How many young people have moved to quit their jobs and open a small store?
In the imagination, this is a light and beautiful way to survive under the heavy pressure of 996. Compared to restaurants, bookstores, bed and breakfasts or cafes, opening a milk tea store often becomes the first choice of entrepreneurial whites – low investment, low threshold, no technical barriers, just join an existing brand, you can solve most operational problems with a single click.
The reality is that this type of fantasy has long been captured by a huge scam. Many operators in joining some seemingly formal milk tea brands, encountered layers of traps, only to realize that they were set into an investment deadlock. In those who claim that “less than 100,000 to open a milk tea store” behind the scam, cooped up is a family to “set to join” as a bait for the investment company.
Today’s story comes from a submission by reader Wang Qi (a pseudonym). He was once a scammer who cut leeks by selling entrepreneurial dreams.
Accurate fraud in the era of big data
My first job after graduation was as a salesman in a fast recruiting company.
The so-called “fast recruiting”, that is, “fast investment to join The “fast recruiting”, that is, “fast investment franchise”. This type of company casually registered a restaurant brand, after a simple package, for customers to weave a nebulous entrepreneurial dream, they can earn their franchise fees. The one I was with had more than a dozen projects involving milk tea drinks, fried chicken and burgers, hot pot and barbecue, etc.
This is a kind of precision fraud in the era of big data. Its specific process goes like this.
Step 1: Wholesale customer information.
Many people who want to start a business will search online for information on joining. Most of their search results in the forefront are not the official websites of big brands, but some phishing sites that pay high advertising fees to search engines. Once they left the phone, address and other personal information, those sites will have the entrepreneurial needs of the precise data to 50-200 yuan a price to sell to fast recruiting companies.
Step 2: Three phone calls.
The second step is the work of our sales department. After getting the customer information, we should make at least three phone calls: the first phone call to introduce the project to the customer, issue the information to arouse interest: the second phone call is responsible for solving the problems arising from the customer after reading the information, and analyze the local market situation of the customer, and invite the customer to come to the company for a field trip; the third phone call to the customer to arrange the time for the visit, and urge the customer to buy a ticket to the company as soon as possible.
The third step: inspection, signing.
During the inspection phase, customers will visit several sample stores. The company will hire a large number of TOs to create the illusion of a hot business effect when customers come over to visit.
Step 4: training.
Once the customer has paid the joining fee, they are the fish on the board, at the mercy of the slaughter. After signing, they will be sent to the training base to learn the technology. Training can be learned in three days, there is not much technical content. Training teachers are also amateur masters, the company chose them, not because they are excellent cooks, but because they have the ability to sell, to get customers to buy more and more expensive equipment and materials.
These affable trainers quickly build trust with customers through hands-on, one-on-one instruction. Customers don’t know what they’re doing and tend to take the teacher’s recommendations at face value. Those equipment and materials are produced by the company through the OEM factory, affixed to the trademark, was packaged as a supply of franchisees “brand core materials”, the price than the market The same material is three or five times more expensive than the market. This inadvertently greatly increased the difficulty of the customer’s return.
The fifth step: after-sales; to be exact, there is no after-sales.
This model is only for the money pit will inevitably produce after-sales problems. The company’s solution is to cut off the contact between the customer and the sales after joining, that is, unilaterally blacked out, after-sales service is completely handed over to the customer department a few girls responsible for wiring. They have sweet voices, apologize all the time, and don’t hang up the phone voluntarily, but they just don’t solve the problem.
If a customer comes to the company to ask for a refund, the legal department will receive them hospitably, serve tea and water, and then smile and tell them: you have no use to sue us, according to the contract, we promised to fulfill all the obligations, technology, site selection, materials and equipment, all the necessary, but does not promise profit. Back a million steps, even if you win after a lot of hard work, we can only refund you 30% of the cost, because the contract is written clearly, technology transfer accounted for 70% of the franchise fee, you store are opened up, the technology must have learned. Everything is in accordance with the law.
Step 6: Register the new brand and repeat the above process.
Entrepreneurial cash flow would have been less, in the franchise fee, equipment, material costs have been scraped layer after layer, and finally in order to save money can only choose a very poor location of the storefront.
The vast majority of franchises last less than a year, and our brand iterations are even faster. In order to avoid disputes, we abandoned the old brand every few months, the new brand to start a comeback.
The lure of 6%
In my fifth month on the job, I felt compassion for the first time.
The temperature was extremely low and snow was falling from the sky. I stepped out of my car with the heater on and met a middle-aged woman with a suitcase in front of the company, and the more I saw, the more familiar I looked. At the moment of eye contact, she recognized me, “Manager Wang”. I also recognized that she was a customer from Xuchang, Henan Province, who had signed a contract two months before.
