Starbucks. Pizza Hut. Popeye’s. Big brands are attracting your customers’ attention, making it difficult for your local franchise to gain dominant market share. Franchising depends heavily on consumers’ loyalty to established brands, so the expansion and survival of your franchise is under threat.
How can you gain a competitive edge? “Technological innovation is the differentiator here,” says Abigail Makhubele, business development manager – all sectors, Absa Business Banking. “Tech savvy brands that understand their target market and adapt their offering to suit the local consumer can gain an advantage.”
Here are three ways to leverage tech innovation in your franchise and pose some healthy competition:
1Increase payment convenience
Convenience, next to quality, is king. No one wants to stand in a long queue to pay for their items, only to be told you’re only accepting cash or your speed point machine continually declines their first attempt at purchasing from you.
“Tap and go functionality and payments is only one small example of ways that pioneering businesses are incorporating technology into their offerings, and ultimately making the lives of their customers easier,” notes Makhubele.
Consider the edge over the store next door when you enable quicker payment methods using NFC and scanning capabilities such as SnapScan. Your customers may be shopping the traditional way, but they’d still like modern convenience and a shorter shopping trip.
2Automate your processes
Imagine operating a grill that adjusts pressure during cooking to churn out ten pieces of chicken in minutes. Today, quick service restaurants are beginning to adopt back-of-house smart automation in with a wave of new equipment.
“Burgers don’t need to be flipped, neither does chicken and nor do light switches,” reports Franchise Times. “New automatic grills can form burger patties; no smashing required.”
You may not be able to afford a USD50 000 machine to cook your food, but front-of-house automation is a start. Screens or devices informing your customer’s order is ready instead of staff shouting out a number while they stand in a queue checking every five minutes if their food is ready, is a start.
3Close the gap and strengthen relations through personalisation
When your regulars can’t walk into your store or drive up to your drive-thru window, they still want to be able to say “the usual please” – even from their computer of phone screen at home.
“Personalised product experiences are hugely important for small businesses, as they’re known for their personal touch with customers,” notes Alex Chriss, chief product officer, Small Business Group at Intuit.
Related: How To Drive Customer Referrals
Wynand Smit, CEO at INOVO, emphasises the importance of customer individuality: “Our customers are heavily focused on being recognised as individuals – both socially and when they engage with businesses – yet we are often so focused on efficiency that we have almost lost our ability to understand and interact with our customers in a more human, personal way.”
That’s where apps come in. Every time a specific customer logs in, their previous purchases are given as first option, saving them the effort of going through your app to find their usual meal.
Develop Digital Marketing Competency In 3 Simple Steps
Conquering the digital revolution needn’t be daunting. Polish up your tech skills and watch your digital marketing prowess increase throughout your franchise.
As a franchisor, digital marketing may be proving to be a challenge due to the unique structuring of the business.
“The very nature of franchises is ‘structured’, however, when it comes to marketing, that structure often lacks,” says Marcela De Vivo, Founder and CEO of Gryffin Media.
Franchisors and franchisees often struggle to reach common ground when looking to achieve different marketing goals. While the franchisor needs to control the brand in its entirety, the franchisee wants to market their business using particular strategies suited to their location.
Research has found that smartphones are the biggest influencers of 82% of users when they make their in-store purchase decisions while. It’s for this reason that the importance of digital marketing for franchises has increased.
Here’s how to harness its power of influence, amplify foot traffic and solidify brand loyalty:
1. Recruit digital natives and early adopters
As much as you’re the leader of your franchise network, there are franchisees in your chain you could learn from. The global increase in millennial franchise owners means it is highly likely that you’ll be able to identify early digital adopters within your franchise network.
“The best people to learn from are those who have been in your shoes before,” says Matt Forman of the Franchise Centre at Griffith University.
“Encourage and support their efforts and use them as case studies to demonstrate to the rest of your franchisees the value of digital marketing, and how to do it right.”
2. Invest in training your team
“Each digital competency level requires more education and resources in order to integrate digital marketing with your physical stores,” says Forman. For this reason, regularly investing in continuous training for your team so as to ensure they keep abreast of any new and emerging trends.
Proactivity and adapting to the constantly evolving digital landscape led KFC to open a LinkedIn account for its founder and mascot Colonel Sanders. KFC’s out of the box tactic is a fresh approach to what has long been considered a B2B platform, under-utilised as a B2C platform.
3. Apply custom targeting techniques
The discovery of new and small businesses is being fuelled by Google searches, social media and online reviews, making these platforms a goldmine of invaluable tools.
Leveraging certain custom targeting techniques like easily searchable keywords and exposure on other reputable and high-traffic websites, gives your franchise’s digital marketing efforts a boost. This results in an effective campaign, favourable reviews and meaningful and lasting interactions with consumers “whether it’s a reply to a Facebook comment or a retweet,” says Entrepreneur’s Emily Conklin.
