The Franchise Industry is About People

The franchising industry has been part of my life for more than ten years. I am part of the leadership team at Any Lab Test Now, Chairwoman for the Southeast Franchise Forum and as part of the leadership committee for the Atlanta Chapter Women’s Franchise Network. Through these experiences, I’ve talked with thousands of people across all aspects of the industry. I’ve met some who are about to make the leap from owning a Mom and Pop shop to building a franchise system. I’ve met potential franchisees who dive full-force into business ownership and others who tiptoe into it trepidatiously. I’ve met vendors and leaders and coaches who each have a different perspective on what franchising is all about

For me, being part of the franchise industry is about knowing people.

I was asked the other day about advice that I might offer someone who is thinking about opening a franchise. My initial reaction was to lean on the tried-and-true responses: ask about the training, advertising costs, and growth potential. Be sure to talk with existing franchisees about their experience. Understand what will be involved in the opening process.

Having had time to think about it more, the real nugget of advice that I would offer anyone who is embarking on a journey in the franchising space is to start by focusing on people.

I’m not talking about enjoying nice, jovial interactions — although, those are certainly important too — I’m talking about examining the intention of certain decisions and actions to see if they are people-focused. Do they have everyone’s best interests in mind? For instance:

  • Has the system been selective about the franchisees that they bring in? Franchisors shouldn’t simply award a franchise to anybody who can afford it. They should be establishing an intentional culture of people who have a shared mission and interest in the brand.
  • Do people respect what it means to become a business owner? The decision to become a business owner can be daunting at times. Do established franchisees remember the stressful early days and offer support to one another? Does the business development team act with empathy and understanding? Does the leadership team create systems to support franchisees at all experience levels?
  • Are there systems in place to get feedback from the franchisees — and for the franchisor to provide feedback? Every franchisor will tell you that they listen to their business owners, but the question is “how” do they do this? Is there actually a thought-through mechanism in place to offer help and guidance? For instance, at ANY LAB TEST NOW, we have a Franchise Advisory Council that provides feedback on all new initiatives and a call center for on-going support. Also, if we know a franchisee will be directly impacted due to a change, we contact them to hear what they have to say about corporate decisions.
  • Is planning important? Whether you’re in the corporate office or actively running a franchise location, planning is critical because it reassures people and helps them trust one another and the company. So, if a franchisor is trying to make too many changes at one time or is relying on franchise sales to be able to invest in necessary systems to support existing franchisees or anything of that nature, it may be a sign that effective planning hasn’t been a priority.

Whether you’re interested in embracing the franchise business model for your business or you’re exploring the idea of becoming a franchise business owner, understand that there’s more to our industry than simple dollars and cents. Beyond the balance sheet, it’s about vision, team spirit, listening and proper planning — it’s about the people.

If you’re interested in learning more about Any Lab Test Now franchise ownership, connect with us today.

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Your Body’s Response to Stress

Shot of a young woman suffering from stress while using a computer at her work desk

Remember being a child? You’d stub your toe or bring home a bad grade on your report card, and it would feel like the end of the world – for about five minutes. Then, you’d race out the door to giggle with friends or fly on the swings or shoot hoops at the playground.

Back then, there were stressful moments, but more often than not, they were short-lived. Now that you are a grownup, however, you may find it more difficult to let go of stress. Stress may be staying with you, day after day and week after week. After all, many people struggle to simply balance day-to-day responsibilities. Then, if something more severe happens, such as becoming a long-term care giver or losing a job, it becomes nearly impossible to remove stress from your life.

Your Body and Stress

The feelings you have during short-term stress are healthy, natural physical responses. When your body encounters a stressful situation, it releases a steroid hormone called cortisol. This hormone triggers the “fight or flight” response that puts your body on high alert so that you can more effectively cope with the perceived threat. When this happens, you may feel your heart racing, tummy tighten, breath quicken or even a sudden burst of energy.