She grabbed my hand, said she signed up to pay more than 100,000 franchise fees to open a milk tea store. The company claimed that it would help her choose a location for the store in the local area, but it turned out that she only chose a few random storefronts on the same city in XX, which were either too remote or too expensive. After more than two months of tossing and turning, the milk tea store did not open up, her husband was also anxiously ill. So, she took the train to the company to return the money, but also blamed me how to pull her black.
At that time, I trembled inside. Before that time, I was only responsible for making phone calls to convince customers and did not know the exact details of the company’s entire business. I hadn’t yet learned about all the things the company had sent us to brag about, such as “site selection packages,” “big data information,” and “big data information”, “internal sharing of property stores I was at a loss for words.
I was at a loss for words and took her to the company meeting room. The manager said, “It’s okay, I’ll handle it, you don’t have to worry about it, feel free to go back to the phone.
I don’t know about the follow-up. Anyway, the refund is never possible, this is the purpose of the company.
Do to the tenth month, due to outstanding performance, I was listed as a manager candidate. In order to be promoted, I emptied my mind of distractions and started making desperate phone calls to clients.
After relentless efforts, I caught an interested man from Shandong Province from a long list.
“…… I’ll tell you about it, our franchise fee is 60,000 for a single store and 100,000 for an agent. The franchise fee includes the basic use of all the equipment, you only need to pay a rent money on it. Store our company to help you find, the most cost-effective. “
“I have looked in the past two days, there is no suitable place. “
“Brother Li, this you can rest assured. Our company has cooperation with internal sources, according to the satellite positioning system, combined with the United States x takeout heat map for big data analysis comparison, to help you choose the most suitable store. The form of rent payment by the company to help you negotiate, you can deposit one to pay three, by the company as a guarantee. “
“What about the decoration? “
“We generally use the ‘light decoration heavy decoration’, posting posters, playing a bar, put a few small tables on the line. This is designed by the company to help you ……”
After a skilled tactical offensive, Shandong brother expressed a strong interest in joining. The next day, I dialed a second phone call and found that the other party still had doubts.
“Hello, Manager Wang. I information read, quite good, but I have no experience, I do not know if I can do a good job. “
“You can rest assured about that. We are now planning to develop the first brand image store in your local area, the company strongly support, to ensure that business is good. If the first store does not do well, will anyone else join us? “
“Then how can I get the spot? “
“I took a look at the company’s customer reception schedule. These two days are full, you can come the day after tomorrow. You book your ticket first, send it to me, and I’ll help you freeze the local market first. “
Three days later, the couple from Shandong on the other end of the phone came to our company with their less than one-year-old child in their arms. I received them together with the business manager. The man was simple and unpretentious, and the woman seemed to have little idea. According to them, the man originally worked in Guangdong, but his mother was very sick and the child was still small, so the couple wanted to return home to open a small store. They saw on the Internet to open a milk tea store can earn money, they stepped into my list.
Business manager warmly received them, to ensure that the company will vigorously support the future, to ensure that they make a lot of money, said the couple was delighted, decided on the spot more than 60,000 single-store franchise into 100,000 agents monopoly franchise. But they do not have enough money, they called around on the spot to borrow money. Business manager and I always accompany them, until the financial are off work, and with the collection of POSE machines have been waiting for 10 o’clock at night, to make up to 5,000 short of each other, winked at each other and gave a discount. They thankfully paid the money.
After paying the money, the couple left with a beautiful vision and asked me where there was a cheap hotel near the company. I said, across the street is the company’s cooperative hotel, not expensive, a night of one hundred and fifty-six dollars. The man asked, there is no cheaper. I checked and said there was a hotel 500 meters away, 70 yuan a night. The man smiled nervously and said, “This is fine, this is good.
For a moment, I felt uneasy and said, “I’ll take you there. The man said thank you repeatedly, please.
I knew that he would not be able to open this store, and would definitely lose money.
In a long time of investment work, I thought at first, only the lower quality of culture of foreign workers more “good cheat”. They work outside all year round, a long time, a little savings, they want to return to the place near their hometown to invest tens of thousands of dollars to open a small store. For this type of customer, just tell him that you do not have to worry about anything, after joining, the company will support you. You just have to work a little harder, hands-on, accumulate experience, and later can open branches. In front of the temptation, many people will easily deliver the trust.
But in addition to these customers, there are also young people in their thirties – highly educated, with a stable job and a good income – who want to open a store as a side business. This part of the customer is theoretically not easy to be cheated, but the temptation of high returns, coupled with the fact that they have their own jobs to do and want to save money, often can not hold.
I guess they must have had this image in their mind before signing up: on their weekend off, they sleep until they wake up, drive to their store, sit in the corner and drink milk tea made by the staff, and leisurely watch the queue of customers and the ever-increasing take-out orders.