How To Hire Skilled Workers For Your Franchise
Your staff run your business – you just have to show them how. This is why employing the best people for the job is essential.
According to the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) 2017 Franchisor Survey, one of the main challenges facing franchisees is finding the right staff.
“Staffing your franchise can be one of the most challenging parts of running a successful business. Without a great team of employees, you cannot run your business effectively,” says Saxon Marsden-Huggins, founder of WebRover.
These three tips could help you find the best employees for your franchise outlet:
1. Don’t hire in haste
While you may be rearing to go and keen to fill gaps to speed up profitability, research your candidates thoroughly.
As the job applications keep flowing into your inbox, keep in mind that not all of them qualify for the positions available – it may even be a small percent who are actually viable candidates. This is why your hiring process should include:
- Taking the time to thoroughly screen CVs to develop a short list
- Creating a carefully crafted list of interview questions
- Setting aside adequate time for thorough interviews
- Getting to know the candidates through a second round of interviews to confirm your choice.
Giving the hiring process dedication and attention will ensure you get the cream of the crop, contributing to the long-term success of your franchise.
2. Demonstrate support in the workplace
While you can instil the necessary skills into new recruits, it’s difficult to train for culture. This is why choosing the right employees from the beginning will make the rest of your franchise management system will run more smoothly.
“The manner by which you run the franchise will influence employee perceptions of the brand as well,” says Hireology’s Erin Borgerson. “Your staff must become ambassadors of your franchise system to attract the target consumer market.”
The best way to do this is encouraging staff to give you their honest feedback. Your commitment to creating and upholding a positive culture will result in increased loyalty from your current staff and a superior pool of applicants.
3. Offer appealing incentives
When advancement opportunities are clearly communicated, staff is keen to hear how they can get there, as they have career goals of their own. Encouraging this ambition will draw good employees to your franchise.
“Helping employees understand the steps to advancement helps them to view their current job as an important part of a career with an upward path, not just a pay cheque for this week,” say financial reporting technology experts at Qvinci.
Performance bonuses and employee benefits incentivise staff’s efforts, therefore increasing their income alongside the profit of the business. “This serves to make employees a part of the business and not merely people ‘who work there’,” they explain.
3 Ways Communication Helps You Run Your Franchise Better
Managing your business as an independent owner may have been challenging at the beginning, but – as you’ve come to realise – the successful operation of a franchise network requires an extended set of skills.
“When it comes to a multi-location business such as a franchise, effective communication is vital,” says Dani Peleva, Managing Director at online marketing agency Local Fame. “So what happens when you’re struggling to connect with the franchise network you have in place?”
It may be time to upgrade your franchise management skills, because the success of your franchise network has a direct correlation to how you integrate feedback systems into your management processes.
Have a clear comprehension of the challenges your franchise encounters, keep an open chain of communication between yourself, franchisees and managers, and maintain regular interactions between everyone in the network. These are some of the most crucial aspects of successful franchise management:
1. Understand the challenges you face
A thorough understanding of your business requires dedication to regular and consistent groundwork for first-hand experience on how the day-to-day operations of the business are conducted.
“Seeing and talking to the people that make your business will help you understand the challenges that franchisees face and the systems they need to drive higher profitability and growth,” says Rosie Niblock, Marketing and Communications Manager at Proactive Marketing.
“That way you can work more effectively to make improvements to franchise management systems logically and within the financial grasp of all franchisees.”
2. Get personal through regular visits
You never want your franchises to feel neglected. It’ll demoralise them and possibly drop sales, profits and their ability to keep the business running as you intended. Maintaining regular contact and sharing as much information as possible – when you can – fosters strong relations with your franchisees.
Empowerment through information and communication makes a difference in the business and helps franchisees make decisions in favour of the business and to make sure that they all pull in the same direction in terms of customer satisfaction, says Alan van der Westhuizen, executive manager of new business sales at Fournews, a 20-year-old franchise holding company for News Café, Krispy Kreme, Moyo, Brooklyn Brothers, Smooch, Cafe Fino and Go! outlets.
Ensure your response to these concerns is swift. “If not discussed they could fester ad create undesirable rumours,” says Niblock.
3. Create events for network collaboration
One of the most important aspects of managing your franchise is meeting with all your franchisees, at least annually. “Franchise conventions are almost certainly the biggest tool when it comes to building profitable engagement,” says Peleva. “They’re one of the most important things to focus on when you’re considering how to lead your franchise network.” According to her, a successfully attended and executed convention will let you:
- Boost your network-wide productivity
- Hugely increase your profitability
- Drive passion for your brand
Communicating with your franchisees is the best way to identify problems, work towards solving them, and building a pleasant and fruitful relationship with your owners.
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