6 min read

Episode 86: Busting the Business Plateau

Ask April Porter

When a franchisee signs on the dotted line, they are usually excited for all the tasks lined up for their grand opening. For good reasons too, this is their dream coming to fruition!

The first few months are glorious with steady fast growth each month. Eventually, the growth slows down and the business starts to plateau. At this point, the franchisee has a few options on how to overcome and "bust the business plateau."

In this episode April shares how to do just that, and find steady growth again.

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Prefer to read what we talked about in the episode? Read below!

Today we are talking about busting the business plateau. Now this is something that happens in every business across the board. But of course, we're the Infinite Franchisee Show. So we're going to narrow this down and talk about it as it relates to franchisees. When a franchisee first signs on that dotted line or that franchise agreement, you are so excited to get started, you are ready to dive in and do the things to get you as close to opening and taking on customers as fast as possible. And usually, your franchisor is going to have an onboarding system. And that onboarding system is going to include information and support in selecting the right location, possibly getting your insurance setup, doing all of the things that you need to do as it leads up to actually opening your doors, you know, getting your signage during the build out, possibly a pre-open marketing campaign that you'll be doing. So at this stage of the game, you are excited, you are working, you are happy to work extra hours, right? You're happy to work in the evenings, because it's your baby, it's your dream, and you're making it come to fruition. And then you open those doors. And guess what? Most of the time, everything works really well in the beginning. Because the franchisor has what's called a proven model. And they've done this a few times before. So the formula that they're giving you in the beginning generates leads, generates customers, and it takes you to a feeling of really steady growth because you're going from nothing you're going from zero. So when you go from zero to one customer, man, that is exciting, right? When you go from one to 10? “Oh my gosh, this is working. It's amazing”. So, as this growth pattern happened organically and in alignment with the model, it feels really good and it feels really fast. 

At some point, this newness is gonna wear off a little bit and things will start to plateau. And as that plateau happens doubt inevitably creeps in, which is okay, “Well, this was going really fast”. It's kind of like Jiffy popcorn in the in the microwave, right? You're listening for the pops. And in the beginning, it's pop, pop, pop, pop pop up as you grow. And then suddenly, you're starting to notice the pops are slowing down. But at the beginning, you're like, are the pump slowing down? Or is that my imagination? Not quite sure. And as time moves on, you see that the pops are slowing down. So now you're leveling off. And that plateau was kind of setting in. And this is where it can get really iffy on the decision making. What do you do when you hit a plateau? You have a few choices, you can do everything you've been doing, you can say “I'm going to do exactly what I've been doing and have faith that it's going to work. Consistency pays off, and so I'm just gonna keep doing what I'm doing”. That's option number one. 

Option number two is like “Oh my gosh, I don't like this slowdown at all, I am going to double my efforts, and so  if I was hitting the doing guerilla marketing tactics, if I was set, if I was hanging up 100 door hangers a week on people's front doors, now I'm going to hang up 200 door hangers a week on people's front doors. So that's an option. Now when we double our efforts in that manner, many times, we're also doubling the amount of time that we are now spending working in our business. The third option is, “Okay, great, we got over the first part of the hump. And now that we've had a plateau, this must be the next stage of business”. And with every stage of business, you need to start using more advanced strategies, tapping into a higher level of knowledge, even in the topics you've already been working in. So if you've been doing marketing and your marketing got you here, and now it's starting to plateau, it's a sign that maybe you need to change your marketing. Now when I say change, I don't mean throw everything you were doing out the window. But what I do mean is that there is always a spectrum of strategy that you're working with. And if we hit a plateau, it's because we're using strategy. When we hit a plateau, it often means that our strategies were not at the far end of the spectrum. They’re somewhere at the lower end or in the middle. And it means that there's room to optimize that strategy to think differently about it. Now, this is difficult for business owners, because all of our thoughts and our perspectives are based upon the experiences that we've had up until this point in time, up until this moment in our lives, as we have a new or different experience, it may change our perspective and change our way of looking at something. And that's what we mean when we say, moving up the spectrum of strategies is that you have to learn how to view the business differently, you have to learn how to view your customer more intimately, you have to learn how to view your options more exploratory. So this is why people get stuck in the plateau, instead of turning to invest in themselves, and really explore the change in perspective that they need to have the up level in mindset, the increase in knowledge and experience. And instead of seeking that out, they feel like “oh, my gosh, the marketing got stale”. What we're doing, everybody realizes now what we're doing, so we need to change it, instead of offering first month free. Now we're going to offer the first two months free, and see if that brings in more more customers. Or, “gosh, the people that we keep hiring, keep leaving, they're not sticking around very long”. And that's why we're not growing. That's why we plateaued. So what we need to do is pay people more, pay people more, but hire the same kind of people train them the same way, treat them the same, but just pay them more.

So we look to find that one thing we think, is the solution. And we want to throw out what we were doing and grasp on to something outside of us to change in order to fix the situation. And the reality is, you're just guessing, you're just guessing at that point. The true pathway to change is not outside of you, it is within you. As you evolve, then that's when your true potential is achieved. And did you think there was no evolution involved in becoming a business owner? Do you believe that the business owners that you look up to the ones that are running multimillion dollar companies have the same daily calendar? You do? Do they think about the same things that you're thinking about throughout the day? Do they have the same worries and concerns? Are they delegating in the same fashion as you are? Are they strategizing in the same way? I think most of us would agree that they're not those business owners that you're looking up to whether it's Oprah or Mark Cuban or Jennifer Lopez, who I think is a business mogul. Well, she is who regardless of who it is you look up to when you think about the way that they operate versus the way that you're operating, you can see that there is a chasm. And there's nothing special about them as people perhaps they had opportunities that you haven't had yet. But what they have done is that they have learned how to think differently every step along the way they have surrounded themselves with people who know more than they do. They are not satisfied with being the big fish in a small pond. They were never looking to be the top franchisee of the brand. They were looking to be the lowest level business owner in a room full of multimillion slash billionaires that they could learn from to leapfrog to the next level of success. And they do have the opportunity to surround themselves with those types of people now, but that's not where they started. They started right where you are. They started with the first step in their dream and trying to do the best job they could do at that piece of the puzzle.

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