How Technology Has Made Franchising Easier for Everyone In recent years, franchise ownership has skyrocketed in correlation with the explosion of tech improvements across a wide spectrum of industries and business functions.
- Technology has transformed franchising, enabling more semi-absentee ownership and less labor-intensive operational tasks.
- Franchise owners can now streamline employee management and optimize service routes, significantly cutting costs and improving profitability.
- Advanced marketing, sales tools and strategic decision-making capabilities provide franchises with a competitive advantage through national-scale tech resources.
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As a business model, franchising has always benefitted from contemporary technological advances. In recent years, franchise ownership has skyrocketed in correlation with the explosion of tech improvements across a wide spectrum of industries and business functions.
The largest change over the last few years? Technology has leveraged time efficiency, which in turn, allows for scalability of the business and time flexibility for the franchise owner, allowing more business models to be semi-absentee, meaning the franchise owner can be part-time.
Historically, franchising has been a very owner-operator-centric business, meaning a full-time commitment from the owner. Depending on the business model, this can still be the case, but technology has allowed for a variety of improvements to time-consuming but necessary tasks for most service-based franchises. Now, the franchise owner doesn't necessarily have to be an expert in every facet of the business because technology has streamlined certain processes that used to be very labor-intensive. Most importantly, a franchise owner is only paying for their small proportionate share of a large, nationally scaled tech stack with which local competitors could not possibly compete.
Let's consider several key areas where technology has transformed franchise ownership.
1. Employee management
Retaining valuable employees is key to ensuring your business is being properly run and represented. In terms of employee management, consider some of the more mundane tasks that historically had to be done by hand: payroll, scheduling, onboarding paperwork, etc. Now, by using software designed for these very processes, the time commitment for each has fallen dramatically as well as the need to learn how to do these tasks manually. This eliminates hiring hourly employees for mundane tasks and frees up the owner's time while reducing costs. In my franchise, our scheduling software was so good it eliminated dozens of hours of time and empowered employees at a cost of only $30 per month.
2. Optimizing profitability through efficiencies in routine repeatable services
As your customer base changes, how do you stay efficient? Let's look at a tool we all use frequently: the GPS on our phone. Imagine you're following a route on your GPS when an accident happens 15 miles up the road. What happens? Are you forced to maintain your course and wait it out? No, if a new route becomes more optimal, your phone updates. Technology like this optimizes your time and efficiency with hardly any decision-making on your end. There are many examples of similar technologies helping franchise owners become more efficient. For example, a home cleaning brand has AI for generating the optimal route for their cleaning crews, reducing drive times and increasing profitability for every hour worked.
3. Customer acquisition strategies: revenue
When considering revenue streams, business owners are confronted with how to develop effective marketing. For franchises, marketing is extremely targeted because the franchisor has invested in market research on a national scale. Dollars spent are more efficient because there is less mystery in what will work for your specific franchise customer base.
Once you've captured the customer with effective marketing, automation and optimized CRM software create a positive customer journey. As an example, think about the last time you scheduled a hair appointment. Upon making the appointment, you may have received a confirmation text. A few days before the appointment, you may have gotten a text reminding you of the appointment and asking you to send back "Y" or a simple character to confirm you will be there. Upon your response, you receive an immediate message welcoming you to the studio. Even after the appointment occurs you receive a text thanking you, you are provided a digital receipt, and asked about scheduling a future appointment. Think about how much heavy lifting this automated communication has taken off of the hair salon.
In addition to the marketing and customer journey tools mentioned above, additional technology can now be leveraged to meet very specific customer needs. For example, let's consider "visualizers." Interested in buying a couch? Getting a new pair of glasses? Possibly renovating a space in your home? Now, there are visualizers that can use a picture or video to produce a rendering of a product in your space.
Another common example lies in at-home service visits from a professional team (think plumbing, roofing, painting, etc). When a representative comes to your home to provide an estimate, everything from the appointment scheduling to the quote you receive is documented. Consider receiving a sales presentation during this visit from the representative. During the presentation, the software can track how long the salesperson stays on each slide, the speed of progression through the presentation, whether they got the sale or didn't get the sale and more. This is all reported to the franchisor, which can in turn track this data and make the process more effective for your sales team.
5. Strategic decision-making
When you think about making large-scale business decisions, it's vital to have financial data and historical reporting. In a franchise, dashboards, analytics and general ledgers are standardized. Due to these standardized reports, there are benchmarks and for any given line item that can be compared against other franchisees so you can manage every part of your business.
Suppose you need to make site selection real estate choices for your storefront, maybe you need to understand customer habits and use psychographic reporting, or maybe you're expanding and need to understand the detailed logistics of what an expansion process looks like. The level of transparency across multiple franchises allows for real-time data to be collected and used by the franchisees giving them advantages when making business-altering decisions as well as small-scale optimization decisions.
Ultimately, there's no question that franchising has been drastically improved due to technological advances. Considering vital business functions like employee management, profitability optimization, customer acquisition strategies, sales processes, strategic decision-making and more, technology has paved the way for individuals to become business owners with fewer and fewer roadblocks in a way that could never be accomplished as a stand-alone business.