8 Things to Research Before Becoming A Franchise Owner

If you’ve decided that you’d rather buy into an already-successful franchise than risk starting your own business, there are some things you should know before you go ahead with your decision. Fast food franchises, such as Quiznos, Checkers and Wendys, for example often encourage individuals like you to buy into the franchise, but it’s up to you to do your homework before investing. You would own your own location, run your own store and be your own boss. You would be responsible for hiring and firing employees, and you would get to learn how to run a business. You’d of course have to pay a royalty to the franchise corporation, but the rest of the profits from your location’s sales would belong to you. Opportunities are abundant when it comes to being a franchise owner, and you just have to do your research to ensure that you are buying into a reputable franchise with strong brand power and a loyal customer base. Here are 8 things you need to research about a franchise before buying into it.

  1. Do customers love them? It’s crucial that you research how popular this franchise is before buying into it. Do the customers love it? Do customers leave positive reviews about the food? Quiznos, for examples, is known for its quality and customers can’t stop talking about how fresh the ingredients are and how flavorful the sandwiches are. And yes, there currently are Quiznos franchise opportunities.
  2. How strong is their brand power? In other words, how well known are they? How strong is their brand? How successful are their marketing campaigns? If their brand is in good standing, reputable, widely recognized and positively regarded, that’s a great thing.
  3. How many franchises do they have? It’s better to buy into a franchise that doesn’t have too many locations. For example, there’s a Starbucks on every corner, and several Starbucks locations compete with each other (they compete with their neighbor two blocks away). If there are less locations, there is less competition.
  4. What locations are available? When it comes to owning a franchise, three words come to mind: location, location, location. It definitely matters what location is available for you to buy. It would be amazing to get a location near a business district (hello, lunch breaks!) or near a university, or on a busy street that gets a lot of foot traffic. Sometimes the locations that are off of a busy highway do quite well also. Definitely put some serious time into researching the location.
  5. How reasonable are the costs? Owning a franchise comes with costs. You’ll have to pay for employees, inventory, equipment and more. You’ll also have to pay a royalty (franchise fee) to the franchise corporation. Research these costs to make sure they aren’t completely unreasonable. You should decipher what your total investment costs will be before you make your decision.
  6. How long will it take to break even? Since owning a franchise involves some up-front costs, you should research how long it will take to break even. The reason this is important is because you don’t truly start profiting from the business until you break even. Sometimes, this can take awhile. You have to be willing to wait to see the profits.
  7. What is the earning potential? Your research should include an attempt to figure out how well a franchise owner in a comparable location is doing. You should ask leading questions to figure out what your earning potential could be if you buy into this franchise.
  8. What level of support does the franchise corporation offer? Support is key, and many franchise corporations offer an incredible level of support to their individual franchise owners. Support comes in the form of instructions, guidance, materials, deals on equipment, negotiations on your behalf, advice, etc. Ask the franchise corporation what they offer in terms of support.

 

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Home Insurance when Working From Home

home insurance when working from home

Working from home has a number of great benefits. No commute, flexible schedule and lower stress are just some of the advantages of running your business from your house. However, it also comes with certain complications. Protecting your home from ruin is now tied up with protecting your business from going bust. You need to make sure you have both business and home insurance when working from home. When it comes to home insurance, have you taken into account your business insurance needs as well? You’ve built your dream home office, now make sure everything is covered!

home insurance when working from home

Theft and Fire Insurance

Working from home can have its perks in the world of insurance. Your home is actually significantly safer with you being there most of the time. When purchasing home insurance when working from home insurance from your chosen provider, be sure to let them know that you spend your working day occupying the house.

Your presence will deter burglars and mean that you can stop the spread of a fire. This should lower your premiums. If you are buying home insurance in New Jersey, you will already have a lower premium compared to a state such as New Mexico. This is because of differing state by state crime rates. However, being home all day reduces the risk of theft even further.

Public Liability Insurance

Unfortunately, there may be some extra costs that come with running a business from home. If you have customers and clients regularly visiting, then you may need to invest in public liability insurance. This means that if anyone is injured in your home (if they’re there on business), your insurance company will pick up the cost instead of you.

Your home insurance won’t be enough to cover this. So if part of your business is having members of the public over, be sure to cover yourself. Otherwise you could be facing a pricey court case.

Dedicated Business Insurance

Beyond public liability insurance, you will need home insurance with a dedicated business service. Home insurance when working from home may not automatically cover your business entirely. If you have employees working in your home, then they need to be insured. Likewise, your home insurance may not cover specialist work equipment. If your business relies on any technology or machinery, then it makes sense to cover this under a dedicated business insurance plan.

