In this month's blog, Tania Katsanis outlines eight of the most important "franchise how to's" and lessons she has learned over five years running her online gift service Flowers by Fruit. The company home delivers edible fresh fruit arrangements and Tania is now looking to grow it further through franchising.
Hi again, it’s Tania Katsanis wanting this time to take you through the lessons I’ve learned since embarking on the Flowers by Fruit journey.
My philosophy is that if you learn at least one thing per day then it has been a good day. When it comes to Flowers by Fruit, there have been so many lessons big and small, so I will try to highlight the ones that I think stand out.
Number 1: The importance of believing in yourself and your business. There will always be those people who will try to cast doubt on you and what you are doing. It is important that you remind yourself to stay focused and rise above the doubters. Self belief counts for so much for small business success.
Number 2: Be willing to adapt to accommodate change: Never be too precious to adjust your business plan slightly. Everything has the propensity to change so you must be willing to adjust to accommodate the change. This may be how you advertise your business or the product or services you offer or even the price point. Sometimes you need to put things into practice before you get it right.
Number 3: Make sure you know your customers. Put measures in place that can help you understand who your customers are and how people find you. We were an online business and in our first year less than 12% found us via an internet search. The following year we adjusted the marketing plan and saw results almost immediately. Now over 26% of our business is via an online search. This is second behind our regular customers who contribute over 36% to sales.
Number 4: Never underestimate the importance of family and great friends. I could not have grown my business without the help from family and friends. This included everything from emotional support, to minding my beautiful son, or volunteering their time to help promote the business.
Number 5: Be aware of your finances. I know everyone discusses profit and their business but the number one rule is to have enough Cash Flow. Cash is king because without enough money in the bank you can’t pay your bills.
Number 6: “Friendly but not Familiar”. It is important that all small business owners learn to keep some type of distance from their team. This makes it so much easier when you need to either manage a person out of the business who just isn’t the right fit or to address an employee performance issue. By the same token you should always acknowledge and reward where appropriate team members who deserve it. People are the most important asset (or potential liability) in any business.
Number 7: Deal with mistakes quickly. Being human means that we all make mistakes and some of those mistakes inadvertently can affect our customers. At Flowers by Fruit we live by an understanding that we all make mistakes but it’s how we handle them that counts. On the rare occasion we have made a mistake that has affected a customer we manage it and rectify it as soon as possible and have turned a potential loss of a customer to a raving fan!
Number 8: Patience. Most of us see a business suddenly pop up everywhere and assume that that person was so lucky to have succeeded so quickly! However when you delve deeper into that business and its history you will soon discover that it took several years to become a success and not without some challenges along the way. I now know that Flowers by Fruit is a bit like Rome….it won’t be built in a day!
On that note I will leave you until next time!