Category

Franchise Technology

Top Franchisee Engagement Tools

By | Franchise Relationships, Franchise Technology, Senior Care
Franchisee Engagement Tools

Franchisee engagement is a term on everyone’s lips after the recent International Franchise Association (IFA) convention in Orlando. But, what does it truly mean?

Authentic franchisee engagement is about having your people truly feel like they are part of the organization. Not just on the piece of paper where they signed on the dotted line, but from deep inside of them.

But, it is easier said than done.

Below, are some tools and technology to help engage every person in your network.

Training

The first engagement touchpoint in the franchisee lifecycle is training. It starts with the road to opening, and then typically a live session at the Home Office. There are also sometimes certifications associated with the industry, such as a Certified Senior Advisor, for instance or franchisor staff may need to be trained as well. Many franchisors also find it worthwhile to pursue financial training such as Profit Mastery.

eLearning is also something that can be hugely helpful for ongoing training and even training around rollouts.

Providers

Program Rollout

Seasonal programs and rollouts are the bread and butter for franchisors. But finding a staff member who can do an effective rollout is like seeking out a unicorn.

Love it or hate it, e-mail is often the first go-to tool for franchisors to send out operations and marketing eBlasts. Measuring responses is a great way to determine engagement, when you are using the right tools.

On the other hand, franchisees “go numb” to communication when you bombard them with too many e-mails.

As a result, there are other ways to roll out programs, such as posting in the intranet, integrating in webinar and video communication and even adding in ratings system, for the brave among us. Having franchisees create their own articles on the intranet, or their own videos will go even further with the rest of the system.

Finally, to avoid one person in your office getting bogged down and overloaded with e-mail, you can invest in a ticketing system, with role-based responses.

Providers

Two-Way Support

We are in a collaborative world, nowadays. Today’s owners don’t want to sit back and passively receive information from Home Office. They want to connect back and forth. And, when you think about it, the franchisees wanting to roll up their sleeves and abandon the “employee mentality” is a positive thing.

At the heart of field support, is some of the following functions:

  • On-site training
  • Key Performance Indicator (KPI) review
  • Ongoing business coaching
  • Financial review
  • Field audit visits

Field Auditors have the hardest job in franchising, but the more two-way communication they have, the stronger the relationship will be.

Providers

Convention

The annual convention is the most fundamental investment any franchisor can make. There are the formal learning benefit, then the informal social benefits (which, if you are doing it right will be a highlight for everyone).

Generally, conventions are the glue that holds everyone together.

To level-up your event, include an app, or even add in a gamification element to it.

Providers

Collaboration

The evolutionary version of 1:1 communication, is a 1:many collaboration! Collaborating, by building projects together with franchisees will enhance engagement and grow trust.

Instead of creating things in the Home Office vacuum, and hoping they will stick, try to collaborate “on the fly” with franchisees using the latest tools.

Looking to have some fun while collaborating? You can also utilize crowdsourcing for an engaging and collaborative experience, have design contests with many designers, and get franchisees to vote.

You can connect with franchisees, regionally, or by a special interest group, via text, a form of communication up to 500x more powerful than e-mail.

Finally, you can create business plans collaboratively with franchisees, which has been shown to enhance engagement and ameliorate outcomes.

Providers

Last Word

Tools will never replace the human touch when it comes to franchisee engagement, but they do enhance the experience, and spark the imagination. We will be updating this article regularly, so come back soon to see our most recent recommendations.



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Franchise Martech Blueprint

By | Franchise Technology
Franchise Martech Blueprint

Franchising is a model that doesn’t quite fit well into a discretionary category, which makes franchise Martech decisions challenging. Take a look at the following attempts:

  • Q: Is it a small business? A: Kind of – the franchisees are often small businesses, and sometimes the franchisor itself is a small business. But at the same time, a franchise can have many employees, and many business needs.
  • Q: Is it like a multi-location corporation? A: In some ways, but an important distinction is that franchisees are not employees, so you get the benefit of the entrepreneurial drive, but getting things to work and the brand looking consistent can be like herding cats.
  • Q: Is it like an association of independent businesses? A: There is a connection among the owners, but they are not independent, since they share a brand and a process.

So – franchising is in a league of its own. And comparing it to other models, as you need to do sometimes when you are trying to purchase technology created for those outside of the franchising community, can be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Franchise Martech Blueprint

Making purchasing decisions in terms of Marketing creates another challenge. Since there is a continuum among how franchisors manage their businesses.