Running your business from home is increasingly common and makes financial sense.  Working from home is the future! However, remember that your home insurance may not cover business costs. Get dedicated business and public liability insurance to keep your company protected. You can also use the fact that you are always home to try and get a discount on your regular home insurance.

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Working in the West: Traveling for Business has Plenty of Perks and Colorado Springs Offers some Great Venues to Visit During Your Trip

If you happen to be traveling to the Colorado Springs area on business you have to try and make the most of the opportunity to enjoy some leisure time around your busy work schedule.

Here are some of the must-see venues that deserve your attention if you are working in the West.

Inspirational views

There are some great hotels in the area to stay at like the Colorado Springs Marriott, for example, and as well as enjoying comfortable accommodation you will also be within close proximity of some very worthwhile attractions.

If you want to witness one of the most photogenic landscapes you are likely to see anywhere the one place that should be on your leisure itinerary is the Garden of the Gods.

These awesome and distinctive rock formations are a major draw in Colorado Springs and you can take a segway or jeep tour around the area if you want to enjoy as much of the scenery in the time you have available.

A bit of time for hanging about

If you are seeking an adrenaline rush and want an aerial view of Pikes Peak and Manitou Springs a good way to do that would be by being suspended in mid-air and getting ready for your zipline adventure.

The Manitou Springs Zipline Adventure experience is well worth considering as the five different ziplines give you an amazing view of the area from the air, that’s if you can focus while soaring across this spectacular alpine canyon location.

Soak up a bit of history

If you would prefer your leisure time to be more sedate and educational a good attraction to visit would be the National Museum of World War II Aviation.

As well as enjoying an inspirational journey that tells you all about the history of the aircraft and the role they played in the war you can also visit neighboring WestPac Restoration and see how they are restoring some original aircraft to their former glory and ready to take to the skies again.

A challenging escape from work

Escape rooms are a popular new phenomenon in a lot of places and Colorado Springs has at least 11 different experiences to choose from.

The idea behind these escape rooms is to work out the clues and find your way out of the rooms within a limited amount of time. There are a variety of themes from “Escape from Hellscream”, which has a horror twist to the game, to “Planet Deadline” which will appeal to sci-fi fans.

If you want to escape from work for an hour and like a challenge, try one of the escape rooms located in Colorado Springs.

Whether you want to enjoy the amazing natural scenery or enjoy some man-made entertainment you won’t be short of options when it’s time to take a break from work during your stay in Colorado Springs.

Make sure you try and squeeze some of these attractions into your itinerary.

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Everything You Need to Know About Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a division of Amazon best known for serving up a massive online marketplace for just about everything. In a Forbes article, Jason Bloomberg noted that “AWS is reinventing what it means to be a software vendor for all the markets it serves, including consumer, developer, SMB, and enterprise.” If you’re looking for a powerful cloud service provider, you’ll find that AWS is one of the most innovative and expansive options available with a growing suite of web tools that go above and beyond the standard offerings.

The Basics of AWS

Image via Flickr by magerleagues

At its core, AWS is a cloud computing service that gives business owners the computing power they need with remote storage and maintenance. AWS delivers powerful functionality that’s designed for flexibility and scalability. This service offers all the benefits of any cloud storage provider along with a host of other perks. AWS offers a serverless reference architecture for everything from the Internet of Things to web apps to image recognition. AWS has also announced services that will expand into artificial intelligence, databases, and more.

Helpful Training and Certification Services

Amazon supplies a comprehensive suite of digital training services to help users understand all the features of AWS. You can enroll in free courses, develop new technical skills, and validate what you’ve learned for AWS certification. This is an outstanding offering as the full functionality of AWS is far too expansive for a new user to grasp without seriously studying some of the innovative new technologies that have rolled out with this service.

Reliable Security

Cloud security has long been a major concern for business owners as they transition to this business approach. AWS secures its data centers with network firewalls and uses in-transit transcription across all services. Using the service’s provided tools, users can trace the who, what, and where of calls for maximum visibility. Businesses can also incorporate their own security layers within AWS for additional protection on top of what’s already available.

Powerful Scalability for Computing

AWS Lambda is a computing service that enhances the capabilities of AWS, allowing you to run code without provisioning your own server space for the activity. AWS Lambda responds to user requests and provides the necessary capacity and infrastructure to run your code on a per-use basis. This means that you don’t have to supply an abundance of servers for prospective users who may not begin using your code immediately.

