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Technology is an ubiquitous part of our lives and business. But that’s not a new concept – we’ve been adapting to technology every day for decades. What is important to note these days is how important it is to stay on the cutting edge of technology as competition in the franchise industry continues to grow more than ever.
The franchise model not only creates the need for the franchisor to keep abreast of current trends and developments, but also to keep its franchisees informed. This is because, ultimately, both franchisees and customers are attracted by keeping up to date with the technology. In today’s world we live in, franchisors are responsible to their franchisees and customers to find new technology and maintain, update and enhance existing systems.
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Franchisors need to monitor and distribute accordingly
The focus of technology for a franchisor is to add value and make things easier for the customer and the franchisee. To do this, franchisors must keep pace with technical advancements, adopt relevant developments and then pass them on to the franchisee and/or customers.
Every part of franchise business has a technology element, from training software and POS systems to social media, mobile apps and digital payment platforms. Figuring out which emerging operational technology is going to succeed and is worth investing in is where things can get tricky. Franchisees, however, rely on their franchisor to track down and root out these opportunities on a regular basis. Industry conferences, ongoing research, and curiosity about how other industries are adopting new technology are all ways franchise organizations can learn and grow in this space. A robust IT department led by a Chief Technology Officer can also be key in passing on new information and educating franchisees.
Franchisors must determine the usefulness of various available technologies and discern what will be effective from the top to the bottom of the organization in order to use it competitively.
Using technology to attract franchisees
When potential investors meet with a franchisor, a major topic of conversation should be what technology the system is currently using and what the goals are for the next three to five years. Franchisors who make it a priority to guide unit owners in developing their building design with flexibility for future technology will also maintain a competitive advantage in recruiting franchisees. In my experience with the educational childcare franchise system, Kiddie Academy, many of our franchisees have a technical background and know what to look for and what to expect when it comes to selecting a business opportunity who know what’s going on when it concerns the latest developments. It’s also smart for franchisors to focus on scalability when it comes to selecting technology that will attract franchisees to provide solutions that are cost-effective and add value across the board.
Another reason to keep up with trends in recruiting franchisees? Younger generations depend on technology more than any other generation and have high expectations for its use. If your technology is not updated, you may be missing out on some great young entrepreneurs. Overall, everyone benefits when franchisees feel that the technology in place helps them reach customers, make sales, and run a successful business.
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Using technology to attract customers
The goal of using technology in franchising is to solve the needs of both franchisees and customers. Because the customer experience is so important to earning and retaining customers, it is important to ensure that the technology used is easy to use and effective.
As a child care franchisor, my company is constantly assessing needs in our customer experience that are not being addressed in our industry – one of which is allowing self-scheduling for center tours. With self-scheduling, we can enable parents to quickly and easily schedule a tour of a Kiddie Academy location, bypassing many of the manual steps that used to be in the process and potentially put up barriers for potential customers. Busy parents can now go to our website and book a tour time (and reschedule or cancel a tour).
Other technologies consumers have come to expect include mobile payment options, relevant email marketing tactics, classroom cameras, robust mobile apps, and an engaging social media presence. Ultimately, parents and customers in general are looking for ways businesses use technology to make their lives easier and speed up the buying process.
Technical maintenance and security are of the utmost importance
Once you have state-of-the-art technology for your organization, maintaining the systems and keeping customer data secure is key to continued success. Network security concerns and the increase in system failures mean that businesses need to protect information and data as securely as possible. It’s best to spend time and money in advance to avoid a breakdown or breach and to have backup plans in advance. Some industries, such as childcare, have more sensitive information on file than others and need to be managed appropriately. Without constant vigilance, workflow and trust can be negatively impacted for both customers and franchisees.
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Technological innovation is important to all industries today, especially the franchise industry, as it attracts both franchise investors and customers to the business. Make sure the technology your business focuses on is worthwhile and that time is available to protect and maintain it.
How do you know if your new technology is a success? If your usage and satisfaction are high. Make technology seamless (to the point where it becomes so integrated that it virtually disappears) for your business and its stakeholders, and your business will reap the benefits.