When I started in franchising faxes and beepers were all the rage. Franchise brands opened regional offices just to be able to properly communicate with, train and support their franchisees. Having a computer based spreadsheet that could be shared with corporate before we knew of AOL, Google or a myriad of other services was a really big deal at the time.
Oh how far we have come!
The tech space moves so fast that watching for new services and tools is important as there may be solutions that solve problems or make you more efficient and could lead to greater success. But you are busy running your business and may not have a lot of time to search them out, so networking with your fellow franchisees and business owners outside of your brand may help speed that process.
First let me point out that generally the support teams of franchise brands are often the first line of defense when it comes to staying on top of the best technology. They will watch for what makes sense globally in their organizations and may bring new tech forward from time to time. But keep in mind that for new roll outs they need to think about how it will impact the entire organization, not just you. While a particular service or hardware may be what you need, it may not be a fit for every franchisee and for that reason they may not make it part of their system.
The support team may also see issues in terms of roll out time, bandwidth required or cost. If you are picking a service or hardware just for your business I would suggest running it past your franchisor support team in case they have already evaluated it and could have perspectives that could save you money, time and frustration.
As I write this I am sitting in a beach side café on an island in the Caribbean having coffee and looking at the ocean. I have a franchise consulting call here soon and am receiving multiple candidate investigation updates via text and voicemail.
That would never have happened in my early years of franchising. Well maybe the island part, but not the working part. Twenty years ago I would have gotten on a plane hoping that everything would be in one piece when I got back. I would have pretended to be separated from my business but it would have always been in the back of my mind. Now when I travel I can be available for anything that needs immediate attention.
That connectivity is one of the most essential tech tools available to business owners. Cell plans now go International, including data hotspots that work in hundreds of countries.
Through those data hotspots while travelling or cell at home, you can access communication services like WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom. Video or voice conferencing can be a powerful tool when working from a distance. For many franchise owners now that means they can better manage their teams as they spread out their empire over multiple cities or states. Their team members almost always have their cell phones within easy reach and the days of $3,000 a month long distance phone bills are long gone.
Communication services now enable you to be almost anywhere, almost any time and communicate almost as well as in person.
But how do you watch over what is happening in your operations without being there?
“The Internet of things”, all of those connected devices, is how…
From your cellphone you can tap into devices like video cameras, thermostats and locks on doors to name just a few. You can make some or all of those devices available to your managers to run their stores better. You can also give your corporate office team access or control. Now everything in even the most remote store is at your fingertips.
There are now services that, via installed cameras and other tech, will monitor your stores 24/7. They can identify when particular tasks are not being completed and will call to coach your staff on what needs to be addressed. They also can help with ordering to make sure you always have the products you need in stock as fast as possible.
Marketing tech is another critical category and can be tailored to your needs. Social media offers great tools to build relationships and market to customers. In some cases, older tools like text may even be an outstanding customer communication tool.
Find simple and effective tools that help you communicate with your team and customers, not those that tie up your time and money.
All of these tools have made franchise empire building more approachable than we could have imagined 20 years ago.
What is your success story? Let’s go find it!
George Knauf is a highly sought after, trusted advisor to many of the top franchise ownership groups in the world. With over 25 years of experience in both start-up and mature business franchise operations he is uniquely qualified to advise individuals that have dreamed of Building their own empires. Whether you have an existing portfolio or searching for your first franchise, he can help you to pursue your dreams. Contact the Franchising USA Expert, George’s Hotline: 703-424-2980.