Why Franchisors Must Embrace Technology to See Growth
Why staying on the cutting edge of tech is so important in the franchise industry.
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Technology is a pervasive part of our lives and businesses. But that's not a new concept — we've been adapting to technology every day for decades now. What's important to note these days is the importance of staying on the cutting edge of tech as competition in the franchise industry continues to grow more than ever before.
The franchise model not only creates the necessity for the franchisor to stay in-the-know on current trends and advancements but also to keep its franchisees up to date as well. This is because, at the end of the day, staying on top of technology attracts both franchisees and customers. In the current world in which we live, franchisors are responsible to their franchisees and customers to find new tech as well as to maintain, update and fortify existing systems.
Franchisors must keep a finger on the pulse—and disseminate accordingly
The focus of technology for a franchisor should be adding value and making business easier for the customer and the franchisee. To do this, franchisors must keep up with advancements in the tech sphere, adopt relevant developments and then pass them through to the franchisee and/or customers.
Every part of franchise operations has a technological element, from training software and point-of-sale systems to social media, mobile apps and digital payment platforms. Figuring out which emerging operational tech is going to succeed and is worth investing in is where it can get tricky. However, franchisees rely on their franchisor to seek out and weed out these opportunities on a regular basis. Industry conferences, continuous research and curiosity about how other industries are engaging new tech are all ways franchise organizations can learn and grow in this space. A robust IT department headed up by a Chief Technology Officer can be key in passing along new information and training franchisees as well.
Franchisors have to determine the usefulness of different technologies available and discern what is going to be effective from top to bottom of the organization in order to use it competitively.
Using technology to attract franchisees
When potential investors meet with a franchisor, a major discussion topic should include what technology the system is currently using and what its goals are for the next three to five years. Franchisors who make it a priority to guide unit owners in developing their building design with flexibility for future technology are going to keep a competitive edge when recruiting franchisees as well. In my experience at the educational child care franchise system, Kiddie Academy, many of our franchisees have a tech background and know what to look for and expect when it comes to selecting a business opportunity that knows what's what when it comes to the latest developments. It's also smart for franchisors to focus on scalability when it comes to selecting technology that will attract franchisees so as to offer solutions that are cost-effective and add value across the board.
Another reason to stay current on trends to recruit franchisees? Younger generations rely on technology more than any other generation and have high expectations for its use. If your technology isn't updated, you may be missing out on some great young entrepreneurs. Overall, if franchisees feel like the technology in place helps them market to customers, make sales and run a successful business, everyone benefits.
Using technology to attract customers
The goal of using technology in franchising is to solve needs for both franchisees and for customers. Because the customer experience is so important to earning and keeping business, it's important to make sure that the technology in place is simple to use and effective.
As a child care franchisor, my company is constantly assessing the needs in our customer experience that aren't being addressed in our industry — one of which is allowing self-scheduling for center tours. With self-scheduling, we can allow parents to schedule a tour of a Kiddie Academy location quickly and easily, bypassing many manual steps that used to occur in the process and would potentially throw up barriers for prospective customers. Now, busy parents can go onto our website and secure a time for a tour (and reschedule or cancel a tour) instantaneously.
Other technologies that consumers have come to expect include mobile payment options, relevant email marketing tactics, classroom cameras, robust mobile apps and an engaging social media presence. At the end of the day, parents and customers in general are looking for ways companies are using technology that will make their lives easier and the purchasing process quicker.
Tech maintenance and security are of the utmost importance
Once you have sophisticated technology for your organization in place, maintaining the systems and keeping customer data safe is key to continued success. Network security issues and the rise of system failures means that businesses must protect information and data as securely as possible. It's best to spend time and money upfront to head off a failure or breach and to have backup plans in place in advance. Some industries, like child care, have more sensitive information on file than others and should be managed appropriately. Without constant vigilance, workflow and trust can be negatively impacted for customers and franchisees alike.
Technological innovation is important to all industries today, especially the franchise industry, as it helps attract both franchise investors and customers to the business. Make sure the tech your company focuses on is worth the effort and that the time will be available to protect and maintain it.
How will you know if your new tech is a success? If your usage and satisfaction are high. Make technology seamless (to the point where it becomes so integrated, it virtually disappears) for your company and its stakeholders, and your business will reap the benefits.