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Renault expects 30% production boost for Clio in Slovenia

AutoNews - Thu, 2017-01-12 06:17
Renault's Slovenian unit will create 340 new jobs by the end of this month as it expects production of a face-lifted Clio model, which begins in March at the plant, to help boost annual output by 30 percent.
Categories: Latest News

5 Invoice Tips to Get Your Small Business Paid Faster

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-01-12 06:00

We all like getting paid. As entrepreneurs or freelancers (or both), you need that cash flow. Without it, your business doesn’t thrive and your family doesn’t eat.

The cornerstone to getting paid is more effective invoicing. Setting up an online invoicing system that works well for you and ensures that you remain on top of the situation can help you get paid faster and on time.

How to Improve Your Invoicing Process

Here are five tips that can help you with more effective invoicing:

1. Automate

There’s no reason to send out manual invoices these days. Cloud billing applications make it fast and easy to automate much of the process. For clients and customers that have regular orders, you can create a template to automatically go out on a recurring basis. Even for clients without recurring orders, you can create templates to speed up the process.

Set up payment reminders for regular intervals if the client has paid the invoice. Programs like Due keep track of when an invoice has been paid, so you can have reminders automatically sent when you aren’t receiving payment as expected.

2. Use Written Quotes for Work

You don’t want clients to feel surprised when they see your invoice. As a result, it’s important for you to use written quotes for your work. If you agree on terms over the phone, make sure to send a follow up email to reinforce the terms and make sure you are all on the same page. This is one of the most important parts of effective invoicing.

When you send your invoice, the client will be expecting what you ask for, and will be less likely to be upset by the turn of events — and more likely to pay.

3. Create a Payment Policy with Short Terms

When possible, set a payment policy with short terms. Most of my clients pay within 30 days. In fact, many of my clients pay with 15 days — or even immediately. When you can set the payment terms, try to keep them short. That way, you receive your money faster.

This is something you need to talk about when you first establish your relationship with the client. You’ll enjoy more effective invoicing when you are up front about expectations, put them in writing, and then stick with it for invoicing.

Sometimes, long payment terms are unavoidable. I have some clients with policies involving net 45. It’s not my favorite, but in some cases it can’t be helped, so I do my best to make sure that other clients have shorter terms.

4. Keep it Professional and Polite

There is no substitute for professionalism in business. Word your invoices politely, using terms like “thank you for your business.” You can also add due dates to your invoices. Say “please pay by X date” or “please pay within 15 days of receipt” to set expectations and be polite. You want to be seen as a professional in your invoices, whether you are describing the services and goods you provide or whether you are thanking your clients for their patronage. Even when you are asking a deadbeat client for money, make sure to keep it polite and professional.

5. Number Your Invoices

Don’t forget to number your invoices. Not only does it add a touch of professionalism, but it can also help you keep better track of clients and payments. More effective invoicing can lead to better record keeping for the future, helping you at tax time and ensuring that you remain on top of the situation no matter what.

Image: Due.com

This article, "5 Invoice Tips to Get Your Small Business Paid Faster" was first published on Small Business Trends

Hilton Announces Signing Of Nine Hotels In Mexico

Hotel Interactive - Thu, 2017-01-12 05:39
MCLEAN, VA--Hilton today announced the signing of nine properties in Mexico that represent a number of Hilton brands, including Hilton Hotels ...

Hersha Hospitality Trust Completes Sale Of Two Suburban Washington, DC Hotels And Exits The Mystic Partners Joint Venture

Hotel Interactive - Thu, 2017-01-12 05:26
PHILADELPHIA--Hersha Hospitality Trust (NYSE: HT, “Hersha” or the “Company”), owner of upscale hotels in urban gateway markets, announced the Company closed ...

Go Mini's Moving and Portable Storage Expands to Riverside

PR Web - Thu, 2017-01-12 04:30

Go Mini's brings award-winning portable storage franchise business to Southern California.

(PRWeb January 03, 2017)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/12/prweb13949927.htm

Fatburger Continues Global Expansion In China

PR Web - Thu, 2017-01-12 04:30

Iconic Burger Brand Makes Further Push Into Beijing, China with 15 Store Deal

(PRWeb January 03, 2017)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/11/prweb13871538.htm

Your Pie Introduces Health-Inspired Specialty Pizza in New Craft Pie...

PR Web - Thu, 2017-01-12 04:30

Originator of the Down-the-Line Pizza Category Introduces New Pear Gorgonzola Pizza, Salad with Pomegranate Meringue Gelato, Paired with Local Brews

(PRWeb January 03, 2017)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/12/prweb13949744.htm

RestorationMaster Creates New Micro-Sites for ServiceMaster by Mason...

