Digital Integration Booming Amid COVID-19

Digital Integration Booming Amid COVID-19

With Australia’s population hyper-aware of how their behaviour may put them at risk of COVID-19, the country’s retail sector is experiencing a wave of digital transformation. Whilst digital ordering and payment technologies have been around for some and seeing a steady increase in adoption rates, the recent health crisis has pushed forward this change and caused a boom in usage.

Many businesses are informing consumers that their preference is tap-and-pay in an effort to avoid the contact required by cash payments, resulting in Australian’s making 800 million card transactions a month as of March 2020. In fact, Australia has become the largest user of contactless payments globally, with 83% of point-of-sale card transactions being contactless according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. It’s clear that the country has been heading in this direction for some time, but the circumstances resulting from COVID-19 have meant businesses and consumers are truly embracing the no-contact movement.

The logical next step is the integration of digital payment technologies, which often go hand in hand with digital ordering platforms. This may come in the form of McDonald’s kiosks which eliminate the need for face-to-face interactions, or it could be a virtual platform such as KFC’s click-and-collect app. As these facilities become more popular, suppliers are racing to product savvy point-of-sale systems and software to support the demand.

On the consumer front, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay all offer digital wallet technologies which allow people to make payments using their phones and smart watches. Such services are now used by 10.8% of Australian’s. In this space, there are several trends emerging to ensure security and reduce the chance of theft or fraud. Biometric authentication is one of the most popular options and includes methods such as fingerprinting and facial recognition.

Longer standing digital payment providers such as PayPal are also getting involved, with many online and app-based ordering systems prompting consumers to connect their PayPal account for easy one-touch payment. This is part of the appeal of food delivery services such as Uber Eats where consumers can have food delivered completely contact-free with only a couple of clicks.

However, it is not only retailers that can benefit from adopting such digital technologies. Third-party providers are also taking a share of the market with a steep rise in the use of apps which allow users to send and receive money from friends. All you need to do it connect your credit card, bank account or PayPal and then you can use these apps to split the bill, send a gift or even manage rent payments among house-mates.

COVID-19 and the new health-conscious consumer landscape is certainly fast-tracking the adoption of digital technologies in both small and large business alike. However, we expect to see new and innovative ordering and payment technologies continuing to rise in popularity is both consumers and business owners seek convenience and efficiency.

Instant Asset Write-Off Extension Announced

Instant Asset Write-Off Extension Announced

With Australian small businesses across many industries feeling the pressure of the economic downturn triggered by COVID-19, the extension of the governments Instant Asset Write-Off scheme is a welcome announcement. The scheme was due to end on EOFY 31 June but has been extended until the end of 2020.

Originally offering an immediate deduction with a threshold amount for each asset of $30,000, the program is designed to support small businesses and encourage them to continue to invest in their own growth and expansion. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the threshold was extended to $150,000 as an incentive for more businesses to take part. Eligible businesses are those with an aggregated turnover of less than $500 million, however you can check your full eligibility here.

Whilst some advocates are pushing for the scheme to be made permanent in order to help bolster the growth of the counties small business sector, others are highlighting the $300 million cost of just extending the scheme another 6 months.

The government states that the extension will help support over 3.5 million small businesses who purchase new or used assets over the period. By enabling business owners to deduct the asset value in one hit rather than spacing it out over several years, cash flow and growth timelines can be improved. However, there is speculation of the schemes success as research suggests that many operators do not have the initial capital required to purchase the assets.

However, if this is the case there are several options which will allow small business owners to take part in the scheme. Utilising equipment financing is an option that allows for the immediate purchase of assets without having to dip into the businesses cash reserves. Common options are Operating Lease and Chattel Mortgage solutions.

Under a Chattel Mortgage loan, borrows own the assets from the outset and pay off the value over a set term. This allows business owners to depreciate the assets on their balance sheet, as well as have the potential to claim a tax input credit for any applicable GST on the purchase. Whereas under an Operating Lease the financier owns the equipment over the term of the loan, and at the end a residual value is paid to transfer ownership. The option is generally 100% tax deductible and popular among small business operators.

The extension of the Instant Asset Write-Off scheme is an opportunity for small businesses to invest in their growth and recovery post COVID-19. Whether owners are looking to invest in new technology, operating equipment or machinery now is a great time to consider purchasing.

Wellbeing: A Field Manager Self-Check

Wellbeing: A Field Manager Self-Check

A role as a field management can be dynamic, challenging and rewarding. However, when working in the field, managing your own mental health is an important part of the job. Not only does it help you maintain a healthy work-life balance but is a vital element in your ability to achieve success in your role. Often, those working in management rolls can ignore their own stress or neglect their wellbeing when addressing the challenges of their franchisees.

Field work, case work and people management can be stressful careers, and those who work in such roles need to ensure they are taking time to undertake a self-check and remain aware of their own wellbeing. This may come in many different forms, depending on how you experience stress and what helps revitalise you. Common stress responses include physical manifestations such as headaches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and muscle tightness. However, stress can also display itself through behavioural symptoms irritability, anxiety, disengagement, and inability to concentrate.

