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Why Every Franchise Should Invest in Technology. Now.

While COVID-19 has temporarily closed the doors for many franchise brands, industry executives share how technology can still put brands front and center for consumers.

When the COVID-19 crisis first started to cause panic, the reaction many brands had was the same: shut down spending. Of course, during times like these, budgets are top of mind and businesses need to make the decisions that will enable them to come out stronger on the other side of the pandemic. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all spending is negative.

For example, G-FORCE, a parking lot striping franchise exclusively for veterans, made the decision to continue investing in technology during this time. While the brand initially shut down digital ads, founder and president Jack Child ultimately decided to turn them back on.

“We had paused our franchise recruitment efforts when this first hit, but it dawned on me when I got that first screen time report on my phone just how much people are sitting at home looking at the internet,” said Child. “So, we turned on our ads again. We’ve actually received two very promising leads that may convert to become franchisees. It goes to show that people are coming to the realization that there’s an end to this. While I don’t know what the ‘new normal’ will look like, I do know that we’ll make it to the other side.”

Since that other side does exist — even though what it will look like is uncertain — Child believes that now is the time to prepare for the next wave of business. 

“I think it’s important to not shrink from what you’re doing if you’re in a position to be able to do so. While lead flow might be down, there are clicks. People are online and looking,” Child said. “If nothing else, trying to get back to functioning as normally as possible is important psychologically as well. We want to be able to come out on the other side of this with as much groundwork laid for the work that will be there when folks start to spend.”

In addition to investing in technology, Child is using this time during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that all aspects of the business are ready for consumer spending on the other side. That means moving forward with all types of marketing initiatives.

“I put together a checklist of initiatives that we can be doing that are often overlooked, and there are a lot of little things that can be done,” Child said. “It’s more guerilla marketing-centric — things like picking up the phone and letter writing. I’ve purposefully stayed away from email marketing; I’m doing my part not to fill inboxes. You have to be careful about how you use technology.”

Child isn’t the only franchise executive who recommends making changes and investments right now.

Justin Waltz, vice president of operations for Big Blue Swim School, said, “We now have the opportunity to take our strategic plan and tear it up so that every element of the business has to fight its way back in. Now is the time to look at the business itself, determine what the core elements are and ask, ‘How do we get better?’”