AWS Lambda scales seamlessly, so you’re prepared for anything from a slow start to a sudden rush of activity. You pay only for the compute time that you consume and pay nothing when your code isn’t running. This functionality is a key example of how Amazon’s web services are structured to streamline your business activities in the most efficient way possible.

Whether you’re looking for convenient cloud storage or access to a serverless application repository, you can find the features and functionality that you’re looking for with AWS. Designed to serve as a catch-all for all your cloud needs, this solution is meeting its goal admirably.

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Are Your Products Flowing Smoothly? : Supply Chain Management is Important to Your Business

Most people in business recognize that supply chain management is crucial to their success, profitability and customer satisfaction. There are numerous benefits to ensuring your supply chain is properly managed and serves to provide a structure to your business that is efficient, productive and progressive. There is also the fact that as business has become more competitive in recent years; it’s now harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. Supply chain management is integral to achieving this as it provides a solid structure from which to offer a high-quality service to your buyers.

Here we take a closer look at the distinct advantages of good supply chain management:

Improves Customer Service

Everyone knows that the customer is king when it comes to business and delivering good quality products, goods or services in an efficient and cost-effective way, ensures repeat business going forward. Customers want to know their orders will be delivered to the right location at a time that is convenient to them and without having to wait too long. Ensuring your operation is streamlined to deal effectively with individual orders will keep your customers happy and more importantly, make them come back for more.

Reduces Operating Costs

Your supply chain is as important to your retailers and suppliers as it is to your business. Keeping a close eye on product inventory in terms of stock and distribution should be well managed as part of your supply chain strategy to ensure consistent and smooth flowing fulfillment of orders. If you have a product that is particularly popular at any given time, your supply chain should be set up to make sure there’s enough stock at outlets to meet demand. If your supply chain is efficiently managed, you can significantly reduce your operating costs.

Improves your Financial Position

An efficient supply chain is often a good way to streamline costs and boost cost-effectiveness of your operation. Naturally, it goes without saying that if you are making savings in one area of your business, you’ll notice a corresponding increase in revenue. Good supply chain management protects your business from overstocking and wastage and consequently boosts your bottom line.

Increases your Cash Flow

A good supply chain is responsive to orders as they arrive, so that they are fulfilled within the quickest time. Obviously, if you can get your goods to your customers in ten days rather than twenty-eight days, you can invoice them sooner and benefit your cash flow.

How to Achieve Good Supply Chain Management?

You understand how your business works better than anyone and also the buying behavior of your customers too. In order to understand how to best organize your supply chain, you need to undertake some supply chain analytics, to help you create a clearer picture of how you can best serve your customers by improving your supply chain. The difference between good and bad supply chain management can mean the success or failure of a business and so this is an aspect that requires closer attention.

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Supporting Your Local Businesses:  Why Should You Buy from a Local Dealer?

When purchasing new or used vehicles, consumers have many different choices. It is often tempting to buy from a chain store or other branch, because such outlets offer substantially the same experience at each location. Furthermore, they are more well known, because they have large advertising budgets.

But buying that vehicle from a local dealer is usually a better choice, although the reasons are not always apparent.

Economics

Franchise businesses send a good portion of their earnings out of the community, but locally-owned businesses reinvest almost everything they earn back into the local community, and that benefits everyone. Moreover, according to one study, local businesses generate 70 percent more economic activity than franchises.

There are advantages in terms of payroll as well. Most all local businesses employ mostly local workers, and in many cases, the wages and benefits are higher. Additionally, local businesses are much more likely to use local banks and other nearby institutions.

Finally, local businesses foster competition. If there are many small or medium-sized outlets competing over the same business, consumer prices are lower and business innovation is stronger. Furthermore, to gain an edge, local businesses often offer better customer service.

Service

There is much more to say with regard to that last point. Customer service at a franchise is either totally outsourced to another location or probably performed in accordance with regimented standards that have nothing to do with the local community.

In contrast, almost everyone who works at a local business, from the very top to the very bottom, is heavily invested in the community and knows the customers that patronize that business, so the experience is much more personal.

Inventory

Most people believe that franchises have more selection than independent businesses, and while that may be true in terms of the cars on the lot, that’s not necessarily true overall. Typically, small business owners have direct access to vendors, so if there is a specific item that you want to purchase, that item will be available much more quickly at a small business than a large dealership.

Furthermore, contrary to popular myth, prices are usually no lower at a franchise location than they are at a local business, because for the most part, vendors set the prices for their products and they do not like discounts.

Generally, most business owners are willing to go the extra step to earn a customer, while that same urgency is not always present at a franchise location.

