term success in their business? Becoming settled and having short term success is no guarantee of long term success, below are 5 tips to help you drive long term success in your business.

Create Value

A trap that many businesses fall into is trying to get quick sales, focusing on achieving short term sales goals to increase immediate cash flow. This isn’t a very sustainable practise. Instead, try shifting the focus of your team on fostering value creation for your clients. Train your team to start identifying opportunities where they can create added value for their clients, resulting in higher customer satisfaction, which higher satisfaction creates brand loyalty.

Find the Right People

Part of having a successful business, is having a well oiled machine and an excellent team to run it. Start by taking a look at your current team, and ask yourself are they servicing the needs of your clients and actively seeking out and seizing opportunities to grow? You may need to refresh your team and bring in new talent to change the dynamics and culture, helping to achieve your organisation’s goals and driving sustainable growth. Without having the right people in your team, it can be difficult to gain momentum and achieve your potential growth.

 

Be a Leader

To ensure long term success, you need to have a clear vision for the future of your organisation and clearly communicate this to your team. Leaders have an impact everyday on their teams, they inspire and motivate. Encourage your staff to work towards these goals with you, allowing them autonomy to contribute to this, and celebrate their achievements.

Don’t Always Pick the Cheapest Option

When making decisions in your business, it is important not to focus on the immediate cash flow situation, but rather to look ahead and plan strategically. When looking for services and products, don’t always pick the cheapest option, do your research to find what really works for you and is the best option for your business. For example when searching for a CRM software or legal firm research what they offer in their services, their strengths and weaknesses, and what they will bring to your organisation immediately and in the long run, rather than focusing on the immediate cost.

 

Its OK To Say No!

Usually in business, no is a word you don’t really want to be hearing or saying. Up until this point you have probably been saying yes to every opportunity in order to grow your business.
Part of driving long term success in your business is accepting new opportunities for growth, however it is ok, and important that you can say no. You’ll probably be reluctant at first to say no to new opportunities, however as you grow it is no longer about proving yourself and your business but prioritising your resources and identifying where you can create extra value. As you look towards the future and long term success, you need to identify does the new opportunity align with your long term goals and your brand identity? Part of saying no to certain opportunities allows you to focus more on your current clients and deliver more value.

Franchise Finance and Falling Property Prices

Franchise Finance and Falling Property Prices

Now that the cloud of the senate inquiry into franchising has cleared, activity in the sector is starting to rise once again, and as many franchise businesses look for opportunities to expand and grow, they are also looking for finance to facilitate this. A recent SME Growth Index has revealed that Australia’s SME sector has more businesses geared for growth than it has since 2016, with an outstanding 51% forecasting revenue growth in the next six months.

This exciting time for Australia’s small business owners, franchisees in particular, has seen many SMEs seeking finance to fuel their growing business aspirations. The index identified that almost 60% of small business owners are looking to access additional finance to support their forecasted growth. However, a recent decline in property prices has left applicants with less equity available to secure their funding, meaning that there is rising demand for unsecured finance options.

Currently, there is little ability for SMEs to access loans that aren’t secured with property from the banks, driving a shift away from such traditional lenders. This is reflected by a drop in the number of small business owners who plan to turn to their bank for finance, and has resulted in a subsequent 18% rise in the number who cite alternative lenders as their first choice.

Whilst it is widely acknowledged that small alternative providers can’t offer the same interest rates as the banks, in the current lending climate this is of little worry to small business owners. A whopping 91% surveyed as part of the SME Growth Index said they would be willing to pay higher interest rates to avoid putting their homes up as security, and 61% of those reinforced the sentiment said they would ‘definitely’ make the trade-off. The percentage of SMEs willing to pay more to avoid property security has more than doubled in recent years, indicating that decreasing house prices are adding significant pressure to the sector.

Despite the promising growth indicators of the franchise industry, many are feeling a sense of dread about the looming market conditions. Although 35% of people said they hadn’t yet felt the impact, they are expecting the changes to property prices to affect their lending abilities in the near future. Whilst the growth sentiment represents a much needed boost for the nations franchisees, its timing with the poor property outlook means that we are unlikely to realise its full potential.

However, the resilient spirits of Australian franchisees will not let this hold them back. Many are making moves to build partnerships with reliable alternative finance providers, who are catering to the unique needs of small business owners. Offerings such as fast credit approval rates and easy application processes were cited as major draw cards for 98% of SMEs, as well as the option not to risk their home in the fund raising process. This suggests that we will see a drop in the number of SMEs which rely on property based security for their business finance, with a shift towards asset security instead.

In 2019 we can expect to see Australian franchisees, and other small business owners, turn to alternative finance providers in order to capitalise on the strong growth projections for the sector. Despite the challenges that rising real estate prices create for property backed funding, the options available from alternative lenders which utilise asset based security will help bridge the gap, and provide SMEs with the finance they need to grow their business.

What Challenges Are Facing SMEs Today?

What Challenges Are Facing SMEs Today?

The Fast Moving Pace of Technology
Integrating technology into the day to day running of your small business can have a big impact on productivity. The efficiencies that come with integrating technology can help create a more profitable business, and ensure that you are able to keep up with the changing expectations of your customer base. In a recent survey of SMEs, 46% said they are eager to embrace new technology in the next 12 months. Whilst it can be a big expense, finding solutions that work seamlessly with your existing processes will only enhance your business!

Having Sufficient Funding
Getting your small business up and running can be an expensive undertaking, and sourcing enough capital to make it happen can be challenging. For small business owners overcoming this hurdle is a big achievement, however the investment does not stop here. To support your small business during periods of growth or through tough times, it is important to find a healthy balance of internal and external funding to ensure you can take advantage of opportunities, whilst still retaining a ‘rainy day’ fund.

Finding & Retaining The Right Staff
Recruiting can be difficult for small business owners, as they want to ensure that their business is in the best hands. In addition to this, what the young workforce value in their employer is changing, so it is vital that SMEs look at what potential employees are seeking and adapt. More now than ever, company culture and the workplace environment are make or break factors in the recruitment process, with statistics showing young workers would rather take a lower paying job at a company they felt aligned with their values. In order to build your business with the best staff and keep them, you should focus on providing a flexible workplace that recognises employees accomplishments.

The Need For Change
We can’t deny that Australia’s small business landscape is changing. With consumers ever-evolving needs shaping the market, we have seen a big shift towards consumer convenience being central to business operations. For many SMEs this has meant making a big change, whether it be expanding their offering, working with third party providers or making fundamental changes to their processes. Implementing change can be a tough job, however having a positive attitude towards change is vital for long-term success and sustainability.