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Finding the Right Franchise Technology on a Budget

To find the right technology, franchisors must first address any challenges and decide what best aligns with the needs and goals of the company.

In franchising, technology is essential for running things smoothly, making processes easier and giving customers a better experience. But for franchisors who have to stick to a budget, figuring out how to bring in new technology can be tricky. 1851 Franchise sat down with Greg Davis, CEO of Bigleaf Networks (a business that provides network optimization solutions to restaurant franchises and other brands), to discuss how franchisors can deal with the challenges that come up when looking for the right tech solutions.

Challenges in Implementing Technology

Franchisors face many challenges when they try to bring technology into their franchise systems. “The biggest challenge is scaled learning, especially in a large distributed environment with a high turnover workforce,” said Davis. That’s why it’s important to have a proper training plan in place to get new employees up and running as quickly as possible.

Another issue, according to Davis, is keeping the technology setup consistent in all franchise units.  Franchisors have to work hard to set up a tech system that not only works well across the board but is also compatible with what's already being used. This means choosing the right software and hardware and making sure it matches up with what the franchise is trying to achieve.

“Cost, training, compatibility and maintaining a consistent look and feel across the franchise are common challenges,” said Davis. 

Essential Technology Solutions for Franchises

Even with these challenges, there are some technology solutions that franchises really need regardless of budget. 

“Point of sale (POS) is at the top of the list,” noted David. POS systems can make transactions and managing inventory much easier for franchises. 

He also said that franchisors should prioritize “integrated  customer relationship management (CRM and marketing to market to customers from a local CRM system and from a unit perspective.” 

integrated customer relationship management (CRM) so their franchises can  market to customers from a unit perspective. This helps franchises keep in touch with customers locally and across all their locations, which boosts brand loyalty and creates more income. 

Using software for scheduling employees and other back office functions really helps to keep franchises running smoothly. It ensures they have the right number of staff and that everyone's working efficiently, no matter where they are. Other tech features that are crucial for helping franchises stay competitive are online engagement, delivery services and loyalty programs.

Aligning Technology with Franchise Needs and Goals

Franchisors need to be smart about how they invest in technology so that it fits the specific needs and goals of each franchise. Davis said that franchisors should think strategically and “understand the relationship between the availability of the applications driving the business and the resources available to deliver them.” 

Ease of use and integration with existing systems are also important concerns for adopting new tech solutions. “Be thoughtful with respect to the tech stack used to support the organization,” said Davis. “This includes thinking through all of the digital channels and bidirectional communication that the franchisee has between them and their customers, and making sure that the technology is compatible with the existing systems.” 

Cost-Effective Strategies for Technology Integration and Maintenance

When it comes to the integration and maintenance of technology on a large scale, Davis suggested leaning on cloud-based services. “Cloud-based solutions for POS, CRM, marketing, scheduling software, online ordering and delivery can provide economies in large numbers,” he explained.

It’s also important to work with vendors who will work with you to streamline distribution processes and costs. According to Davis, “Vendor partnerships with companies familiar with the deployment methodology for the particular franchisor are important for keeping costs under control.”

Finally, rather than letting each franchise location handle tech purchases on its own, Davis recommended using a central purchaser who can build a good relationship with the tech companies: “Centralized purchasing and having relationships between the tech providers and the franchisor can provide better cost economics and leverage over the technology.”

Even though finding the perfect technology for franchises can be tough, being smart about it and keeping an eye on the budget can make all the difference. If franchisors focus on what's really important, find ways to save money, and make sure the tech matches up with their franchise goals, they can make it work. With the right approach, they can navigate the tech world with ease and set their franchises up for long-term success and making more money.

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