Community

Local businesses give communities a unique look that would be sorely missed if those businesses disappeared. Many people recognize this fact, as in one survey, only a desire for more restaurants eclipsed a desire for more local businesses among community residents.

For local businesses to contribute, the community must rise up. If a franchise location has a slow month, the financial loss may hardly be a blip on the radar. But if a local business has a slow month, the impact could be significant, and if that business closes, there is not always another one ready to take its place.

Do your community a favor and shop local.

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Workspace Wonders: How to Design Your Dream Home Office

When you work from home, it can be tricky to separate your living space from your working space. Creating a home office is a great first step in making sure you can tune into a working mindset when you have things to do, and back into a relaxed state when it’s time to spend time with family or de-stress. Designing your home office can be as big a project as you want, and the energy you put into it can help you be more productive and professional. Depending on the nature of your work, organizing your desk area, incorporating shelving and storage, and making the space inspirational are all important in varying degrees. It’s good to experiment to see what works best for you and suits your personal needs, but there are a few constants that hold true for almost all home offices and working spaces.

1. Create a focused space. 

Make sure your office or work room is clearly designated as a space different from all others in your home. Ensure you have a door or curtain that can shut and as much as possible avoid storing cleaning supplies, old clothes, or other clutter in your work space. Not only will it distract you and remind you of other responsibilities, but it can make it harder to find important documents and tools if they’re sharing space with shoes, bottles or boxes

2. Separate work from life. 

Treat a home office like you would a cubicle in a busy office building. Keep it tidy, have a family photo or two, and decorate it in a simple, professional way. Your office might be at home, but the more you treat it as separate, the easier it will be to tune in when there’s work to do, and to decompress when you’re finished. Stock your office with everything you might need to avoid having to leave and grab something, which can take you out of your productive state and introduce all sorts of distractions.

3. Use soothing colors and decorations.

Working buildings and professional spaces often put a lot of effort into furnishings that promote productivity. Clean lines and neutral colours reduce distractions and can have distinct psychological effects. The colour blue acts as a relaxant, as well as an appetite suppressant, so consider painting the room a shade of blue or using blue furnishings. Keeping the space cool can promote brain function and focus, so make sure you can control the room’s temperature. Comfortable ergonomic chairs and desks reduce fatigue and long term damage like back problems and carpal tunnel syndrome. Incorporate as many of these as you can to help you be more productive, and promote well being.

4. Incorporate tools for focus.

A home office doesn’t need to feel like a jail cell, so using design elements like fountains, zen gardens, or executive toys can help break up the monotony without throwing your focus. A simple indoor fountain can help freshen the space up, and the sounds of running water not only relaxes, but it can act as white noise to drown out the sounds you might expect if you have kids, neighbours, or heavy traffic near your house.

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It’s Time to Turn Your Business Website into an E-Commerce Powerhouse

The place for business in the 21st century is on the web. More and more businesses are establishing websites in order to do the bulk of their advertising and selling. If you are searching for a way to turn your business website into an e-commerce giant, you’ll need the proper software. There are a number of types of ecommerce shopping cart software to choose from. It only takes the bare minimum of research to enable you to decide which types will work best for the needs of your business. Once you know what you need, it’s easier than ever to go about getting it.

A Shopping Cart Is an Essential Piece of Modern E-Commerce Software

One of the most important pieces of e-commerce software you can order for your business site will be a shopping cart. This is the place where your customers can store items that interest them while they continue to browse around the rest of your site. Giving them a place to store these goods is an excellent way to keep them from forgetting about these items. Once they have completed their visit to your site, they can quickly retrieve their item from the shopping cart and take it to the checkout page to complete their order. Shopping carts save you sales.

Having a Shopping Cart on Your Site Will Save You a Lot of Sales

As noted above, it’s a tried and true proposition that having a shopping cart on your site will save you a great many sales. Even if a customer should forget to take that particular item to checkout, you can still make it the basis of a reminder email that you send to them later on. A quick email with the item and a message along the lines of, “Don’t forget about me!” can save you a lot of sales in the long run. A shopping cart is an e-commerce item that serves many functions and will more than repay the initial investment you make in order to add one to your official business website.

It’s Time For You to Show Your Competitors Who’s the Boss

If your website has been losing ground in favor of your competition, the reason is as clear as it is simple. Your site simply isn’t up to snuff. You’ll need to overhaul it in order to feature all of the latest e-commerce software. Your competitors have already done and are reaping the benefits of their foresight. It’s time for you to make up for lost time so that you can get back to challenging them for the crown.