PR Web - Thu, 2017-01-12 04:30

RestorationMaster has recently added ServiceMaster by Mason of Westerly, RI as the newest business on RestorationMasterFinder.com to help expand their digital marketing outreach for disaster...

(PRWeb January 03, 2017)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/westerly-ri/disaster-restoration/prweb13950365.htm

America’s Escape Game is Chosen as one of the Top 2016 Attractions in...

PR Web - Thu, 2017-01-12 04:30

America’s Escape Game is the only escape room experience to be recognized by the Orlando Business Journal as a qualifier on this list.

(PRWeb January 03, 2017)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/12/prweb13948375.htm

Job market heats up for fast-food workers

Topix - Thu, 2017-01-12 03:51

Lisa Aragon just couldn't get the headhunter to take no for an answer. Five times in a month, she turned down enticements, including higher pay and four weeks of paid vacation.

Categories: Today's Food News

New Rave CEO outlines sales-building strategy

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2017-01-11 23:32

As the new CEO of Rave Restaurant Group Inc., Scott Crane says building sales and average unit volumes at the company’s Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza Co. brands are his top priorities.

Crane took the helm at The Colony, Texas-based operator this week after serving as CEO of Denver-based Smashburger, which he left last April.

Rave’s legacy Pizza Inn brand was founded in 1958, in Dallas. The fast-casual Pie Five chain debuted in 2011.

Crane spoke Tuesday with Nation’s Restaurant News about his move to the 300-unit operator:

What was attractive about the CEO position at Rave?

First and foremost, I like pizza. But the segment is the next frontier in fast casual. Burgers have led the way in the breadth of brands in fast casual. As consumers are spending their dollars, the continued double-digit growth of fast casual is very attractive.

Rave has the legacy Pizza Inn buffet brand, as well as the fast-casual Pie Five. How do you see the balance going forward?

I was growing up in Kansas City, my friends and I would eat at Pizza Inn all the time. Now that I know the brand more, and it is getting new designs, menu and getting growth going as well. There’s a lot of momentum for the legacy brand with a great franchise base. Pie Five, by just being in the fast-casual segment, and in pizza is a good segment. 

What differentiates Pie Five in the segment?

We have four crusts [thin, traditional, pan and gluten free]. It’s a very consistent product with fresh toppings. There’s a breadth of menu with fresh salads and desserts. It just takes a little time to educate the consumer. You can have a good-for-you option with a thin crust or an indulgent option with our pan pizza. This is a paradigm shift in how people consume pizza.

What are the strengths of the brands? 

For Pizza Inn, it’s the history and heritage. It’s 60-plus years old. It’s got a great franchise base and there has been some innovation. … Pie Five is still young, at 93 units, but there are opportunities with opening our first drive-thru. Delivery is another opportunity to look at for us. There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit.

What similarities do you see between fast-casual pizza and fast-casual burgers, where you have roots?

When people are voting with their dollars. There is stagnant growth in quick service and casual dining, but there is consistent growth in fast casual. You are seeing that in the burger business. You are seeing that now in the pizza business. There is white space ahead. We have the ability to grow.

What are the challenges for Rave?

We have to work on our same-store-sales base and our AUVs [average unit volumes] right now. Our last couple of quarters have been down. That’s our No. 1 challenge. There are opportunities in [dining] occasions, delivery and innovation.

Contact Ron Ruggless at Ronald.Ruggless@Penton.com

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Fast food chains the Bay Area doesn't have

Topix - Wed, 2017-01-11 23:13

Not that the Bay Area needs more burritos, but we're curious about this one since it recently beat out Chipotle in the Harris Poll's "Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant of the Year" category. Not that the Bay Area needs more burritos, but we're curious about this one since it recently beat out Chipotle in the Harris Poll's "Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant of the Year" category.

Categories: Today's Food News

Popeyes: Sales improved after election

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2017-01-11 22:05

This post is part of the On the Margin blog.

One of the most frequently asked questions investors asked restaurant executives at the ICR Conference in Orlando this week has been the election question. Did sales and traffic improve after the election in November?

In general, the answer was no, if there was one. But Cheryl Bachelder, the CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc., suggested on Wednesday that, indeed, consumers released their wallets once the election was over.

She noted that consumer confidence in November and December spiked, and that translated into sales. “We haven’t seen that kind of confidence in a long time,” Bachelder said.

