What the Franchise Experts Are Reading

What the Franchise Experts Are Reading

We work with franchises all day, every day. Check out three current reads that our team has used to sharpen our thoughts on strategy, innovation, creativity, leadership and more.

Building a StoryBrand

Donald Miller’s No. 1 Wall Street Journal bestseller, “Building a StoryBrand,” simplifies marketing to an almost-unbelievable formula. A former screenwriter, Miller boils down the art of marketing to an extremely familiar storytelling device used in many (maybe most) blockbuster movies.

Miller’s premise is that if your message isn’t crystal clear, customers will tune it out rather than try to decipher it. And so he relies on a story you can’t resist, with the customer at the center of it as your hero, and you there to help the hero on his journey with a product or service that will make life immeasurably better.

Do you recognize the story line? Miller breaks it down into seven parts, with a chapter and worksheet devoted to each:
(1) You have a character/hero (2) who has a problem. (3) And he meets a guide (4) who gives him a plan (5) and calls him to action (6) that helps him avoid failure (7) and ends in success. Think “Star Wars”: Luke Skywalker is at war with the Dark Side, and he meets Yoda, who trains him to be a Jedi Knight and sends him to battle Darth Vader. He defeats the Dark Side, and the Universe survives.

According to Miller, the StoryBrand 7 Framework will help you clarify and simplify your message and therefore, connect with customers by showing them how they can succeed with your product or service. Everybody wins!

The end.

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in the Age of Distraction

“Hit Makers,” written by Derek Thompson, senior editor at the Atlantic, is based on the premise that people are “hungry for new things and biased toward the familiar.” With examples ranging from identifiable impressionist paintings to current hit songs, he dives into the mystery of what makes something become popular, and it’s usually something more than the fact that it’s good. (Many “good” things don’t make it into popular culture; only some do.) Backed by research and fueled with insight, Thompson makes some astute connections between what makes a hit and what doesn’t.

He seamlessly works his way between the old and the new, the large and small, to show what drives popularity. Historical examples and references sweep from Raymond Loewy’s midcentury industrial designs to current, popular games such as Tetris and Minecraft. (Had this book been published in 2018, surely Fortnite would be mentioned!) He discusses how Spotify’s Discover Weekly “bug” actually increased playlist interaction when a familiar song was accidentally included in what was supposed to be a collection of all unknown songs. (It turns out listeners liked the jolt of familiarity among the unfamiliar.) He talks about baby name cycles, Tinder’s growth and vampire legends. In a great way, the list goes on.

With relevant references, interesting prose and insightful observations, Thompson has written a book that’s enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Take the Fear Out of Franchising

With 40 years invested in franchising, Dr. John P. Hayes guides potential franchisees with advice in his book, “Take the Fear Out of Franchising.” Hayes uses the acronym FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real, to dispel falsehoods about investing in a franchise.

Hayes introduces five tenets of franchising to explain franchising fundamentals before potential buyers take the plunge:

  1. Every franchise requires specific skills and values from franchisees. Franchises can’t teach talent. Potential buyers must know what skills they bring to the business.
  2. A franchise is a license. In the franchise world, the license is called a franchise agreement.
  3. Franchising is a methodology. Other methodologies? Stores that appear to be locally owned but aren’t, such as Starbucks; corporately owned like Target; or Amway’s multi-level marketing.
  4. Every franchise is a system. Systems are good. Many businesses fail for lack of good systems. Selecting the right vendors; hiring, training and firing employees without getting sued; and the ins and outs of advertising are some of the systems that franchises can provide for operating your business.
  5. The franchisor is always in control. Signing a franchise agreement doesn’t mean you give up all control, but it spells out in which situations you do give up control, e.g., selling unapproved merchandise, uniforms, hours of operation, etc.

Some entrepreneurs do not desire to start from scratch and the tenets explain how franchisors engineer a satisfying and profitable business model for those interested in franchising.

Hayes also guides potential buyers through the “success vs. failure” history of a franchise, which can most easily be distinguished in the disclosure document, particularly Items 19, 20 and 21, and by interviewing former owners or shadowing current franchisees.

With four bonus chapters, including franchise terms and resources, those interested in owning a business can certainly take the fear out of franchising by reading Hayes’s book.