Such a beautiful fantasy makes them pay the money obediently.
There is another kind of people who have a successful career, 40 or 50 years old, worth tens of millions of dollars, constantly looking for investment targets. Theoretically, such people are experienced in many battles, it is impossible to be cheated by our investment managers who are not involved in the world, or even necessarily went to college. But the truth is, such people are often the big fish. They may take out hundreds of thousands of dollars to join and spend millions to open a store.
When we meet such customers, we do not talk about the details, how to decorate, hire a few people, how to deal with the leftover ingredients every day, such trivial things they are not interested in the slightest. What we want to do is to give them an analysis of the bright future of the restaurant industry, with the CCTV report of the rising curve of restaurant consumption endorsement, so that they hurry to take the whole city, or even the whole province of the brand agent, in order to have greater development in the future. As long as the willingness to lay bait, the big fish can also be hooked.
If you were to ask me, do these franchisees have anything in common. No, they come from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and identities, and different experiences and financial resources.
If I had to find one, it would be about the commonality of human nature. We are planning to join the return is much higher than the return of the various types of financial products and investment projects on the market. Former Finance Minister Lou Jiwei once said that the annual return of more than 6% return on investment is a scam. And the human heart is difficult to resist is precisely the return of more than 6%.
Scammers’ war of inside volume
In the eleventh month of employment, I became the department manager and taught my experience to the group members without reservation. As a manager, I was allowed to get a two percent commission for the entire team.
After a few months, the staff told me that customers were consulting more and more other brands in the same industry, comparing their goods with each other, and were not in a hurry to make a decision. In other words, they are not so good to cheat. I rushed to report this situation to the leadership, the company’s senior management also attaches great importance to this issue.
It was 2018, and fast recruiting companies blossomed overnight, with as many as a hundred in a third-tier city like ours. After the competition intensified, our ranking in the search engine advertising also gradually backward, customer resources shrink, the company fell into an unprecedented crisis.
After discussion, the company’s senior management decided to switch to a different style of play and seek a breakthrough by participating in food and beverage franchise exhibitions.
At the 2018 Shanghai Spring Franchise Show, the company brought a few of its more successful brands to the show. We frantically called our clients and invited them to the show. With the endorsement of the venue and the hot atmosphere of the crowded venue, the signing rate of customers was very high.
After we tasted the sweetness, we ran around the country, participated in Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and many other places to join the exhibition. Unfortunately, the good times did not last long, it did not take long for peers to follow, who are not stupid and fooled more customers than we did.
In 2019, I was promoted to the director, leading three departments, calling madly every day to rush performance. In our industry, performance is dignity. No matter how tired, the end of the month recognition meeting, the company boss to the heavy tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of cash into your hands, you will feel that everything is worth it. I was in the company for a few years, saw an employee earning more than 500,000 a month at most.
2019 is the year to join the investment community of the herd. This year, celebrity endorsements became the new growth point. At that time, the right to use the portrait of a second-tier star was more than 200,000 a year, and a first-tier star 300,000 or 500,000. We would sign directly with the star’s agency or agent, and some stars might not even know what they were endorsing. I roughly counted that there are nearly ten such brands endorsed by Zhou X Lun. Many restaurants in our city malls have celebrity mannequins erected in front of them.
At the same time, the pattern of franchising has also undergone a geographical change. Northern franchising companies no longer receive inspection customers, but cooperate with southern companies (mainly in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai). The main investment in the North, the main operation in the South, the two sides to negotiate a good share, the franchise into the assembly line.
In the second half of 2019, Yang, a first-tier star, took a company in Hangzhou to court with a lawsuit for infringement of portrait rights, claiming 1 million and winning the case. After this battle, some companies took out the star’s portrait on their promotional materials and signed up netizens instead.
Competition remains fierce, some franchising companies have invested huge amounts of money in advertising, hanging up well-known brands, such as Ken x Kee, Dex, a x point of franchise advertising, with “this well-known brand is pushing the sub-brand ” as a label to attract customers. And in fact, the unknown brands do not have the slightest relationship with those well-known brands.
In addition to this, they will spend a lot of money to invite stars to the scene to create momentum, the investment manager invited customers to the company on the day of the meeting to sign, but also with the stars can take pictures. At the same time, they will put more than ten seconds advertisement in a provincial TV station. Through the three endorsements of TV stations, celebrities and well-known brand sub-brands, customers naturally flocked to the company.
Before this year, I resigned from the company because I couldn’t stand the condemnation of my conscience.
In April, a heavy news on the microblogging hot search: Ma X Li endorsement of a franchise brand fraud 700 million. According to the Shanghai police, this is the first case of false advertising restaurant franchise fraud uncovered in China. The whole industry was shaken by this, and the franchising companies have been shut down for rectification.
But who knows, they will not resurrect it?