“There are two levels of confidence,” she added. “There’s the ‘Oh my God that nasty election cycle is over.’ There was relief that no matter what you thought about the outcome, people would stop watching TV and go out and resume their normal lives.

“We saw that in our traffic and [same store sales]. People resumed eating out more often.”

Indeed, Popeyes this week reported 3 percent domestic same-store sales growth in the fourth quarter, much better than the 1.5 percent growth in the third quarter.

There was a school of thought in 2016 that the election was a major force impacting industry sales.

Americans on both sides of the aisle were consumed by the election. Ratings on the major news networks were up, and people were glued to their televisions, watching debates. They were also fearful of the outcome, regardless of whether they favored Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

Consumer confidence numbers certainly pointed to at least an emotional sense of relief at the end of the election season. In theory, that should have resulted in improved sales numbers.

But evidence is mixed, at best. Same-store sales rose 0.3 percent in November, according to the MillerPulse index, the best in seven months, but they fell 1.3 percent that month according to Black Box Intelligence. Many executives have dismissed suggestions that the election would help same-store sales.

Still, it’s conceivable to imagine some boost in sales at the end of the year, at the very least because it ends the uncertainty.

Jonathan Maze, Nation’s Restaurant News senior financial editor, does not directly own stock or interest in a restaurant company.

Contact Jonathan Maze at jonathan.maze@penton.com

Follow him on Twitter at @jonathanmaze

Chicken campout: Chick-fil-a enthusiasts spend 24 hours in tents for free food

Topix - Wed, 2017-01-11 20:46

About 50 tents that popped up in the parking lot of West Michigan's first Chick-fil-a restaurant this morning. Together, they will spend 24 hours braving the elements and taking part in DJ-led games and activities outside the restaurant.

Categories: Today's Food News

Punch Bowl Social set to accelerate growth

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2017-01-11 19:20

Punch Bowl Social has been deliberate about growth since its first location opened in 2012. The company opened one unit that year, one unit the next year, and then two each in 2014, 2015 and 2016. 

But that will all change in 2017.

Now with eight locations, Punch Bowl Social plans to add six units this year as it works to expand its high-volume “eatertainment” concept to more cities.

“It’s going to be a big growth year,” the chain’s founder, Robert Thompson, told Nation’s Restaurant News this week. “We set up our infrastructure system. We think we’re best in class. We think this is the perfect opportunity to be dominant in class.”

Thompson referred to an opportunity in which developers give favorable deals in a bid to generate traffic, while customers eager for an experience populate the chain’s locations.

More customers are shopping online, draining traffic at many traditional retailers. So many developers are turning to restaurants to generate traffic.

“Too many people are buying blue jeans online,” Thompson said. “But you can’t buy a food and entertainment experience online.” 

Punch Bowl Social builds large-scale restaurants of more than 20,000 square feet. In the current retail environment, in which customers are buying more goods online rather than at department stores, landlords are more eager for concepts like Punch Bowl Social to anchor their developments.

And Punch Bowl Social has a group of customers, many of them younger Millennials, that developers fall all over themselves to attract. The result: They do much to help the chain open locations. That’s important for a brand whose build-out costs top $5 million.

“We’re getting phenomenal real estate deals,” Thompson said. “Landlords are finding we’re beneficial to their merchant plan.

“Developers covet Millennials. And we can bring tens of thousands. We’re not going to do 4:30 dinners for gray hairs.”

Thompson, an award-winning restaurateur, created the concept in Denver, in 2010, with the plan to bring better food and cocktails to a food-and-games space traditionally focused more on the entertainment — which is often the more profitable side of the business.

“To me, it was glaring,” he said. “For me it was an easy lift to bring a culinary discipline to the eatertainment business.” 

Most of the chain’s sales come from food and beverage — 89 percent, Thompson said. And he noted that customers originally come for the games but return for the food and drink.

Photo: Punch Bowl Social

“Most people come to Punch Bowl Social to eat and drink,” he said, calling the games a “hook” to get people in the door.

“People are not going to bowl three times a week,” Thompson said. “But they might have a snack or a drink three times a week.”

This has helped generate high volumes. The company’s new Minneapolis location is on track to do more than $11 million in its first year, although Thompson acknowledged that pace settles down.

And make no mistake: Thompson loves the space.

“How many restaurants are there where a customer walks in when they’re not hungry?” he said. “A customer can walk into a Punch Bowl Social when they’re not hungry and 30 minutes later they figure out they need something to eat.”

To be sure, opening that many units too fast can be a risk. But Thompson said evidence suggests his concept can make this step safely.

