Franchise industry execs weigh in on the best ways to stay connected while on the road
Work travel can be a grueling but necessary aspect to a job in any industry, but particularly in franchising. Franchise executives spend a lot of time on the road, visiting franchisees, meeting with prospective candidates, scoping out real estate, attending trade shows and more. As any seasoned business traveler knows, it can be difficult to stay on top of day-to-day work when you’re not in the office and don’t have the luxury of putting up an out-of-office auto response.
For Kevin Derella, Executive Director of Franchise Development at print and promotional marketing company Safeguard Business Systems, traveling accounts for about 50 percent of his workweek. Based in Palm Beach, Florida, Derella regularly travels to Safeguard’s headquarters in Dallas, in addition to visiting with current and prospective distributors and attending several industry conferences per year. In between meetings and catching flights, Derella seeks out pockets of time to catch up on work whenever he can.
“To be perfectly honest, flights used to be three hours of down time, but now I look at it as three solid hours to get work done,” said Derella. “I’ve found that using my iPad is much easier in the tight quarters on an airplane.”
Brian Jaeger, Vice President at No Limit Agency, a PR, content and digital agency, travels to roughly 12 client conferences a year, along with dozens of in-person meetings and industry conventions. He offers a more strategic approach for taking advantage of time in the air.
“Put aside writing projects or creative brainstorming tasks for airplane time. Air travel is incredible for focus, but don't bank on the in-flight wifi. Make sure you have work that you can complete without being connected to the internet,” Jaeger said.
Derella agrees, adding that he always uses a personal hotspot to connect when working remotely to ensure a strong signal at all times.
Jacomo Hakim, CEO and Founder of BookATailor.com, a high-end custom suit franchise, suggests keeping an extra charger, backup iPhone and charger and a laptop available at all times. He travels one to two times per month to troubleshoot issues and train his seven franchise owners on new technology and marketing initiatives and forces himself to stay on top of email while traveling.
“Make sure you stay on top of your emails – don’t let them stack up to the point where you become overwhelmed,” said Hakim.
In addition to email, improvements in technology and new apps and programs make staying connected easier. “At BookATailor, we also run a lot of our business on What’s App, which you can access anywhere in the world,” said Hakim.
Derella and his team utilize Webex for online meetings with external parties and Skype for Business for internal video conferencing and instant messaging. Jaeger and No Limit Agency rely on the Google product suite to collaborate on documents and update in real time.
Being a road warrior can be tough, but planning ahead, maximizing down time and clear communication with the team at home can make all the difference.