Order Your Shopping Cart Software From a Professional Provider Today

It’s an excellent idea to order your shopping cart software from a professional provider as soon as possible. The sooner you do so, the more your productivity and profitability will increase. E-commerce software enables your business to interact with your customers in real time so that you can quickly get a reliable feel for what items interest them the most. There are a thousand other benefits that come with these valuable e-commerce software items. A shopping cart and official web store are two of the most important ones that no modern business website can afford to be without.

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DCIM Decisions: Finding the Best Solution for Your Company

It can be difficult to choose the best DCIM solution for your company. There are many to choose from, and many vendors too, all of which offer slightly different products.

Here are some things to keep in mind to find the best solution for your growing company

Decide on the Features You Need

When it comes to finding the right data center monitoring solution for your needs, the first thing to do is look at the features provided by different vendors’ solutions.

You want to make sure that your chosen solution has all of the features you require, so compare products and avoid those that do not have the most important features.

Some of the things you might need include asset management, VM control, IT control, and environmental control. So look at the solution in depth and use this to guide your decision-making process.

Make Sure It Is Scalable to Your Needs

A DCIM solution should be scalable so that it can grow alongside your business. If it is difficult or impossible to scale, it is unlikely to be of much use as your business grows.

Save the hassle and expense of changing solutions later on, and choose one from the start that will grow with you.

Choose a Vendor with Good Support

As well as choosing a solution that has everything your business needs, you will also want to make sure you get the right level of customer support from the vendor.

You don’t want to be left on your own to deal with problems when they arise, so ensure you can always speak to a real person and get answers to your questions as soon as you need them.

Know How Easy It Will Be to Get Up and Running

If you have a small business, you may want to ensure that you choose a solution that is easy to set up and start using rather than a complex solution that takes many months to get up and running.

Also, find out if you will be provided with training. You don’t want your vendor to disappear and leave you without knowing what to do.

Choose a Vendor with Experience

Finally, make sure you choose a vendor that has a lot of experience and a great reputation to match. You don’t want to find out when it’s too late that they have a terrible reputation.

Do your research and find out who their existing customers are and ask them what they think. Read some third-party reviews if you can find any, and look out for any warning signs.

Only choose a vendor when you are happy that they will provide you with the level of service you need.

Find the Right DCIM Solution

These are some of the main factors to keep in mind when you are choosing a DCIM solution for your growing business.

Finding a suitable DCIM product is something you want to get right first time. So look into all of these factors very carefully, then take your time finding a solution that works for your business and provides you with all the benefits you are looking for.

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4 ideas to make this summer’s office party a roaring success

Office parties have always had something of a reputation – we certainly don’t need to go into the in’s and out’s of why.

Some companies limit them to Christmas, but if you’re one of the lucky few who are able to party during the summer months then it’s fair to say that there are a wealth of different events that can make it a roaring success.

We’re not talking about all-day drinking sessions in the beer garden (although this might sound appealing to some offices) but rather some creative ideas that can really appeal to everyone from Barbara on accounts, to Tim in marketing.

Let’s now take a look at some of the best events for your summer office party that can really make a mark.

Crystal Maze

If you have a particularly young office, this first suggestion might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, even if not everyone was old enough to remember Crystal Maze, there’s no doubt that the concept is still modern and will be enjoyed by most.

In simple terms, it’s a team-building event. The Crystal Maze element throws a much more advanced element to it though, with each different zone testing participants’ skills.

The best part of all? The winning team get to collect the famous gold tickets swirling around in the crystal dome.

It’s A Knockout

Let’s stay on the topic of television shows, by this time switching to It’s A Knockout. Again, this is something that might not be overly familiar to the entire office, particularly as the peak of It’s A Knockout occurred in the 80s. For anyone unaware – this was a BBC classic, and involved a whole range of activities that made use of the likes of inflatables, water and various costumes.

In other words, it’s something that’s going to prompt barrels of laughter. Combine it with drinks and a BBQ so you can reminisce about the day’s hilarities.

Boat racing

This time, we’re swaying away from the television theme. Most events companies who offer boat racing tend to do so in the Dragon Boat form – which just adds even more spice to the equation. For anyone unaware, Dragon Boat Racing includes a helmsman for steering and a drummer, who provides plenty of rhythm to really get the team in the mood.

One of the best parts of this idea is that it really can cater for offices of any size. Whether you have an office of hundreds of people, or just a few, you can either have the entire water to yourself or race against others.

Raft building

Following on from boat racing, let’s now move onto raft building. Little else needs to be explained here – your office will be split into teams who are given the task of building a raft. Particularly with the sun beating down through these months, a lot of offices find that this is one of the best ways to link together.

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