As businesses benefit from technological advances, there are many ways franchises can capitalize on new innovations.
Developments in low-priced technology such as mobile solutions, point-of-sale systems, social media and apps have revolutionized the way companies do business; however, many franchises have been slow to adopt digital solutions that can help spur efficiency and improve operations.
There are many ways franchises can use technology to drive success. 1851 Franchise Magazine connected with Patrick Bobrukiewicz, director of business development for restaurant management solution system Rosnet, and David Finberg, digital marketing expert and founder of Peaks Digital Marketing, for insights on ways franchises can learn from the ways in which non-franchise brands are utilizing technology.
1. Use social media to humanize your business.
According to Finberg, franchises can use social media to shine a spotlight on individual franchisees and employees to make themselves more relatable while revealing the humans behind the brands.
“Personal stories are very compelling to people,” Finberg said. “Many smaller, non-franchise brands do a great job of personalizing themselves by leveraging social media. For example, a franchise that has 50 locations could set up a standard Facebook page for each one and then help the individual franchisees record a personal video to post on their pages.”
Finberg says franchises can also post weekly segments featuring the people who work with the company and behind-the-scenes videos showcasing individual locations or departments.
2. Consistency is key.
Because it can be difficult for franchises to achieve conformity across a large system of franchisees, it is often easier for non-franchise brands to ensure technology, programs and systems are compatible and that they work together. However, a custom-built application program interface (API) hub can help franchises integrate programs and improve efficiency.
“Typically, one of the largest challenges to a franchise operation is getting the franchisees to comply,” Bobrukiewicz said. “Company-operated concepts have more decisive control over systems, versions, platforms, applications, facilities, people management, recipes, operational execution and more.”
3. Embrace omnichannel marketing.
With new technology at their fingertips, consumers are engaging with companies through a variety of platforms, including websites, mobile devices, apps and social media. To reach as many customers as possible and provide a seamless and integrated experience across all channels and devices, franchises should adopt an omnichannel approach.
“As technology changes, people are engaging with brands across a multitude of mediums,” Finberg said. “Companies, including franchises with many different locations, must continually evolve to make sure every element of the brand works together, from websites to social media to blogs to search engine optimization.”
By leveraging multiple channels, franchises can reach more consumers and potential customers along with increasing retention and return by creating an integrated experience.
4. Always innovate.
According to Bobrukiewicz, franchises can be slow to adopt new technology, systems and platforms due to concerns about reactions from franchisees, lengthy vetting processes and implementation challenges.
“When you control your own destiny, you can make the decisions to move at your own pace,” Bobrukiewicz said. “You don’t have to worry about the response from the franchisees or what it will do to their bottom line and getting it past a franchise counsel. You can decide to do something and move on that technology or platform”
Despite the obstacles, franchises have a lot to gain from innovations such as fleet management apps, improved customer loyalty programs and digital signboards as well as operational streamlining provided by cloud-based tools and efficiencies in training and back-end operations like customer retention and billing that are already transforming how many non-franchise brands do business.
5. Get the most value out of your marketing budget.
As people spend an increasing amount of time on social media, traditional platforms like television are garnering less attention. Although many large franchises spend the majority of their marketing budgets on traditional platforms, Finberg said they could get more value through social media advertising.
“Although television used to be the best way to reach an audience, that is rapidly changing with social media,” Finberg said. “Social media advertising is efficient because you can hyper-target specific segments of the market, reaching people more likely to take action for less money.”