For one thing, many of the chain’s units had strong years in 2016, and Punch Bowl Social’s first location, in Denver, had its best year ever.

Additionally, one of the biggest names in the space, Dave & Buster’s Entertainment Inc., also had a great year in 2016. 

It’s also not an easy space to break into.

“There’s a big barrier to entry,” Thompson said. “You need serious development capital to get into the space.”

And then Thompson goes back to the real estate question. He said the company is picking out strong sites, which on their own can help generate sales and traffic. And the deals landlords are providing to get a Punch Bowl Social into their development are enticing.

“If you pick the right real estate, you can put a rope in a square and put a keg of Coors Light in the middle and make $1 million,” Thompson said. “As long as we continue to execute on our real estate, we don’t feel we’re a flash in the pan.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at jonathan.maze@penton.com

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

 

Buick back for the big game

AutoNews - Wed, 2017-01-11 18:41
Buick, General Motors' fastest-growing U.S. brand in 2016, plans to advertise in the Super Bowl for a second consecutive year as it prepares to introduce three more new vehicles.
Categories: Latest News

Coming this spring: Dessert at Chipotle?

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2017-01-11 18:01

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. might spring dessert on its customers.

The Denver-based burrito chain, looking to recover from what it acknowledged was the worst year in its 23-year history, could put a dessert on the menu as soon as this spring.

Speaking at the ICR Conference in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, Chipotle chief marketing officer Mark Crumpacker told investors that the company has a dessert product it likes, and that would have a “minimal impact on operations.” 

“We may introduce this into restaurants in the spring,” Crumpacker said. “It only has one ingredient not already found in the restaurants. It’s easy to prepare. It’s delicious.”

Such a move would be rare for Chipotle, which prides itself on a customizable menu that lets customers order a wide range of offerings with the same ingredients. However, the chain is looking at new avenues in a bid to recover sales lost in 2016 following a foodborne illness outbreak. 

Chipotle said Tuesday that preliminary same-store sales fell 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter, but improved to a 14.7-percent increase in December, when it lapped a 30-percent decline a year ago.

“2016 was indeed a challenging year for us,” Chipotle CEO Steve Ells said at the conference. “It was the most challenging in our 23-year history.”

Chipotle detailed several strategies at ICR that it said could help improve sales and restore the profitable economic model that made it the envy of the restaurant industry and inspired the creation of hundreds of fast-casual concepts.

Dessert was only a small part of that, and Crumpacker said investors “shouldn’t expect us to begin adding a series of menu items” to recoup sales. But he said Chipotle is planning the largest ad campaign in its history, in April. It is also working to target lapsed customers who have yet to become frequent users of the brand again.

Chipotle is also aiming to boost digital capabilities such as online ordering and mobile payment. 

Another strategy is fundraisers. The company hopes that more fundraisers will bring in new customers to the chain. CFO Jack Hartung said that 40 percent of customers who come into Chipotle for a fundraiser hadn’t been to the chain in six months. 

Ells himself discussed improvements in customer service.

Last month, he suggested that Chipotle’s customer service was slipping, and that he was “not satisfied with the quality of experience” at some restaurants.

On Tuesday, Ells laid much of the blame for those problems on Chipotle’s famed Restaurateur program, in which high-performing employees could rise through the ranks, earning the coveted title and higher salaries.

Ells said that the program evolved into a “complex, time consuming process” that “didn’t result in better guest experience.”

He said the program had 27 different measures, most of which had nothing to do with the customer or operations.

“When teams focused on becoming a Restaurateur, they lost their focus on the customer,” Ells said. 

He also said that the company’s tools designed to improve its people culture underwent revisions over the years that were based on “abstract and esoteric concepts.”

“That left restaurant teams little or no time for basic things like training and customer service,” Ells said.

For instance, he said every crew member would interview each candidate for a job, which would require applicants be pulled off the line, and that applicants had to return to the restaurant multiple times.

As a result, he said the company had to review 17 candidates for every open position.

“That caused us to lose many good candidates,” Ells said.

Chipotle has streamlined its interview process and is focusing on training workers well. Ells also said the company’s Restaurateur status is now based on five measures, three of which deal with the customer experience inside restaurants.

“It’s made a big difference,” Ells said. “Many [locations] are already operating at a Restaurateur level.” 

Contact Jonathan Maze at jonathan.maze@penton.com

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

Analyst sees later peak, but 'limited upside' for auto sales

AutoNews - Wed, 2017-01-11 17:03
Automakers should begin preparing for a market downturn even as new-vehicle sales rise to 18 million units by 2018, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy said.
Categories: Latest News