Making the Right Technology Investment to Keep Your Franchise Competitive
There’s a new saying making the rounds: “Every company is a technology company.” Technology now touches every aspect of your operations, but there are different levels of integration for every situation. Whether you’re looking to upgrade existing systems or implement entirely new technologies, there are a few particularly relevant solutions for franchisers in 2018: business intelligence solutions and systems integration.
Through technology, you have access to a much more thorough picture of your locations, their customers, and general business activities than was possible even ten years ago. Business intelligence solutions that gather data from various aspects of the franchise help you visualize and understand that picture better. One investment that’s showing powerful results is mobile technology, which can feed your data pipeline for business intelligence.
Let’s use the example of a commercial office cleaning franchise. The company implements a new mobile application that allows the sales staff to build instant quotes and get on-the-spot signature approval. This would historically take a week and multiple meetings to put together, but it is now finished in a matter of minutes at the customer’s convenience.
Once the client service begins, all the information on contracted work, future follow-up reports, job completion ratings, and more feed into your database from your app. This database feeds your analytics dashboard where you can see trends, opportunities, challenges and more with your process, staff and other constantly moving parts of your business.
Technology does more than give you faster, more accurate information. Consumers are looking for ease and speed in their experience with you as well. The customer portal of our sample mobile app allows building managers and office owners to input real-time, urgent needs and communicate with you faster. They can submit trouble tickets or customer service requests via the app by snapping a photo and interacting via a messenger with local staff. You might even consider adding a chatbot feature to automate certain questions and requests.
Once you have decided on the app solutions you’ll use, it’s time to look at wider systems integration. Chances are you’re running a broad spectrum of custom or plug-and-play technologies to gather information from every department. This year, prioritize functionality and efficiency by integrating all these data sources into one custom platform. A comprehensive approach allows for gaps in data in be filled and gives you the 360 degree, birds-eye view you are looking for.
This is a major advantage since not all of your data originates with the app. You have other useful sources of information: website metrics, loyalty program statistics, purchase histories, and marketing campaign results. Putting these in context with each other and app data builds a layered, in-depth model of business operations that can be used to identify and solve problems. Franchisees can see daily operations through their app dashboards but need a “big picture” view of operations. Developers use what is called APIs to create “bridges” for data to flow from marketing, sales, or even manufacturing programs through central dashboards. Reporting is as simple as exporting the desired data from the dash.
Additionally, sharing data throughout the entire company enables a better customer experience. When all information syncs back to home office enterprise resource planning (ERP), corporate employees have insight into a client’s full customer history and data profile. For our cleaning company, corporate might see that a client requests additional services before their quarterly meetings. Sales staff have an opportunity to proactively offer seasonal packages that more closely meet the client’s needs. Customized service is a proven way to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, and it’s accessible data that makes that possible.
These improved business insights can be tailored with customized dashboards that highlight company KPIs most relevant to you. Once these are set up, those sales or customer satisfaction KPIs can even be broken by region, by franchise or other characteristics to spot trends and opportunities or potential improvements.
Pulling back to look at your technology roadmap, take care to align it with your business goals and overall strategy. Having a clear reason for working through this technology implementation will ensure it results in something that meets your needs. For example, franchisors with lofty growth goals might focus on improved business intelligence reporting to attract potential franchisees. Having the most current region-specific information readily accessible is a strong draw; it tells them that you’re dedicated to making it easier for them to run their business.
An insight-driven corporate culture could be the difference between selling a franchise or losing out to a competitor. Potential investors look for businesses that can prove they have a good grasp on their operation and future goals. Having tools in place to offer targeted business insight demonstrates that kind of domain mastery. It helps you stand out from your competition, putting ambitious regional and national expansion goals within your reach.
Digital transformation can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Find all the information you need to bring your business intelligence strategy into the modern day in this white paper (http://info.conceptainc.com/how-to-implement-business-intelligence-in-yo...), along with detailed guidance for implementing it in your business.
Tom Capone is the Vice President of Business Development at Concepta, a software development firm providing tailored web and mobile applications to small-to-medium enterprises. He has 17 years of experience working in the Telecommunication, Software Development, and Mobile Development industries where he excels in business analysis and consulting.