Field managers are often excellent at picking up these signs and symptoms in their franchisees yet may struggle to identify them within their own behaviour. Dealing with franchisees who may be doing through a period of distress can be emotionally draining for field managers. Often, people may take on the problems and stresses of their franchisees at the cost of their own mental health.

In a recent FRI breakout session, the Cashflow It Group team gained some valuable insights from field managers on how they maintain their energy and manage the challenges they face everyday in their role. There were some clear trends, however it is important to consider that what works for one person may not be right for you.

Traditional self-care activities such as daily exercise, meditation and mindfulness are all popular choices. There were however some more unique responses such as learning new skills to share with franchisees, collaborative work projects, and future planning. These activities can help build more personal connections with franchisees and refocus thoughts towards more optimistic times ahead.

No matter how well you manage stress, it is important to take the time to step-back and undertake a wellbeing self-check. Try to consider if you are placing your wellbeing at the forefront of your priorities, and if not, carve out some time in your schedule to dedicate to self-care.

 

A Guide to Conducting Effective Virtual Field Visits

A Guide to Conducting Effective Virtual Field Visits
The way we communicate and connect with those around us has changed dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe. Many franchisees have had to adapt their operating model in order to meet social distancing standards, and this same methodology applies to those working on the franchisor side of the business. Field managers’ roles often involve travelling around and logging face-to-face hours with their franchisees, however at this current time it just is not feasible, and as a result virtual field visits are becoming more common.

Despite the many ways that virtual field visits can increase efficiencies, such as reduced travel time and more flexibility in scheduling, this can be counteracted by technical issues and distractions and at time derail meeting plans. So, how can field managers best conduct effective virtual field visits?

The tools you choose to use matter. Opting to conduct visits over a video platform is a great choice as it helps to make the conversation personal and allows participants to gauge each other’s reactions and engagement. However, ensure that there is the option to partake with audio only, as video requires a strong internet connection which may not be accessible. Another important step is for both the field manager and franchisee to do a test-run ahead of time. Making sure that the chosen software is installed correctly, webcams and microphones are working, and that everyone is familiar with the program will avoid any frustrations.

The next step is to plan an agenda to ensure that the meeting stays on track. This is something that field managers would likely do regardless, however during a virtual visit it is vital that the conversation stays focused. Field managers should reach out to the franchisee in advance and ask if there is anything they would like to discuss in the meeting. This allows both parties to prepare any necessary resources and ensure that each issue can be properly addressed during the virtual visit.

The sharing of information and resources is also an important consideration. The software or platform being used to conduct the meeting will determine the process for sharing of resources. Some platforms will allow for the live sharing of documents during the meeting, whereas others may not have this capability meaning that documents should be sent ahead of time via email.

Finally, it is important that all participants are given time to talk. Just like in any field visit, there should be a balance between what the franchisee is bringing to the table and what the field manager is contributing. Ensure that the environment is collaborative and productive, this can be achieved by discouraging multi-taking or the use of any ‘mute’ functions.

We hope that these tips help both franchisees and field managers in adapting to our new normal (at least for the moment). Field visits are an important part of the franchisor-franchisee relationship and the ability to continue conducting such visits despite social distancing restrictions will help keep the network connected.

 

Co-working Spaces, A New Opportunity in Franchising

Co-working Spaces, A New Opportunity in Franchising

Co-working spaces are trending globally as employees call for more flexibility in their working arrangements and companies embrace the remote workplace. The concept of shared office spaces is not a new one, with many small companies opting to pool their resources into a shared office space. However, this trend has evolved into the co-working spaces we know today, unique multi-purpose buildings often located in city hubs and retail precincts.

International Workplace Group reported that by 2030, it is predicted that 30% commercial real estate will be flexible workplaces. This figure is quite realistic, with the co-working market current worth $36 billion and at least 50% of workers doing their job remotely a couple of day a week. A survey of 18,000 business leaders found that an overwhelming 89% believed utilising flexible workspaces helps their business grow.

With flexible workplaces and remote working set to become the new normal, we can expect to see changes in city plans, with a shift away from corporate parks and office districts towards a more integrated approach. A significant appeal of many co-working spaces is their proximity to dining and retail amenities, often located in the heart of the city.

As an industry set to see significant growth in the coming years, co-working spaces present an opportunity for the franchise industry to grow and diversify. Whilst traditionally the franchise model is associated with retail and quick service restaurant brands, getting involved in a flexible workplace franchise is an investment in a new era of corporate operations.

With lower overheads and operating costs than more traditional franchise businesses, co-working spaces present an opportunity for high return. There are a range of options for those looking to invest, ranging from a full service office space, with hot desking, private offices, meeting rooms and communal areas, or simply a desk within a large open plan space.

So whether you are looking to purchase your first franchise, or diversify your existing franchising portfolio the co-working market could be the right investment for you.

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.