  • Centralized (Hard Franchise): In this model, the marketing and communications decisions are made centrally, with little input from the franchisees.
  • Decentralizd (Soft Franchise): Conversely, in this model,  the franchisees are instrumental in their own marketing happen.

Added to the two above, is a mixed approach, which attempts to have the best of both worlds. For example, a mixed model may have central content marketing, and decentralized events.

Franchise Martech Blueprint Visualized

Franchise Martech Blueprint

Legend

  • BMS: Brand Management System — this is a tool that helps franchisees build their own marketing materials online
  • Brand Guide/Portal: A guide, online or off, that outlines logo, type, message pillars and more
  • CMS: Content Management System — this is a system that allows someone to type in their own specialized content, within a template, typically creating a website or blog.
  • CRM: Customer Relationship Management — this is a database-based system of customers and prospects, used for communications
  • Graphic Design Tools: Tools to create graphics easily

Marketing and Technology Trends

As trends continue to evolve, franchisors have to keep up. Here are some trends to look out for as you build your blueprint:

  • Video: Both the polished and spontaneous sort of videos are becoming more relevant on social media and online in general.  Polished videos are great for a professional Marketing department, and spontaneous, local ones are best for local franchisees, with a branding guide.
  • Tools and Outsourcing: Over the years, Marketing teams and the associated contractors have been shrinking. Graphic Design Tools, and simple apps have slowly been replacing professionals. Additionally, as the online workplace gets more sophisticated, inexpensive contractors can be used for administrative, research and data entry jobs. Strategic work can also be done via professional talent communities. Using this strategy centrally is a best practice, at this time.
  • Chat: Although chat and SMS software has been around for a while, time-strapped consumers are asking for it more and more.  Chat is an element that can be done both centrally and in a decentralized way.  This helps communicate with both prospects and current customers, as a support tool.

Defining Your Technology Blueprint

When defining your technology blueprint, you want to think about your Marketing Mix, just as you would in any business. An added layer, is asking if you want to be centralized or decentralized. Each one has its own strengths and pitfalls.

  • Centralized: The advantage of this is a greater degree of brand consistency. However, if the franchisees are not engaged in the programs, they may be less likely to follow them. It can also lead to a “blame game” between franchisor and franchisee in terms of marketing effectiveness.
  • Decentralized: The advantage of this is it empowers the franchisees to have an entrepreneurial spirit. The downside is a lack of brand consistency, or even franchisees who do not participate in marketing their own businesses.

Cautionary Words

As you think through the blueprint, you may think it is quite complex, and it is. The name of today’s marketing game is to do more with less, and franchisors are feeling it as well. So, instead of having a great team full of experts, franchisors are looking for strong individual performers, who can wear many hats. Think of Prince, playing all of the instruments, rather than an orchestra. Although this creates challenges in terms of people growing within the organization, it is an economic reality.

Look to the Future

If you are looking for brand consistency tools to make your locations look the same across the nation and around the world, check our Brand Consistency tools including our Field Audit App.



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4 Reasons Why Usability Is the Most Important Factor in Franchise Technology

By | Franchise Technology
Why usability is important in franchise technology

Franchises across many verticals have made significant investments in franchise technology from point-of-sale systems to cloud computing. However, many times these investments fall short of their potential because franchisees, or even head office, do not use them. Franchisors then are on the hook for expensive annual agreements while the technology sits unused. One of the top reasons the investment is wasted? The lack of usability.

What is Usability?

According to Simple Usability A satisfied user…
• Achieves their goal
• Enjoys their experience
• Tells others
• Comes back again

Basically, if the franchisee were to use the franchise technology provided and actually return to it and use it again – multiple times, they are a satisfied user.

A usability expert would say that the ultimate application would not even need a manual. It would be a matter of pressing the start button, and the rest would be intuitive. Kind of like how simple it is to order your Friday night pizza online.

Unfortunately, many users blame themselves for not being able to use the franchise technology easily. But the truth is, it’s the software engineers and developers themselves who have it wrong if it is not intuitive for people to use.

So why is usability so important? Let’s find out more below.

1) We are All Multitasking

In a busy franchising environment such as a restaurant, health club or doggy daycare everyone is multitasking. Tasks need to remain simple so that when you are, for example, checking in a client and accepting payment, you can still be 100% with your customer. Being distracted and fiddling with technology when you should be engaging your client can have a negative impact on your business.