You feel these things because cortisol is telling your primary systems, like your breathing and circulatory systems, to accelerate. At the same time, it tells your secondary systems, like your reproductive and immune systems, to slow down, allowing all of your energy to shift towards coping with the threat.

Once the threat has passed, your cortisol levels should slowly subside and your systems should return to normal functioning.

Too Much Stress; Too Much Cortisol

But, what happens when the stressful situation(s) never ends? What happens when your body has so much cortisol coursing through it that it remains on high alert for long periods of time?

When that happens, your systems never reset themselves. Your body may over-tax your primary systems or not restore your secondary systems to normal functioning, leading to issues like:

  • High blood pressure
  • Digestive issues
  • Weight gain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Decreased libido
  • Reduced energy
  • Reduced immunity
  • Muscle weakness

If you’re feeling any of these symptoms for unexplained reasons, it could be that you’ve been battling stress for too long and your cortisol levels aren’t dropping as they should. Cortisol saliva tests or cortisol blood tests can both be used to quickly evaluate your cortisol levels so that you can find out if they are at an unhealthy level.

Coping with Stress

If you find that your cortisol levels are too high, it’s important to take steps to reduce your stress and begin restoring your body to its natural functioning. Of course, talking with your doctor will provide options that fit your health status and lifestyle, but these may include:

  • Exercising
  • Learning to slow down (Think yoga, meditation, massage)
  • Keeping a gratitude journal
  • Evaluating your priorities and taking steps to remove non-necessary commitments
  • Employing self-care practices
  • Embracing your creative side

Having some stress in your life is natural, but if you start to question the impact that stress is having on your overall health and well-being, it’s time to take back control. Walk in to your local Any Lab Test Now location to get the answers you need about your cortisol level. Once you know, you’ll have one less thing to stress over!

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Give Your Heart Some Love During Heart Health Month

Between work, social activities and taking care of a family, it may be easy to forget to take care of yourself.  However, it’s important to make sure your heart’s health is top-notch, especially if you’re the heart of the household.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Many of those at risk may not even realize there is a problem.  Since February is American Hearth Month, it serves as a reminder that there’s never a bad time to make sure your heart is in good condition and avoid being one of those people who is putting their health on the line.

Your Life, Your Heart, Your Choice:

While various heart problems may be inherited, many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices.  Having a poor diet, excessive alcohol use, smoking, stress and physical inactivity are all lifestyle choices that put people at a higher risk for heart disease.  These factors lead to high blood pressure, which thickens arteries and narrows blood vessels.  Obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, diabetes and other risk factors can also lead to high blood cholesterol levels, which can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries.  If that information doesn’t get you to change your habits, consider this: about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack every year.

Know the Warning Signs:

Chest discomfort and pain in your left arm aren’t the only warning signs that something is wrong with your heart.  Nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain in the throat or jaw could also be signs of trouble too.  Also, if you’ve developed an annoying cough that produces white or pink mucus, check with your doctor.  When the heart can’t keep up with the body’s demands, this causes blood to leak back into the lungs.  Another sign something is up could be if your legs and feet are swollen.  Blood can get backed up in the veins and cause bloating when the heart can’t pump fast enough.

Take a Test:

If you’re worried about your heart health, take just a couple of minutes to visit your nearest Any Lab Test Now location and see if everything is OK.  The Lipid Panel, which is just $49, includes tests to measure if a patient has abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.  The C-Reactive Protein Test measures the amount of protein in your blood that indicates inflammation.  The test will let you know if inflammation has damaged arteries, thus increasing the chances of a heart attack.  The Lipoprotein Particle Profile Test is the most advanced test available to predict heart disease risk.  Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol, LDL, is also known as the “bad cholesterol.”  High numbers of small, dense LDL particles can cause plaque buildup, and ultimately cardiovascular disease.  The Lipoprotein Particle Profile Test measures the particles directly.

American Heart Month is the perfect time to show your heart some love.  After all, it does so much for you!  Visit your local Any Lab Test Now to get started.

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