By Zoe Zorka

We all have ideas for innovative products or services all the time. The successful ones make it onto Shark Tank while the bad ones usually stay in our heads. (The ridiculous ones make it into the SkyMall catalog.)  My brother-in-law, for example, had a great idea that involved getting a patent on an idea he had to Velcro his remotes to the wall so that he never lost them. (This is also the same man who had to have my dad explain to him why he couldn’t build a basement just by “digging under his house.”)

 Photo courtesy of  Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

 Franchise businesses always need new and fresh ideas to entice customers and ensure repeat business. So how do you tell if your idea is worth innovating? Ask yourself some questions:

 Is a competitor already doing it? If your idea is to let customers grill their own steaks at a grill, but a competitor five miles away is doing the same thing, you might want to rethink that idea. However, if someone is doing it two states away, then you might just have an innovative idea worth pursuing.

Will the customers notice? Everyone who has been to Cracker Barrel knows that they have the little peg games on the table. (If you want to know how to win, email me.) You might have an idea to put trivia questions on a table tent at the tables in your restaurant, but unless you draw your customers’ attention towards them, then they will remain unnoticed.

Is it affordable? Clearly, you want to have some sort of return on investment. Putting a large grill in your restaurant might cost a bit up front, but in the end will probably end up making you more money. I once worked at a restaurant where the owner wanted to remove the parking lot and dig a shallow swimming pool so that we could have foam parties. Not only would this cost a lot, but the insurance premiums associated with such an activity would have probably gone through the roof. He settled with a few corn hole boards instead.

Even if you don’t have an idea right now, keep brainstorming! It’s also a great franchise marketing tool that you can use on social media. Ask your customers for ideas and turn it into a contest of sorts. Whoever comes up with the best (realistic) idea should get a gift certificate to your franchise business. And as always, check to make sure that your idea is legal. While adding marijuana plants to your franchise nursery business might seem like a great way to increase revenue, most states would still frown upon that. (But hey, you could always tell them its oregano for the steaks you’ll be grilling later.)  

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