This is so important that some of your best franchisees will choose their customers over technology – after all, their customers are why their business is successful!

2) Mobile Rules

Have you ever gotten annoyed while trying to select that tiny type in a menu while using your mobile device to navigate a website?

It’s frustrating!

It’s enough to make many people exit and not return and is the reason why Google rates usability so highly in their Search Engine algorithm.

With so many things from audits to taking customer payments happening on mobile devices from the size of an iPad to phone screen, having a simplified, mobile responsive design to reduce “big thumb” syndrome is crucial to ensuring a satisfactory experience.

3) Not Usable = Lost Users

With the expansion of mobile devices and the online marketplace, the number of competitors for just about everything has exploded.

There are so many apps on the market that can solve your problem in one way or another. If your franchise technology isn’t simple to use, your franchisees (or their staff) will turn to something else. You then, as the Franchisor, will lose control of important data.

Losing control of data can not only slow the growth of your business by restricting what the information you have to make important decisions, you also will be unable to take advantage of big data applications since everything is not all in one place.

4) We Have No Time to Waste

It’s like Mario Karts out here – it’s an increasingly competitive world. You slip on a banana peel just in time to have to avoid a Koopa shell. You don’t have time to waste with software your franchisees will not use.

Wasting time on double-data entry or using a workflow that does not make sense is a waste of time, time that could be spent adding to the bottom line. And as we all know, time is money. Time is value.

Lawyers talk about “billable hours”. How many hours are actually adding to your bottom line, and how much of it is simply “busy work”?

Looking for something more usable?

FranchiseBlast is widely recognized as the most usable audit app available to Franchisees. Our workflows match those of the Franchise Business Consultant.

With a mobile-first design your franchisees will be able to easily use the application from whichever device they prefer. And with our simple design, they can give easily multitask between using the franchise technology and giving their customers and employees the attention they need.
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4 Ways to Use Technology to Manage Wage Increases

By | Franchise Technology

Franchisees Managing Wage IncreasesMinimum wage is going up across many regions across North America and around the world. While many businesses plan to simply pass those increased costs to the customers, according to polls, others are looking to get more efficient. While reducing the labor force can be an incredibly painful decision for any entrepreneur, we have thought of an alternative. Technology can be a way to increase efficiency with the labor that your franchisees already have while maintaining their profitability if implemented effectively.

1. Optimize Shifts

Use technology to spread the shifts effectively, ensuring that your franchisees are not overstaffed or understaffed at any given time. There are tools available that analyze millions of possible schedule scenarios before selecting the right one.  Instead of being a complicated task for a local manager, they have one less thing to do. Doing this at the head office level is also a great benefit for franchisees in terms of their investment in the brand.

2. Support Getting Back In the Business

For some franchisees, the wage increase means that the owner has to get more hands-on in the business themselves to keep their profit margins steady. This could be uncomfortable for those who have built a staffed business specifically because they want to have more time for things outside of work that they care about. If a franchisee has not been behind a counter or taken customer calls for a few years, this can be a big change. But, the difference is that the world has changed as well while they were away and it may give them a chance to get creative about their business.

To support them in this endeavor, you can automate some of the franchisee paperwork such as digitizing P&L collection, creating automatic polls or simplifying other processes. Also – as people are preferring asynchronous communication with shifting schedules, having “watch anytime” training or company updates is better than a live webinar.

3. Take Advantage of the Self-Serve and Mobile Revolution

Mobile has changed the way that people shop, eat and connect. For some concepts, customers may prefer to order themselves, as McDonalds has discovered or others may like a self-check-out option at the end of the meal, reducing one task for servers. As posted elsewhere, off-premise is one of the areas that is growing for restaurant, and on-demand apps such as UberEATS, DoorDash and are a big hit with the younger set. Offering your franchisees opportunities to reduce their costs using some of these self-serve options. Interestingly, many of these can happen from the customer’s own device.

4. Implement Benchmarks and Scorecards

Franchisees sometimes get the mentality attached to certain processes, or a “herd mentality” can take place, even if it is not based on evidence. One very promising trend we have seen is the greater prevalence of Unit Level Economics or EBITDA Departments. These teams look closely at the units, and what truly predicts a profitable business.  Creating benchmarks based on what is working, and what is not and regularly scoring your franchisees is a fantastic way to track progress, and provide value to your network.

Are You Ready?

Are you ready to start managing minimum wage increases proactively rather than reactively? Contact us to learn about how our scorecards are helping forward-thinking franchise systems around the world.



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