Communication is tops among tech trends
In the franchise world, it’s all about keeping owners excited and engaged, and the hive mind can help.
While robotics and artificial intelligence garner headlines, technological advances in the franchise world have vastly improved the most human function: Communication.
Technology is used differently by franchises across sectors, but one tech tie that binds is its utility in keeping lines of communication open, and enhancing them, between and among franchisees and owners.
This can be accomplished in a number of ways, and has been for quite some time via telephone and, more recently, email. But in-house platforms like Slack and those offered via services like FranConnect have made communication more immediate and efficient, without the internal cost of programming, for instance, internal message boards.
Off the island
Traditionally, franchisees were trained and left on an island of sorts. Advances in communications technology have helped franchisees build bridges to both corporate offices and their peers and helps promote the sense of belonging to a larger team.
Say a professional-services franchisee has a question or wants feedback on a particular challenge. Gone are the days of waiting for a voicemail or message to be returned. Intra-office services such as Slack, which can be downloaded to phones, laptops and desktops, now allow both the home office and franchisee peers to be pinged simultaneously and immediately, allowing for almost real-time responses and suggestions. This makes the entire franchise more cohesive and less monolithic.
And sexier technologies play an even larger role in the retail franchise sector. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help with inventory tracking and even help clerks make personal suggestions based on the customer’s store-browsing and purchase history. Inventorying, customer-interaction and human-resources management technologies are also expanding in the franchise food sphere. Look at the new ordering kiosks in McDonald’s, for instance, or the table-top payment options in casual dining franchises such as Chili’s or Applebee’s.
But the use of technology to actually bring franchise personnel together at a more human level is, perhaps paradoxically, the highest use.
The medium carries the message
Interconnectedness between franchisors and franchisees also allows for constant reminders of why the franchisee got into the business in the first place. When franchisors, franchisees and employees log into any number of available social platforms these days, the franchise mission and philosophy get more daily eyeballs than ever before. These avenues of connectivity help promote company values and constantly show a value proposition and speed of response. In today’s 24/7 business cycle immediacy is paramount, and that’s key to keeping your owners happy.
Connectivity has always been there, but never in such an immediate form. Engaged owners are more content owners and the more validated they feel, the faster your franchise system will grow.
Granted, not everyone across franchise systems, be they owners or bosses at corporate, buys into these available technologies.
But they fail to do so at their own risk, and might find themselves indeed alone on an island.
Jason Leverant is COO and president of AtWork Group, an award-winning and nationally known staffing franchise. As COO, he keeps abreast of technological trends across industries and ensures AtWork maximizes technology and leverages its use to promote efficiencies and improve productivity. Leverant recently spoke at Staffing World® 2017 about ‘Robotics and Humans at Work.’ Knoxville-based AtWork has grown to be cited as one of Staffing Industry Analysts’ top U.S. staffing firms.