It seems like hardly a day goes by where I don’t hear about some sort of new technological development. From self-driving cars, to medical breakthroughs, to augmented reality cell phone apps, technology is becoming more and more interwoven in our everyday lives. But, for most businesses, technology can be both a blessing and a curse. This often rings true for franchise systems as well. So, in this week’s blog post, I’m covering two ways that technology can both help and disrupt your franchise system.
How Technology Can Help Your Franchise System
There is little doubt that technology can play a huge role in helping you build and grow your franchise system. If you are like me, technology is a key piece of every aspect of your business. In my opinion, the top two ways technology can help your franchise system are:
- Technology can streamline processes and procedures.
- Technology can play a vital role in disseminating information to customers and employees.
So, let’s dive a little deeper into each of these technological benefits.
1. Technology can streamline processes and procedures.
One of the greatest benefits to using technology in your franchise system is the ability to streamline processes and procedures. Franchise systems should be taking full advantage of this opportunity and, in my experience, a lot of them are.
One example of great technological innovation that has increased over the years is the presence of user interfaces that allow customers to schedule appointments online. Now, customers are able to go online to schedule, cancel, or change appointments. From my perspective, this is a great way to improve the overall customer experience because customers don’t have to deal with the normal hassles of calling during normal business hours, being put on hold, and getting transferred until someone is available to assist them. In just a few clicks, customers have an appointment and the business is able to save money. I personally love the ease and convenience of online scheduling systems and there are dozens of other examples of technological integrations that allow customers to solve their own problems without waiting for an employee to assist them.
Just remember that when it comes to technology, more isn’t always better. As a franchisor, you definitely don’t want to create an environment where customers feel like everything is being handled by a computer. Integrating technology into your business doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” approach. I generally find that the best franchise systems have created even handed policies and procedures that allow technology to increase efficiency while providing customers with a personal touch.
2. Technology can play a vital role in disseminating information to customers and employees.
Nowadays, technology has become a vital component to our everyday communication. For this reason, another key way that I see technology helping franchise systems is through the dissemination of information to both customers and employees.
The dissemination of information to customers is invaluable to franchise systems. For example, email marketing campaigns can be a great way to directly let your customer base know about the latest products, deals, or market trends. Also, your website is a great way to reach out to a broader consumer base than was allowed by traditional advertising methods. It goes without saying that technology is playing, and will most likely continue to play, a huge role in business marketing, too. From Facebook, to Twitter, Instagram, or even Snapchat, franchise systems have consistently developed ways to keep up with social media marketing trends and further target their consumers.
Likewise, technology can play just as big of a role in disseminating information to your franchisees. From information on new campaigns and products, to policy changes and training manuals, technology allows franchise systems an easy and cost efficient way to keep employees informed. Overall, the more knowledgeable that your employees are, the better they can serve your customer base. As many of you know, customer satisfaction plays a huge role in growing your franchise system.
How Technology Can Disrupt Your Franchise System
For all of the benefits of technology, there are also drawbacks. The top two technological disruptions I see in the franchise space are:
- Technology can disrupt your franchise system by being overly complicated.
- Technology can disrupt your franchise system when franchisors don’t put a social media policy in place.
So, let’s tackle each of these concepts.
1. Technology can disrupt your franchise system by being overly complicated.
When technology works well, we tend to love it. When technology doesn’t work well, we tend to get frustrated. In that vein, technology that is not user friendly is not helpful to your business. Likewise, technology that is overly complicated and burdensome can be a real disruption to your franchise system.
One of the biggest places I see this disruption is with Point of Sale (“POS”) systems. If your POS system is so complicated that customers get increasingly frustrated with how long it takes to complete a sale or training new employees takes a long time, your franchise system is going to have serious problems. It can also be problematic if you are using several different software products that aren’t compatible with each other because this makes employees manually enter information from one system to the other.
Luckily, as technology continues to progress, there are more and more companies that are working to solve the problem of overcomplicated technology. There is an increasing demand for technology to be more user friendly across the board, so keep this in mind as your franchise system grows.
2. Technology can disrupt your franchise system when franchisors don’t put a social media policy in place.
The second problem I see with technology in the franchise space has to do with social media. As I stated earlier, technology can help your franchise system because social media marketing is an effective and affordable marketing option. However, successful social media marketing in the franchise space requires that franchisors have policies in place to regulate what franchisees are able to do with social media.
As a franchisor, you want to protect the brand you’ve built. We now live in a digital age where any marketing gaffe can go viral and tarnish the image of your franchise. The key to minimizing this risk is to have a social media policy for your franchisees that details exactly what your social media expectations are and the repercussions for violations of the policy.
As a small business owner myself, I really understand the impact technology can have on a business. I have benefited greatly through the use of technology in my own business. I hope that this article assists you in evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of using technology in your franchise system. As always, if you found this blog post helpful, I invite you to check out our blog and podcast, or visit our Contact Us page to get in touch and figure out how our office can help you achieve you franchise goals.